Capital Flows and Okinawan “Soft Power” in Southeast Asia: Examining the Thai Case


ภาพถ่ายโดย Johanna Zulueta

โครงการบัณฑิตศึกษา คณะสังคมวิทยาและมานุษยวิทยา


Capital Flows
and Okinawan “Soft Power” in Southeast Asia:
Examining the Thai Case

Johanna Zulueta
Soka University

24.08.2015 | 13.30-15.30 hrs.

Sociology and Anthropology Meeting Room
4th floor, Faculty of Social Administration Building,
Thammasat University, Tha Prachan

ห้องบรรยายโครงการปริญญาเอก คณะสังคมวิทยาและมานุษยวิทยา
ชั้น 4 อาคารคณะสังคมสงเคราะห์ศาสตร์
มหาวิทยาลัยธรรมศาสตร์ ท่าพระจันทร์


This study is part of a larger project that looks at the Okinawan population in Southeast Asia as well as the presence of Okinawan Prefectural Associations (Okinawa kenjinkai) in the region. I intend to explore this in the context of the flow of Japanese capital (from mainland Japan) to Southeast Asia, focusing in particular on the transnational social spaces of Okinawans in the region and the role of Okinawan Prefectural Associations in this regard. These associations (kenjinkai) function as social spaces for diasporic Okinawans that link them to the “homeland” (i.e. Okinawa prefecture) as well as provide a venue for the reproduction and transmission of Okinawan culture and identity/ies. This phenomenon can be observed in the Americas (both north and south) Hawaii, Taiwan, the Pacific Islands, and the Philippines, where a large number of Okinawans migrated in both the pre-war (World War II) and post-war eras.

However, it can be argued that the current presence of these kenjinkai in Southeast Asia (with the exception of the Philippines), such as those in Thailand (which was only founded in 1993), can be said to function primarily as a space for socializing, which is tied more to the notion of “capital” than to “roots”. The presence and mobility of Okinawans in the region, albeit a few, and the networks they create through the kenjinkai can be said to be in conjunction with the flow of Japanese capital into the region. With this, I explore how these capital flows interact and intersect with the Okinawa Prefectural Government’s thrust to promote Okinawa’s resources – a unique culture and history, pristine nature, and its aspiration for peace – as “soft power” in the region.

For this part of the study, I examine the case of Thailand and present preliminary findings from my two-week fieldwork in Bangkok.