The Limits of Sovereignty and Post-War Okinawan Migrants in Bolivia

Pedro Iacobelli

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    This paper examines the legal implications for Okinawan migrants of Article 3 of the San Francisco Peace Treaty (hereafter SFPT), signed between Japan and most of the Allied Powers in 1951. Particularly, it analyses the case of post-war Okinawan migrants in Bolivia, showing how the legal conditions in the Ryukyu Islands were extended to the Andean country. The Japanese defeat in the Asia-Pacific War (August 1945) was followed by the occupation of the country by the United States. The peace treaty, signed six years later, originated during the early years of the Cold War and was fraught with geopolitical implications. The SFPT allowed the U.S. military to retain control of Okinawa prefecture without formally severing it from Japan. In other words, the treaty-makers allocated de jure sovereignty over Okinawa to Japan while the U.S. enjoyed de facto sovereignty. This distinction gave rise to a legal conundrum concerning the future of the islands and the legal situation of the Okinawan people onshore and abroad. Building on Japanese and English primary sources I examine the reaction of American and Japanese jurists to Article 3 and the approach of both governments toward offshore Okinawan migrants.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-11
    JournalThe Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus
    Issue number34
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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