Loosening the Okinawan Knot

A Mixed-Methods Study of Okinawan Public Perceptions of the U.S. Military

by Balys Gintautas

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The objective of this dissertation monograph is to provide U.S.-Japan Alliance managers, scholars and analysts, and the general public with a more detailed and reliable understanding of the nature of the Okinawan public's perceptions, policy preferences, and cultural attitudes regarding the problems and benefits associated with the U.S. military in Okinawa (USFO). To achieve this objective, a mix of qualitative and quantitative anthropological and statistical methods were used to analyze prefecturally-representative survey data obtained from the Okinawa Prefectural Government and ethnographic data collected during field work in Okinawa. More specifically, this research explores the Okinawan people's broad public policy priorities, examines their satisfaction with ongoing efforts to address base problems, identifies and describes the most salient and important problems and benefits they associate with USFO, and highlights some common misconceptions, miscommunications, and other cultural insights related to those problems and benefits. These findings are intended to make public relations and impact mitigation programs, policies, and communications more culturally relevant and responsive. Doing so should not only improve relations between U.S.-Japan Alliance representatives and the Okinawan public, but also organically increase political support for USFO among the broader Okinawan populace, political support that may be necessary to ensure the political feasibility of U.S. basing rights in the future.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Data Sources, Research Design, and Analytic Methods

  • Chapter Three

    Okinawan Public Policy Priorities

  • Chapter Four

    Okinawan Satisfaction with Efforts to Address Base Problems and Priority "Solutions"

  • Chapter Five

    Okinawan Public Perceptions of U.S. Military Problems

  • Chapter Six

    Okinawan Public Perceptions of U.S. Military Benefits

  • Chapter Seven

    Summarizing Empirical Findings and Policy Recommendations

  • Appendix A

    Semi-structured Interview Protocol

  • Appendix B

    OPG's 9th Okinawan Attitudes Survey Information

  • Appendix C

    Auxiliary Findings from §3.3.2—Demographics Most Concerned with Base Problems

  • Appendix D

    Auxiliary Findings from §4.3.2—Demographics Most (Un)satisfied with Efforts to Address Base Problems

  • Appendix E

    Auxiliary Findings from §4.5.2—Demographic Variability of Specific "Solutions"

Research conducted by

This document was submitted as a dissertation in September 2018 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Sherrill Lingel (Chair), Ryan Brown, and Thomas Weisner.

This publication is part of the RAND Corporation Dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

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