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Miyako Island Peasantry Movement

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The Miyako Island Peasantry Movement was a protest movement in which people from the Miyako Islands demanded an end to customary tax obligations.

Following the abolition of the Ryûkyû Kingdom, and annexation of its lands by Japan in the 1870s, the new government of Okinawa prefecture instituted a policy known as kyûkan onzon, or "the preservation of old customs." It was believed that abolishing the Kingdom's administrative structures and tax system overnight would be too difficult administratively, and would inspire anger and rebellion from many in the kingdom. To a large extent, this was likely true, especially in terms of retaining some degree of cooperation or at least acquiescence by the scholar-aristocracy.

However, the Miyako Islanders felt that the poll tax, and other obligatory payments imposed on them by the Kingdom for centuries, were oppressive and needed to be abolished. Thus, in 1893 to 1895, they organized a series of protests, which eventually even included sending protestors to speak before the Imperial Diet in Tokyo. A folk song called Jintôzei haishi no kuichaa ("Song for the Abolition of the Poll Tax") was also written and performed by the protestors.

References

  • Mire Koikari, “Rethinking Okinawa and Okinawan Studies: Three Perspectives. 40 Years since Reversion: Negotiating the Okinawan Difference in Japan Today," The Journal of Asian Studies 76:3 (August 2017): 798.
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