In July 1954, the US military notified residents of Isahama, Ginowan, in the central part of Okinawa Island, of their evictions from their lands. Despite immediate opposition by residents, the military rejected all appeals on the grounds that this and other evictions were necessary to make the world safe for democracy. Though Isahama’s residents were discouraged by their failure to extract a more favorable outcome from military authorities, their struggle to keep their lands from being requisitioned—and similar struggles that erupted in Iejima, Furujima, and Mawashi—are widely recognized as the sparks that ignited the “all-island struggle” of 1956. This article considers the roles that Isahama’s women farmers played in inspiring the mass mobilization of 1956. While scholars have characterized the power of their protests as stemming precisely from their apolitical character—from their desperation as mothers and wives simply trying to protect their families from certain death—it proposes a reconsideration of this assessment. A Marxist feminist perspective that centers on the concept of social reproduction enables a linking of their struggle to a broader genealogy of political struggle in Okinawa and beyond to one that women and feminists waged against capital, militarism, and patriarchy.

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