Okinawa Essay Contest
The Okinawa Prefectural Government and the George Washington University Okinawa Collection are sponsoring an essay contest to foster research on Okinawan culture, economics, history, politics, and society, including the study of U.S. military base issues in Okinawa. The Okinawa Prefectural Government hopes that this contest will facilitate further discussions on Okinawa’s future and support new efforts to address different challenges.

This contest is also supported by the Center for Okinawan Studies and the Okinawa Collection at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa.

The contest has concluded. Please go here to see the contest results!

The contest is open to undergraduate and graduate students as well as recent graduates (graduated no earlier than May 2017) attending universities and colleges in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, or Hawaii.

Essay Topic
The applicant must write an essay that focuses on Okinawa in some manner. Possible examples of topic areas might include:
  • Military bases in Okinawa and the Japan-U.S. alliance
  • Okinawa’s politics and role in international relations
  • Political economy of Okinawa’s development
  • Legacy of history and culture in Okinawan society


The deadline for submissions will be noon (EST) on February 1, 2019 (Friday). Please submit entries through this website, following the submission guidelines provided below.

Three essays will be selected for awards by a selection panel of U.S. scholars. Each of the three awardees will receive the following prizes respectively and will have the opportunity to attend an award ceremony held in downtown Washington D.C. in March 2019. 

1st Place $500         2nd Place $400          3rd Place $300
  • The 1st and 2nd place winners will have the opportunity to visit Okinawa to deepen their understanding about Okinawa and gain some inspiration for further research.
  • Awardees will be invited to attend the award ceremony in Washington, D.C. Their domestic travel expenses within the United States will be provided.

Submission Guidelines
  1. The deadline for submissions will be noon (EST) on February 1, 2019 (Friday). Each applicant may submit only one essay. Once the essay entry has been submitted, edits or re-entry of the same entry are not allowed.
  1. Applicants must meet the following criteria. Applicants do not need to be American citizens.
    • Enrolled in a U.S. university or college in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, or Hawaii as a student (undergraduate or graduate; full-time or part-time) during the Fall 2018 or the Spring 2019 semester
    • OR Graduated from a U.S. university or college in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, or Hawaii no earlier than May 2017
  1. Essay entry should be typed in English and should be no longer than 5,000 words including footnotes. Entries should be in 12-point Times New Roman, double-spaced and one-inch margins all around. All sources should follow MLA format and use footnotes for citations. We only accept entries in Microsoft Word format (doc or docx). 
  1. The essay must be an original work by the applicant and must not have been published elsewhere. However, essays written as part of coursework for a class at a university or college may be submitted.
  1. Applicants are strongly encouraged to use primary resources in their research, such as the resources available at the George Washington University Okinawa Collection and the Okinawa Collection at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa.
  1. All applicants must agree that the winners’ essays will be translated to Japanese, and that they will be published on the official website of the Okinawa Prefectural Government in both English and Japanese. Copies of the essays may be shared with libraries in Okinawa and the U.S. Visual contents of the award ceremony (photo, video, audio, etc.) will be uploaded on the website and may be shared with media.
  1. Submit your essay entry by the deadline through the online submission form here. As part of your essay submission, please attach a digital copy of the essay in Microsoft Word format (doc or docx) and fill out all required information (see the list below). If you have any issues with the online submission form, please email your essay submission and all required information to
    • Applicant's full name, e-mail address, university/college name, (expected) degree, and current school year
    • Administrative academic advisor’s name, phone number, and e-mail address
    • An abstract of the essay (no more than 150 words)

Selection Criteria
Essay entries should:
  • Fully meet submission guidelines.
  • Demonstrate a clear and deep understanding of the essay topic.
  • Contain original insights and analysis supported by empirical evidence and well-reasoned conclusions.
  • Be organized in a logical, sophisticated manner.
  • Show effective use of appropriate information sources (printed and online).
  • Be free from grammatical and spelling errors.