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Title: The Rape of Tokyo: Legends of Mass Sexual Violence and Exploitation During the Occupation of Japan
Authors: Walsh, Brian P.
Advisors: Garon, Sheldon
Contributors: History Department
Keywords: Japan
United States
Subjects: History
Asian studies
Gender studies
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Much recent writing on the Occupation of Japan has challenged the traditional picture of a well-disciplined American army laying the groundwork for Japan’s transition to democracy by the example of its behavior. Instead it depicts the Occupation, especially its opening phase, as marred by the widespread rape of Japanese women by American servicemen. In addition, many writers claim the United States encouraged, requested or even ordered the Japanese government to establish brothels for its troops. Copious documentation of American behavior from both Japanese and American sources does not support such claims. Rather, it makes very clear that though there were a fair number of reported rapes of Japanese women by American and other Allied servicemen, stories of mass rape during any period of the Occupation, including its opening phase, are simply not credible. In addition the contemporary record suggests that American authorities regarded prostitution not as a benefit for their troops, but as an entrenched social problem which they tolerated reluctantly. This raises the question of how such stories became incorporated into the mainstream. Part of the reason for this was the psychic environment in which these stories were originally created. There is an innate and deep-seated association between rape and war in the human psyche. The Japanese understanding of war in the mid-twentieth century reinforced this association. Rape also served as a metaphor for the American conquest of Japan. GHQ robbed Japanese men of their control of women’s sexuality. Many women then used their sexual autonomy to consort with American soldiers. To many this seemed like a hypocritical seizure of Japanese women, a rape of sorts. Shortly after the Occupation ended a leftist anti-American propaganda campaign and a boom in exploitation literature coincided to produce a great number of works purporting to be true exposes of American cruelties. Though these books are wholly unreliable, and contradict contemporary evidence, many have been incorporated into mainstream history. This is an error. Stories of mass rape and organized sexual exploitation during the Occupation are better understood as metaphoric expressions of the humiliation of defeat, occupation and continuing diplomatic subordination, than as history.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:History

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