Kovner 2012 Power

Title Information

Author: Sarah Kovner

Title: Occupying Power

Subtitle: Sex Workers and Servicemen in Postwar Japan

Place: Stanford, CA

Publisher: Stanford University Press

Year: 2012

Pages: xi + 226pp.

ISBN-13: 9780804776912 (cloth) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9780804788632 (paper) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-13: 9780804783460 (digital) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: 20th Century | Japanese History

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Author: Author's Personal Website


  Acknowledgments (p. ix)
  A Note on Names and Nomenclature (p. xi)
  Introduction: A Special Business (p. 1)
  1. "To Transship Them to Some Suitable Island": Making Policy in the Midst of Chaos (p. 18)
  2. Violence, Commerce, Marriage (p. 49)
  3. When Flesh Glittered: Selling Sex in Sasebo and Tokyo (p. 74)
  4. Legislating Women: The Push for a Prostitution Prevention Law (p. 99)
  5. The High Politics of Base Pleasures: Regulating Morality for the Postwar Era (p. 119)
  6. The Presence of the Past: Controversies over Sex Work since 1956 (p. 139)
  Conclusion: Beyond Victimhood (p. 152)
  Appendix (p. 161)
  Notes (p. 165)
  Bibliography (p. 201)
  Index (p. 219)


»The year was 1945. Hundreds of thousands of Allied troops poured into war-torn Japan and spread throughout the country. The effect of this influx on the local population did not lessen in the years following the war's end. In fact, the presence of foreign servicemen also heightened the visibility of certain others, particularly panpan—streetwalkers—who were objects of their desire.
Occupying Power shows how intimate histories and international relations are interconnected in ways scholars have only begun to explore. Sex workers who catered to servicemen were integral to the postwar economic recovery, yet they were nonetheless blamed for increases in venereal disease and charged with diluting the Japanese race by producing mixed-race offspring. In 1956, Japan passed its first national law against prostitution, which produced an unanticipated effect. By ending a centuries-old tradition of sex work regulation, it made sex workers less visible and more vulnerable. This probing history reveals an important but underexplored aspect of the Japanese occupation and its effect on gender and society. It shifts the terms of debate on a number of controversies, including Japan's history of forced sexual slavery, rape accusations against U.S. servicemen, opposition to U.S. overseas bases, and sexual trafficking.« (Source: Stanford University Press)


Bullock, Julia C. Journal of the History of Sexuality 23(3) (September 2014): 491-493. – Full Text: Project MUSE (Restricted Access)

de Matos, Christine. Japanese Studies 32(3) (2012): 476-478. – Full Text: Research Online|ND (Free Access), Taylor & Francis Online (Restricted Access)

Frühstück, Sabine. The Journal of Japanese Studies 39(2) (Summer 2013): 444-448. – Full Text: Project MUSE (Restricted Access)

Ion, Hamish. Monumenta Nipponica 68(1) (2013): 150-153. – Full Text: Project MUSE (Restricted Access)

Kingston, Jeff. »Sexual policies and politics during the occupation of Japan.« The Japan Times (July 1, 2012). – Full Text: Japan Times (Free Access)

Kitamura, Hiroshi. »Selling Sex.« Diplomatic History 37(5) (November 2013): 1173-1175. – Full Text: Oxford Journals (Restricted Access)

Masuda, Hajimu. »Sex Work in Occupied Japan.« H-War (November 2014). – Full Text: H-Net Reviews (Free Access)

Osawa, Kimiko. Pacific Affairs 87(3) (September 2014): 611-613. – Full Text: Pacific Affairs (Free Access), ingentaconnect (Restricted Access)

Seraphim, Franziska. »A New Social History of Occupied Japan.« The Journal of Asian Studies 73(1) (February 2014): 187-188. – Full Text: Cambridge Journals Online (Restricted Access)

Totani, Yuma. The American Historical Review 120(1) (February 2015): 224-225. – Full Text: Oxford Journals (Restricted Access)

Wikipedia: Prostitution in Japan

Added: June 22, 2013 – Last updated: February 28, 2015