The "Rape" of Japan

The Myth of Mass Sexual Violence during the Allied Occupation

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Most Americans regard the postwar Occupation of Japan as a prime example of American magnanimity. They are blithely unaware of the prevailing Japanese myth that upon entering Japan, U.S. servicemen “engaged in an orgy of looting, sexual violence, and drunken brawling” and that during the first ten days of the Occupation there were 1,336 reported cases of rape in Kanagawa Prefecture alone. The myth goes further with claims that U.S. military officers demanded the Japanese government set up brothels for use by American troops and that when embarrassed officials in Washington, D.C., forced Occupation officials to close the brothels, the servicemembers went on a rampage, resulting in (according to official records) reported rapes of Japanese women skyrocketing from an average of 40 to 330 cases a day. 
The truth is that none of this happened. Nevertheless, large numbers of Japanese still believe these allegations. As the passions of war have faded, the currency of such stories has only grown, and they are now regarded by many as fact. This false narrative of mass sexual violence and the organized exploitation of Japanese women by American military forces is also widely accepted among historians of World War II and its aftermath. 
Brian P. Walsh, a Princeton-educated scholar, thoroughly debunks this false narrative in a brave and compelling book that reflects his in-depth research into both American and Japanese primary sources. Historian Ed Drea has praised Walsh’s work on this topic as a “masterful refutation of perceived wisdom. It is original historical research and writing at its best and is a significant contribution to the study of sexual violence in a military context and to the U.S. occupation of Japan.” 
Walsh sets the records straight, by showing that MacArthur’s General Headquarters established women’s rights on a more secure foundation than anywhere else in East Asia, provided a far safer physical environment than most other occupations, and all but eliminated endemic sexually transmitted diseases. These diseases ruined millions of lives, prematurely ending as many as five thousand per year, including those of more than a thousand children. The “Rape” of Japan is a long-overdue refutation and exposure of a relentless propaganda campaign that has persisted for more than seven decades. 

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Editorial Reviews

“This deeply researched and carefully documented study conclusively refutes the myth of mass rape by American soldiers in occupied Japan after World War II.  Walsh shows that projection by Japanese men in a patriarchal society, anti-American propaganda by Japanese communists and socialists, and the image of rape as a metaphor for conquest and submission created a false memory of sexual predation that was in reality far less common among American occupation forces than the legend.”—James M. McPherson, George Henry Davis Professor of History Emeritus, Princeton University
“The legend that American commanders orchestrated the mass rape of Japanese women by U.S. service members during the occupation of Japan inverts the axiom that the victors write the history. With meticulous excavation of original source material and an epic demolition of the construction and spread of this mythology, Brian Walsh exposes not only this mendacious narrative, but also provides a timeless warning of how too many historians suspended their critical facilities.”—Richard B. Frank, military historian and author of Tower of Skulls: A History of the Asia-Pacific War: July 1937-May 1942
“Over many years, it has been widely and persistently reported that American servicemen in the armed forces occupying Japan after World War II engaged in an orgy of sexual violence against Japanese girls and women. In The ‘Rape’ of Japan, historian Brian Walsh demolishes this myth. By carefully and thoroughly examining Japanese and American records, he exposes a lie born of shame, revenge, and sloppy scholarship. Walsh writes clearly and convincingly. The ‘Rape’ of Japan is a tour de force of debunking—and a compelling story of how and why lurid myths can take hold.”—Evan Thomas, author of Road to Surrender: Three Men and the Countdown to the End of World War II.
"Seldom has a scholar displayed such courage in refuting an egregious falsehood so deeply implanted in accepted historiography. Brian Walsh systematically dismantles an error-filled absurd myth perpetrated by self-serving propagandists, which was then, as is too often the case, compounded in subsequent sloppy scholarship. Walsh backs up his argument every step of the way with rock-solid, previously ignored primary source documentation. For a historian, such fearless pursuit of the truth is a superpower. The “Rape” of Japan should be required reading for students at every level and anyone who appreciates historical accuracy."—Ann Todd, Ph.D, Historian
This striking original study of the American occupation of Japan refutes the general depiction of American troops as violent assailants of Japanese women. Deep research and penetrating analysis, including broad use of Japanese sources, easily destroys the widespread myths of mass rapes spread by Japanese communist propaganda. — Dr. Stanley L. Falk, Former Chief Historian, U.S. Air Force