The Rape of Japan

The Myth of Mass Sexual Violence during the Allied Occupation

  • Format:
  • Pages:
  • Illustrations:
    1 Maps, 34 B/W Photos, 3 Tables/Graphs/Charts
  • Published:
    June 15, 2024
  • ISBN-10:
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  • Product Dimensions:
    9 × 6 × 1 in
  • Product Weight:
    24 oz
Hardcover $31.95
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Most Americans regard the postwar Occupation of Japan as a prime example of American magnanimity. They are blithely unaware that upon entering Japan, US 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. They do not know that American officers demanded that the Japanese government set up brothels for the use of American troops. Nor do they know that when embarrassed officials in Washington, D.C., forced occupation officials to close the brothels, American troops went on a rampage and, according to official records, reported rapes of Japanese women skyrocketed from an average of 40 to 330 cases a day.

The reason for such appalling ignorance is that none of these things ever happened. Nevertheless, a large number of Japanese believe these allegations. Perhaps the diverging national narratives between former enemies is only to be expected. As the passions of war have faded, however, 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 widely accepted among historians of World War II and its aftermath. It is unusual that many Japanese people and experts are in agreement on this controversial topic, and it is worthy of explanation.

The "Rape" of Japan
provides that explanation in a starkly revisionist work that historian Ed Drea praised 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.”

After noting that the work takes on the writings on this subject by such luminaries in the field as John W. Dower, Yuki Tanaka, Takemae Eiji, and Hayashi Hirofumi, one anonymous reviewer was moved to write, “Dr. Walsh is David taking on Goliaths. But David happily won.”

“Winning” in this case involves the overthrow of harmful myths, setting the records straight, and partially rehabilitating an organization that established women’s rights on a more secure foundation than anywhere in East Asia, providing a far safer physical environment than most other occupied areas and all but eliminating sexually transmitted diseases that were claiming 5,000 lives a year, including those of more than 1,000 children, and ruining tens of thousands more. That rehabilitation is necessary because of a relentless smear campaign, delineated here for the first time, perpetrated by anti-American elements for more than seven decades.

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