Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific
Issue 31, December 2012

The Sexual Contact Zone in Occupied Japan:
Discourses on Japanese Prostitutes or Panpan
for U.S. Military Servicemen [1]

Masakazu Tanaka

      The dominant foreigners, the more or less humiliated Japanese, and the intermediaries (such as translators or prostitutes soliciting foreign clients)-illustrating the interrelationships between these three groups was the recurring theme in all of my stories.[2]
      Kenzaburo Ōe

  1. The term 'contact zone' as it is used today was coined by Mary Louise Pratt in her book, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation.[3] According to her, the encounter between the modern West and traditional non-western countries is not uni-directional but bi-directional. Therefore she rightly choses the term 'contact' and not 'frontier' in her analysis. By focussing on various kinds of transculturations, she shows us a complex nature of colonial encounters between western travel writers and the people in Africa and South America. However, these encounters were mostly between representatives such as scholars and entrepreneurs from the western world and 'native' people who are represented only through their writings, or by very exceptional native writers and their encounters with the west. Thus even though Pratt's focus on contact zones in the discourses of travel writings is very attentive, her model of contact zone is a two-polar one: she lacks insight into the 'intermediaries'—to borrow the word of a Japanese Noble Prize novelist, Kenzaburou Ōe. Recent research on colonialism in general emphasises these intermediaries by focusing on the existence of 'collaborators.' Based on their cultural and historical background, the collaborators were considered to be part of the colonised side. Despite being locals, however, they were also deeply involved in furthering colonial rule. The Korean nationals who cooperated with Japan during Japan's colonisation of their country (pro-Japanese collaborators) are one such example. These 'intermediaries' are an essential part of any discussion regarding the contact zone. However, as Eisei Kurimoto points out, it is important to keep in mind that the same individual can be both a cooperator and part of the resistance, depending on the occasion. [4] All individuals in a contact zone have the potential to be intermediaries, which is a significant characteristic of my interpretation of the topic. In other words, while Pratt is mostly concerned with the texts about the contact zones by western writers who had explored them, this paper focuses, instead, on texts written by those living in the contact zones. This article is not about the record of the first contact between two distinct cultures, but it is about on-going, multi-layered, and often contradictory representations of those living in the contact zones, thus belonging to neither side. To this end, this paper examines various discourses on the relationship between Japanese prostitutes and U.S. military servicemen during the occupation period of Japan. Of particular interest is the raucous array of multiple and often contradictory voices coming from various intermediary positions and perspectives that were being projected upon the subject of the panpan girls. I ask the question of how figures, such as Japanese prostitutes for U.S. servicemen, are portrayed, discussed, and positioned within a dynamics of power relations between the two nations. I also discuss how the notions of gender and sexuality are utilised to express these concerns by those living in the contact zone.

    Prostitution during the occupation of Japan
  2. The Occupation by the Allied Forces started with the San Francisco Peace Treaty, signed in September of 1951, and continued for seven years in accord with the resulting agreement that came into effect the following April. The Security Treaty between the United States and Japan was signed in conjunction with the Peace Treaty, and the American Forces would remain stationed in Japan. The resulting society in Japan under the Allied Forces (essentially the U.S. army) is the contact zone in question. In an extremely comprehensive way, the post-war period was one of 'coexistence, interaction, and the interweaving of understanding and practices within a one-sided power relationship,'[5] and although brief, it was the era under the Security Treaty that determined the political and economic structure of post-war Japan.
  3. A classified statement was issued under the supervision of the Japanese Government on 18 August 1945, which began the establishment of the Recreation and Amusement Association (RAA), an organisation that would provide prostitutes for the Occupation Forces. These organisations were to be set up around the country, and it is widely known how young women were recruited with the slogan 'To the New Women of Japan.'[6] The goal of this program was to protect the rest of the female populace from sexual abuse by American soldiers. The recruited women were called the 'female special task force or kamikaze'[7] or alternatively the 'breakwater,'[8] and their task was to act as 'buffer material' between the soldiers and the 'other' women.[9] However, this did not completely eliminate sexual abuse, and as venereal diseases spread among the RAA workers, the organisation was abolished in March 1946 to protect the U.S. soldiers from infection (although the abolishment was outwardly attributed to protecting public decency). Many women lost their jobs as a result, and some of them became sidewalk prostitutes for American soldiers.
  4. In the initial stages of the Occupation, the Allied Forces in Japan consisted of 400,000 American soldiers and 40,000 soldiers belonging to the British Commonwealth, including those from Australia, but by the breakout of the Korean War, the total had dwindled to 125,000 soldiers, less than a third of the original number. At its peak, the number of prostitutes attending to these soldiers rose to 500,000.[10] Japanese prostitutes that solicited foreign soldiers were commonly known aspanpan girls. Some of these panpan were given the title 'only' or 'only-one.' These 'only' girls had a specific soldier as their customer, unlike the sidewalk prostitutes ('butterflies') who did not have a specific clientele.
  5. Had Japan not experienced economic poverty and political confusion after losing the war, it is likely that not as many women would have become panpan girls. In that sense, the loss of the war thrust these women into prostitution. However, by 1948, the standard of living had recovered somewhat and there were more women who were, as Minoru Nishida put it, 'corrupted (into prostitution) because they ran away from home or took part in indecent relationships.'[11] Curiosity and vanity were also driving forces in some cases. Furthermore, one study explained that the panpan strongly desired independence, more so than marriage.[12]
  6. Partly because of their relationships with American soldiers, panpan girls are sometimes associated with images of American consumerism, female independence, assertion of positive body images, and a sense of liberation following the chaotic aftermath of the war. However, it is prudent to avoid overly idealising their situation.
  7. To give an idea of how much these women selling to American soldiers earned, records show an income of 42,000–90,000 yen in early 1946 Tachikawa.[13] A 'short' session of a few hours cost 1000 yen, and an 'all-nighter' including an overnight stay was 2000 yen.[14] A 1950 census from Yokohama shows that the women earned 15,000–30,000 yen per month. Short sessions were 500–1000 yen, and fees for all-nighters varied from 1000–15,000 yen.[15] In 1949, the average monthly earnings of panpan 'girls' in Kyoto were 14,570 yen, while the women in Tokyo earned 26,700–40,000 yen.[16] Meanwhile the average monthly salary of a female clerk was 2,237 yen.[17]

    From the eyes of the Japanese men
  8. In his Haisen Nikki (Defeat in the War Diary), Jun Takami's first mention of a panpan girl is not until 24 November 1945.

      Yesterday in Yokohama Station, I saw a woman who I could tell was a prostitute at first glance. She impudently walked up and down the crowded corridor, chewing her gum in a most arrogant manner. Her conceit must have come from the pride of being pursued by American soldiers. I felt like I was being shown a clear image of someone who had lost all sense of shame. I realised then that when a woman loses her most valuable asset as a woman, it is not the only thing that she loses—she also loses her integrity as a human being. This is a frightening thing, and a piteous thing.[18]

  9. Earlier in his diary, Takami makes his critical standpoint clear against Japan's system of prostitution after defeat, likening it to the comfort women taken to war with the Japanese military:

      The war is over. Yet the country coerces women to become prostitutes for the Occupation Forces, again in the name of 'patriotism.' The cruelty that allowed them to trick innocent virgins onto the battlefield and to force them into prostitution has changed shape today to become such institutions as the RAA (November fourteenth).[19]

    Once he actually encounters a panpan girl, however, he feels jealousy and contempt as a Japanese male.
  10. Similarly, Kiyoshi Kanzaki, who wrote many non-fictional accounts on Japanese prostitution, mentions the following in an interview held in 1973, 'I was struggling through each day on the brink of starvation, so if anything I was aggravated with the girls' lifestyle of attaching themselves to power and money.'[20]

    From the eyes of the children
  11. Kichi no ko: Kono jijitsu o dou kangaetara yoika (The Military Base Child—How to Contemplate This Reality), published in 1953, is a compilation of 175 essays and poems reflecting on the experiences of elementary and middle-school students living near military bases.[21] This is a selection from the 200 compositions chosen out of a total of 1,325 submissions from seventy-three elementary and middle schools around the country in October of 1952. Out of the 175, thirty are on the theme of panpan girls or Akasen, a term for the state-regulated prostitution districts. Thirty-four others mention the topic of panpan girls. In other words, panpan girls are featured in one way or another in more than a third of these essays. It is clear that the panpan must have been a significantly large part of the children's, or the general public's lives.
  12. Predictably, the children had negative views of the panpan girls. A quote found in one essay entitled 'Gaijin ga iru machi' (A Town with Foreigners, written by a sixth grade girl from Sasebo) reads, 'While out walking at night in town, a woman of the night walks hand in hand with a foreigner, nails red, wearing the kind of red clothes that children wear, and struts arrogantly although her appearance is vulgar. Seeing this kind of thing makes me very hateful.'[22] The main subject of this essay is how the girl felt discriminated against when an American soldier's family was given priority over her by the owner of a toy store, even though the girl had been there first.
  13. A variety of emotions can be found in the section entitled 'Panpan to heitai no toshi' (A City of Panpan and Soldiers), which includes such entries as a first grader's first-hand account entitled 'Panpan to heitai' (The Panpan and the Soldier). 'The panpan and the soldier, they squeezed. He kissed the panpan. The panpan and the soldier, they danced. The panpan got naked.'[23] The children's reactions vary, such as the distress one elementary school student felt from not being able to study because a panpan girl boarded in his room, the anger toward the panpan girls who seemingly made money without working, the frustration at having their town called 'panpan town,' the confusion at having their little sister mimicking panpan, and even the dilemmas of the children born to the panpan girls themselves.
  14. Another important source of information, Kichi nippon[24] (Military Base Japan), is a collection of reports from eighteen military base towns from all over Japan. The significance of this document lies in how it concentrates on the effect the bases had on children and what the children themselves had to say about the matter.
  15. Children generally viewed the panpan girls in a negative light, complaining about their noisiness at night, their vulgar language and how embarrassing it was to see them embracing their clients in public. Because of the deluge of brothels, children increasingly had the opportunity to actually witness intercourse or come into contact with used condoms. Some even started using indecent slang or mimicking the vulgarities the panpan girls and American soldiers performed (playing panpan), to the mortification of their teachers and parents.
  16. These conditions were not limited to large cities such as Tachikawa, but were also seen in a village near Lake Yamanaka (average population of 3700)[25] and a farming village in Yamagata Prefecture (average population of 4500). Out of the blue, the U.S. military would come and occupy their land, set up base, and the panpan girls would follow. There was a lack of hotels and eateries where the panpan girls could engage with their clients, so they would perform their 'indecencies' for everyone to see, starting in broad daylight and going on late into the night. However, the rent the panpan girls could pay was nothing to scoff at. Renting out just one room stabilised income, and despite being dissatisfied with the situation, the villagers grew increasingly dependent on the income provided by the American soldiers and panpan girls. This is clearly a pre-existing microcosm of the present day issues surrounding military base towns and Okinawa today.

    Eroticism: criticism against the U.S. Military
  17. Nihon no teisō: gaikokuhei ni okasareta jyoseitachi no shuki[26] (Japan's Chastity: Memoirs of the Women Raped by Foreign Soldiers) and Zoku nihon no teisō[27] (More on Japan's Chastity) were each published in 1953 and became bestsellers. The first book, edited by then interpreter Hiroshi Mizuno, consisted of confessions by four women. The second book, edited by Ben Gotō, who would later write Nosutoradamusu no daiyogen (The Prophecies of Nostradamus), was republished in 1985 under the title Kuroi haru: beigun panpan onnatachi no sengo (A Black Spring: The Post-War Period for the U.S. Military, Panpan girls, and Women). Zoku nihon no teisō is a compilation of personal accounts by women with detailed information on their backgrounds. Due to an informant who was involved in the book, Nihon no teisō was recently accused of being fabricated by a male individual who had been a member of the Japanese Communist Party.[28] However, this does not change the fact that both books were considered to be genuine memoirs by Japanese readers.
  18. About half of Nihon no teisō is taken up by the memoir of twenty-three-year-old Toshiko Ono, a woman introduced at the beginning of the book. Toshiko was gang raped in Kyoto by a group of American soldiers after being tricked into going outside with them. She then became a dancer in Tokyo, but turned to prostitution when she was sexually assaulted again in the dance hall. At one point she became an 'only' and experienced a luxurious life, and even helped her lover and his companions play their 'hunting' game of deceiving and gang raping civilian girls. However, one of the victims ended up killing Toshiko's lover, and she was forced onto the streets. Once again a street prostitute, her body was gradually ravaged by syphilis and cancer.
  19. Toshiko's case is not rare. Toshiko's memoir is followed by stories of multiple women whose fates were changed drastically by rape in the workplace or at home. One such woman, Tomoe, was having a nice relaxing time with her family when two American soldiers barged in and raped her along with her mother and younger sister. Although her sister was brutally murdered during this incident, the police refused to do anything. Then Tomoe found out that she was pregnant.
  20. In the period of confusion following the war, some Japanese men were sure to have committed rape, and there must have been at least some prostitutes catering to the Japanese. These prostitutes may well have had their careers triggered by financial hardship or the loss of their virginity. However, the stories of such women are never told. These women do not represent Nihon no teisō. The women who do appear in the book are somehow 'differentiated and eroticised' from the rest of the female population, and this is strengthened by the foreign nature of their clients. As I mentioned earlier, Nihon no teisō was written by a man, and the way it eroticises the women may be exactly because it was written by a man—it reflects the mindset of the Japanese men of the time.

    Men as saviours, women as victims
  21. This section will concentrate on Minoru Nishida's Kichi no onna: tokushu jyosei no jittai (Women of the Military Bases: The Reality of 'Differentiated' Women). The book consists of 251 pages spanning twenty chapters. Nishida, who had been involved in elementary education, moved to Tachikawa after the war and was drawn to issues concerning the children born between American soldiers and panpan girls, as well as to the ways that the soldiers affected children living in the military base town. He also focused his attention on the lives of women who solicited American soldiers. At its peak between 1950 and 1952, there is said to have been as many as 5000 women in Tachikawa striving to make a living by selling themselves to American soldiers.
  22. In his first chapter 'Onnatachi ni irodorareta machi' (A Town Coloured by Women), Nishida juxtaposes women of the general public, especially housewives, with the 'differentiated women' who would buy expensive meat at the butcher and bananas at the fruit shop without giving a thought to the contents of their wallets. He also illustrates the contrast between the panpan girls, who would strut confidently around town, and the rest of the Japanese populace, who were shamed because they could not speak English.[29]
  23. The women who prostituted themselves to American soldiers were 'differentiated' for two reasons. First, they deviated from the system of marriage (represented by housewives) in their act of selling sex. Second, they deviated from the rest of the Japanese women by pursuing American soldiers instead of Japanese men for prostitution or love. Nishida also points out the panpan girls' heartlessness and money-worshipping ways. More importantly, he mentions the following at the end of the first chapter:

      The Colonial-Style Pleasure Centre Tachikawa— These women can be seen everywhere as you walk through the city. The responsibility of sullying the town has been placed solely on their shoulders. Scornful gazes are thrown at the women. It seems that no one cares to think about what pushed these women to live off the occupying soldiers. If anything, they have been labelled as a different type of human from normal Japanese women, and as a group, they have been cast out as a burden on society.[30]

    In other words, Nishida emphasises the need to investigate why the 'differentiated women' first became 'differentiated,' and how as a result they were separated from the public. Moreover, he aims to do this in a social context. To this end, Nishida gives concrete examples of women who gave up and decided to remain silent after being raped or conned merely because they were prostitutes. He goes on to pose the following question:

      No matter how the country may deteriorate, or however many male criminals may appear, the phrase 'Differentiated Men' will never come into use. Just because these women are on the selling instead of the buying end of flesh, they receive the title of 'Differentiated Women.' Perhaps you may laugh and say that is a matter of course, but the different standard of expectation between men and women, despite both groups being born as human beings, has given humanity a strange understanding of things indeed.[31]

    In response to the term 'differentiated women,' no doubt being used widely at the time, Nishida criticises men (American soldiers) and society in a way that in recent times would be considered a gender issue. Unfortunately, Nishida does not take this concern further.
  24. By raising the above issues, Kichi no onna succeeds in reminding us how obscure the line between the self and others is, and the book's significance lies in its sharp approach to the power struggle between genders, which in turn affects how we draw the line between ourselves and others.
  25. Nishida's writing shows a two-sided sentiment toward the panpan girls. On one hand, he acknowledges the possibility of their rehabilitation, and criticises the existing contextual power relationships (such as men vs. women, or war victor vs. war loser). As a teacher, Nishida contacted the 'differentiated women' individually, and came to the realisation that their distinctiveness was nothing 'different.' That was why the goal of rehabilitating the women had meaning for him. By putting himself in the position of a rehabilitator (in other words a preacher for enlightenment or a saviour), he secured his position as an intellectual male. On the other hand, however, he declares that it is not possible for 'differentiated women' to escape prostitution, as is evident from his statement, 'the ones who took white customers have no hope. Their bodies change.'[32] This could be dismissed as an unsubstantiated judgment or a simple resignation on Nishida's part, but his feelings are echoed by the characteristic resignation shared by the men of a country defeated in war.[33]

    From the eyes of the women
  26. Even the women who called for an end to prostitution ostracised the panpan girls instead of sympathising with them. This was because people considered the cause of prostitution to be nothing but the individual's own foolishness. Background issues such as poverty, abuse or sexual exploitation by American soldiers were never brought into question. Here are the words of Tamaki Uemura, one of the representative figures in the anti-prostitution movement:

      There are tens of thousands of panpan girls in Japan, and most of them are mite-like women who actively seek foreigners and attach themselves fast, refusing to let go.

      There are no doubt some despicable foreigners who wander around town with indecent intentions in mind, but it is equally possible for a naïve virgin boy to be defiled by a sly prostitute…. I believe it is time for us Japanese women to realise our role not only as the mothers of Japan, but also as the mothers of young people all over the world, universally. If we were to struggle to come up with a solution to protect these foreign youths from temptation, would it not contribute to the ties between their country and our own?[34]

    The women refused to be in a position to save, or even protect the panpan girls, and instead vowed to eradicate them in the name of 'motherhood.' The age-old antagonism between motherhood and sexuality is apparent here. For the mothers, even the American soldiers were 'innocent virgin boys.'
  27. The same can be said for 'women of the general public.' Young civilian women were supposedly spared sexual abuse thanks to the panpan girls, but it is difficult to imagine that the civilians themselves showed any appreciation for the panpan girls. For the parents of young children or daughters of age, the panpan girls would have been nothing but disrupters of decency that had a bad influence on children. This is quite clear from how the children reacted to the panpan girls, as seen earlier. Consequently, the panpan girls had a marginalised existence in society, 'differentiated' by and from American soldiers, Japanese men, Japanese women and even children.
  28. That being said, there were some exceptional cases where people showed sympathy or understanding toward the panpan girls. One such woman was Haruko Fumino, the author of 'Kichi no onna to tomoni'[35] (With the Military Base Women), which features graphic accounts from seven panpan girls. According to her self-description, Fumino, who was twenty years of age when she wrote the article, had returned from China in 1947 as part of Japan's post-war withdrawal, and she became a housemaid after graduating from middle school. She then worked as a girl server in a Yokosuka bar for two years from the age of eighteen and became a bartender, but eventually returned to being a maid.
  29. When Fumino first started working in the bar, 'Sailors and their escorts, called panpan girls, would be kissing and fooling around without a thought to the eyes around them,' and 'it was too much for her, that she couldn't even raise her head in embarrassment.'[36] As she watched as other girl servers gave in to sweet words, gifts and invitations to the movies and were 'reduced' to 'escorts' (prostitutes who took customers in bars), she thought of her father, who had died in the war, and resisted these temptations. She sent all of her 5000 yen salary to her mother.
  30. Fumino admits that when she started working at the bar, she 'watched with disdain like everybody else as they spit their chewing gum out wherever they pleased, parading around in their gaudy clothes.' However, she was surprised to learn that 'they are doing what they can, condemning their job, while struggling and failing to escape despite being reproached by their parents.'[37]
  31. Let me introduce twenty-two-year-old Aiko, one of the seven women featured in Fumino's article. Her two-year-old daughter was borne of a relationship with a sailor, and her older sister looked after the girl while Aiko worked. In her interview Aiko compares herself with a girl who sold flowers on the train. The flower girl was a virgin, and her physique was completely different. 'Her eyes were twinkling, full of life, and her cheeks were so rosy they looked like they would burst.' In comparison, Aiko says her own skin had no sheen, and that,

      however much I hide my true self and act like a civilian, I can't hide the pan-girl in me…. I wear heels so high I almost fall over, and smoke Lucky Strike cigarettes though I'm Japanese. I cling onto the arm of a sailor that would have to spend all day looking at cows' asses back in his country, and it's humiliating as hell. I'm so fed up with me, in spite of myself. No wonder I'm shedding tears.[38]

  32. The flower girl represents the average Japanese girl, and is a reflection of Aiko's past self. Despite the fact that she is poor, and 'everything about her is shabby and dingy,' the flower girl body shines in her simple work clothes. On the other hand, Aiko's outer appearance (including her man) is covered with foreign luxuries, but their source is not something to be proud of. Rather, it is a source of shame.
  33. However, although Aiko thinks of giving up prostitution, she cannot. It seems that money is not the only issue.

      From the outside, it might look really fun, wearing nice clothes and make-up, eating tasty food and puffing cigarettes, you know…. But it's just as you see here…I made up my mind to return to a normal life a couple of times, and went home and all. But it's no good. I end up longing for a life where the records play noisily all day and I can dance. Plus, the men get sad too. I know it's pathetic, in spite of myself.[39]

    The appeal of the lifestyle that Aiko could not escape from was written off as 'temptation' by most of the research done at the time. However, the appeal of the world that Aiko was so drawn to should not be dismissed so easily.
  34. The accounts by the women introduced in Fumino's article do not show severe criticism toward the U.S. military or Japanese society, but exactly because of this, they are real and moving.

    The contact zone and the intermediaries
  35. The literature concerning panpan girls all illustrates their indecent actions with the American soldiers (some of these actions would be considered acceptable today, such as talking in sensual voices, kissing in public, and holding hands while walking, while some are still scandalous, such as having sexual intercourse where it could be witnessed or heard by a passer-by), whether they were shown in a critical or erotic light. The male readers no doubt confirmed their 'normality' by reading about the 'obscenities' performed by the American soldiers and their prostitutes. Furthermore, they also confirmed that their own women—wives, sisters, mothers, and daughters—were also, to their relief, normal. Unlike the panpan girls, they had not yet been defiled. They were the women who evaded being reduced to shame.
  36. The issue also goes beyond the talk of flesh. Non-fictional accounts of and by the panpan girls, such as those in Nihon no teisō, functioned as defensive psychological buffers against the overwhelming power of the foreign males— the one-sided domination, elimination and humiliation of a losing nation by its subjugators. It can also be seen as the Japanese male's attempt to psychologically subdue the American soldier's masculinity.
  37. In his analysis of Kimi no na wa (What' your name?), a romantic radio drama from the 1950s about a woman's life after the war, Yoshikuni Igarashi states that uninhibited female sexuality, which was liberated after the war, was in need of subjugation.[40] To support his argument, he refers to the ill-fated lives of women such as panpan girls. Even the stories of the girls introduced by Fumino are no more illuminating than Igarashi's examples. The prostitutes offset and subdued the American soldiers' sexual empowerment, but thus were simultaneously deemed dangerous and outcast, in need of subjugation or elimination.
  38. However, the panpan girls would never be complete outsiders, because they spoke up through their own stories. Some of their stories criticised the traditional gender roles of Japanese society and welcomed the new male-female relationships introduced by the American soldiers. Not all of the women who had relationships with American soldiers lost their virginity against their will or were consequently outcast from Japanese society. Furthermore, not all of them were panpan girls. There were some women who got married after a reasonable (for modern times) period of dating and moved overseas. It would be untruthful to attribute all war brides to poverty. As the words, 'the German soldiers took six years to surrender while the German women took only five minutes' denote,[41] it was understandable that the women were drawn to the victorious nation's men, goods and culture. For the losing nation's men, this was a blatant act of reproach as well as a source of disgrace. Naturally, any criticism by the women who favoured American soldiers also indirectly criticised conservative Japanese male-female relationships.
  39. It is clear through their writing that men, women and even children attempt to designate their own position in society in a much more complex way than Pratt envisioned. The male critics and authors, as well as the women discussed in this paper should be further examined as intermediaries in a contact zone. Although they were not explored in this paper, the businesses running the dance halls and beer halls, and the people renting their rooms to panpan girls should be included in this discussion. Housemaids and military base workers, as well as police officers that oversaw prostitution, should also be considered. In a chapter entitled 'It Takes More than Two: The Prostitute, the Soldier, the State, and the Entrepreneur,' in Morning After,[42] Cynthia Enloe claims that the prostitutes who dealt with soldiers were invisible, so their voices must be heard. However, the panpan girls introduced here are far from invisible. Of course, whether their 'actual voices' are being heard, or even whether records of their 'actual voices' exist at all are questions that must be addressed, but it is important to note that the panpan girls were and are certainly not invisible. On the contrary, an almost raucous array of multiple and often contradictory voices from various intermediary positions can be heard on the subject of the panpan girls.
  40. As for children acting as intermediary agents, it is difficult to imagine since they seem to be positioned as far as possible from the colonising powers, but a composition entitled 'Aru dekigoto' (What Happened) sheds some light on the matter. A middle school boy witnesses two female classmates together with an American soldier. The girls were with the soldier only because their parents had a job teaching soldiers, but as a result the girls were disdainfully called panpan girls by their classmates, and they stopped going to school.[43] In this case, the male student represents power coming from a non-U.S. military entity: the general public. This kind of conflict occurs even between children, who are easily the most powerless individuals within the Japanese population —a population that is already subjugated by the U.S. military.
  41. Although the U.S. military is on the power end of occupation/colonisation, the American soldiers that the panpan girls solicited cannot be mass-labelled as the 'conquerors' because of the hierarchy that exists within the military system. The soldiers are mostly single men who are at the lower end of the military organisation. The American soldiers, although on the buying end of prostitution, are more intermediary in their existence than being direct representatives of those in power. They are potential critics of the military and of racial discrimination (if they are African-American), as well as potential deserters. More precisely, the American soldiers are merely procurers of women during the Occupation, albeit with varying degrees of innocence. However, twenty years later during the Vietnam War, they (re)emerge within Japan as military deserters, civil rights activists, and soldiers declaring solidarity with local civilians. In other words, they are rebels.[44] But, this is another story to explore.

  42. This article examines various discourses on Japanese prostitutes for the U.S. military servicemen during the period of occupation of Japan. Most of the discourses I analysed were published after 1952, when Japan became independent. My analysis highlights the ways that prostitutes were located in an intermediary position between the U.S. military and ordinary Japanese people. For most of the Japanese, the prostitutes were shameless and excessively eroticised women and criminals, while others like Nishida thought that they were victims of the war and more generally of the patriarchal system of Japanese society. The prostitutes were not invisible, but it was difficult to find their voices in the published records. From the rare occasions when they spoke out, we can recognise that they made some critical comments on Japanese men and society. What seems significant in the study of this particular contact zone is to focus on those positioned in between and to attend to their ambivalent feelings about themselves and environments. Then only, we can get an idea of the dynamics of power relations working in the contact zone.


    [1] Some parts of this paper have previously been published, in different form in 'Kontakuto zon toshite no senryouki nippon: "kichi no onna tachi" o megutte' (Occupied Japan as a contact zone: on women and military bases), in Kontakuto zon no jinbungaku (Humanities of Contact Zone), ed. Masakazu Tanaka and Toru Funayama, Kyoto: Kouyou Shobou, 2011, pp. 187–210.

    [2] Ōe Kenzaburō, 'Afterword,' in Miru maeni tobe (Leap Before You Look), Tokyo: Shincho-sha, 1958, p. 364.

    [3] Mary L. Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation, London: Routledge, 1992.

    [4] Eisei Kurimoto, 'Tōbatsu suru gawa to sareru gawa: surechigau sougō ninshiki' (The subjugator and the subjugated: disconnected mutual understandings), in Shokuminchi keiken: jinruigaku to rekishigaku kara no apurōchi (Experiences of a Colonised Nation—Anthropological and Historical Approaches), ed. Eisei Kurimoto and Kumie Inose, Kyoto: Jinbun Shoin, 1999, pp. 146–69, p. 164.

    [5] Pratt, Imperial Eyes, p. 7.

    [6] Hiroshi Harada, MP no jīpu kara mita senryōka no Tōkyō: dōjyō keisatsukan no kansatsuki (Seeing Tokyo from Aboard an MP Jeep During the Occupation: Observations by an Accompanying Policeman), Tokyo: Soshisha, 1994, pp. 155–56.

    [7] Kiyoshi Kanzaki, Yoru no kichi (The Military Base at Night), Tokyo: Kawade Shobo, 1953, p. 218.

    [8] Kazuko Hirai, 'RAA to "akasen": Atami ni okeru tenkai' (The RAA and 'Akasen': developments in Atami), in Senryō to sei: seisaku, jittai, hyōshō (Occupation and Sex: Policies, Realities and Representations), ed. Keisen University Human and Social Studies – Division of Peace Studies, Tokyo: Impact Publishing, 2007, pp. 79–118, p. 81.

    [9] John Dower, Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II. Vol. 1, trans. Yōichi Miura and Tadaaki Takasugi, Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2004, p. 142.

    [10] Kanzaki, Yoru no kichi, p. 229.

    [11] Minoru Nishida, Kichi no onna: tokushu jyosei no jittai (Women of the Military Bases: The Reality of 'Differentiated' Women), Tokyo: Kawade Shobo, 1953, p. 66.

    [12] Sarah C. Kovner, 'Prostitution in postwar Japan: sex workers, servicemen, and social activists, 1945–1956,' Ph.D., New York: Columbia University, 2004, p. 117.

    [13] Nishida, Kichi no onna, p. 26.

    [14] Jirō Suzuki, Toshi to sonraku no shakaigaku kenkyū (Sociological Research on Cities and Villages), Tokyo: Sekai Shoin, 1956, p. 67.

    [15] Keio University Social Work Research Institute (ed.), Gaishō to kodomotachi (Sidewalk Prostitutes and Children), Tokyo: Keio University Social Work Research Institute, 1953, p. 22.

    [16] Tatsuo tsuka, 'Gaishō tanjyō' (The birth of the sidewalk prostitute), in Gaishō: sono jittai to shuki (Sidewalk Prostitutes: Their Lives and Personal Accounts), ed. Masao Takenaka and Etsuji Sumiya, Tokyo: Yūkō-sha, 1949, pp. 89–96, p. 92.

    [17] Yasuhiro Okada, 'Gendering the 'Black Pacific': race consciousness, national identity, and the masculine/feminine empowerment among African Americans in Japan under U.S. military occupation, 1945–1952,' Ph.D., Ann Arbor: Michigan State University, 2005, p. 85 (University Microfilms International).

    [18] Jun Takami, Haisen Nikki (Defeat in the War Diary), Tokyo: Chūkō-Bunko, 2005, pp. 438–39.

    [19] Takami, Haisen Nikki, p. 427.

    [20] Kiyoshi Kanzaki, 'Amerika-gata seikōdō no dentatsushatachi no jittai dai 3 kai: pan-pan g?ru' (The reality behind importers of American-style sexual activity #3: pan-pan girls), in Weekly Post, Tokyo, 14 September 1973, pp. 80–81.

    [21] Ikutaro Shimizu, Seiichi Miyahara and Shouzaburo Ueda (eds), Kichi no ko: kono jijitsu o dou kangaetara yoika (The Military Base Child: How to Contemplate This Reality), Tokyo: Kobunsha, 1953. I should note, however, that children's narratives presented in this book must have been subject to heavy editorial work.

    [22] Shimizu, et al., Kichi no ko, p. 44.

    [23] Shimizu, et al., Kichi no ko, p.155.

    [24] Kōzō Inomata, Kihachiro Kimura and Ikutaro Shimizu (eds), Kichi nippon: ushinawareyuku sokoku no sugata (Military Base Japan: The Loss of a Homeland), Tokyo: Wakō-sha, 1953.

    [25] Shigeto Sakuchi, 'Bakuon to kyousei no rutsubo: Yamanashi-ken, Yamanakako kichi' (A melting pot of explosions and sensual moans: Yamanaka Lake military base, Yamagata prefecture), in Kichi nippon, ed. Kōzō Inomata et al., Tokyo: Wakō-sha, 1953, pp. 116–25.

    [26] Hiroshi Mizuno (ed.), Nihon no teisō: gaikokuhei ni okasareta jyoseitachi no shuki (Japan's Chastity: Memoirs of the Women Raped by Foreign Soldiers), Tokyo: Aokisha, 1953.

    [27] Ben Gotō, Zoku nihon no teisō (More on Japan's Chastity), Tokyo: Aokisha, 1953.

    [28] Michael Molasky, The American Occupation of Japan and Okinawa: Literature and Memory, trans. Naoko Suzuki, Tokyo: Seidosha, 2006, p. 238.

    [29] Nishida, Kichi no onna, pp. 11–13.

    [30] Nishida, Kichi no onna, pp. 15–16.

    [31] Nishida, Kichi no onna, p. 189.

    [32] Minoru Nishida, 'Yoru no onna o dousuruka?: fūki taisaku no mondaiten to kaiketsue no houkou' (What to do with night women: issues of upholding public decency and its solutions), in Fujin Asahi, September 1953, pp.40–49, p. 46.

    [33] Takami, Haisen Nikki.

    [34] Tamaki Uemura, 'Baishoufu no inai sekai o' (For a world without prostitutes), in Fujinkouron, April 1953, pp. 44–47, p. 45.

    [35] Haruko Fumino, 'Kichi no onna to tomoni' (With the military base women), in Fujin Asahi, March 1954, pp. 45–57.

    [36] Fumino, 'Kichi no onna to tomoni,' p. 46.

    [37] Fumino, 'Kichi no onna to tomoni,' p. 48.

    [38] Fumino, 'Kichi no onna to tomoni,' pp. 49–49.

    [39] Fumino, 'Kichi no onna to tomoni,' p. 48.

    [40] Yoshikuni Igarashi, Haisen no kioku: shintai, bunka, monogatari 1945–1970 (Memories of a Lost War: Body, Culture, Stories 1945–1970), Tokyo: Chūōkōron-Shinsha, 2007, p. 188.

    [41] Susanne Zur Nieden, 'Erotic fraternization: the legend of German women's quick surrender,' in Home/Front: The Military, War and Gender in Twentieth-century Germany, ed. Karen Hagemann and Stefanie Schüler-Springorum, Oxford: Berg, 2002, pp. 297–310, p. 304.

    [42] Cynthia Enloe, The Morning After: Sexual Politics at the End of the Cold War. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993, pp. 142–60.

    [43] Shimizu, et al., Kichi no ko, p. 176.

    [44] Military deserters were already a realistic problem by the time the Korean War intensified. See Harada MP no jīpu kara mita senryōka no , pp. 196–203. And those military deserters were featured in various works of fictional literature, such as Kenzaburō Ōe ,'Tatakai no naka' (In the Midst of Battle), Chuo Kouron, March Issue, 1958; or Seichō Matsumoto, Kuroji no e (Painting on Black), Tokyo: Shinchousha, 1958.


Published with the support of Gender and Cultural Studies, School of Culture, History and Language, College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University.
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