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At the southern end of the Japanese archipelago lies Okinawa, host to a vast complex of U.S. military bases. A legacy of World War II, these bases have been a fraught issue in Japan for decades—with tensions exacerbated by the often volatile relationship between islanders and the military, especially after the brutal rape of a twelve-year-old girl by three servicemen in th At the southern end of the Japanese archipelago lies Okinawa, host to a vast complex of U.S. military bases. A legacy of World War II, these bases have been a fraught issue in Japan for decades—with tensions exacerbated by the often volatile relationship between islanders and the military, especially after the brutal rape of a twelve-year-old girl by three servicemen in the 1990s. But the situation is more complex than it seems. In Night in the American Village, journalist Akemi Johnson takes readers deep into the “border towns” surrounding the bases—a world where cultural and political fault lines compel individuals, both Japanese and American, to continually renegotiate their own identities. Focusing on the women there, she follows the complex fallout of the murder of an Okinawan woman by an ex–U.S. serviceman in 2016 and speaks to protesters, to women who date and marry American men and groups that help them when problems arise, and to Okinawans whose family members survived World War II. Thought-provoking and timely, Night in the American Village is a vivid look at the enduring wounds of U.S.-Japanese history and the cultural and sexual politics of the American military empire.


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At the southern end of the Japanese archipelago lies Okinawa, host to a vast complex of U.S. military bases. A legacy of World War II, these bases have been a fraught issue in Japan for decades—with tensions exacerbated by the often volatile relationship between islanders and the military, especially after the brutal rape of a twelve-year-old girl by three servicemen in th At the southern end of the Japanese archipelago lies Okinawa, host to a vast complex of U.S. military bases. A legacy of World War II, these bases have been a fraught issue in Japan for decades—with tensions exacerbated by the often volatile relationship between islanders and the military, especially after the brutal rape of a twelve-year-old girl by three servicemen in the 1990s. But the situation is more complex than it seems. In Night in the American Village, journalist Akemi Johnson takes readers deep into the “border towns” surrounding the bases—a world where cultural and political fault lines compel individuals, both Japanese and American, to continually renegotiate their own identities. Focusing on the women there, she follows the complex fallout of the murder of an Okinawan woman by an ex–U.S. serviceman in 2016 and speaks to protesters, to women who date and marry American men and groups that help them when problems arise, and to Okinawans whose family members survived World War II. Thought-provoking and timely, Night in the American Village is a vivid look at the enduring wounds of U.S.-Japanese history and the cultural and sexual politics of the American military empire.

30 review for Night In The American Village: Women in the Shadow of the U.S. Military Bases in Okinawa

  1. 5 out of 5

    Joslin

    I'm currently a military spouse living on one of the bases in Okinawa and I think this book should be required reading for everyone associated with the military here. This book gave me important lessons in history, sociology, and Okinawan culture. It took me longer than usual to read because I had to take time between chapters to emotionally process. The Okinawan people, especially the women presented, have endured some very difficult traumas. I loved that the author did her best to show all diff I'm currently a military spouse living on one of the bases in Okinawa and I think this book should be required reading for everyone associated with the military here. This book gave me important lessons in history, sociology, and Okinawan culture. It took me longer than usual to read because I had to take time between chapters to emotionally process. The Okinawan people, especially the women presented, have endured some very difficult traumas. I loved that the author did her best to show all different perspectives and leaves it to the reader to form their own opinions about American forces in Okinawa and whether or not they should stay or go. I'm so glad that Ms. Johnson shared these women's stories and I hope she comes to Okinawa for a reading. I received an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) of this book courtesy of The New Press & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Patrick McCoy

    Akemi Johnson takes a look at Okinawa and analyzes its history as a "contact zone"-a place where cultures intersect through trade and conflict, by focusing the narrative via the perspectives of eleven women from the island in The American Village: Women in the Shadow of the U.S. Military Bases in Okinawa (2019). The first chapter, "Rina", is named after 20 year old Rina Shimabukuro who was raped and murdered by an ex-marine working as a civilian contractor on a base in 2016. Johnson states that Akemi Johnson takes a look at Okinawa and analyzes its history as a "contact zone"-a place where cultures intersect through trade and conflict, by focusing the narrative via the perspectives of eleven women from the island in The American Village: Women in the Shadow of the U.S. Military Bases in Okinawa (2019). The first chapter, "Rina", is named after 20 year old Rina Shimabukuro who was raped and murdered by an ex-marine working as a civilian contractor on a base in 2016. Johnson states that she starts with this story because it represents the larger story of Okinawa and shows what many people get wrong about it-there is a long history of military sexual violence, but only big stories like this get reported. These personal stories allow Johnson look at them in context of the history since occupation after WWII. The second chapter "Eve" is named after a 29 year old receptionist who is obsessed with finding a black husband before she is too old to marry. This chapter gives Johnson an opportunity to look at some subcultures among women on the island. They are given the derogatory names such as "ame-jo" and koku-jo", I had assumed the "jo" meant women who like Americans or blacks. But it turns out that it comes from the Okinawan word "jogu" which means appetite for something with sexual connotations. In the third section, "Ashely", the focus is a wife of a Marines officer describes her life as being like an extension of college with parties and outings on the island. The fourth chapter is about "Sachiko" a WWII survivor who worked as a nurse in the caves on the island during the war. Johnson analyzes the last days of the war where many Japanese chose to kill themselves rather than be raped and tortured by the American devils. "Arisa" the subject of chapter five, grew up near a base and ended up marrying a soldier from the base. Thus, in this chapter Johnson looks at history of international marriages between Okinawan women and the soldiers on the base and how they evolved over time. It is clear that Arisa's stable marriage is something of an exception when you hear the stories of the support group that she volunteered with. The sixth chapter focuses on women's rights advocate "Suzuyo" Takazato and allows Johnson to delve into the other sensational military rape case that took place in 1995 when three marines abducted a 12 year old girl raped her and then dumped her in a trash can. The following chapter, "Daisy, is about a Philippine who came to the island as a hostess and managed to find a decent life outside of the red light district, but this is an opportunity for Johnston to analyze trafficking in Japan. Chapter eight focuses on "Miyo" daughter of an African American and Okinawan woman. Johnston explains that the term applied to Miyo: "hafu"-derived from the English word "half" is "a neutral or positive identifier for most mixed-race Japanese people." "Kiki", the subject of chapter nine, happily works on Futenma base, the most dangerous base in the world given its proximity to a densely populated town where crashes have narrowly avoided killing or injuring local people. Other factors such as pollution and prospects of what the spaces would be used for once a base closes are discussed in this section. "Chie", the main subject of chapter ten, was introduced in chapter four when Johnston focused on her mother "Sachiko." Chie is a lively free spirit and English teacher by trade but she is a leading base protester who devotes most of her free time to protesting the building of the new base Henko north of Nago on the island. This was one of the most interesting chapter for me since it focuses on the main issue of the day in Okinawa-moving Futenma to Henko. The last chapter focuses on the youngest generation by focusing on recent protester "Ai" who due to her family's urging has stopped protesting after she was outraged by the rape and murder of "Rina." There are few young people involved in the protest which suggests that the bases will probably live on in Okinawa as they have in the past. Despite the fact that Okinawa is unique in that "the U.S. military presence creates social spaces and opportunities otherwise hard to find in Japan, Johnson has arrived at a personal conclusion. She says: But the more I learned about the situation and history, the more I felt the bases in Okinawa need to close. Knowing how Okinawans suffered through World War II; how the United States snatched their land; how mainlanders relegate bases to Okinawa to keep them out of their own backyards; how there's no tragic reason for such a heavy military concentration on one small island; how pervasive sexual assault is; and how Okinawans have demonstrated their opposition, time and time again, through democratic means, I know it's an injustice to have so many U.S. bases continue to exist in Okinawa.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    Thank you NetGalley for the ARC. Let me start by saying that I have not only studied at University and lived in Japan, but have also served in the military and have been stationed in Japan and been to Okinawa many times. I was leery at first, to see what agenda the author had-torn between my love for the people and culture of Japan and Okinawa, and for my fellow service members and America, I knew this book could go a number of ways. I was very happy that the author not only conducted extensive r Thank you NetGalley for the ARC. Let me start by saying that I have not only studied at University and lived in Japan, but have also served in the military and have been stationed in Japan and been to Okinawa many times. I was leery at first, to see what agenda the author had-torn between my love for the people and culture of Japan and Okinawa, and for my fellow service members and America, I knew this book could go a number of ways. I was very happy that the author not only conducted extensive research on both the Okinawan side, but the American side as well, as I feel that she was able to offer a unique perspective to a difficult and volatile situation, without taking sides. In her novel, Ms. Johnson looks at the troubled yet co-dependent relationship between Okinawa and the United States since WWII, through the lives of women on the island. In each chapter, she tells the story of a particular woman, revealing her life on this tropical island, and how society around her, both Okinawan and American, react and accept her. She also draws parallels to women on the mainland of Japan. In the book she shows us the “amejo”-the girls who only date American guys, the war survivor, the base protestor, the wife of an American who relies on the base, the abandoned “hafu” child of an American father and Okinawa mother, the Filipina bar hostess, and the rape victim. Each one gives us a glimpse into this complicated relationship between the US and Okinawa, the bases and the island, the military and the Okinawa people. This relationship, this story, this history is different than the rest of Japan, and needs to be understood as a separate entity. If you have ever wondered why the people of Okinawa protest the bases, or if you wonder why each incident that happens involving a US service member gets elevated to the level it does, why it’s on their National radar, if you are in the military and are stationed there, or will be stationed there, or have been stationed there....this is a MUST read. Brava Ms. Johnson. You did a brilliant job with a very difficult topic.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin

    Johnson lays out the methodology here in the first chapter: Okinawa has a tumultuous modern history -- the Japanese invasion of Okinawa and the acculturation into the empire since 1872; the American invasion and military administration of the islands (1945-1972); and the continuous American military presence since then even as the islands reverted to Japanese mainland administration and democracy. Because of that complicated history, there's a tendency to flatten out people's lived experiences i Johnson lays out the methodology here in the first chapter: Okinawa has a tumultuous modern history -- the Japanese invasion of Okinawa and the acculturation into the empire since 1872; the American invasion and military administration of the islands (1945-1972); and the continuous American military presence since then even as the islands reverted to Japanese mainland administration and democracy. Because of that complicated history, there's a tendency to flatten out people's lived experiences into slogans or icons for some political movement: so, a woman is attacked by an American ex-servicemen, and people bring flowers to her memorial -- or blame her for maybe dating an American and so knowing what she was in for -- but people don't really engage with what her experience was being in this multicultural and inequitable society. This leads to Johnson's method and her theme: let's examine the lives of 11 women as a way to complicate and flesh out what it's actually like. I'm reading this somewhat randomly with a book club of some college friends -- and that discussion is still going on, so maybe they'll change my mind about some of this stuff, but here's what I've got so far: There was a lot here that was new to me, and I enjoyed the lens of examining particular people's lives, even as those lives aren't -- couldn't be -- representational of an entire island group, which is something that Johnson returns to both implicitly and explicitly: there's a chapter on one good marriage between an Okinawan woman and an American man, but even that marriage is saddled with the knowledge of how many relationships don't work out, whether or not the people going into them have the best intentions. (Or for another example, one of Johnson's subjects compiles lists of American violence, including all the reports of the children born with American fathers in a certain time period, which Johnson notes is begging the question.) But ultimately, that method gives the book a loose structure that sort of unravels the momentum. (Potentially an artifact of a pause before finishing it, but again: I was able to pause for a while because there wasn't much of a build-up.) Or rather, let me put it this way and spoiler alert for where I think Johnson ends up: the Okinawan islands and people have been through a lot and though many people have built lives on the horns of this dilemma -- caught between mainland Japan and the US military -- there's also a lot of undeniable harm, most obviously in the violence against women by men. (Not all of the women in this book are Okinawan; one chapter follows a Filipina woman who comes over to the island as an entertainer.) So should the US military continue to have so many bases in Okinawa? It's complicated, Johnson concludes, and also: maybe we should listen to the people most impacted by the bases, the Okinawans. Well, OK, but I've just read 11 stories that were meant to be somewhat indicative (even as they also rejected any totemic or iconic status), so I've heard the stories, but now what? Saying "well, it's complicated" or (as she does in the first chapter, giving me wicked grad school flashbacks) "some people say A and some not-A, but maybe it's B" -- that doesn't give me a lot of motivation to do something. Still, though maybe this isn't an action-oriented manifesto, I think it's a very interesting view of a world -- of many worlds -- that at least might help to demonstrate what life is like for other people, possibly even people in your life.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rainer F

    The Okinawa islands are Japan's most southern islands, a 2 hour and 45 minute flight from Tokyo. During World War II a horrible ground battle was fought on Okinawa island which killed 95 000 Japanese and 12,000 American soldiers. About one quarter of the civilian population, approximately 150 000 people were killed during the battle and the Pacific war. After the war the US kept full control of the Ryukyu islands of which Okinawa is a part. First in 1972, the islands were returned to Japan. Toda The Okinawa islands are Japan's most southern islands, a 2 hour and 45 minute flight from Tokyo. During World War II a horrible ground battle was fought on Okinawa island which killed 95 000 Japanese and 12,000 American soldiers. About one quarter of the civilian population, approximately 150 000 people were killed during the battle and the Pacific war. After the war the US kept full control of the Ryukyu islands of which Okinawa is a part. First in 1972, the islands were returned to Japan. Today, there are 32 US military bases on Okinawa with 27,000 soldiers and other military personnel. Akemi Johnson has done meticulous research and led a huge number of interviews and focuses on the story of women affected by the base. She has put women in the center of this book, she says, because women are most affected by the presence of the American bases. They date and marry American service personnel, they work in the entertainment industry surrounding the bases and they are the victims of sexual assaults by Americans. In 1995, a 12-year old Okinawan school girl was kidnapped and raped by US soldiers and in 2016 a young Okinawan women was raped and murdered by a former US soldier. These two cases have led to a lot up protests among the Okinawan population and strengthened the movement to get rid of the bases. The government in Tokyo, led by the national conservative prime minister Shinzo Abe has ignored a referendum of Okinawans last year where 71,7% of the people voted against an expansion of the base in Henoko. US troops have used the base in Okinawa over the decades for military operations in Afghanistan and Irak. Akemi Johnson describes the cultural clashes of Americans and Japanese, the large entertainment industry with erotic dancers and the attitude of many Americans towards Asian women, regarding them often as easy to get and just asking "How much do you cost?". Johnson has talked to husbands and wives of mixed families and presents their stories, sometimes good, sometimes sad. She has said that she was a little surprised that many Okinawans have come to terms with the bases in a way that they gotten used to consume American popular culture despite the many negative effects the base has had with a large number of crimes being committed by military staff since 1972. The population of the islands, 1,3 million today, Akemi Johnson concludes has suffered so much during World War II and afterwards that the burden the bases still represent should at least be reduced by minimizing, if not completely moving the bases to the Japanese mainland. This book gave me insights in an aspect of post World War II history that I was not aware of.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kaye

    This is a memorable book. Akemi Johnson lays out all the factors affecting the Japanese island of Okinawa as it hosts a dense concentration of U.S military bases -- the historical, economic, legal, social and sexual patterns that have changed Okinawa into a hybrid Japanese-American culture. Johnson is quite even-handed as she looks clear-eyed at some of the atrocities Americans have perpetrated on Okinawans (as far back as WWII), and at many of the benefits that have been exchanged. Her story is This is a memorable book. Akemi Johnson lays out all the factors affecting the Japanese island of Okinawa as it hosts a dense concentration of U.S military bases -- the historical, economic, legal, social and sexual patterns that have changed Okinawa into a hybrid Japanese-American culture. Johnson is quite even-handed as she looks clear-eyed at some of the atrocities Americans have perpetrated on Okinawans (as far back as WWII), and at many of the benefits that have been exchanged. Her story is bookended by the case of Rina Shimabukuro, a young woman who was murdered by an ex-GI in 2016. The crime opens the books, and the sentencing closes it. In between, there are mentions of dozens more American crimes, and interviews with a myriad of locals who love or hate (or sometimes both) the American presence. While reading the book, I thought often of Mark Twain's quote on travel: It "is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” Unfortunately, U.S.military members and their families stationed on overseas bases usually miss out on this liberation -- the isolation of the base social structure instead can widen the cultural gap. Johnson's book is packed with intimate accounts, from both sides, of this culture clash. (Full disclosure: I was a military wife who lived for years on and off-base in a NATO country. ) The "American Village" referenced in the title is a theme-park-style tourist trap that attracts off-duty soldiers and Marines as well as avidly curious locals. It felt like yet another example of our tendency to export the worst of America. I liked the structure Johnson used, with each chapter headed by the name of a different woman, whose story introduced more of Okinawa's complex issues. I liked her throughness, right down to the footnotes, to establish the credibility of her observations. Her style is very readable. I hope many readers discover this book. Thanks to NetGalley for an advance reader's copy.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Drew Tschirki

    I waited a few days after finishing to let it simmer. Having lived in Okinawa in a non-military setting I was always an outsider looking in on relations between the Okinawans/Japanese and the US military. One native Okinawan man I met shook my hand and thanked me. I asked why. He said because without the United States, the Okinawan people would be slaves to the Japanese. That being said, the occupation hasn’t been all positive; far from it. I moved to Okinawa a few months after the former marine k I waited a few days after finishing to let it simmer. Having lived in Okinawa in a non-military setting I was always an outsider looking in on relations between the Okinawans/Japanese and the US military. One native Okinawan man I met shook my hand and thanked me. I asked why. He said because without the United States, the Okinawan people would be slaves to the Japanese. That being said, the occupation hasn’t been all positive; far from it. I moved to Okinawa a few months after the former marine killed Rina Shimabukuro and tensions were high to say the least. I was also there when an Osprey aircraft had to crash land along a beach after they found their aircraft to be faulty and they attempted to fly around the island instead of over the towns and cities in the southern part of the island. A noble maneuver that ultimately still fired up many of the anti-base protestors. Anyone who has been, is currently on, or will go to Okinawa should read this book to understand the history of relations between the US and the island as well as between the military and the women, as the author emphasizes. There are horrifying accounts of rape depicted, one being of a 12 year old girl buying a notebook who was picked up, taped over the mouth and eyes and raped by three marines who all served less than ten years each. The murder of Rina Shimabukuro by a former marine who was looking for a victim claimed he attacked her when he saw “she was the one.” This only scratches the surface of rape and murders committed by serviceman on the island. This troublesome history is a large part of the animosity against the United States. There are also depictions of why native women fall in love with the servicemen and have families. There are stories of failed love and native women being cheated on by the servicemen who have wives and children of their own already. There are also success stories. There are depictions of the struggle in closing the bases, as well as the stories of native women who work on the bases and of those who rely on the bases for their livelihoods. There are depictions of the protests taking place to prevent beautiful scenery and ocean ecosystems from being destroyed to build new bases. “Begging is shameful, to be sure; but taking land by military force and causing us to beg is especially shameful”

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    (4.5) Multi-dimensional view of the US bases in Okinawa through women's relationships with them Johnson weaves these women's stories with wide-ranging historical background from the Ryukyu kingdom; colonialism; World War II; reconstruction; reversion; the Cold War; and the thread of positive, negative (and worse) interactions between the bases, local residents and foreign workers. There were times when some history became repetitive, as though these narratives had been assembled from separate wor (4.5) Multi-dimensional view of the US bases in Okinawa through women's relationships with them Johnson weaves these women's stories with wide-ranging historical background from the Ryukyu kingdom; colonialism; World War II; reconstruction; reversion; the Cold War; and the thread of positive, negative (and worse) interactions between the bases, local residents and foreign workers. There were times when some history became repetitive, as though these narratives had been assembled from separate work published independently (and the acknowledgments suggest as much), but overall, the book is terrifically educational, at least for someone with little more awareness of Okinawa than that offered by The Karate Kid. Most impressive is how comprehensive her scope is on this issue, having lived there for an extended period, and revisiting Okinawa more recently. She speaks with amejo, local single women primarily interested in dating Americans, ethnically Okinawan and mixed race women who have/don't have stable relationships with an American man in/out of the military, protesters, an American military wife, foreign workers who work in bars and hospitality (with some overlap with sex workers), women's support group leaders. She does reveal her personal point of view at times, in particular when skeptical of certain points of view, but most of the time lets these women's voices speak for themselves. She carefully supports her subjects' points of view with historical narrative, fact, contemporary reporting. All in all, a terrific educational experience to have read. The complexity of modern Okinawa comes through effectively!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    Since the end of World War II, the island of Okinawa, situated far south in the Japanese archipelago, has been host to a vast complex of US military bases, the influence of which on the lives of the local population is equally vast and frequently problematic. Through the stories of eleven women whose lives have in one way or another been impacted by the presence of US soldiers, including a young woman who was raped and murdered by an ex-marine working as a contractor on one of the bases, a story Since the end of World War II, the island of Okinawa, situated far south in the Japanese archipelago, has been host to a vast complex of US military bases, the influence of which on the lives of the local population is equally vast and frequently problematic. Through the stories of eleven women whose lives have in one way or another been impacted by the presence of US soldiers, including a young woman who was raped and murdered by an ex-marine working as a contractor on one of the bases, a story representative of a seemingly endless array of cases of sexual violence that have occurred in proximity to the bases, both American and Japanese spouses of US military personnel, an elderly woman who survived WWII working as a nurse in the caves on the island as well as her daughter who has become a prominent protester against the continued US military presence, and many others, Johnson explores a wide variety of issues, from rape and violence against women to human trafficking, racism, pollution and destruction of the environment, the financial burden the bases cause, and much more. Johnson provides a balanced view, taking into account the opinions and experiences of people from all sides of the stories she recounts and the problems she highlights, but ultimately she, like surely also many a reader including myself, arrives at the conclusion that it would be better for the bases to close.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kim Bakos

    I didn't know much about Okinawa and it's history going into this book. I had just finished a historical fiction story w/ a character who died in the Battle of Okinawa, so the timing on receiving this book was perfect. I couldn't have even told you that Okinawa was it's own island and not a city in Japan proper (funny that this book refers to Japan as "the mainland" when it is an island itself). What the US and Japanese military have done to Okinawa in the past is bad enough, but what they contin I didn't know much about Okinawa and it's history going into this book. I had just finished a historical fiction story w/ a character who died in the Battle of Okinawa, so the timing on receiving this book was perfect. I couldn't have even told you that Okinawa was it's own island and not a city in Japan proper (funny that this book refers to Japan as "the mainland" when it is an island itself). What the US and Japanese military have done to Okinawa in the past is bad enough, but what they continue to do to this island is abhorrent. No place should have to be a huge military outpost for a foreign government's military, especially when they had no say in what would happen on their own land. I know that this has affected both men and women, but it seems that in this situation it is the women who have had to suffer the larger consequence. At least this book certainly makes it seem that way. No community should have to live in fear of being raped or killed any time they leave the safety of their own homes (and in fact, some women have been accosted in their own homes, too). I have never been a fan of how many service members the US has stationed all over the world, especially since our military is for OUR defense, not the police for the rest of the world. This book simply reinforces the fact that I am correct in my feelings on this matter.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kristine

    Night in the American Village by Akemi Johnson is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late June. Its chapters named for 11 women, each with their own experiences that Johnson covers of disappearances and deaths of women after last being seen at a military base and local women wanting to date and marry soldiers. As you might guess, there's an uncomfortable confusing mix of emotions between the Japanese forces after their defeat in WWII (mainly Japanese civilian families wanting to commit suicide Night in the American Village by Akemi Johnson is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late June. Its chapters named for 11 women, each with their own experiences that Johnson covers of disappearances and deaths of women after last being seen at a military base and local women wanting to date and marry soldiers. As you might guess, there's an uncomfortable confusing mix of emotions between the Japanese forces after their defeat in WWII (mainly Japanese civilian families wanting to commit suicide than be captured by an enemy soldier) and their present-day affection for 1950s Americana coupled with overt race discrimination in the bars catered toward soldiers of different branches of the military, due to Japanese women favoring American men (or ‘amejo’). There's a giant amount of topics talked about, like Okinawan history, soldiers wanting to marry Japanese women to gain visas, assault, kidnapping, and rape, women traveling to Okinawa for work to escape an angry homeland or family, sex work from the 1950s-1990s, and the treatment of children of mixed race parentage. The only real thing preventing this book from a confident 5-star rating is the slight redundancy and carryover of historical facts from one chapter to another, which dulls the individual woman’s story.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    This is an excellent book on so many levels. It would make a great textbook for a college course on Okinawa. But, it's also very readable as Johnson tells the stories of different women in Okinawa. It is rich in detail and description and the political controversies are covered quite astutely. I knew of Okinawa's history and culture before reading this book so I had some context, but I was surprised at how deep the author went explaining not just what happened, but how and why it happened. If yo This is an excellent book on so many levels. It would make a great textbook for a college course on Okinawa. But, it's also very readable as Johnson tells the stories of different women in Okinawa. It is rich in detail and description and the political controversies are covered quite astutely. I knew of Okinawa's history and culture before reading this book so I had some context, but I was surprised at how deep the author went explaining not just what happened, but how and why it happened. If you have a connection to military bases and/or if you have any interest in Japan and Okinawa you should read this book. Or if you just want to be challenged into thinking about the world in a different way, you should read this book. It is a smooth read, but not an easy one as you need to take time to consider what is being said. But... so worth it!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Meghan Arnold

    I cannot recommend this book enough. I happened upon it because Okinawa is a “destination of the month” for a “travel from home” project. Coming from a military family, I’ve known quite a few family friends who were stationed on the island, but didn’t know much about the complicated history of the indigenous Okinawan people and the post-war relationships between U.S. and Japanese governments. Akemi Johnson presents both sides of the issue, through a feminist lens that I wish more non-fiction was I cannot recommend this book enough. I happened upon it because Okinawa is a “destination of the month” for a “travel from home” project. Coming from a military family, I’ve known quite a few family friends who were stationed on the island, but didn’t know much about the complicated history of the indigenous Okinawan people and the post-war relationships between U.S. and Japanese governments. Akemi Johnson presents both sides of the issue, through a feminist lens that I wish more non-fiction was presented with. The women’s, environmental, and social justice conversations raised in this book are going to sit with me a long time and as an American, I am hoping to learn more and take action about some of them. I recently read another book set in Puerto Rico and am learning how woefully ignorant I am as a U.S. citizen regarding our current state of colonization.

  14. 5 out of 5

    David

    An illuminating examination of a complex stew of history, culture, and identity from the perspectives of a few groups whose stories are rarely heard - Okinawans in general, Okinawan/Japanese women specifically, and (particularly for Americans) how our foreign presence in the form of military bases manifests itself in the politics of other countries and creates an uneasy co-dependence among local populations. Johnson does a fine job going beyond a simple pro-base/anti-base dichotomy to better und An illuminating examination of a complex stew of history, culture, and identity from the perspectives of a few groups whose stories are rarely heard - Okinawans in general, Okinawan/Japanese women specifically, and (particularly for Americans) how our foreign presence in the form of military bases manifests itself in the politics of other countries and creates an uneasy co-dependence among local populations. Johnson does a fine job going beyond a simple pro-base/anti-base dichotomy to better understand individual Okinawans' experiences as being essentially doubly occupied - first by the U.S. and second by mainland Japan - and how this both empowers and oppresses them.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Isabelle

    “Night in the American Village” by Akemi Johnson is a book that is going to stay with me for an incredibly long time. Ms. Johnson gives the women at the military bases in Okinawa their voices, their truth, and their power. This book is not always an easy read but it is an incredibly important one and an absolutely empowering story that reveals the horrors that all too many people are not aware of that occurred in WWII Japan. Thank you to the author and the publisher for kindly and generously prov “Night in the American Village” by Akemi Johnson is a book that is going to stay with me for an incredibly long time. Ms. Johnson gives the women at the military bases in Okinawa their voices, their truth, and their power. This book is not always an easy read but it is an incredibly important one and an absolutely empowering story that reveals the horrors that all too many people are not aware of that occurred in WWII Japan. Thank you to the author and the publisher for kindly and generously providing me with an arc via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Aidan Hanratty

    This is an excellent book that covers huge ground. It traces the history of Okinawa from its annexation by Japan in the 18th Century through to World War II and beyond. It examines the impact of the presence of US military bases has had over the past half-century, both positive and negative. It is detailed and thorough, avoiding any easy conclusions. Painstakingly researched, it is both historical document and a collection of personal stories, using these individual narratives as starting points This is an excellent book that covers huge ground. It traces the history of Okinawa from its annexation by Japan in the 18th Century through to World War II and beyond. It examines the impact of the presence of US military bases has had over the past half-century, both positive and negative. It is detailed and thorough, avoiding any easy conclusions. Painstakingly researched, it is both historical document and a collection of personal stories, using these individual narratives as starting points for a series of themes. I received a copy from NetGalley.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Luv

    I appreciate the research done by the author. Having lived on Okinawa for more than 10 years, it was a bit painful to have my beliefs challenged and, in some cases, changed. On the other hand, I have first hand knowledge of one part of the book that the author got wrong. Overall, I would recommend the book to those accepting orders to Okinawa. It is a wonderful place to call home, but we also need to be sensitive to why that older Okinawan man is yelling at us to go home in the produce section o I appreciate the research done by the author. Having lived on Okinawa for more than 10 years, it was a bit painful to have my beliefs challenged and, in some cases, changed. On the other hand, I have first hand knowledge of one part of the book that the author got wrong. Overall, I would recommend the book to those accepting orders to Okinawa. It is a wonderful place to call home, but we also need to be sensitive to why that older Okinawan man is yelling at us to go home in the produce section of the local market.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Boyd Cothran

    A probing exploration of the lives, choices, and opportunities available to Okinawan women. Johnson's careful analysis reveals the stunning and mundane ways in which the U.S. military bases in Okinawa touch every aspect of life on this remote, beautiful, and tragic island. A must read for anyone interested in Okinawa or the history of US bases. A probing exploration of the lives, choices, and opportunities available to Okinawan women. Johnson's careful analysis reveals the stunning and mundane ways in which the U.S. military bases in Okinawa touch every aspect of life on this remote, beautiful, and tragic island. A must read for anyone interested in Okinawa or the history of US bases.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Cody

    A reminder of the ways the expansion of superpowers hurts the most vulnerable populations, this book shines a light on an issue I didn’t know much about. I was surprised how much deeper and more nuanced the battle over U.S. military bases in Okinawa is.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tara Murdock

    I was highly disappointed by this book. Although the history offered is relevant and interesting, this accounting does not accurately reflect the culture that exists between Okinawans and U.S. military members today.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    I served as a Marine for two tours totalling four years during the 1980s. It was easy living, with little interchange of news and ideas. Even off base, contact with Okinawans was always polite and fiendly. I would have loved to have had access to the Okinawan viewpoint while living there.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cristie Underwood

    The author's painstaking research and attention to detail is obvious in the writing of this book. There were many facts that I only discovered after reading this! The author's painstaking research and attention to detail is obvious in the writing of this book. There were many facts that I only discovered after reading this!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jess or ジェシカ

    Wow, great book that focuses on trying to find nuance in people's relationship to Okinawa, Japan, and America. Wow, great book that focuses on trying to find nuance in people's relationship to Okinawa, Japan, and America.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    Fantastic. I learned so much.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Haley Hope Gillilan

    this one was really tough to read sometimes, but it was such a brilliant and thorough examination of a very specific topic and region.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Johnson captures snapshots of Okinawan women to illustrate contemporary issues on the island around ongoing US military presence.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Crunden

    ⤑ research tag: in an effort to organise my shelves, I'm going to be labelling the books I'm using for study purposes as I tend to dip in and out of these. ⤑ research tag: in an effort to organise my shelves, I'm going to be labelling the books I'm using for study purposes as I tend to dip in and out of these.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Holly Botes

    Such a negative take. Not great.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Eloise Robbertze

    Night in the American Village by Akemi Johnson is a fascinating account of the occupation of Okinawa by the US military since World War 2 and how this relationship has affected (and continues to, to this day) the inhabitants of this island, primarily the women. Rape and violence are prevalent in this multi-cultural society, but so is friendship and love. It is very well researched with intimate details covering topics that are not widely known or discussed regarding the military bases, the activ Night in the American Village by Akemi Johnson is a fascinating account of the occupation of Okinawa by the US military since World War 2 and how this relationship has affected (and continues to, to this day) the inhabitants of this island, primarily the women. Rape and violence are prevalent in this multi-cultural society, but so is friendship and love. It is very well researched with intimate details covering topics that are not widely known or discussed regarding the military bases, the activists, the families (both local and foreign). Although filled with factual accounts of the people living in Okinawa (and to a lesser extent Japan) and their personal stories, it reads like a novel. Forging an identity here is complex and seems up for negotiation. Not only has Ms. Johnson has taken a hard look at the sexual culture of the American military, she’s also dissected how this relationship has contributed to the economic growth as well as the ongoing tensions between these two societies who it seems, cannot live without each other. A thoroughly enjoyable, if somewhat depressing, book! #netgalley #nightintheamericanvillage #akemijohnson #thenewpress

  30. 5 out of 5

    Pedro Cambra

    Not only Okinawa and the US bases there are under x-ray here, but the Japanese society constructs at large as well. Having experienced Okinawa in first hand, with no military exposure on my side, there are many events and details that go unnoticed. Not for the author, she offers an unfiltered, mostly unbiased narrative of the complex interactions of Okinawans with the military, the mainland Japanese and among each other. Honest and brutal, the story of 11 Okinawan women is put under Akemi Johnson Not only Okinawa and the US bases there are under x-ray here, but the Japanese society constructs at large as well. Having experienced Okinawa in first hand, with no military exposure on my side, there are many events and details that go unnoticed. Not for the author, she offers an unfiltered, mostly unbiased narrative of the complex interactions of Okinawans with the military, the mainland Japanese and among each other. Honest and brutal, the story of 11 Okinawan women is put under Akemi Johnson’s microscope. A must read for anyone interested not only in Okinawa but in Japan as a whole. I wish there was a sixth star I could give to this one.

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