Night in the American Village: Women in the Shadow of the U.S. Military Bases in Okinawa

Night in the American Village: Women in the Shadow of the U.S. Military Bases in Okinawa

by Akemi Johnson


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“A lively encounter with identity and American military history in Okinawa. Night in the American Village is by turns intellectual, hip, and sexy. I admire it for its ferocity, style, and vigor. A wonderful book.”
—Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead

A beautifully written examination of the complex relationship between the women living near the U.S. bases in Okinawa and the servicemen who are stationed there

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781620973318
Publisher: New Press, The
Publication date: 06/18/2019
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 281,868
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Akemi Johnson is a former Fulbright scholar in Okinawa and has written about the island for The Nation, Travel + Leisure, Explore Parts Unknown, and other publications. She has also contributed to NPR’s All Things Considered and Code Switch.

Customer Reviews

Night in the American Village: Women in the Shadow of the U.S. Military Bases in Okinawa 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Kim Gustafson 3 months ago
Well researched, compelling read. Recommed it highly.
Penny Williams-Elmer More than 1 year ago
I would give no stars but not able to do that. After reading the first chapter I am not so excited about buying the book for the following reasons. 1.) she has never lived on Okinawa. Yeah after living on the island from 55 – 59' I am prejudice in that regard. 2.) She appears to dislike America, dislike the bases on Okinawa, dislike our military, dislike the civilians and any and all Americans you ever lived on the island. 3.) She never even knew Okinawa until 2002 when she visited as a student. 4.) She speaks negatively, in my opinion about OUR influence on the island when if it had not been for man like my father and others there would be no Okinawa. Went back and read some more to see if I was too quick in my judgment.. Nope. this book is only worthy of the trash..
Leah_E More than 1 year ago
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.