Sanitized Sex analyzes the development of new forms of regulation concerning prostitution, venereal disease, and intimacy during the American occupation of Japan after the Second World War, focusing on the period between 1945 and 1952. It contributes to the cultural and social history of the occupation of Japan by investigating the intersections of ordering principles like race, class, gender, and sexuality. It also reveals how sex and its regulation were not marginal but key issues in the occupation politics and postwar state- and empire-building, U.S.-Japan relations, and American and Japanese self-imagery. An analysis of the “sanitization of sex” uncovers new spatial formations in the postwar period. The regulation of sexual encounters between occupiers and occupied was closely linked to the disintegration of the Japanese empire and the rise of U.S. hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region during the Cold War era. An analysis of the sanitization of sex thus sheds new light on the configuration of postwar Japan, the process of decolonization, the postcolonial formation of the Asia-Pacific region, and the particularities of postwar U.S. imperialism. More than a book about the regulation of sex between occupiers and occupied in postwar Japan, Sanitized Sex offers a reading of the intimacies of empires—defeated and victorious.
Robert Kramm is Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study, University of Konstanz.