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.
"Questions concerning prostitution, the actions of American male soldiers, the Japanese imperial government’s policies, and the US post-surrender occupation policies continue to be salient in Japanese domestic politics. Robert Kramm has done a terrific job of analyzing the evolving (1945–1952) relationships between the US military male police and the local Japanese male police in controlling women in prostitution and American male soldiers’ relationships with those women."—Cynthia Enloe, author of Bananas, Beaches and Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics
"This important study rethinks the contours of sex work in occupied Japan and places the occupation squarely within the history of imperial encounter. Robert Kramm offers a sensitive and intelligent reading of the central importance of sex in the governance of a nation coming to terms with a new dynamics of power in the face of wartime defeat. A must-read for anyone interested in the history of sexuality, war, or imperialism."—Philippa Levine, author of Prostitution, Race, and Politics: Policing Venereal Disease in the British Empire