Women under the US occupation of Japan: Recreation and Amusement Association

"Comfort Women" [1] is a word used by Japanese Imperialist to euphemize military rape and prostitution. However, we tend to forget the institutionalized military prostitution by US army after WWII. United States occupied Japan for 6 years after World War II and during the occupation of Japan US army set up Recreation and Amusement Association (RAA) [2] to sexually exploit Japanese Women. The Japanese name of RAA is "特殊慰安施設協会", which can be translated as "Association of special comfort" which is almost an exact copy of "comfort women" and "comfort place", the language used by Japanese Fascists in WWII.

Figure 1: A photo of Recreation and Amusement Center:

RAA at first plans on recruiting professional Japanese Prostitutes but quickly it was found that after the WWII the number of professional prostitutes could not satisfy the need of American soldiers occupying Japan. The US occupied Japanese government recruited prostitutes from general women. The recruitment was successful because after WWII a lot of young Japanese girls and women became unemployed and lost their husbands. RAA's wage (roughly 1 dollar per each sex trade) was good enough to attract them. [3]

Another reason why RAA successfully recruited so many common Japanese girls (over 55000 at its peak) is that the recruitment process is deceptive. The first brothel set up by RAA was named as "Komachi Garden"[4], which means "Babe Garden" and job title was "dancer" or "women volunteer". This word game played by RAA, together with the harsh economic condition of Japanese women and girls managed the recruitment process.

However, military advantage of US army did not prevent Japanese artist to make voice for those victims during the US occupation of Japan. Below are various art works criticizing United States' domination of Japan [5]: 

Figure 2: Nakamura Hiroshi's art work, notice the image of Japanese girl

Figure 3: Ishii Shigeo's art work, Kishi Nobusuke is depicted as a mad war monger in this photo

Works Cited

1: Min, Pyong Gap. “Korean ‘Comfort Women’: The Intersection of Colonial Power, Gender, and Class.” Gender and Society, vol. 17, no. 6, 2003, pp. 938–957.

2: ASHBY, LeROY. "With Amusement for All: A History of American Popular Culture since 1830. "University Press of Kentucky, 2006. 

3: Dower, John W. (1999). Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II. Norton.

4: Barry, Kathleen. The Prostitution of Sexuality. New York: New York UP, 1995. Print. pp195

5: Massachusetts Institute of Technology . "Protest Art in 1950s Japan." MIT Visualizing Cultures. NA, 10 Feb. 2012. 


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