Women of Okinawa: Nine Voices from a Garrison Island / Edition 1

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Since World War II, Okinawa has been the stage where the United States and Japan act out dramatic changes in their relationship. Women from three generations, each with a different account of the ways that international affairs have transformed Okinawa, here tell the story of that tiny island and its interactions with an enormous U.S. military presence. Three of the women were born before the Pacific War, and their first memories of Americans are of troops coming ashore with bayonets fixed. A second group, now middle-aged, grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, when massive American bases were a fixture of the landscape. The youngest women, for whom the bases are a historical accident, are in their twenties and thirties, raised in a country increasingly confident of its status as a world power. In conversations with Ruth Ann Keyso, these nine Okinawan women reflect on life on a garrison island: on relations with mainland Japan; on their dreams and ambitions; on Japanese treatment of ethnic minorities; on the changing role of women in Japanese and in Okinawan society; and on the drawbacks and pleasures of living side-by-side with U.S. military personnel and their families. Ruth Ann Keyso's compelling account sheds light on contemporary Okinawa, United States—Japan relations, and the small truths revealed by life stories clearly told and well reported.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Although Keyso's subjects may not be typical of Okinawa's women, their revealing conversations provide valuable insights into a culture most Americans know little about."—Mary Carroll, Booklist. November, 2000.

"The portraits are engaging, often even compelling, and collectively serve to provide the reader both with insight as well as a wish to learn more about these people."—Choice, March 2001

"Since the last major World War II battle between the United States and Japan was fought on Okinawa, the island has been the staging area for U.S. military operations in Asia. In conversation with Keyso, three generations of Okinawan women here reflect on Okinawa's history and how their lives have been affected by U.S. military presence, which continued after the island reverted to Japanese control in 1972."—Library Journal, January 2001

"In this superb study Keyso, through interviews with three generations of Okinawan women, examines various attitudes towards the war, American occupation, Japan and themselves."—The Front Table, Winter 2000

"Keyso's book emphasizes the many positive features of Okinawan women's postwar experience without disguising the hardship and discrimination they have variously experienced. Furthermore, the way in which she has chosen her interviewees. . . only serves to deepen our understanding of the complex problems raised by the U.S. presence on Okinawa. . . In short, Keyso provides us with a fascinating perspective on Okinawan history and women's place within it."—Fiona Webster. The Japan Times, January 23, 2001

"The book is highly readable and serves as a nuanced guide through the uncomfortable triangular relationship betwen the U.S., Japan and Okinawa. These women's voices and their experiences are unique. Their stories are memorable, and they deserve to be told."—Yuki Allyson Honjo, International Herald Tribune/Asahi Shimbun, May 25, 2001

"Okinawan women are different from mainland Japanese or American women. Young or old, rich or poor, skilled or unskilled, they have all spent their lives trying to adjust to and protect themselves from American military forces that have occupied the best fifth of their island for over 55 years. Ruth Ann Keyso's interviews with nine of these women, some of whom survived the Battle of Okinawa and some who were born only after the GI presence had long been established, powerfully illustrate the moral bankruptcy of American military strategy a decade after the Soviet Union has disappeared. In their own voices, these women describe the sexual, marital, economic, and educational pitfalls of living in an American military ghetto, one in which their own government acts as an active agent of the Pentagon so that Japan will not have to tolerate such bases anywhere near mainland cities. Americans should reflect on what their government does in their name under the pretense of maintaining 'stability' five thousand miles from the U.S.'s own shores."—Chalmers Johnson, author of Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire

"Through the voices of nine women, Ruth Ann Keyso brings needed attention to the experiences of Okinawans under the American Occupation and in relation to the Japanese state. These fascinating accounts and memories of women from different generations show the variety and complexity of Okinawan women's lives and views under a regime that deprives their community of political sovereignty and equality."—Representative Patsy Mink, Second District, Hawaii

Library Journal
Since the last major World War II battle between the United States and Japan was fought on Okinawa, the island has been the staging area for U.S. military operations in Asia. In conversation with Keyso, three generations of Okinawan women here reflect on Okinawa's history and how their lives have been affected by U.S. military presence, which continued after the island reverted to Japanese control in 1972. The older women, whose families perished or were displaced during the conflict, recall the hardships of life before, during, and immediately after the war. Women who grew up during the American occupation discuss living and working on the U.S. bases and the differences in women's roles in Japan, Okinawa, and the United States. The younger women reflect on their identity as Okinawans, an ethnic minority group within Japanese society. A glossary and explanatory notes are provided, but readers wanting more details of Okinawa's geography (including a map of the island) and culture will need to search elsewhere. For larger public and academic libraries.--Lucille M. Boone, San Jose P.L., CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801486654
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.99 (w) x 8.99 (h) x 0.63 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2001

    A must for Okinawan Americans & Amerasians

    At last! This book has answered so many questions for me. I am a 'product' of what is mentioned in the book - a child of an American serviceman and an Okinawan woman. This book has filled in some of the gaps in my cultural identity. It was refreshing to see such a firm understanding from an American author - she is not just a narrator. This book has initiated many conversations with my parents that otherwise been impossible. Kudos to the author to point out that Okinawans are distinctly different than Japanese! This has been such a gift. By all means read it no matter what your heritage.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2001

    Full of beauty and meaning

    I couldn't put it down. Ruth Ann Keyso gracefully weaves the stories of nine Okinawan women with the island's tragic yet hopeful history and culture. She allows these women to tell their own stories, in their own voice. Poignant and moving. Being Japanese American, I am always searching for ways to develop my perspective on my culture, and this book has opened my eyes to the lives, dreams, tragedies and hopes of the Okinawan people. I highly recommend this book to anyone with an enthusiam to learn about the world and an eagerness to grow as a person.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2000

    Well-written account of Japan at its most misunderstood

    Ruth Keyso writes a fascinating account of the lives of nine different Okinawan women. Her book reads like seperate memoirs, yet each is tied together by the common thread of devastation and beauty, sadness and truth. These lives offer a personal glimpse into a culture that is dominated by the American military presence that has existed on their island for over 50 years, yet has managed to maintain ties to the Okinawa of the past. The book explores for the first time lives that seem to have disappeared from history books, and allows the reader to have a glimpse into the human side of war and its aftermath. The only criticism I would have for this book is that it was not written before. These stories need to be heard--they are long overdue.

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