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There were a high number[citation needed] of alleged rapes of Japanese civilians committed by Allied soldiers during the last months of the Pacific War and the subsequent Occupation of Japan. Okinawan historian Oshiro Masayasu claims the number of rape cases were as many as 10,000[citation needed]. Thomas M. Huber from US Army Command and General Staff College claims rape was "freely committed" by Japanese soldiers who knew that they had little chance of surviving due to the Army's prohibitions against surrender at Okinawa.



By 1945 U.S. troops were entering and occupying territory with a Japanese civilian population. On 16 February 1945 U.S. troops landed on Iwo Jima, and on April 1, 1945 on Okinawa. In August 1945, Japan surrendered and Allied occupation troops landed on the main islands, starting the formal Occupation of Japan. The Allied occupation ended in most of Japan on April 28, 1952, when the terms of the Treaty of San Francisco went into effect, ending in Okinawa on May 15, 1972.

According to retired US Army colonel Mary Ann Wright "Thirty women were raped in 1945; 40 in 1946, 37 in 1947 and the count goes on year after year. The first conviction of a US military soldier for rape was in 1948."[1]

Battle of Okinawa

According to Calvin Sims of New York Times: "Much has been written and debated about atrocities that Okinawans suffered at the hands of both the Americans and Japanese in one of the deadliest battles of the war. More than 200,000 soldiers and civilians, including one-third of the population of Okinawa, were killed."[2]

US army rapes

There is no documentary evidence that mass rape was committed by Allied troops during the Pacific War. There are, however, numerous creditable testimony accounts which state that a large number of rapes were committed by US forces during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945.[3] One historian has estimated that more than 10,000 Okinawan women were raped by American troops during the fighting there.[4]

According to Calvin Sims of New York Times:

"One possible explanation for why the United States military says it has no record of any rapes is that few if any Okinawan women reported being attacked out of fear and embarrassment, and that those who did were ignored by the United States military police, the historians said. Moreover, there has never been a large-scale effort to determine the real extent of such crimes. Even today, efforts to speak to women who had been raped were rejected because friends, local historians and university professors who had spoken with the women said they preferred not to discuss it publicly. In his book Tennozan: The Battle of Okinawa and the Atomic Bomb, (Ticknor & Fields, 1992) George Feifer said that there were fewer than 10 reported cases of rape by 1946 in Okinawa, partly because of shame and disgrace, partly because Americans were victors and occupiers. Mr. Feifer said that in all there were probably thousands of incidents, but the victims' silence kept rape another dirty secret of the campaign. In interviews, historians and Okinawans said that some Okinawan women who were raped gave birth to biracial children, many of whom were killed at birth. More often, however, rape victims obtained abortions from village midwives. "[2]

Okinawan historian Oshiro Masayasu (former director of the Okinawa Prefectural Historical Archives) writes based on several years of research:

Soon after the U.S. marines landed, all the women of a village on Motobu Peninsula fell into the hands of American soldiers. At the time, there were only women, children and old people in the village, as all the young men had been mobilized for the war. Soon after landing, the marines "mopped up" the entire village, but found no signs of Japanese forces. Taking advantage of the situation, they started "hunting for women" in broad daylight and those who were hiding in the village or nearby air raid shelters were dragged out one after another.[5]

According to Toshiyuki Tanaka, 76 cases of rape or rape-murder were reported during the first five years of the American occupation of Okinawa. However, this is probably not the true figure, as most cases went unreported.[6]

An estimated 10,000 Okinawan women were raped by American troops during the Okinawa campaign.[4]

In 1998 the remains of three U.S. Marines stationed on Okinawa were discovered outside of a local village. Accounts from elderly Okinawans claim that the 3 black marines had made frequent trips to the village to rape the women that lived there, but were ambushed and killed by dozens of villagers with the help of 2 armed Japanese soldiers who were hiding in the jungle, in a dark narrow mountain pass near a river on one of their return trips. "The Japanese soldiers shot at the marines from the bushes and several dozen villagers beat them to death with sticks and stones."[2] According to the same article, one academic claims that "rape was so prevalent that most Okinawans over age 65 either know or have heard of a woman who was raped in the aftermath of the war."[2]

Japanese army rapes

According to Dr. Thomas M. Huber from US Army Command and General Staff College, Combat Studies Institute, Japanese soldiers also mistreated Okinawan civilians during the battle there. Rape was "freely committed" by Japanese soldiers who knew that they had little chance of surviving due to the Army's prohibitions against surrender. These abuses contributed to a post-war divide between Okinawans and other Japanese.[7]

Public view

The Japanese military told Okinawans that they would suffer rape, torture and murder at the hands of the Americans. According to Michael S. Molasky and Steve Rabson:

"In battle, American soldiers who discovered people hiding in caves or tombs would order them outside, and those who refused were sometimes killed with flamethrowers or with grenades tossed into their hiding place, even when civilians were suspected to be inside. Yet Okinawans who did surrender were often surprised at the comparatively humane treatment they received from the American enemy. Nearly everyone on the main island of Okinawa in the spring and summer of 1945 was placed in American internment camps."[8][9]

According to Islands of Discontent: Okinawan Responses to Japanese and American Power by Mark Selden and Laura Elizabeth Hein:

"The Americans killed many civilians, sometimes deliberately, in the heat of battle but they did not pursue a policy of torture, rape, and murder of civilians as Japanese military officials had warned. Some GIs did attack civilians, but the U.S. military also provided food and medical care to survivors-something the Japan military had not done in the last desperate month of the battle."[10]


Public fear and Recreation and Amusement Association

In the period after the Emperor of Japan announced that Japan would surrender many Japanese civilians feared that Allied occupation troops were likely to rape Japanese women when they arrived. These fears were, to a large part, driven by concerns that the Allied troops would exhibit similar behavior to that of Japanese occupation forces in China and the Pacific.[11] The term "comfort women" was an euphemism for the estimated 200,000, mostly Korean and Chinese, women who were forced to work as prostitutes in Japanese military brothels during World War II.[12] The Japanese Government and the governments of several prefectures issued warnings recommending that women take measures to avoid contact with occupation troops, such as staying in their homes and staying with Japanese men. Police in Kanagawa Prefecture, where the Americans were expected to first land, recommended that young women and girls evacuate the area. Several prefectual authorities also suggested that women kill themselves if they were threatened with rape or raped and called for "moral and spiritual education" to enforce this view.[13]

In response, the Japanese government established the 'Recreation and Amusement Association' (RARA), military brothels to cater to the Allied troops upon their arrival, though most professional prostitutes were unwilling to have sex with Americans due to the impact of wartime propaganda.[14] Some of the women who volunteered to work in these brothels claimed that they did so as they felt they had a duty to protect other women from Allied troops.[15] These officially sponsored brothels were closed in January 1946 when the Occupation authorities banned all "public" prostitution on the grounds that it was undemocratic and violated the human rights of the women involved.[16]

Reported rapes by US forces

According to John W. Dower, despite Japanese fears, "the incidence of rape remained relatively low given the huge size of the occupation force".[16] However, its incidence increased after the criminalization of prostitution; Dower states in his book, Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II, that while the U.S./Japanese-sponsored brothels were open “according to one calculation ... the number of rapes and assaults on Japanese women were around 40 a day” until the spring of 1946 but after they were closed due to the criminalization of prostitution, the number rose to 330 a day.[17][18]

Michael S. Molasky states that while rape and other violent crime was widespread in naval ports like Yokosuka and Yokohama during the first few weeks of occupation, according to Japanese police reports, the number of incidents declined shortly after and were not common on mainland Japan throughout the rest of occupation.

American soldiers stationed abroad did (and still do) commit abduction, rape, and even murder, although such incidents were not widespread in mainland Japan during the occupation. Japanese police records and journalistic studies indicate that most violent crimes committed by GIs occurred in naval ports such as Yokosuka during the first few weeks after the Americans arrived in 1945, and that the number declined sharply thereafter.43 The above passage from Chastity also points to issues which are central to a serious consideration or prostitution in postwar Japan: for example, the collaboration between police and medical authorities in enforcing a regime or discipline against women working outside the domestic sphere, the economic exploitation of female labor through regulated prostitution, and the patriarchal valorization or chastity to an extent that rape victims are left few alternatives but prostitution or suicide.[19]

There were 1,336 reported rapes during the first 10 days of the occupation of Kanagawa prefecture.[20]

On April 11, 40 US soldiers cut phone lines to a housing block in Nagoya city, and simultaneously raped "many girls and women between the ages of 10 and 55 years."[21]

Historians Eiji Takemae and Robert Ricketts state that "When US paratroopers landed in Sapporo, an orgy of looting, sexual violence and drunken brawling ensued. Gang rapes and other sex atrocities were not infrequent." and some of the rape victims committed suicide.[22]

Reported rapes of British Commonwealth Occupation Force

According to Takemae and Ricketts, members of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) were also often[citation needed] involved in rapes:

A former prostitute recalled that as soon as Australian troops arrived in Kure in early 1946, they 'dragged young women into their jeeps, took them to the mountain, and then raped them. I heard them screaming for help nearly every night'."[22][23]

Australian, British, Indian and New Zealand troops in Japan as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) also committed rapes on occasion. The commander of the BCOF's official reports state that members of the BCOF were convicted of committing 57 rapes in the period May 1946 to December 1947 and a further 23 between January 1948 and September 1951. No official statistics on the incidence of serious crimes during the BCOF's first three months in Japan (February to April 1946) are available.[24] Australian historian Robin Gerster contends that while the official statistics underestimate the level of serious crime among BCOF members, Japanese police often didn't pass reports they received on to the BCOF and that the serious crimes which were reported were properly investigated by BCOF military police. The penalties given to members of the BCOF convicted of serious crimes were "not severe", however, and those imposed on Australians were often mitigated or quashed by Australian courts.[25]

Testimony of an Australian officer

Allan Clifton, an Australian officer who acted as interpreter and criminal investigator wrote

"I stood beside a bed in hospital. On it lay a girl, unconscious, her long, black hair in wild tumult on the pillow. A doctor and two nurses were working to revive her. An hour before she had been raped by twenty soldiers. We found her where they had left her, on a piece of waste land. the hospital was in Hiroshima. The girl was Japanese. The soldiers were Australians. The Moaning and wailing had ceased and she was quiet now. The tortured tension on her face had slipped away, and the soft brown skin was smooth and unwrinkled, stained with tears like the face of a child that has cried herself to sleep.[26]

As to Australian justice Clifton writes regarding another rape that was witnessed by a party of card-players:

"At the court martial that followed, the accused was found guilty and sentenced to ten years penal servitude. In accordance with army law the courts decision was forwarded to Australia for confirmation. Some time later the documents were returned marked 'Conviction quashed because of insufficient evidence'."[26]

Censorship of Japanese media

According to John Dower, Allied Occupation authorities imposed wide-ranging censorship on the Japanese media, which was imposed in September 1945 and continued until the end of the occupation,[27] including bans on covering many sensitive social issues and serious crimes such as rape committed by members of the the Occupation forces. These bans were introduced to suppress Japanese wartime propaganda and limit opposition to the occupation forces and the political reforms they sought to introduce.[28]

According to Eiji Takemae and Robert Ricketts, Allied Occupation forces suppressed news of criminal activities such as rape; on September 10, 1945 SCAP "issued press and pre-censorship codes outlawing the publication of all reports and statistics 'inimical to the objectives of the Occupation'."[22]

Following the occupation Japanese magazines published accounts of rapes committed by American servicemen.[29]

See also

Allied forces
Japanese forces
Nazi forces


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d "3 Dead Marines and a Secret of Wartime Okinawa" by Calvin Sims, New York Times, June 1, 2000
  3. ^ Japan's Comfort Women: Sexual Slavery and Prostitution During World War II By Yuki Tanaka, Toshiyuki Tanaka, page 110-111
  4. ^ a b H-Net review of The GI War against Japan: American Soldiers in Asia and the Pacific during World War II
  5. ^ Tanaka, Toshiyuki. Japan's Comfort Women: Sexual Slavery and Prostitution During World War II, Routledge, 2003, p.111. ISBN 0203302753
  6. ^ Tanaka, Toshiyuki. Japan's Comfort Women: Sexual Slavery and Prostitution During World War II, Routledge, 2003, p. 112. ISBN 0203302753
  7. ^ Huber, Thomas M. Japan's Battle of Okinawa, April–June 1945, Command and General Staff College
  8. ^ Molasky, Michael S., The American Occupation of Japan and Okinawa: Literature and Memory, p. 16,,M1 
  9. ^ Molasky, Michael S.; Rabson, Steve, Southern Exposure: Modern Japanese Literature from Okinawa, p. 22,,M1 
  10. ^ Sheehan, Susan D; Elizabeth, Laura; Selden, Hein Mark, Islands of Discontent: Okinawan Responses to Japanese and American Power, p. 18, 
  11. ^ Dower (1999), p. 124
  12. ^ Comfort Women Were 'Raped': U.S. Ambassador to Japan
  13. ^ Koikari (1999), p. 320
  14. ^ Dower (1999), pp. 125–126
  15. ^ Dower (1999), p. 127
  16. ^ a b Dower (1999), p. 130
  17. ^ Dower, John. Embracing Defeat, p. 579, fn 16. quoted in U.S. Courts-Martial in Occupation Japan: Rape, Race, and Censorship by Terese Svoboda in The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 21-1-09, May 23, 2009.
  18. ^ Dower (1999), p. 579
  19. ^ Molasky, Michael. The American occupation of Japan and Okinawa: Literature and Memory, Routledge, 1999, p. 121. ISBN 0415191947 Google Books
  20. ^ Schrijvers, Peter (2002). The GI War Against Japan. New York City: New York University Press. p. 212. ISBN 0814798160. 
  21. ^ Svoboda, Terese. "Race and American Military Justice: Rape, Murder, and Execution in Occupied Japan". The Asia-Pacific Journal, Japan Focus. 
  22. ^ a b c Takemae, Eiji; Robert Ricketts (2003). Inside GHQ: The Allied Occupation of Japan and Its Legacy. translated by Robert Ricketts, Sebastian Swann. Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 67. ISBN 0826415210, 9780826415219. 
  23. ^ For detailed accounts of rapes by Australian occupation troop during the occupation of Japan, see Allan Clifton, "Time of Fallen Blossoms". Australian Military Gang Rape of ‘Fallen Blossoms’ American Chronicle
  24. ^ Gerster (2008), pp. 112–113
  25. ^ Gerster (2008), pp. 117–118
  26. ^ a b Tanaka, Toshiyuki. Japan's Comfort Women: Sexual Slavery and Prostitution During World War II, Routledge, 2003, pp.126–127. ISBN 0203302753
  27. ^ Dower (1999), p. 406
  28. ^ Dower (1999), p. 412
  29. ^ Dower (1999), p. 211


External links

Allan Clifton case

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