Women of Okinawa
Nine Voices from a Garrison Island
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.