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THE STATE AS PIMP: Prostitution and the Patriarchal State in Japan in the 1940s

John Lie
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
This article explores the state organization of prostitution in Japan in the 1940s. The Japanese military and the colonial government in Korea created “comfort divisions” (iuntui) for Japanese soldiers during World War 11. Furthermore, one of the first postwar acts of the Japanese state was to resuscitate “comfort divisions” as the Recreation and Amusement Association ( M A ) for the U S . occupation forces. In narrating state actions and organizations, I analyze the political-economic and ideological underpinnings that enabled the state to act as pimp.

In this article, I delineate the Japanese state organization of prostitution (defined as paid sexual work) in the 1940s. In analyzing the institutional and ideological underpinnings of prostitution, I trace concrete and complex power relations that transgress polarized gender categories. In so doing, I place the study of sexual work in the realm of political economy. I begin by briefly articulating theoretical themes. After a short overview of premodern prostitution in Japan, I describe and explicate the creation of sexual “comforters” (iunfu)during World War II and the Recreation and Amusement Association (RAA) after the war. I then outline later developments.

State policy toward prostitution often exhibits an ostensibly contradictory logic of prohibition and regulation (and hence implicit encouragement) (Corbin 1978, pp. 24-33; Chaleil 1981, pp. 419-436). However, it is unusual for the modem state to organize its own prostitution service. How do we explain it? Catharine MacKinnon’s feminist theory of the state offers an illuminating perspective on patriarchy, the state, and sexuality. In her trenchant formulation: “sexuality is to feminism what work is to marxism: that which is most one’s own, yet most taken away” (MacKinnon 1989, p. 3). Power in the patriarchal state, in her view, is predicated on men’s control of women’s sexuality. Indeed, the Japanese state as pimp appears as a paradigmatic instance of the patriarchal state that controls women’s bodies and sexuality. MacKinnon’s argument, however, suffers from privileging sexuality and gender relations. As Elizabeth Spelman (1988, p. 186) points out: “Talking simply about relations between
*Direct all correspondence to John Lie, Department of Sociology, University of Illinois, 702 S. Wright St., Urbana. IL 61801;

The Sociological Quarterly, Volume 38, Number 2, pages 251-263. Copyright 0 1997 by The Midwest Sociological Society. AU rights reserved. Send requests for permission to reprint to: Rights and Permissions, University of California P r e s s ,Journals Division, 2120 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, CA 94720. ISSN: 0038-0253.

some prefectures abolished prostitution in the early Meiji period (Yoshimi 1982. 122-123. Yet we cannot analyze women and men as simple collectivities but rather as mediated and affected by class. the institutional role of the modem state should not be overlooked. Riding on the wave of the popular rights movement. such as Yoshiwara in Ed0 (present-day Tokyo) (Nakano 1967. 174-175). The complexity of power relations is best represented by the complementary yet conflicting relationship between patriarchy and paternalism. pp. playing on not only gender but also class. ethnic. pp. Kunimitsu and Sugimura 1980). In the project of creating hegemonic ideologies (in the Gramscian sense) and infrastructural capacities. however. are complex. Schulte 1979. the state abolished trade in human labor and hence in prostitutes after the Maria Luz incident of 1872 (Maki 1970. and ethnicity. class. colonial control requires active consent and collaboration of colonized elites. 223-225). not unitary. commercialization and urbanization of Tokugawa society. As Cynthia Enloe (1990. After the collapse of the Tokugawa regime. nationalism. ethnic. pp. and class alliances. For example. 38/No. The state in effect allowed gangs (yukuza) to organize paid sexual work (Kobayashi 1982. In other words. but international political economy affects gender relations as well. 130-137. pp. the modem state cannot simply rely on coercion. the Meiji state (1868) pursued substantially the same policy toward prostitution (Nolte and Hastings 1991). 1993) argues. Power relations. especially in the late seventeenth century. however. The protection of some women. Just as patriarchal relations must be analyzed beyond gender relations. Barnhart 1986. It is not simply that men control women but that a particular group of men control a particular group of women. In . The impact of patriarchy is a key point of departure. spurred the development of “private” prostitution (shish6) (“illegal” prostitutes were also called kakushibuijo or buitu) (Sone 1990. 15). gender relations and ideologies play important roles. Consider that an elementary justification of patriarchy (as well as militarism) is paternalism: the duty of men to protect women. Patriarchy and paternalism are two sides of the same coin: a currency that works in the complex milieu of international power relations. and transnational politicaleconomic relations. Nagano 1982. Prostitutes were confined to government-recognized quarters to practice their trade. pp. not only does gender have an impact on international politics. PROSTITUTION AS TRADITION Let me briefly present the historical background. In conjunction with “public” prostitutes (kGshG). even in the realm of sexuality. Thus. Partly to emulate the West. 208-221). 2/1997 men and women masks race and class distinctions among men and among women.252 THE SOCIOLOGICAL QUARTERLY Vol. and other divisions. This is equally true institutionally as well as ideologically for colonial and neocolonial relations. entails the sacrifice of other women. if not earlier. In expanding its sphere of influence. In addition. cf. In constructing ruling ideologies. 11-67. These power relations cannot be theorized in abstraction as a simple gender dichotomy but rather must be analyzed in their concrete manifestations. there are crosscutting allegiances that transgress polarized gender categories. pp. the modem state seeks the collaboration and compliance of its subjects.” To focus excessively on men’s power over women elides the complexities of women’s oppression. I stress several factors in analyzing prostitution and the patriarchal state. 29-53). Administered prostitution dates back to the late sixteenth century. institutions. state power must also be analyzed in terms of gender relations. pp. p. in Japan (Nishiyama 1979.

the military sought to halt Japanese soldiers from attacking women in colonized territories and in war fronts.S. 173. there were many nonregistered prostitutes. pp. pp. 226-228) As Cynthia Enloe (1990) writes of the U. Second. military base prostitution is widespread. Indelibly marked on the minds of the Japanese leaders was the negative international coverage of the Nanjing massacre when Japanese soldiers raped and assaulted Chinese . First. For example. military: The military establishment routinely insisted that it did not permit prostitution at frontier garrisons and that it did not encourage prostitution in surrounding towns. the social reformism of the early twentieth century and the concomitant rise of women’s movements contributed to the rise of an antiprostitution movement in 1926. iuntui for short. p. In addition. Anne Butler (1985. which remained an active presence for the next decade (It6 1982. military prostitution has been common in many cultures throughout history. 68-70. In the early twentieth century. p. organized divisions of “comforters” (iunfi) for the sexual gratification of military officers and soldiers within and outside of Japan. The export of karayukisan often preceded Japanese trade abroad and Japanese prostitutes earned critical foreign exchange in the early period of Japanese industrialization (Yamazaki 1972. the military. pp. or teishintui. Nonetheless. 269-270). On the contrary. In this context. The “comfort divisions” (jiigun iuntui. in conjunction with the colonial government in Korea (SBtokufu). Yoshida 1983. presence. see also Sugaya 1975.S. pp. The Japanese military had two reasons for organizing its own sexual workers. Ultimately. cf. eighty thousand geisha (traditional entertainers). military presence in the Philippines and elsewhere. in Japanese. pp. Indeed. 3-7). and fifty thousand registered barmaids (Garon 1993. it was evident that every level of officer knew fully about the transport. chsngsindue in Korean) followed Japanese soldiers deployed across much of Asia and the western Pacific. The military decisionmakers’ concern can be gleaned from the fact that even when rubber had become a scarce but critical military resource. Why did the military organize its own prostitution service? To be sure. (cf. 299-300. 1” [totsugeki ichibun]) continued to be produced in abundance (On0 1981. sexual entrepreneurs (zegen) recruited young rural women to work abroad-from Siberia to Singapore-as prostitutes (Yoshimi 1984. 714). the sex industry prospered in newly industrialized Japan in the early twentieth century (Ichikawa 1978). the military created a de fact0 policy in support of prostitution. Walkowitz 1980. THE CREATION OF SEX SOLDIERS The Japanese war effort in China intensified during the 1930s. 146) describes the late nineteenth-century U. pp. But the military rarely explicitly encourages or creates its own prostitution service. 22-23). Termeau 1986. it sought to curb the incidence of venereal disease (VD) among its soldiers. A 1938 Ministry of Army survey found that 11 out of every 1. and residence of prostitutes in and around military reservations. 72-75). pp.000 conscripts had VD (Yoshimi 1984. modem Japan’s first major exports were prostitutes called kuruyukisun (Japanese prostitutes who went abroad). Sievers 1983). and writings on them proliferated (Minami 1988. pp. Sexual workers also became fixtures of urban life. there were about fifty thousand licensed prostitutes (operating in 550 licensed areas). Garon 1993).The Stare As Pimp 253 addition. condoms (inscribed “attack no.

p. 130-133. These reasons in and of themselves. in the early 1940s the state assiduously promoted a pronatal policy. 38/No. the state-even an authoritarian one like the Japanese state of the early 1940s-must elicit the participation of its subjects. Yamada 1991). Michael Mann’s (1986) distinction between “despotic” and “infrastructural” power is useful. many of them suffered from VD.254 THE SOCIOLOGICAL QUARTERLY Vol. the construction of iantai. transporting. The Nanjing massacre cast a long shadow on Japanese leaders’ thinking about war and male violence. Hence. executing a subject).” Second. like other atrocities of the modem era. This is particularly interesting in the case of Japan with its long tradition of warrior homosexuality (Hiratsuka 1983). The mimetic desire cast “traditional” homosexuality as a relic of the feudal past (cf. which required Japanese women to bear “pure” Japanese offspring (Suzuki . with its infrastructural power and egalitarian ethos. with its professionalism and organizational discipline. Braybon and Summerfield 1987. Whereas sovereigns in the premodern period exercised despotic power (e. do not illuminate the particular confluence of Japanese military needs and state capacities that created iantai. However. the egalitarian ethos recognized the sexual “rights” of citizen-soldiers. the Japanese state could not possibly have organized iantai. they lacked infrastructural power (e. which replaced the earlier ethos that allowed homosexual relations among soldiers.g.. 28). see also Honda and Naganuma 1989). cf. superseded the earlier aristocratic (and national) tradition with its sexual tolerance. which would not have been of concern before the modern period. also sought to modernize the nation through disciplinary power. far exceeded the availability of Japanese prostitutes. In order to advance its aims. collecting taxes). The military demand. 2/1997 women (Sone 1984. after all. First. the sexual “rights” of soldiers. pp. the military recruited Japanese prostitutes (Hirota 1975. Recruiting. moreover. strong military”) was simultaneously a westernization project. for the sake of the family and the country. The patriotic ideology was simultaneously patriarchal. either in Korea or within Japan proper. 109).. A century before. The flip side of the modern state’s infrastructural power is its lack of despotic power. access to sexual gratification could not be restricted to the privileged few. Furthermore. men were to protect women and children while glorifying the nation and the Emperor (Senda 1981. The modern Japanese military and state had considerable infrastructural power to execute their goals by the 1940s. the very condition of modernity contributed to the ostensibly premodern practice of female sexual servitude. p. however. the modem state. The war was fought. encapsulated in the slogan fukoku ky6hei (“rich country. 182-185. The relentless Japanese pursuit of wealth and power.g. had to be widely dispersed among citizen-soldiers. In the beginning. The recruitment of ianfu began in the 1930s and intensified in the early 1940s. depended on the modem bureaucratic state’s infrastructural capacity. The massive military organization required the consent of its conscripts. One element in this process was the ideology of compulsory heterosexuality (Rich 1980). The soldiers were expected to channel their sexual energy into heterosexual outlets and to emulate the sexual prowess of the West. the modem military. The Emperor’s “gift” had to be distributed widely (Suzuki 1991. In effect. Here. Weeks 1981). which undermined a major reason for iantai. Moreover. for example. Finally. Korean women were targeted to become ianfu. pp. In brief. and supporting female sex soldiers required an organizational capacity that was a necessary but insufficient condition for the “comfort divisions. Why didn’t the military turn to Japanese women who were not prostitutes? The widely disseminated ideology of paternalism precluded “ordinary” Japanese women from becoming military prostitutes.

Senda 1981. pp. 89-94). It was a small step to transfer young women from factory jobs to sexual work. pp. Needless to say. p.000 Korean workers were “exported to Japan. 150-197). for example. pp. In addition. many were killed once they served their function (Suzuki 1991. p. i). they could be mobilized as well to recruit Korean women for military prostitution (Kim 1974. Japanese sexual entrepreneurs (zegen) had been recruiting Korean women to become prostitutes for Japanese clients. In total. up to 200. close to 800. “Korean hunting” (ChGsenjingari) relied on force and deception (Kim 1974. Furthermore. and Japanese colonial officials recruited young Korean women to become military prostitutes (Yoshida 1983). What allowed Korean women to be “whores” also rendered Korean men suspect as potential sexual predators. pp. ambivalent role in the Japanese racial ideology. Japanese ianfu were paid two to three times as much as their Korean counterparts (Senda 1978. 58-60). Furthermore.000 Korean women became ianfu (Kim 1974. p. pp. the ideological combination of closeness and insistent inferiority facilitated the transformation of Korean women into prostitutes. many women’s health conditions deteriorated (Kim 1977. 54). From 1939-1944. pp. Although they were deemed racially close to Japanese and expected to assimilate ( k h i n k a ) . 126-128). The sexualization of oppressed others is. to Taiwan. They had repeated intercourse as soldiers stood in line to be “serviced” without interruption. p. Ianfu worked as virtual sex machines. including elite women. The existing apparatus of labor mobilization in colonial Korea was also important. of course. Forced against their will to become sexual serfs. Yoshimi 1977. Colonial power relations and racial hierarchy stratified Japanese and Korean ianfu. The degrading treatment of Korean women was only another step from the dehumanization of Koreans as colonized inferiors. common across cultures past and present. As we will see. In summary. while the Koreans served the rank and file (Kim 1974. who were treated worse than Korean ianfu (Senda 1978. pp. Uno 1993. 21-22. 206. both ideological and institutional factors rendered Korean women ripe for sexual exploitation. 59). primarily as manual workers” (Pak 1965.” Korean women worked in the worst jobs created by the militarized colonial power in its war effort (Kim and Pang 1977. pp. The colonial power exploited the colonized women’s sexuality as part of the Japanese state’s pursuit of its military goals. 71-74). pp. p. ii. Japanese ianfu were often reserved for officers.The State As Pimp 255 1993. p. 124-128. Senda 1981. Yamatani 1979. pp. Many Korean women were already working in factories and farms under Japanese control and hence were easy prey for “sexual conscription. the ideology of paternalism-protection for “ordinary” Japanese women-played a major role in the postwar organization of state-sponsored prostitution service. 82). ii. pp. 17). 79. 237. Yoshida 1977. The infrastructural capacity of the state. The ideology of Korean inferiority mandated the creation of “comfort divisions” for Korean workers in Japan in order to protect “innocent” Japanese women from the potential barbarity of Korean men (Yamane 1991. Some survivors were stranded in war fronts across Asia and the Pacific (Senda 1978. The paucity of ianfu led the military to force women in conquered territories to become prostitutes. they were nonetheless deemed inferior. Nationalist ideology mandated a practical constraint on the deployment of “ordinary” Japanese women as prostitutes. 177-178. the Japanese military organized Korean women to serve Japanese soldiers sexually. The colonial ruling apparatus facilitated the process. 67-128). the sexual . 40-41). 299-300). Indeed. p. Korean collaborators. Koreans occupied a special. The narcissism of minor differences contributed to the especially severe colonial rule compared.

they created the Recreation Amusement Association (RAA. while a Home Ministry memorandum encouraged the police “to prevent women walking alone or going out at night” (Awaya 1986. 260. Hence. Women will be concubines of Blacks”’ (It6 1990. The Japanese state organized a new “division” of sexual workers. said: [The M A ] was instituted as a necessary thing.256 THE SOCIOLOGICAL QUARTERLY Vol.S. he called me to the Prime Minister’s residence hoping that I would [organize the M A ] . Respected newspapers warned women to dress properly and not to “bare their chests” in front of American soldiers. pp. (Oshima 1976. There were widespread rumors concerning the coming U. occupation force.S. p. Amidst apprehension over the imagined brutalities of American soldiers. pp. 110). Ita Shinya. THE U. 128-133. U S . 233) reports what the chief of the Metropolitan Police told his subordinates: “Gentlemen. 17-18). which functioned under U. thus. Japanese soldiers who had committed the atrocities that the rumors described had returned to Japan to spread. occupation that lasted until 1951. Chinese. verify. and other conquered people during the war.” he said. 2/1997 rights of citizen-conscripts. We need a shock ab- . The end of the war brought considerable confusion. p. Konoe remembered what Japanese soldiers did to Chinese women in the Manchurian Incident. the Japanese state sought to preempt American prurience by organizing prostitution for the occupying U. 125-130) In Japan Diary. Akiyoshi Miyoko wrote: “In two hours [after the Emperor’s announcement of Japan’s defeat] there were rumors: ‘Men will be castrated and taken to America as slaves. troops. American soldiers will come and crush old grandmothers. Young girls will be taken. It6 Matsuko recalled: “In any minute. p. do not die easily.S. obviously. the continuity between the prewar and postwar periods manifested itself most strikingly in the state policy toward prostitution. or embellish tales of terror (Kata 1972. and the modem Western ideology of compulsory heterosexuality were crucial elements that made the “comfort divisions’’ possible. sought a thoroughgoing reform of Japanese society. As one author argues: “Those who received the biggest benefit from the occupation policy after the war were Japanese women” (Sugasaki 1986. 38). then the police chief. Kobayashi and Murase [1961] 1992). However. occupation did not end either prostitution or the patriarchal state. when Japan regained its sovereignty in the San Francisco Peace Treaty. We fear that the Americans will molest our women-our wives and daughters and sisters. so he felt he should save Japanese women. OCCUPATION AND THE NEW IANTAI The Japanese defeat in World War I1 ushered in a period of U. p. Tokushu Ian Shisetsu KyBkai) (Kanzaki 1974. p. 315). p. Mark Gayn ([1948] 1981.S. On August 18-a mere three days after the defeat-Vice Prime Minister Konoe discussed ways to “protect” Japanese women from American soldiers. The Supreme Command for Allied Powers (SCAP). Many Japanese people feared that American soldiers would do unto them what their soldiers had done to Koreans. control. their legs will be pulled apart” (Iwasaki and Kat6 1971. Duus 1979. it was one of the first actions of the postwar cabinet headed by Prime Minister Higashikuni. Old habits. “the American Army is coming to Japan. Two reminiscences of “ordinary” Japanese women express their fear and panic. including the liberalization of women’s position (Lie 1991). 38/No. Indeed. Indeed. 16).S. pp.

pp. a traditional and prestigious area. The official who approved the capital expenditure in the Finance Ministry was Ikeda Hayato. the state also relied on advertising. In their vision. 1945. the RAA was to “contribute [teishin] to the protection of the body politic [kokutui goji]” (Ichikawa 1978. a haircut cost 200 yen while a bowl of noodles cost 50 yen (Ono 1981. Gayn 1981. Clothes. 149). 147-148). prostitutes in Yoshiwara. The RAA disbanded after the order was issued from the security division of the Home Ministry (Ichikawa 1978.” In addition to organizing existing prostitutes. pp. The result was the RAA. Konoe. 20). 103-104). while professionally trained geisha were reserved for officers (Isomura 1975. shelter.The State As Pimp 257 sorber. 535). The RAA was to be “a blockade [b8hafei]. hereby orders you to form a central association which would cater to the amusement of the Americans. with thirty-five million yen of which was provided by the Finance Ministry (Duus 1979. With widespread hunger and unemployment. 233). p. therefore. In Mainichi Shimbun of September 3. the protection of Japanese womanhood entailed the sacrifice of other women. and become our friends. Travel expense will be provided for applicants from the countryside” (Ichikawa 1978. while ianfu in Shinagawa ranged from 300-600 yen. however. It was mainly for soldiers. and executed by the architect of the postwar economic “ sustain and cultivate the purity of the race for the next hundred years and beyond. In Ginza and other parts of Tokyo. Bereft of colonies.” with capital of fifty million yen. Moreover.000 prostitutes (Ozawa 1984. the state recruited new women. The remnants of authoritarian state structures facilitated the execution of the patriarchal-patemalist conception. there were about 55.” An August 18. the patriarchal state sought once again to play the paternal role of protecting its women. Kanzaki (1974.” In essence. p. cost 400-2. and high wage provided. 537). the future Prime Minister of Japan (Omura 1976. however. pp. Thus. occurred in front of the Imperial Palace. As early as January 1946. SCAP had issued a memorandum stating that prostitution was against the ideal of democracy: “The maintenance of licensed prostitution in Japan is in contravention of the ideals of democracy and inconsistent with the development of individual freedom throughout the nation” (Ichikawa . p. pp. elite men of power looked to prostitutes and would-be prostitutes to serve as new sexual “soldiers. 536). Perhaps it is emblematic of the continuity between the prewar and postwar periods in Japanese history that the state’s prostitution organization was conceived by its most prominent prewar civilian politician. p.” Ikeda. The commencement ceremony of the RAA on August 26. 550-552). p. it is desired that the Americans enjoy their stay here. At its height. we need cooperation of the new Japanese women to participate in the important task of comforting stationed troops” (Ozawa 1984. Loans provided. Befitting the newfound democratic era. When it officially disbanded in March 1946. At the time. p.000 yen. The government. memorandum from the Home Ministry’s security division dictated: “Police chiefs should aggressively lead and quickly establish sexual comforting institutions (seiteki ian shisetsu)” (Ichikawa 1978. many women signed up to “comfort” American soldiers (Omura 1976. 1945. 138) reported that each ianfu “comforted” from 15-60 soldiers per day. 1945. which has been called “the world’s biggest white-slave traffic combine. the following billboard went up: “To the new Japanese women! As part of state emergency institution for postwar task. pp. 125-126). the RAA placed the following advertisement: “Special women employees wanted. In 1953. 41-52. p. p. 22).” as well as to “become invisible pillars underground for the basis of postwar social order. the RAA numbered about seventy thousand women.

p. pp. p. when they took off their uniform. . (Oshima 1976. 217. much like their Meiji-period counterparts. The state’s motivation was to protect “innocent” Japanese women and to placate the occupying U. The victorious nation’s men continued to buy the defeated and impoverished nation’s women. the Japanese state organized prostitution to serve the occupied U. there was a remarkable continuity in the activity of the Japanese state. force. The vast majority of the 55. From November 1946. military presence. while others were called burrerfy) (ShisB no Kagaku Kenkyfikai 1978. pp. as if catching wild cats. In particular. 133.S. military force immediately after World War 11. 198). Second. 182-183). they [prostitutes] were all treated like animals. sixteen traditional places of prostitution became “red-line” areas. Although the beneficiaries shifted from Japanese to American soldiers. privatized form. became customers and bought street prostitutes. of the U. In so doing. Those who served Americans were called yhpan (those who had only one client were called only. 114-115) There is little doubt about the informed passivity. SCAP began prostitute “hunts” in January 1946. In summary. Ono 1981. pp. Nishi 1985.000 in 1949. 188-189. 36-40). Prostitution was therefore not abolished but simply continued in a new. called akasen (red-line) areas. new street prostitutes. pp. the number of violent incidents against women by American soldiers increased from 40 to 330 per day. see also Nishi 1985. stimulated the revival and expansion of the sex industry in postwar Japan. 335-363. The number of prostitutes increased steadily in the postwar period. 157. military command in the face of the Japanese action.S. pp. the Japanese state regulated prostitution in licensed quarters. 364-365). p. pp. p. pp. AFTER THE RAA The end of the R4A did not end prostitution. 548. First. panpan organized self-defense groups as they had no vertical relationships either to the government or to pimps (Yoshimi 1984. and the provider of sexual service from Korean to Japanese women. 60-61). while new areas were called “blue-line” (aosen) areas. pp.000 ianfu went straight to work in akasen after the RAA was disbanded (Yamaoka 1973. Led by the MP’s jeep.258 THE SOCIOLOGICAL QUARTERLY VOI. see also Kanzaki 1974. the state. many MP’s.S. along with the U. Duus 1979. p. The Ministry of Labor estimated that there were half a million prostitutes at the time (Kata 1978. 3 a / ~ 0 . 209). In Tokyo. Just as the expression “hunting” [karigorni] suggests. The distinction between red and blue areas was essentially the traditional distinction between regulated and unregulated areas (Ida 1986. However. A former Japanese police officer testified: It was terrible. 78-80). which corroborated the Japanese authorities’ raison d’&tre of instituting the RAA in the first place. Therein lies a compelling reason for the state to overlook its stated opposition to prostitution. 495-496.000 prostitutes in August 1946 and 56. it put up “ O f fLimits-VD’ signs around brothels and bars (Isomura 1975. The Japanese state was the primary actor in the drama of the reconstituted iantai. Interestingly. Interestingly. we went by trucks and pushed everyone into the trucks. p. proliferated (Yamaoka 1973. if not outright complicity. ShisB no Kagaku Kenkyfikai 1978. p. karayukisan. More critically. 217). it arrested 15. pp. called panpan. Yoshimi 1982.S.211 997 1978. RAA prostitutes earned foreign exchange for the Japanese economy. SCAP sought to combat prostitution by increasingly sterner measures.

Strip shows became popular (Oshima 1976. pp. 313-321). In a famous nationwide radio interview. pp. mostly for the clothes she bought at the brothel store. all others will do is to say that ‘she was a panpan”’ (Ozawa 1984. Asian women entered Japan as Jupuyukisun (named . pp. paid sex work survived and in fact proliferated. Gayn ([1948] 1981. 259262. 265-291). the number of toruko increased to 814 in 1971 and 1. We asked them if they had heard of the MacArthur directive which banned contractual prostitution. renamed Soap Land in the early 1980s. pp. However. The situation was no different after the RAA was discontinued. With the postwar economic expansion. This was particularly striking in Okinawa. prostitution became illegal in Japan. 19. often related to illicit networks. From 390 establishments in 1963. Yamaoka 1973. recruited young women. 229-239). Japanese men became major consumers of women’s bodies. In a 1966 police survey. Although proscribed after 1958. Not content with the domestic service. By 1969. 496-497. Call girl rings began as a service for U. pp. She now owed the company Y. Some had lost jobs in the war industries. As a British sociologist observed in the late 1950s: “Prostitution. over half of those who worked in toruko had pimps attached to some gang (Kanematsu 1987.S. Simultaneously. Lie 1995).OOO (about $660). p. other sexual services proliferated throughout Japan (Kanematsu 1987. and the debt was growing. We got similar stones from the other girls. she had never been a prostitute until . . p. 185-236.The State As Pimp 259 The motivation of Japanese prostitutes was predictable: in a time of poverty and confusion. 396-415). became an expanding industry of the side-streets” (Dore 1958. especially as stimulated by U. five months ago. Toruko. turukoburo (Turkish bathhouses) or turuko developed into virtual brothels in the course of the 1960s. which was occupied by the United States until the early 1970s. . pp. military presence. sex tours to Korea and Taiwan in the 1970s and Thailand and the Philippines in the 1980s became popular (Truong 1990. 384-395).486 in 1979 (Yoshimi 1984. see also Bornoff 1991). a twenty-year-old panpan said: “Even if one finds a decent job after much effort.S. continue to be fixtures in urban areas. when in fact they were poor women with few opportunities (Oshima 1976. p. By the 1980s. In April 1958. Yamaoka 1973. or professional entertainers. officers. pp. U. occupation encouraged the revival of prewar “private” prostitution. 213) interviewed one nineteen-year-old prostitute: She said . pp. 238-258). . one out of every thirty-four women over the age of fifteen had become a prostitute (Hokama 1984. A few described themselves as geisha. male sexual entrepreneurs. In the main islands of Japan.10. 39-40). Takemura 1985). For example. p. Yamaoka 1973. 162). pp. They had not. . Kano 1984. Most of them had lost their families in the American fire raids. while male prostitution also had its beginning in the occupation period (Kata 1978. pp. Unlike the horizontally organized panpan. 609-626. 134. Predictably. The sex industry was privatized under the grip of Japanese mafia (yakuza) and gangs (b6ryokudun). the impetus of the immediate postwar years.S. pp. In its most explicit form. thereby ending centuries of administered prostitution in the country (Ichikawa 1978. the immediate postwar years witnessed a resurgence of pornographic literature and magazines (Shinohara 1988). driven from the licensed quarters. had greatly expanded the sex industry. They were all in debt to the management. they simply sought to survive. pp. ianfu and panpan were stigmatized as deviant and morally corrupt (Yamaoka 1973. 30-32).

260 THE SOCIOLOGICAL QUARTERLY Vol. the study of prostitution must be placed in the analysis of power relations. Men do not control women but rather a particular group of men control a particular group of women. In so doing. the military was instrumental in recruiting Japanese and Korean women into “comfort divisions” to serve officers and soldiers within and outside of Japan. After Japan’s defeat. The road to understanding the power of patriarchal ideologies and institutions lies in tracing the concrete operations of power relations. The Japanese state as pimp is but an extreme manifestation of the modem patriarchal state. International and internal power relations were critical to the formation of prostitution organizations. prostitution usually entails organizations-be it the state or private sexual entrepreneurs-to sustain relations of sexual exchange between prostitutes and their clients. 2/1997 after karayukisan) in a variety of sex-related work (Lie 1994). In this sense. are ensembles of overlapping power relations. CONCLUSION The Japanese state organized and promoted sexual work in the 1940s. and genders. In short. The activities of the Japanese state in the 1940s suggest that it is problematic to separate the discussion of political power from the issue of sexuality. created a sphere of sexual exchange encompassing the greater East and Southeast Asia (Lie forthcoming). not instances of simple gender hierarchy and domination. as well as patriarchal social structure. urbanization and the commodification of social life. the Japanese state functioned as a pimp in the 1940s. it is not outright coercion but hegemony that makes the rule of the modem state effective. . This study also demonstrates that prostitution does not occur simply from men’s sexual desires or “deviant” women’s willingness to offer sex for money but because of the underlying structural conditions and concrete organizations. Just as (predominantly farming and working) women from colonized Korea were mobilized by the Japanese state. The quest for power and wealth justified in terms of protecting “innocent” women legitimates the colonization of not just another country but its own women as well. During World War 11. that is. classes. and the concomitant end of feudal sexual relations. the state creates alliances across nations. in the realm of political and sexual economy. The prerequisites of modem. some Japanese women were mobilized when Japan was “colonized” by the United States. Japan had. More concretely. in short. organized prostitution include the regulating or administrative state. Patriarchy is not an all-encompassing principle of power in society. 38/No. the state organized Japanese women to serve the occupying American soldiers sexually. The modern patriarchal state.

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