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Occupying PowerSex Workers and Servicemen in Postwar Japan$
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Sarah Kovner

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780804776912

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804776912.001.0001

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The High Politics of Base Pleasures

The High Politics of Base Pleasures

Regulating Morality for the Postwar Era

(p.119) Five The High Politics of Base Pleasures
Occupying Power
Stanford University Press

This chapter explores how a national anti-prostitution law finally passed in 1956, when Liberal Democratic Party legislators made the cause their own. Sex work had threatened the public morals and endangered children. Servicemen played an outsize role in the Japanese sex market. The growing controversy surrounding military-base prostitution helped to consolidate support for the law and finally overcame conservative opposition. Although the law was a narrow institutional triumph for female legislators, it actually safeguarded a sex industry that left men in charge. All Japanese women were supposed to benefit from the enhanced moral climate. While the Prostitution Prevention Law was meant to protect children, a total of 54 percent of these rapes were committed by juveniles. It is shown that 1956 was a high-water mark for women's activism, demonstrating its limitations more than its achievements.

Keywords:   national anti-prostitution law, Liberal Democratic Party, sex work, servicemen, Japanese sex market, Japanese women, Prostitution Prevention Law

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