Cold War Ruins: Transpacific Critique of American Justice and Japanese War Crimes
Lisa Yoneyama is Professor of East Asian Studies and Women & Gender Studies at the University of Toronto, the coeditor of Perilous Memories: The Asia-Pacific War(s), also published by Duke University Press, and the author of Hiroshima Traces: Time, Space, and the Dialectics of Memory.
Liberation under Siege: Japanese Women
This chapter analyzes the midcentury representation of Japanese women’s enfranchisement under the Allied occupation. Following the military victory in Asia and the Pacific, the United States became the supreme overseer of the region’s progress, democracy, and modernization. The notion that the American occupation brought gender justice to racialized women of the vanquished enemy empire was integral to the process. The chapter examines how the U.S. media’s coverage of Japanese women’s enfranchisement endorsed what might be called a “Cold War Feminism.” It resolved for the American audience the contradiction that Japanese women gained rights, freedom, and equality but under the illiberal condition of foreign occupation. By interrogating the rhetoric of liberation that the United States has circulated not only to Japanese women and their American watchers but throughout the postwar decolonizing world, the chapter traces the connections of America’s jus ad bellum to the universalizing idea of gender justice.