This article examines how the bodies of Japanese women became a key site of political and cultural contestation during the Allied occupation. The sale of sex, once legally recognized and regulated, became a conspicuous symbol of postwar chaos. Ostracizing sex workers who catered to servicemen provided a means to display an abiding nationalism without directly confronting the occupiers. But these women were also indispensable in the economy of military base cities. Journalists and social critics sought to discern or impose order by devising elaborate taxonomies, cartographies, health regimes, and moral codes. Sex workers were active participants in this process, but their personal testimonies show how their lives defied categorization. When the Diet finally intervened with the 1956 Prostitution Prevention Law, it was merely the culmination of a long process involving every segment of Japanese society.

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