Akemi Johnson will dicuss her new book “Night in the American Village: Women in the Shadow of the U.S. Military Bases in Okinawa” (The New Press) at two Bay Area bookstores:
Friday, June 28, at 7 p.m. at Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera. Info: www.bookpassage.com
Saturday, June 29, at 3 p.m. at Eastwind Books, 2066 University Ave., Berkeley. Info: www.asiabookcenter.com
At the southern end of the Japanese archipelago lies Okinawa, host to a vast complex of U.S. military bases. A legacy of World War II, these bases have been a fraught issue in Japan for decades — with tensions exacerbated by the often volatile relationship between islanders and the military, especially after the brutal rape of a 12-year-old girl by three servicemen in the 1990s.
But the situation is more complex than it seems. In “Night in the American Village,” Johnson takes readers deep into the “border towns” surrounding the bases — a world where cultural and political fault lines compel individuals, both Japanese and American, to continually renegotiate their own identities.
Focusing on the women there, she follows the complex fallout of the murder of an Okinawan woman by an ex-U.S. serviceman in 2016 and speaks to protesters, to women who date and marry American men and groups that help them when problems arise, and to Okinawans whose family members survived World War II.
Thought-provoking and timely, “Night in the American Village” is a vivid look at the enduring wounds of U.S.-Japanese history and the cultural and sexual politics of the American military empire.
Johnson is a former Fulbright scholar in Okinawa and has written about the island for The Nation, Travel + Leisure, Explore Parts Unknown, and other publications. She has also contributed to NPR’s “All Things Considered” and “Code Switch.”
“A substantial and powerful account of the women whose lives are drawn into the orbit of the U.S. military in Okinawa. Nuanced and meticulously researched, ‘Night in the American Village’ is a must-read for anyone interested in the intersection of gender, sex, power, and national identity.” — Shawna Yang Ryan, author of “Green Island”