1st Edition

Okinawan Women's Stories of Migration From War Brides to Issei

By Johanna O. Zulueta Copyright 2022
    112 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    112 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The phenomenon of “war brides” from Japan moving to the West has been quite widely discussed, but this book tells the stories of women whose lives followed a rather different path after they married foreign occupiers. During Okinawa’s Occupation by the Allies from 1945 to 1972, many Okinawan women met and had relationships with non-Western men who were stationed in Okinawa as soldiers and base employees. Most of these men were from the Philippines.

    Zulueta explores the journeys of these women to their husbands’ homeland, their acculturation to their adopted land, and their return to their native Okinawa in their late adult years. Utilizing a life-course approach, she examines how these women crafted their own identities as first-generation migrants or “Issei” in both the country of migration and their natal homeland, their re-integration to Okinawan society, and the role of religion in this regard, as well as their thoughts on end-of-life as returnees.

    This book will be of interest to scholars looking at gender and migration, cross-cultural marriages, ageing and migration, as well as those interested in East Asia, particularly Japan/Okinawa.

    List of photos


    Notes on Japanese words and names

    1 War brides’ silent journeys

    1.1 War brides as a category of migrants

    1.2 Japanese war brides

    1.3 Images of war brides in Japan

    1.4 War brides in the Global South

    1.5 Towards a life-course approach in analysing war bride migration

    1.6 Meaningful encounters: notes on methodology

    1.7 The book

    2 Memories of war and its aftermath: the Battle of Okinawa and the American Occupation

    2.1 Katsuko’s memories

    2.2 Through a woman’s eyes: the Battle of Okinawa

    2.3 When they came: the American Occupation of Okinawa

    2.3.1 Marrying the enemy? International marriages during the Occupation

    3 Okinawan women’s journey to the Philippines

    3.1 The Philippine Okinawan Society

    3.2 Crossing the seas to the Philippines

    3.3 “Haponesa”: ethnicized identity as stigma

    3.3.1 Inheriting the stigma: children of the “Haponesa

    3.4 “We are Issei”: reclaiming an identity

    3.5 Issei stories

    3.6 Choosing to stay: Okinawan women in the Philippines

    3.6.1 Yoko’s story

    3.6.2 Taeko’s story

    3.6.3 Fusae’s story

    3.6.4 Those who remained

    4 Homecomings: the return to Okinawa

    4.1 Return in later life

    4.2 The Issei’s “return”: fulfilling a mother’s obligation

    4.3 The Catholic Church in the lives of the Issei

    4.4 The question of home

    5 Migration and the end-of-life: when death becomes her question

    5.1 Death and migration

    5.2 Death, religion, and tradition in Okinawa

    5.3 Catholic rites and the Issei

    5.4 “And to dust you shall return”: perceptions on the end-of-life, home, and return

    5.5 Death and the life course

    6 War brides and the life course: a conclusion

    6.1 Re-locating Okinawa beyond the U.S.-Japan Nexus

    6.2 Migration and/in the life course



    Johanna O. Zulueta is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Sociology of Toyo University in Japan.