Unlike other war brides of World War II, the international and interracial marriages between Japanese women and U.S. servicemen, which were seen as the products and symbols of the U.S. occupation, posed distinct challenges to the American and Japanese state and, in particular, to the image of American families at home and abroad.
This dissertation examines how these Japanese women were treated as a "problem" by American and Japanese societies and how the "problem" was approached through diverse but intertwined sites, venues, and agents such as legal discourse, American Red Cross brides' schools in Japan, social science studies, and Japanese War Brides Club at the International Institute in San Francisco, in the late 1940s and 1950s. It also examines how these women responded to those approaches, how they remembered their experiences, and their ongoing transnational relationships with their two home countries, Japan and the United States.
I argue that Japanese war brides, who were the majority of not only Asian war brides, but also postwar Japanese immigrants, played a key role in redefining the "American family" and concepts of race and citizenship. They became central to the debate about the makeup of the "ideal American family" and led to changes in postwar U.S. immigration policy as well as popular and scholarly understandings of not only "Japanese war brides" but also interracial marriages. Disciplining these ex-enemy nationals, who were considered to be racially inassimilable and ineligible for citizenship, into good wives and mothers of U.S. citizens became an important mission for Americans in the United States and Japan during the rise of the Cold War. Their "successful" marriages and integration became a display of American racial tolerance in early Cold War America. As a result, the image of these women shifted from a "problem" to a showcase of ideal, "model minority" brides. These Japanese women, both individually and collectively, played a significant part in changing American and Japanese perceptions of "Japanese war brides" and interracial marriage since they had made their decisions to marry U.S. servicemen and immigrate to the United States as young women.
University of Minnesota, Ph.D. dissertation. August 2010. Major: History. Advisors: Erika Lee and Elaine Tyler May. 1 computer file (PDF); ii, 323 pages, appendices A-B.
Families precede nation and race?: marriage, migration, and integration of Japanese war brides after World War II..
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