Episodes of Occupation

"A hundred days that shook the world"

By William Wetherall

First posted 1 June 2010
Last updated 15 June 2010

Martin Bronfenbrenner Fusako and the Army, 1952
Martin Bronfenbrenner, Tomioka Stories, 1975


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Fusako and the Army

Martin Bronfenbrenner
Fusako and the Army
(An Episode of Occupation)
Tokyo: The Hokuseido Press, 1952
63 pages, small digest

This story is one of the more interesting attempts in English to dramatize the quality of some of the romances that blossomed during the Allied Occupation of Japan. It is usually scavenged by scholars looking for ammunition to fire in their missives on racial and sexual stereotypes. Before pressing the story into the service of latter-day agendas, though, it deserves to be regarded as a work of fiction.

Description of book

The title page states "Martin Bronfenbrenner" but the cover and colophon say "M. Bronfenbrenner". The titles on the colophon are "FUSAKO & THE ARMY" in English and ӂƕ (Fusako to heitai) in Japanese.

The colophon, otherwise entirely in Japanese, gives the publisher kX (Hokuseidō Shoten), and states that the book was printed on a27N315 (Shōwa 52-3-10) and published on (Shōwa 52-3-10), respectively 10 and 15 March 1952 -- about six weeks before the end of the Allied Occupation of Japan from 28 April 1952.

The colophon price is "80 yen" (艿 80~). The back cover price is "Reduced price 60 yen" (Œ艿 60~).

Structure of story

Fusako and the Army has five parts which serve to introduce, motivate, and bring together the characters. In the following overview, the page numbers refer to the original 1952 edition (pages 1-63). The version in Bronfenbrenner's 1975 anthology Tomioka Stories (pages 13-46, see below) is the same except where I have noted in [square brackets].

I: Fukuda Fusako

"I" (pages 1-12) is devoted to the family of Fukuda Minoru and Fukuda Tokiye, especially its oldest daughter Fukuda Fusako. Tokiye had borne ten children and an eleventh was on the way. Seven were alive an accounted for. The oldest son, in the Imperial Army, was last heard of a year ago in the South Seas. A daughter, a Red Cross nurse with the Army in Manchuria, had possibly been captured by the Russians. Another daughter had not survived her first year under wartime conditions. Tokiye, expecting another child, had consigned the youngest, a boy, to Fusako, who strapped her baby brother to her shoulders and otherwise "stood out" from the hundreds like her "with a beauty surpassing the sum of its components" (page 7).

II: Joe Kaneshiro and two GIs

"II" (pages 12-26) introduces Joseph Y. Kaneshiro, a native San Franciscan with a B.S. from Cal, born to immigrants from Okinawa who owned a florist shop in Oakland. Still in Japan when the war began, his dual nationality kept him out of the service for a while. His status was "midway between outright internment and the 'freedom' of the Japanese subject" (page 17) [the anthology version has "interment" (page 21) throughout].

Eventually, though, Kaneshiro Yoshinobu, as he had been known, was drafted into the Imperial Army. His career as Private Second Class "had lasted less than six months, and had ended with the Japanese equivalent of a 'Bad Conduct' discharge" (page 19).

Joe had been living with his aunt her family in Tomioka. Even his few friends had avoided him as close association with an American would have invited scrutiny from officials. His aunt and her family had endured him, though, since "they were relatives, and in a manner of speaking Okinawans together in a strange land" (page 17).

When the war ended, and Tomioka was occupied, Joe attempted to get a job with Headquarters. "But working for the Americans is something more easily proposed than accomplished, as many Americans had discovered during the 'hungry thirties'" (page 20) [the anthology version dispenses with the parentheses on "hungry thirties" (page 23)]. The Counter-Intelligence Corps (C.I.C.), however, did not like Joe's Japanese Army record -- which it viewed as possible cause for him to lose his American citizenship.

By the end of the second part, while waiting for a decision concerning his status, Joe has been drafted by two operators, Corporal Pudniak -- "Sarge" -- and sidekick "Smitty" -- Bob Smith. Joe's first job was to take the duo to "the biggest gishi house in town" and turn them loose (pages 25-26).

III: Trio and Fusako

"III" sets Tomioka's postwar stage with the 8-story Yamato Hotel "of yellow brick in American style" . . . around which, "almost as far as the eye could see, extended a moss ["mass" in anthology version (page 27)] of rubble, black alternating with reddish-brown, occasional girders or cafes or statues or cracked title walls distinguishable above it" (page 27). The unhinged doors of the hotel were guarded by American M.P. sentries. "While helmets, leggings, and gloves: pressed uniforms; blue arm-bands; much ostentatious armament. Past them flowed the mingled traffic of G.I. and Japanese. Mostly "Gooks" or "Japes" shuffled afoot on the sidewalks or in the gutters. Mostly G.I. trucks and jeeps dodged holes in the pavement, splashed mud on pedestrians, and tore the street up further, though Japanese on rickety bicycles snaked between them often enough to draw the drivers' curses in a steady stream" (page 28).

On one corner, four GIs were putting up a sign. "'Yamata Hotel,' mis-spelled the sign delicately, 'Pro Station, Second Floor'" (page 29).

On the same corner stood Joe Kaneshiro, Sarge Pudniak, and Bob Smith. Sarge couldn't wait for night to fall so he could don his white helmet and advance on a the Midori-Ya -- which the narrator parenthetically states "was no geisha, but an establishment more carnal and elemental" (page 30).

Bob Smith was trying to figure out a way to avoid admitting to Sarge that he "lacked experience in either 'gishi houses' or their Pro Station postludes, and both filled him with a Missouri Methodist loathing and disdain" (page 30).

Joe had already seen that "Sarge was the 'operator' of this ill-assorted pair" (page 30).

Enter a dark-skinned Japanese girl. Sarge whistles. Bob utters a labored "Ohio", gets a labored "Gudu-moruningu" back, then asks Joe if he knows her. Joe shakes his head. Would he ask her name. Joe does "Fukuda Fusako to mōshimasu." Bob more than half sincerely asks Joe to tell her she's "the nicest-looking girl I've seen in Japan" and he does (pages 31-32).

Sarge pinches Fusako on the butt and winks. She pushes him away and asks Joe if that was an American custom. She notices the pained look on Bob's face and moves closer to him, and he helps her with the heavy hibachi she had been carrying (pages 32-33).

Joe is a bit uncomfortable with the role he's been asked to play, but he thinks of the C.I.C. difficulties that Sarge has promised to help him with and he plunges ahead, translating for Fusako's benefit Sarge's warning that the colored troops which reeled by were not the American Indians she had read about in school, but were dirty Niggers, born white but turned black with syph. Bob said nothing but figured the ends justified the means. Someone had to protect Fu-something from those black apes (pages 33-34).

By the end of the chapter, Bob has seen her home with the hibachi and finds himself invited into her house -- just this once -- with her parents' permission. Sarge "got much further" at the Midori-Ya. Joe, at the flimsy inn where he was staying, hopes to hear from C.I.C.

IV: Forbidden romance

By the end of IV (pages 39-54), Bob has determined to Marry Fusako, who had been told by Sarge that she could be an American and go to America anytime if she had an American baby (page 34). She in her way, and Bob in his, were in love. He hadn't planned to marry her, but why not? "She was nicer to him than any other girl had ever been."

Maybe he wouldn't bring her to the farm, because his mother might not understand, but there was California -- "lots of Japs -- Japanese -- lived there." Or New York, where you could do anything. Or Honolulu, where lots of GIs and draft-dodgers "had all kinds of Gook girl friends and wives and babies." So there were lots of places to live. So he proposed and she accepted.

Bob's Napoleonesque and patently racist commander, however, rejects his request for permission to marry. He tells Bob that "the last word" of "high policy" was "no souveneering, or fratternizing, or pilfing, or lootering" (ibid. 50) -- and orders Bob transferred to a remote facility called Shiki-no-Shima.

"The Army moves fast in a crisis" the narrator tells us. Bob left that afternoon and "There had been no time to tell Fusako anything" (page 55).

V: Sayonara

The final act, V (pages 55-63), shifts to a sentry at his post outside the gate of the Tomioka barracks where Sarge and Bob are billeted. Fusako goes to the gate to find out what has happened to Bob. She thinks he might be sick. The sentry makes queries.

Sarge, Bob, and Joe come to the gate. Joe relates to Fusako what Sarge has told the sentry about Bob's transfer. She would know that Shika-no-Shima was far away and that Bob "might not be able to come back." Joe adds that Bob "hadn't wanted to go away, and nobody knew why he had gone, but orders are orders." Bob had left a message for her, in English, and Joe would have translated it for her, but Pudniak had lost it (page 62).

As he finished, Joe saw tears forming in Fusako's eyes. Should he tell her more? Should he tell her all her knew? (The whole story had reached Sarge through grapevine telegraph.) No, why make things worse for the dumb kid. Perhaps he should try to comfort her, maybe put her wise to a few facts of Occupation life? To Hell with that -- he hadn't got this girl in trouble. She was just another Naichi-Jin. She thought she was too good for Okinawans. Well, she could just take this and like it.

Naichijin

The term "Naichijin" (Interiorites) legally referred to all people with family registers in the prefectures, including Okinawa. Bronfenbrenner may have heard some people from Okinawa refer to the main islands of Japan as "Naichi" (Interior) exclusive of Okinawa, because they had the impression that Okinawa was treated like a "gaichi" (exterior territory) of the sovereign empire, on a par with Taiwan and Chosen (Korea), or with Karafuto until its formal incorporation into the Interior in 1943. Or he may have been under the mistaken impression that Okinawa had not been part of the Interior.

While Okinawa had been occupied by American forces before Japan's surrender, remnant Japanese military forces in Okinawa did not formally surrender until after the general surrender in Tokyo. Though excluded from "Japan" for Occupation purposes and not returned until 1972, Okinawa remained then (as it remains today) part of the "naichi" in legacy legal references.

In the meantime, the sentry, taking Fusako for a whore, propositions her and asks Joe to fix him up. Joe "stepped forward with 'liaison' in the offing" but Sarge interrupts, warning the sentry that "This pig been laid once too often already. Boy friend shipped out to Chicken Shima. Get me, or do I have to explain?" The sentry thanks Sarge, then turns to Fusako and says, "Sayonara, Babe. Not tonight. Go on Home, Toots."

Then this ending (ibid. 63, 46).

By now it was dark. A chow line had formed inside the gate. The odor of Spam frying and the sound of mess gear clanking rose over all. Fusako sensed some further undefined insult and shuffled off homeward through the perpendicularly falling evening. There was a dignity about her now, and she was not crying. She did miss Babu-San [Bābu-san in anthology], but he wasn't sick. All she must do was wait for him to come from Shika-no-Shima and marry her. Even if he could not come back, her baby would be American, a real American. It would be a boy, and everyone would know by looking at him that he was an American. She would give him an American name when he was born, and become an American herself. Then she would go to America with Baku-San, and eat all the Su-pamu she wanted the rest of her life. It might be hard until the baby came, but there was nothing to cry about; nothing whatever.


Scholarly scavenging

Bronfenbrenner's story has gotten some attention in academic writing but mostly from writers who have focused on attitudes of American soldiers. In America's Geisha Ally: Reimagining the Japanese Enemy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006), Nobuko Shibusawa refers to Bronfenbrenner's "novella" as "Fusako and the Army (1946)" -- while in the finer print of her endnotes she correctly observes that the story was published in 1952 (page 39, and note 73, page 309).

Shibusawa accurately cites the story as printed in the 1952 edition, and remarks in her note that it had been republished in Tomioka Stories (1975). Bronfenbrenner states in his preface to the Tomioka anthology that he originally wrote Fusako and the Army in 1946, but this not not warrant the date Shibusawa assigned to the story (see preface below).

More seriously, though, Shibusawa erringly calls Bob Smith "the protagonist" of Fusako in the Army -- and otherwise cites the story mainly for what she thinks it says about his attempts "to think of the 'Japs' as 'Japanese'". Of the two pages she refers to in her notes, the second (page 42) clearly balances Bob's generally positive regard for Fusako with her generally positive regard for him. The "Japs -- Japanese" shift in thought attributed to Bob comes on page 46).

As the title implies -- and as Bronfenbrenner's third-person narration clearly depicts -- the central character in the story is Fusako. The story leaves the reader wondering mainly what will happen to her -- and, by implication, to her family, with which the story begins.

The next most important character, structurally speaking, is Joe Kaneshiro, who is better developed than Bob Smith by any measure of character construction. Joe's feelings toward Japan and the people he regards as "Naichi-Jin" ["Interiorites"] are affected by how he recalls he had been treated in Japan by those who did not speak the Shuri dialect which he had learned in the Kaneshiro kitchen in America -- hence the need, particularly for him, for "linguistic study" after he came to Japan (page 16).

Joe would have provided an interesting (perhaps inconvenient) wrinkle to the "racial discrimination as emasculation" which Shibusawa refers to in the case of a "Nisei man who was known to abuse and harass American POWs" (page 152).

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Tomioka Stories

Martin Bronfenbrenner
Tomioka Stories
(From the Japanese Occupation)
Hicksville (NY): Exposition Press, 1975 (copyright)
138 pages, hardcover, jacket (1st edition)

Exposition Press, a vanity press, survived into the 1980s after moving around a bit (Jericho, Hicksville, and Smithtown, all in New York). Bronfenbrenner, who by the 1970s was a well-known economist, may have been unable to interest a commercial publisher. The narrator of the third story is a professor whose other careers included "rejection-slip recipient" (page 63).

The stories are not badly told. But their patina is clearly that of a person of Bronfenbrenner's generation and ideology, to say nothing of his nationality and gender -- though all such preconceptions about him must be suspended when reading them.

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Jacket blurbs

The titles on the cover are followed by "Comedies and tragedies of Japan under the American Forces after World War II". The jacket flaps describe the stories and their author like this.

TOMIOKA STORIES
From the Japanese Occupation

Martin Bronfenbrenner

A Japanese-language officer during the first months of the American Occupation of Japan, author-economist-Japanologist Martin Bronfenbrenner looks back at 1945-46 in Northern Kyushu. The result is a collection of short stories and vignettes which combine the local color and the social problems of Japan at war's end.

The stories are set in a city called "Tomioka." There exists a Japanese city by that name, but the author's fictional Tomioka is a combination of Fukuoka, Tokyo, Sasebo, and Kyoto. In Tomioka, Japanese and Americans suddenly find themselves living side by side, total strangers in language and custom, brought together by a bloody war and a hasty Occupation.

In this atmosphere, many Japanese girls looked on the American soldier as the answer to their prayers -- an escape from the drudgery of their parents' lives. Sometimes, like Fusako Fukuda, Keiko Shibayama, and "Porky the Nympho," they suffered. Sometimes, like Akie Aoki, they prospered. Sometimes, like Meiko, they just got married. And there arose other questions too, far removed from love and sex. How much anti-American material may be printed in the Tomioka Shimbun? Will the drunken Commander be shot by the sentry fro forgetting his password? Will Kim Ya Mi ever return to Korea? Does democracy require "company punishment" when soldiers commit crimes?

These Tomioka Stories provide readers of all ages a picture of the American Occupation getting under way. The stories are full of conflicts and communication problems between Americans and Japanese, with Koreans thrown in. In the stories as in reality, Americans were often the "bad guys" while Japanese and Koreans were the "good guys."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pittsburgh-born and St. Louis-bred Martin Bronfenbrenner holds an A.B. from Washington University, a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Chicago, and certification in Japanese from the University of Colorado. He is now Kenan Professor of Economics at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, where he also teaches Japanese history. In addition, he is Vice President of the American Economic Association.

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Jacket blurbs

Preface

Bronfenbrenner's Preface is a long but worth full citation (pages 7-10, underscoring mine).

Preface

John Reed was lucky enough to have been a reporter in St. Petersburg for the October Revolution, and skillful enough to recount those events as Ten Days That Shook the World. I was lucky enough to have been a language officer in Northern Kyushu during the first months of the American Occupation of Japan, albeit insufficiently skillful to produce A Hundred Days That Shook Japan. Looking back from a generation later, all my subsequent existence (including ten or a dozen revisits to Japan) has been an anticlimax.

Before I forget or distort too much of what went on in 1945, with people's minds -- "ours" as well as "theirs' [sic] -- being boggled day after day after day, I have tried to put a few incidents down on paper. The stories which follow are the result. Most of them are based on those hundred days of Japanese-American goodwill, but two are interlopers from the later Occupation, and one could be dated in the 1970's.

In point of time and actual composition, the first draft of the longest story, "Fusako and the Army," was written in Arizona in 1946, on terminal leave from the Naval Reserve. (Thanks to Professor Ichiro Nishizaki of the English faculty at Ochanomizu University, a later version was published by Hokuseido in Tokyo, soon after Occupation censorship was lifted in 1952.) "Porky the Nympho" was begun in Tokyo during my second trip to Japan (as a tax economist, in 1949-50). But that unfinished manuscript was lost, and I started from scratch, again in Tokyo, during the summer of 1973. By that time all the other stories were buzzing around in my head at various stages of organization. With "Porky" down on paper, I kept on writing, first in Tokyo and then at Duke University, over the next six or eight months.

There are five longish stories laid in Tomioka. Four shorter ones or vignettes are laid where they happened (one apiece in Sasebo, on the road to Nagasaki, in Shimonoseki, and in Fukuoka). The shorter vignettes are more frankly autobiographical, and likewise more nearly true as they stand, than the longer stories.

There does exist a real Japanese city called Tomioka. It is in Gumma prefecture north of Tokyo. It played an honorable role in Japanese economic history as the seat of the Meiji Government's first experiments with Western-style textile mills in the 1870's. I have never been there. When I first wrote of Tomioka, I did not know of the real Tomioka's existence. My mythical one is a mish-mash compound of Fukuoka, Tokyo, Sasebo, and Kyoto -- in that order of importnce.

"Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental." This disclaimer would be less of an exaggeration and more of a lie in these tales than in a good many others. I have tried to combine one attribute of A with another attribute of B and a third attribute of C to construct characters (X,Y,Z), none of whom I knew well and some of whom I knew only by hearsay. In this process of character-fabrication, my main debt is to my wife, Teruko (whom I did not know in 1945), and to her accounts of the early Occupation in Tokyo and Yokohama. Almost every time Teruko thought she recognized anyone in any story, herself included, she was correct, but occasionally I could slip one of her friends or relatives in unobserved. Most of the time that Teruko recognized anyone, she went on to accuse me of libel in the small and race prejudice in the large. (She says her friends aren't as bad as I depict them, and my minor Japanese characters, even the country farmers, are too stupid and too easily fooled by the Americans!) I do not know whether to dedicate the results to Teruko or to be people she claims I have libelled; as a compromise, I am dedicating it to nobody at all.

Speaking of prejudice and libel, I think my main victims are American field grade officers, the Majors and Colonels. I must admit to an amateur-sociological theory that any group, sufficiently pampered or persecuted, will produce more than its share of s.o.b.'s. American military officers and their dependents, and especially those stationed in East Asia, are my prime examples of the consequences of pampering. (I have never had the pleasure of meeting any Prussian officers!) But amateur sociology is less important to the anti-military prejudice in these tales than is personal experience in and after World War II. Not that my superior officers were all tyrants, incompetents, or do-nothings; at least half knew their business and did it reasonably well. The trouble was that the interesting and memorable ones were interesting and memorable for defects rather than virtues, so what was I to do?

The stories are full of conflicts and misunderstandings between occupiers and occupied, between Americans and Japanese. Usually the Americans are the bad guys and the Japanese are the good guys; this was the case in reality. But I must redress the balance to some degree by insisting that General MacArthur deserves more credit than he is currently given for holding minor atrocities to the minimum, and that I know of no atrocities committed by any of my fellow-Occupationaires comparable to those their offspring were later to commit in Viet Nam -- let along those committed by the Nazis in Europe, the Soviets in Germany, the Japanese in China, etc. One cannot prove a negative, and I cannot deny the anti-American atrocity tales assembled in the mystery stories of Seichō Matsumoto or in Hiroshi Mizuno's sexy Nihon no Teisō -- The Chastity of Japan. (Some bad English translations of anti-American atrocity stories are assembled in Richard L. G. Deverall's The Great Seduction, 1953.) But I myself encountered no such major atrocities either in Kyushu or in the Tokyo-Yokohama area, either in 1945-46 or in 1949-50.

My final word is to "Miss Jones," epitomizing my long-suffering high school and college English composition teachers. (There were Miss Zachry and Miss Daringer in New York, Mrs. Hamsher and Mrs. Maxwell in St. Louis, Professor Dunn and Professor Taft at Washington University.) I still write "Teutonic sentences" now and then. I remain addicted to "mountains and mice" -- too many tons of description and rumination per ounce of story. But in the Japanese setting of 1945, I hope such flaws are more pardonable -- deserving B- rather than C -- than here and now in the old home town. Besides, I became an economist, and everyone knows economists can't write.

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Contents

Bronfenbrenner's Tomioka Stories (1975) includes the following "Five stories" and "Four vignettes". The descriptions and comments are mine.

Five stories

Fusako and the Army (13-46)

Romance between a Japanese woman, the protagonist, and an American GI, who fall in love with each other, aided by real personal needs and less than realistic understandings of each other and the times

See fuller description above.

Porky the Nympho (47-61)

Morality play about two Japanese women, the American men in their lives, and the narrator who witnesses and becomes involved in their predicaments

One woman is an ugly woman who moves in with some enlisted men to cook and clean and sleep with most of them, until one night she is beaten up and evicted -- and weeps because she cannot understand why, after all she had done for them, without any consideration of money, they had treated her like a bad woman.

The other woman is a beautiful girl who comes from a good family, speaks missionary English, thinks she's above the pick-ups, and kills herself when the officer she's been seeing reneges on his promise to leave his wife.

The story wraps with a humorous but rather jerky editorial leap to the "the mess in Viet Nam".

The Collective Bargain (63-77)

Satirical farce told by a professor at an academic Siberia in California near Death Valley and the Arizona border, is about Cavalcanti, a fallen San Francisco lawyer who began his plunge "allegedly helping Communist factions seize control of the Japan Teachers' Union" -- who, blacklisted, turned to criminal law and is now Santa Mafia's leading Japanologist and Japanophile

Some women in the Teachers' College-Proletaria-Za faction of the Women's Division of the union get the goods on a homosexual sergeant and some of his men and attempt to get them fired -- essentially blackmailing the Occupation authorities by threatening to expose the black marketing and prostitution going on at the Yamato Hotel, an occupation facility in Tomioka. The faction takes its case, represented by Cavalcanti, to the Criminal Investigation Division of the military government.

By the end of the story, Cavalcanti is being questioned by his friends, all drinking, in a courtroom manner, as to why -- even when he went back to Japan fifteen years later -- he had not married any of the women with whom he had been friends in Japan. His interrogator reject the first two answers, and after the third -- having more more questions -- they dismiss the witness, suspend his sentence, and call for another drink.

Two Long Waits (79-92)

Procrastinations of two couples who live in sin until governments permit, or personal circumstances compel, them to marry

Bronfenbrenner unleashes all the satirical fury of criticism of the Occupation of Japan -- in this case, the roles and lives of DACs -- Department of the Army civilians. The key male characters are the narrator and one of his colleagues, both busy -- around the time the Occupation is winding down and the Korean has started -- "hacking out a History of the Military Government of Tomioka, intended as an Appendix to the monumental History of the Occupation as a whole" -- while carrying on with their girls.

The narrator's girl was Amy, for Emiko -- born in Canada, stuck in Japan during the war, and without citizenship since "During the war, the Canadian government obligingly lost her birth certificate, so she couldn't return to Canada. . . . She was, therefore, a stateless non-person for the time being, and among the things a stateless non-person could not do in Occupied Japan was get married to anyone whatever" (page 80).

The story, though, is really about May and Charles, and the two waits are mainly theirs. May, for Meiko, had been part of Tomioka's upper class until her family lost everything and her. Ostracized by the typing pool but befriended by Amy, May's bad luck changed when she met Charles, a meteorologist from Oklahoma, who at times would "bewail May's reputation -- 'half the men in town had had her' -- and wish she were more like Amy" (page 85).

May gets pregnant, but Charles was waiting for word on a high-level Air Force job and feared that marrying her now might disqualify him. He would marry her afterwards. May, though, "was waiting to get married, and the marriage had to be solemnized before the baby arrived" (page 87). He could change jobs afterwards.

Their waits are protracted and stormy, but May and Charles eventually marry, stumble into the future, and instead of divorcing have four more children, five in all. "Amy and I have only the vaguest idea of why and how the marriage was salvaged," the narrator remarks before relating how May and Charles are now living in Seattle (pages 91-92).

The Return of the Foreigner (93-108)

Return to Tomioka of an older veteran to find the girl he would have married had x-rays of her lungs not shown spots which had disqualified her for immigration

By the fourth (middle) of the seven parts, the man is no closer to finding the girl, in a city that has changed beyond his recognition (page 100).

Every day one or more new directions, starting from one or more of those landmarks -- familiar faces in anonymous group photographs -- which were themselves within taxi or bus range of the hotel. Nothing, not even a false alarm. Hitchcock's reticence yielded to the extent of discussing his mission with a few speakers of English -- a surviving missionary, a policeman in a police box, once or two newspaper reporters. Not a trace. Others had preceded him, Hitchcock learned from the reporters, searching Occupation wives and sweethearts and half-breed children with no more information at their disposal than Hitchcock possessed; it happened perhaps once a year. The arrival of just another searcher was no news to anyone.

I won't spoil this one -- except to say that it comes the closest in the anthology to being a true novel -- and to say that the title should have been just "The Return".

Four vignettes

On Sentry-Go (111-115)

Reminiscence of an incident while on night watch in Sasebo shortly after Marines arrive at the Naval Base there in September 1945

The narrator states at the outset that the story was inspired by court-martials connected with the My Lai massacre and some trials of World War II war crimes.

The Marines encamp behind a perimeter they guard because they have yet any assurance they won't be attacked by remnants of the Imperial Marines rumored to be hiding out on the islands in the bay if not in the hills above the town.

Mutual Apologies (117-122)

How soldiers and villagers react when a farmer's head is squashed like a watermelon, when his bicycle hits a pothole and he is thrown in front of the lead truck in a convoy of six jeeps and two trucks plying between Sasebo and Nagasaki

The convoy represents "the largest procession of outsiders to pass through Minami-Yonezawa-mura since the Satsuma rebellion of 1877" (page 119). Later in the Occupation, hit-and-run GI drivers would have become "a favorite target of anti-American propaganda" -- but not on this occasion, as in the Occupation's first month "we had not mastered the hit-and-run technique" (page 119).

Unto Us a Child Is Born (123-129)

The next stop, Shimonoseki, where soldiers face a problem worse than "the lifelong sterility [that] would be our penalty for spending too long in atomic Nagasaki" -- namely the living conditions around the warehouse where the Civil Censorship Detachment (CCD) operated, along the waterfront in the middle of Little Korea

"We came to know a few Koreans pretty well, who were letting Heaven wait while they made money in Hell" (page 126). The entrance to the warehouse office was "the property of a messy garlic-eater with a straggly beard" whose name was Kim, who they called "Kim Ya-Mi" or "black market Kim" to differentiate him from "the few thousand other Kims in the area."

The rest of the story is about Little Korea and relations between the soldiers and Koreans, in particular between the narrator and Kim Ya-Mi. It is arguably the best of the vignettes -- not because of its theme, but owing to the way it is written.

Is This Democracy? (131-138)

Occupationaires in Fukuoka endure the good life

The narrator's unit was monitoring phone and wire communications between Japan and Korea, to keep the zaibatsu "from retaining control over their Korean subsidiaries by any mysterious conspiracy, after their representatives in Korea had been repatriated to Japan."

The soldiers bought and bartered on the black market mostly from Koreans, who congregated downtown or in public building lobbies, so the troops didn't have to smell Little Korea. Wherever they went they attracted attention, including brokers who tried to interest them in girls for a night or as long as they were in town. The local dives were all, or nearly all, "somehow off limits to the black construction and supply troops" (page 133).

One night the narrator, a Marine Corps language officer, is called to facilitate communications in an investigation. A Japanese man had been beaten, he said, by four "tall white men in Army uniforms" when he protested that they had broken into his home, taken kimonos and pottery, his father's uniform, sword, and medals from the war with Russia, then raped his wife and daughter.

The MPs probe for details but the man is unable to further describe the men or the jeep they had come in. "I told you they were soldiers," he says, wondering why they stop all the questioning and simply punish them. The MPs tell him they cannot punish anyone, much less accuse anyone or even investigate further, without more information. Shaking his head in disbelief, the man says, "Is this democracy?"

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Biographical note

Martin Bronfenbrenner (1914-1997) received his University of Chicago doctorate in 1939. The "certification in Japanese from the University of Colorado" refers to his completion of a course of study at the Japanese Language School set up at the university during the Pacific War -- the same school which graduated many of those that went on to become major scholars of Japanese literature, history, and society after the war (for more about JLS see Keene, Seidensticker et al.: Products of war, commodities of peace).

Bronfenbrenner had enlisted in the U.S. Navy and signed up for its Japanese language training program at Colorado. During the war, he is said to have helped translate captured documents and may have interrogated some prisoners of war. For a few months at the start of the Occupation, he reportedly worked in the Economic and Scientific Section (ESS) section of GHQ/SCAP under Major General William Marquat, who oversaw the break-up of the zaibatsu conglomerates, the economic and industrial engines which had powered Japan's Great East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere and its concomitant territorial expansion.

Bronfenbrenner was at the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1952 when Fusako and the Army was published in Japan, and at Duke University in 1975 when Tomioka Stories came out in the United States. After his first stay in Japan during the Occupation, he visited the country a number of times, and from 1984-1990 he took a break from Duke University to teach in, and chair, the School of International Politics, Economics and Business at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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