‘Night in the American Village’ Author to Speak at JANM

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Join Akemi Johnson as she reads from her debut book, “Night in the American Village: Women in the Shadow of the U.S. Military Bases in Okinawa,” on Saturday, Jan. 25, at 2 p.m. at the Japanese American National Museum, First and Central in Little Tokyo.

Akemi Johnson

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. 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.”

The reading will be followed by a conversation with historian Lily Welty Tamai. The book will be available at the JANM Store.

This program is free in conjunction with the SoCal Museums Free-for-All, but RSVPs are encouraged.

For more information, call (213) 625-0414 or visit www.janm.org.

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