Occupation era letters found in Nebraska bookstore


A used bookstore owner in York, Nebraska found more than 1000 pages of correspondence written by Elizabeth Ryan, a woman who lived in occupied Japan after World War 2. In letters to her family, Ryan wrote in detail about the daily lives of US service members in Kobe and Tokyo. She had been working as a court reporter for the inspector general of SCAP in Kobe at the age of 31. There were also 250 black-and-white photos.

Ryan wrote about how common venereal disease and juvenile delinquency were in occupied Japan. She also talked about how over 120 mixed-race babies were left at an orphanage in Yokohama, the result of affairs between US servicemen and Japanese women. An excerpt:

The social problem of VD —
one that is hush-hush at home and in polite civilized circles, is
common talk here. A unit is given a commendation when it goes for
several weeks without any new cases of VD. Can you imagine the Army requiring dance hall
hostesses be examined at the dispensary twice a week — to be sure they
are not infecting the boys?



5 thoughts on “Occupation era letters found in Nebraska bookstore

  1. In late 1946, my father, then a 19 year old Chinese-American, joined the US Army. Oddly enough, he joined to avoid being drafted. As he explained it, if you joined, you could select your term, but if you drafted, you were in the Army until you were released. He was sent overseas to join the Army of Occupation in Japan, serving as the Sergeant in charge of a bakery unit in Yokohama. I was recently able to scan pictures of him with the female civilian bakers that worked for him. I also have a picture of him with his two older brothers who served in the Army in the Pacific and were part of the Occupation. It is a fascinating and little-known period.

  2. Pretty amazing find! Hopefully it ends up in the hands of museum.
    On a related note, one wonders what happened to all those happa orphans… I’m sure their stories are probably at least book or movie worthy as well.

  3. The problems Elisabeth Ryan discusses in her books is very topical, especially juvenile delinquency. I’ve found her biography in rapidshare search engine http://rapid4me.com and I liked her. To my mind,these stories could be screened with great success.