Published on Dec 1, 2017
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This 1952 film – originally titled as "Japanese Bride in America" – is a dramatized documentary produced by the U.S. Army. The film tells the story of a Japanese woman, a war bride, who marries an American serviceman in Japan and moves with him to the United States to begin their life together. The film examines reactions by the local townsfolk to the new arrival, and how the woman adjusts to the cultural differences of her new homeland, the post-World War 2 America.
Note: This film was created by the U.S. Army and should not be confused with the film "Japanese War Bride" (also known as "East is East") which was also released in 1952.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND / CONTEXT
War bride is a term used in reference to foreign women who married military personnel in times of war or during their military occupations of foreign countries.
During and immediately after World War 2, more than 60,000 U.S. servicemen married women overseas and they were promised that their wives and children would receive free passage to the United States. The Congress passed the War Brides Act of 1945, which allowed American servicemen who married abroad to bring their wives home, on top of existing immigration quotas, but it took the Immigration Act of 1952 to lift race-based barriers and enable Asians to come to America in large numbers. The U.S. Army's "Operation War Bride", which eventually transported more than 70,000 women and children, began in early 1946. Over the years, an estimated 300,000 foreign war brides moved to the United States.
From 1947 through 1965 about 50,000 Japanese war brides emigrated to the United States. However, the number of marriages might be as high as 100,000, because some U.S. servicemen opted to stay in Japan with their wives, and some marriages were not officially recognized by either Japan or the United States.
In Japan before WW2, women usually did not work outside the home, and they were considered inferior to men. But conditions were different after the war. Japan was totally annihilated. The culture was in flux. Many men were killed in the war, and women outnumbered the survivors. More Japanese women had to work outside the home in order to support what was left of their families, and many of them found jobs working for the occupational forces, which included 500,000 American GIs. The women met the Americans at their workplaces and, despite language barriers, romances bloomed.
It might be hard to understand why Japanese women would marry men who had helped to conquer their country. Thanks to the way General MacArthur handled the occupation and the reconstruction, the Japanese people would see the Americans in a more humane way. They brought food, jobs, and democracy. The women often saw the American men as very kind, as conquering heroes.
The new couples often faced disapproval from their families and prejudice from society at large. The Japanese did not believe in interracial marriages. Some war brides were disowned by their families. Some of the servicemen’s families tried to block their marriages, while others treated the war brides coldly. The U.S. and Japanese governments also made it very difficult to marry and the process could take a year or more. If the couples did manage to marry, they then had to navigate U.S. immigration laws, which prevented Asians from entering the country. Before 1952, only about 800 Japanese war brides were legally allowed into the United States.
Once in the United States, Japanese war brides had to adjust to a new culture. They left behind their own language, food, traditions, and sometimes even their Buddhist or Shinto religion. Some women had learned about American culture in “bride schools” run by the Red Cross in Japan, but many of them had to rely totally on their husbands. The war brides often had to work hard to overcome prejudice and to gain their neighbors’ friendship. The war brides’ lives were as varied as those of other American women. Some of the women became stay-at-home mothers, while others pursued an education and a career.
Life of a Japanese Bride in America After World War 2 | Documentary Drama | 1952
NOTE: THE VIDEO DOCUMENTS HISTORICAL EVENTS. SINCE IT WAS PRODUCED DECADES AGO, IT HAS HISTORICAL VALUES AND CAN BE CONSIDERED AS A VALUABLE HISTORICAL DOCUMENT. THE VIDEO HAS BEEN UPLOADED WITH EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES. ITS TOPIC IS REPRESENTED WITHIN HISTORICAL CONTEXT. THE VIDEO DOES NOT CONTAIN SENSITIVE SCENES AT ALL!