Accepted paper:

Mediating sexual culture: Getrification of the sex industry in Okinawa, Japan


Yoko Narisada (Okinawa University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores socio-cultural implications and effects of gentrification of the sex industry in Okinawa, Japan. It ethnographically illuminates how local authorities and local community members including sex workers are involved in the politics of citizenship under urban development.

Paper long abstract:

The red-light district is a marker of sexual culture as the object of regulation and cleansing and as the agency which brings about diverse responses to social changes. The red-light district is exists as part of urban community and landscape by being formed, regulated and eradicated. Based on fieldwork in the main island of Okinawa, this paper will explore how local residents, sex workers and local government officials negotiate and mediate sexual culture in the process of cleaning-up the red-light district. The main island of Okinawa in the Pacific Ocean to the southwest of mainland Japan is a place where diverse forms of sex industry have flourished including the Okinawan traditional sexual industry, Japanese military sexual slavery during World War II and a control system for US military personnel after the War. In 2010, two local governments launched campaigns to gentrify the red-light districts as part of urban development in Okinawa. These campaigns are actively supported by the police, women's groups and community groups to protect public morals and the youth and to establish a safe community. As a result of the two public campaigns, street sex work has dramatically increased in the red-light district in the capital of Okinawa, Naha City, rather than having been suburbanised like in Western European cities. This paper explores how local residents, sex workers and local government officials negotiate and mediate sexual culture, and re/construct the notion of citizenship as a result of the gentrification of the red-light districts.

panel G11
Urban renewal over the globe: the spatial dimensions of citizenship