Kiyoko Murata’s A Woman of Pleasure is a story of Japan’s pleasure quarters in 1903 and 1904. Fifteen-year-old Aoi Ichi grew up on a rocky volcanic island, “the sort of place where stumbling upon a folkloric demon would come as no surprise”. She always expected to grow up like her mother, a strong swimmer and diver who supports her family with the fish and shellfish she catches. But now, to support a loan to her impoverished family, she has been sold to an exclusive brothel in Kumamoto, a regional capital along an inland sea on Japan’s southern island of Kyushu.

Rental Person Who Does Nothing is a memoir about a project—or perhaps even an experiment—by Shoji Morimoto. Morimoto’s wife encountered a blog post by therapist and self-help writer Jinnosuke Kokoroya that insisted that “people have value even if they do nothing”. Morimoto began to wonder if that is really true. And, if it is true, whether society has space for people who “do nothing”. After all, he was used to his boss telling him things like, “it makes no difference whether you’re here or not,” and “you’re a permanent vacancy.”

In the opening chapter of Susumu Higa’s manga, Okinawa, a group of Japanese soldiers land on a Ryukyuan island to prepare for World War II’s Battle of Okinawa. A child asks her principal whether the soldiers will occupy their island forever. “Until they know all of us are safe,” he replies. His words are an ominous beginning for readers who know anything about the next seventy years of Okinawa’s history.