Sunday, March 15, 2009

Treatment of comfort women

This painful story of the comfort women were hidden during Word War II. It is estimated that only 25 percent of the comfort women survived and that most were unable to have children as a consequence of the multiple rapes or the disease they contracted. According to Japanese soldier Yasuji Kaneko "The women cried out, but it didn't matter to us whether the women lived or died. We were the emperor's soldiers. Whether in military brothels or in the villages, we raped without reluctance." Beatings and physical torture were said to be common.

Ten Dutch women were taken by force from prison camps in Java by officers of the Japanese Imperial Army to become forced sex slaves in February 1944. They were systematically beaten and raped day and night in a so called "Comfort Station". As a victim of the incident, Jan Ruff-O'Hearn testified to a U.S. House of Representatives committee, "Many stories have been told about the horrors, brutalities, suffering and starvation of Dutch women in Japanese prison camps. But one story was never told, the most shameful story of the worst human rights abuse committed by the Japanese during World War II: The story of the “Comfort Women”, the jugun ianfu, and how these women were forcibly seized against their will, to provide sexual services for the Japanese Imperial Army. In the so-called “Comfort Station” I was systematically beaten and raped day and night. Even the Japanese doctor raped me each time he visited the brothel to examine us for venereal disease."

Although they were returned to the prison camps within three months upon protest of the Dutch prisoners against the Imperial Army, the Japanese officers were not punished by Japanese authorities until the end of the war. After the end of the World War II, 11 Japanese officers were declared guilty with one sentenced to death by the Batavia War Criminal Court. It decided that the case was not crime organized by the Army and that the ones who raped violated the Army’s order to hire only voluntary women. Some victims from East Timor testified they were forced when they were not old enough to have started menstruating and repeatedly raped by Japanese soldiers. Some of those who refused to comply were executed.

Hank Nelson, emeritus professor at the Australian National University’s Asia Pacific Research Division has written about the brothels run by the Japanese military in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea during WWII. He quotes from the diary of Gordon Thomas, a POW in Rabaul. Thomas writes that the women working at the brothels “most likely served 25 to 35 men a day” and that they were “victims of the yellow slave trade.”

Nelson also quotes from Kentaro Igusa, a Japanese naval surgeon who was stationed in Rabaul. Igusa wrote in his memoirs that the women continued to work through infection and severe discomfort, though they “cried and begged for help.” These camp slaves suffered more than enouh during World War II.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wartime comfort women

The so-called "wartime comfort women" were those who were taken to former Japanese military installations, such as comfort stations, for a certain period during World War II in the past and forced to provide sexual services to officers and soldiers.

Authors who wrote about these women in the post World War II Japan called them "jugun ianfu (comfort women joining the army)". And when the Japanese government first faced the issue of these women, it adopted this term, "jugun ianfu," and the AWF, when it started in 1995, it used this term as well. But in historical wartime documents we only find the term "ianfu (comfort women)". Therefore, we now always use this term "ianfu (comfort women)".

The comfort stations were first established at the request of the Japanese military authorities, as part of war efforts in China. According to military documents, private agents first opened brothels for officers and men stationed in Manchuria, around the time of the Manchurian Incident in 1931. Then term "ianfu (comfort women)" was not yet used and the attitude of the military itself was inactive.

When the World War II spread to Shanghai after the First Shanghai Incident in 1932, the first comfort station was established for a Japanese naval brigade posted there. The number of comfort stations increased rapidly after the Sino-Japanese war broke out in 1937. It was apparently Yasuji Okamura, at that time the Vice Chief of Staff of the Shanghai Expeditionary Force, who first promoted the establishment of comfort stations for the Japanese army.

There were apparently a number of reasons for establishing them: Japanese military personnel had raped Chinese civilian women in occupied areas on numerous occasions, and the military hoped to prevent a worsening of anti-Japanese feelings on the part of the Chinese people; there was a need to prevent the spread of venereal diseases among officers and men, as otherwise military effectiveness would be reduced; and it was also feared that contact with Chinese civilian women could result in the leaking of military secrets. The atrocities in this erra is explained through a Kid’s view on WW II by by Mr. Ralph and Cathy Brink.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Number of comfort women

The Book of World War II has a long account on the number of comfort women. Lack of official documentation has made estimates of the total number of comfort women difficult, as vast amounts of material pertaining to matters related to war crimes and the war responsibility of the nation's highest leaders were destroyed on the orders of the Japanese government at the end of the war. Historians have arrived at various estimates by looking at surviving documentation which indicate the ratio of the number of soldiers in a particular area to the number of women, as well as looking at replacement rates of the women. Historian Yoshiaki Yoshimi, who conducted the first academic study on the topic which brought the issue out into the open, estimated the number to be between 50,000 and 200,000.

Based on these estimates, most international media sources quote about 200,000 young women were recruited or kidnapped by soldiers to serve in Japanese military brothels. The BBC quotes "200,000 to 300,000" and the International Commission of Jurists quotes "estimates of historians of 100,000 to 200,000 women."

After the war, a BC-level court martial brought to trial the Japanese military officials who forced the Dutch in the camps to be sent to comfort stations. The WW II story states of the 13 individuals accused in relation to the Semarang Incident, the Batavia Temporary Court Martial on February 14, 1948, sentenced Army Major Okada to death. Eleven others were sentenced to prison terms ranging from two to twenty years. Prosecutors did not succeed in convicting anybody in relation to the Muntilan case, which ended in acquittal.

Court records of the Semarang Incident have survived, and the Dutch Government commissioned a study of Dutch government documents on the forced prostitution of Dutch women at the Dutch East Indies under Japanese occupation. According to the published report , 200 to 300 Dutch women worked at Japanese military brothels, of which “some sixty five were most certainly forced into prostitution.” And that was the most pathetic situation in the Book of World War II.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The reaction of the fathers

In the Book of World War II, on April 17, 2007 Yoshiaki Yoshimi and Hirofumi Hayashi announced the discovery, in the archives of the Tokyo Trials, of seven official documents suggesting that Imperial military forces, such as the Tokeitai (Naval military police), forced women whose fathers attacked the Kempeitai (Army military police), to work in front line brothels in China, Indochina and Indonesian death camps . These documents were initially made public at the war crimes trial. In one of these, a lieutenant is quoted as confessing to having organized a brothel and having used it himself. Another source refers to Tokeitai members having arrested women on the streets, and after enforced medical examinations, putting them in brothels. On 12 May 2007 journalist Taichiro Kajimura announced the discovery of 30 Dutch government documents submitted to the Tokyo tribunal as evidence of a forced massed prostitution incident in 1944 in Magelang.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs resisted further issuance of travel visas for Japanese prostitutes, feeling it tarnished the image of the Japanese Empire. The military turned to acquiring comfort women outside mainland Japan, especially from Korea and occupied China. Many women were tricked or defrauded into joining the military brothels. The US Army Force Office report of interview with 20 comfort women in Burma found that the girls were induced by the offer of plenty of money, an opportunity to pay off the family debts, and on the basis of these false representations many girls enlisted for overseas duty and were rewarded with advance of a few hundred yen. This incident was going on continuously during the World War II

In urban areas, conventional advertising through middlemen was used alongside kidnapping. However, along the front lines, especially in the countryside where middlemen were rare, the military often directly demanded that local leaders procure women for the brothels. This situation became worse as the war progressed. Under the strain of the war effort, the military became unable to provide enough supplies to Japanese units; in response, the units made up the difference by demanding or looting supplies from the locals. Moreover, when the locals, especially Chinese, were considered hostile, Japanese soldiers carried out the "Three Alls Policy", which included indiscriminately kidnapping and raping local civilians. South Korean government designated Bae Jeong-ja as pro-Japan collaborator (chinilpa) in September 2007 for recruiting comfort women. The WWII history is a witness to this issue.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Japanese military prostitution

The World War II story has an unforgettable chapter on the exploitation and abuse of many innocent women through military prostitution. Military correspondence of Japanese Imperial Army shows that the aim of facilitating comfort stations was the prevention of rape crimes committed in Japanese death camps and thus preventing rise of hostility among people in occupied areas.

Given the well-organized and open nature of prostitution in Japan, it was seen as logical that there should be organized prostitution to serve the Japanese Armed Forces. The Japanese Army camps established the comfort stations to prevent venereal diseases and rape by Japanese soldiers, to provide comfort to soldiers and head off espionage. The comfort stations were not actual solutions to the first two problems, however. According to Japanese historian Yoshiaki Yoshimi, they aggravated the problems. Yoshimi has asserted, "The Japanese Imperial Army feared most that the simmering discontentment of the soldiers could explode into a riot and revolt. That is why it provided women." It was the same with the Indonesia death camps.


The first "comfort station" was established in the Japanese concession in Shanghai in 1932. Earlier comfort women were Japanese prostitutes who volunteered for such service. However, as Japan continued military expansion, the military found itself short of Japanese volunteers, and turned to the local population to coerce women into serving into these stations. Many women responded to calls for work as factory workers or nurses, and did not know that they were being pressed into sexual slavery. In the early stages of the war, Japanese authorities recruited prostitutes through conventional means. Middlemen advertised in newspapers circulating in Japan and the Japanese colonies of Korea, Taiwan, Manchukuo, and mainland China. However, these sources soon dried up, especially from Japan. The Japanese death camps are the witnesses for all these atrocities. And this sotry is an ever memorized and agonizing fact in the history of World War II.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The testimonies of ‘comfort women’

The kid’s view on WWII written by Ralph and Cathy Brink explains about the life of slavery in the death camps. According to the testimonies of women who were transferred from the Ambarawa . Fourth and Sixth camps, on February 23, 1944, all women in the camp aged from l 7 to 28 were told to line up in the camp courtyard. They were then ordered to enter the camp office one by one. On the following day, February 24th, 20 were called into the office. Seventeen of them were selected on February 26, and transferred to a facility in Semarang City and forced to sign an agreement. The agreement was written in Japanese and nobody knew what she was signing. At the Halmahera Camp, eleven were taken, of which three were returned. At the Gendungan Camp, older women volunteered so that the younger women would be spared. Approximately 35 women were sent to four comfort stations in Semarang on February 26 or two to three days later. These four stations were the Hinomaru, Seiunso (or Futabaso), the Semarang Club, and the Shoko Club. At the other death camps, we know that the Dutch put up strong resistance and prevented the young women from being taken away.

Japanese death camps were horrible. Top military officials found out about the Semarang incident when the Dutch petitioned an officer who came to observe the camp from Tokyo. The officer realized that the women were forced into becoming comfort women against their will, and reported on the matter. On orders from the military headquarters in Jakarta, the comfort stations were closed within two months after starting operation, and the women were liberated. Yet some of these stations later resumed operation at the same place using women of mixed race.

Before this incident, in around December 1943 or January 1944, Japanese military officials began gathering women from the Muntilan Women's Camp in the same central Java area to be sent to a station in Magelang. They made the Dutch leader in the camp compile a list of young women who were suitable as bar hostesses. On January 25, the Japanese gathered the women on this list, subjected them to physical examination, and selected 15 who were then taken away. However, as the Dutch put up a strong resistance, the Japanese demanded surrogates, for which women who were rumored to be former prostitutes volunteered. After re-evaluation, 13 were sent to the comfort station. We can read more suffering stories of World War II in Brink’s publication.