私たちは、何年もの間、日本のエンターテインメント ニュースを生き、呼吸してきた情熱的なエンターテインメント ニュース ジャンキーの小さなチームです。
comfort women japan, /comfort-women-japan,
Video: Researchers claim this is the first video showing Korean ‘comfort women’
私たちは、何年もの間、日本のエンターテインメント ニュースを生き、呼吸してきた情熱的なエンターテインメント ニュース ジャンキーの小さなチームです。
comfort women japan, 2017-07-10, Researchers claim this is the first video showing Korean ‘comfort women’, This is the only known footage of “comfort women” in existence. Historians estimate that as many as 200,000 women and girls from occupied countries like Korea, China and the Philippines were forced to work in brothels run by the Japanese Imperial Army during WWII. Subscribe to The Washington Post on YouTube: http://bit.ly/2qiJ4dy
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Outline of the comfort women system
Establishment by Japanese military
Given that prostitution in Japan was pervasive and organized, it was logical to find military prostitution in the Japanese armed forces. Military correspondence within the Imperial Japanese Army shows that there were a number of the aims for facilitating comfort stations: to reduce or prevent rape crimes by Japanese army personnel in an effort to prevent a worsening of anti-Japanese sentiment, to reduce venereal diseases among Japanese troops, and to prevent leakage of military secrets by civilians who were in contact with Japanese officers. Carmen Argibay, a former member of the Argentine Supreme Court of Justice, states that the Japanese government aimed to prevent atrocities like the Rape of Nanking by confining rape and sexual abuse to military-controlled facilities, or stop incidents from leaking to the international press should they occur. She also states that the government wanted to minimize medical expenses on treating venereal diseases that the soldiers acquired from frequent and widespread rape, which hindered Japan’s military capacity. Comfort women lived in sordid conditions, and were called “public toilets” by the Japanese. Yuki Tanaka states that local brothels outside of the military’s reach had issues of security, since there were possibilities of spies disguised as workers of such private facilities. Japanese historian Yoshiaki Yoshimi further states that the Japanese military used comfort women to satisfy disgruntled soldiers during World War II and prevent military revolt. He also asserts that, despite the goal of reducing rape and venereal disease, the comfort stations did the opposite—aggravating rape and increasing the spread of venereal disease. Comfort women stations were so prevalent that the Imperial Army offered accountancy classes on how to manage comfort stations, which included how to determine the actuarial “durability or perishability of the women procured.”
Comfort houses were first established in Shanghai after the Shanghai incident in 1932 as a response to wholesale rape of Chinese women by Japanese soldiers. Okamura Yasuji, the chief of staff in Shanghai, ordered the construction of comfort houses to prevent further rape. After the rapes of many Chinese women by Japanese troops during the Nanjing Massacre in 1937, the Japanese forces adopted the general policy of creating comfort stations in various places in Japanese occupied Chinese territory, “not because of their concern for the Chinese victims of rape by Japanese soldiers but because of their fear of creating antagonism among the Chinese civilians.” According to Yoshiaki Yoshimi, comfort stations were established to avoid criticism from China, the United States of America and Europe following the case of massive rapes between battles in Shanghai and Nanjing.
As Japan continued military expansion, the military found itself short of Japanese volunteers, and turned to local populations—abducting and coercing women into serving as sex slaves in the comfort stations. Many women responded to calls to work as factory workers or nurses, and did not know that they were being pressed into sexual slavery.
In the early stages of World War II, Japanese authorities recruited prostitutes through conventional means. In urban areas, conventional advertising through middlemen was used alongside kidnapping. Middlemen advertised in newspapers circulating in Japan and in the Japanese colonies of Korea, Taiwan, Manchukuo, and China. These sources soon dried up, especially in metropolitan Japan. 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, mostly from Korea and from occupied China. An existing system of licensed prostitution within Korea made it easy for Japan to recruit females in large numbers.
Many women were tricked or defrauded into joining the military brothels. Based on false characterizations and payments—by Japanese or by local recruitment agents—which could help relieve family debts, many Korean girls enlisted to take the job. Furthermore, the South East Asia Translation and Interrogation Center (SEATIC) Psychological Warfare Interrogation Bulletin No.2 states that a Japanese facility-manager purchased Korean women for 300 to 1000 yen depending on their physical characteristics, who then became his property and were not released even after completing the servitude terms specified in the contract. In northern Hebei province of China, Hui Muslim girls were recruited to “Huimin Girls’ school” to be trained as entertainers, but then forced to serve as sex slaves. The American historian Gerhard Weinberg wrote that a major issue that no historian has examined whether the soldiers of the Indian National Army had used comfort women, there had been no investigation for it. Lebra wrote “None of those who have written on Bose’s Indian national army has investigated whether, while they were trained by the Japanese army, they were permitted to share in the ‘comfort’ provided by thousands of kidnapped Korean young women held as sex slaves by the Imperial Japanese Army at its camps. This might have provided them with some insight into the nature of Japanese, as opposed to British, colonial rule, as well what might be in store for their sisters and daughters.”
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. The military often directly demanded that local leaders procure women for the brothels along the front lines, especially in the countryside where middlemen were rare. When the locals were considered hostile in China, Japanese soldiers carried out the “Three Alls Policy” (“kill all, burn all, loot all”) which included indiscriminately kidnapping and raping local civilians.
On April 17, 2007, Yoshiaki Yoshimi and Hirofumi Hayashi announced the discovery of seven official documents in the archives of the Tokyo Trials, suggesting that Imperial military forces – such as the Tokkeitai (Naval military police) – forced women whose fathers attacked the Kenpeitai (Japanese Army military police) to work in front-line brothels in China, Indochina, and Indonesia. 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 Tokkeitai members having arrested women on the streets and putting them in brothels after enforced medical examinations.
On May 12, 2007, journalist Taichiro Kajimura announced the discovery of 30 Dutch government documents submitted to the Tokyo tribunal as evidence of a forced mass prostitution incident in 1944 in Magelang.
In 2014, China produced almost 90 documents from the archives of the Kwantung Army on the issue. According to China, the documents provide ironclad proof that the Japanese military forced Asian women to work in front-line brothels before and during World War II.
In June 2014, more official documents were made public from the government of Japan’s archives, documenting sexual violence and women forced into sexual slavery, committed by Imperial Japanese soldiers in French Indochina and Indonesia.
A 2015 study examined archival data which was previously difficult to access, partly due to the China-Japan Joint Communiqué of 1972 in which the Chinese government agreed not to seek any restitution for wartime crimes and incidents. New documents discovered in China shed light on facilities inside comfort stations operated within a Japanese army compound, and the conditions of the Korean comfort women. Documents were discovered verifying the Japanese Army as the funding agency for purchasing some comfort women.
Documents were found in Shanghai that showed details of how the Japanese Army went about opening comfort stations for Japanese troops in occupied Shanghai. Documents included the Tianjin Municipal Archives from the archival files of the Japanese government and the Japanese police during the periods of the occupation in World War II. Municipal archives from Shanghai and Nanjing were also examined. One conclusion reached was that the relevant archives in Korea are distorted. A conclusion of the study was that the Japanese Imperial government, and the colonial government in Korea, tried to avoid recording the illegal mobilization of comfort women. It was concluded that they burned most of the records immediately before the surrender; however, the study confirmed that some documents and records survived.
Number of comfort women
Professor Su Jiliang concludes that during the seven-year period from 1938 to 1945, “comfort women” in the territory occupied by the Japanese numbered 360,000 to 410,000, among whom the Chinese were the largest group, about 200,000.
Lack of official documentation has made estimating the total number of comfort women difficult. Vast amounts of material pertaining to war crimes, and the responsibility of the nation’s highest leaders, were either destroyed or concealed 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 indicates the ratio of soldiers in a particular area to the number of women, and replacement rates of the women.
Most academic researchers and media typically point to Yoshiaki’s estimate as the most probable range of the numbers of women involved. This figure contrasts with the inscriptions on monuments in the United States such as those in New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and California, which state the number of comfort women as “more than 200,000”.
Countries of origin
According to State University of New York at Buffalo professor Yoshiko Nozaki and other sources, the majority of the women were from Korea and China. Chuo University professor and historian Yoshiaki Yoshimi discovered an abundance of documentation and testimony that proves the existence of 2,000 comfort women stations where approximately 200,000 Korean, Filipina, Taiwanese, Indonesian, Burmese, Dutch, Australian, and Japanese women, many of whom were teenagers, were confined and forced to perform sexual activities with Japanese troops. According to Qiu Peipei of Vassar College, comfort women were replaced with other women at a rapid rate, making her estimates of 200,000-400,000 comfort women plausible, with the majority being Chinese women. Ikuhiko Hata, a professor of Nihon University, estimated the number of women working in the licensed pleasure quarter was fewer than 20,000 and that they were 40% Japanese, 20% Koreans, 10% Chinese, with others making up the remaining 30%. According to Hata, the total number of government-regulated prostitutes in Japan was only 170,000 during World War II. Others came from the Philippines, Taiwan, the Dutch East Indies, and other Japanese-occupied countries and regions. Some Dutch women, captured in Dutch colonies in Asia, were also forced into sexual slavery.
In further analysis of the Imperial Army medical records for venereal disease treatment from 1940, Yoshimi concluded that if the percentages of women treated reflected the general makeup of the total comfort women population, Korean women made up 51.8 percent, Chinese 36 percent and Japanese 12.2 percent.
In 1997, Bruce Cumings, a historian of Korea, wrote that Japan had forced quotas to supply the comfort women program, and that Korean men helped recruit the victims. Cumings stated that between 100,000 and 200,000 Korean girls and women were recruited. In Korea, the daughters of the gentry and the bureaucracy were spared from being sent into the “comfort women corps” unless they or their families showed signs of pro-independence tendencies, and the overwhelming majority of the Korean girls taken into the “comfort women corps” came from the poor. The Army and Navy often subcontracted the work of taking girls into the “comfort women corps” in Korea to contractors, who were usually associated in some way with organized crime groups, who were paid for girls they presented. Though a substantial minority of the contractors in Korea were Japanese, the majority were Korean.
During the initial invasion of Dutch East Indies, Japanese soldiers raped many Indonesian and European women and girls. The Kenpeitai established the comfort women program to control the problem. The Kenpeitai forced and coerced many interned women to serve as prostitutes, including several hundred European women. A few of these chose to live in the homes of Japanese officers to serve one man as a sex slave rather than many men in a brothel. One such European woman, K’tut Tantri, wrote a book describing her ordeal. A Dutch government study described the methods used by the Japanese military to seize the women by force. It concluded that among the 200 to 300 European women found in the Japanese military brothels, “some sixty five were most certainly forced into prostitution”. Others, faced with starvation in the refugee camps, agreed to offers of food and payment for work, the nature of which was not completely revealed to them. Some of the women also volunteered in hopes protecting the younger ones. The women forced into prostitution may therefore be much higher than the Dutch record have previously indicated. The number of Dutch women that were sexually assaulted or molested were also largely ignored. It was not until individuals and groups such as the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts began advocating for victims of the Japanese occupation that the plight of Dutch comfort women entered the collective conscience. As well as being raped and sexually assaulted every day and night, the Dutch girls lived in constant fear of beatings and other physical violence.
Besides Dutch women, many Javanese were also recruited from Indonesia as comfort women including around 1000 East Timorese women and girls who also used as sexual slaves. Most were adolescent girls aged 14–19 who had completed some education and were deceived through promises of higher education in Tokyo or Singapore. Common destinations of comfort women from Java included Burma, Thailand, and Eastern Indonesia. Interviews conducted with former comfort women also suggest that some women came from the island of Flores. After the war, many Javanese comfort women who survived stayed in the locations where they had been trafficked to and became integrated into local populations.
Melanesian women from New Guinea were also used as comfort women. Local women were recruited from Rabaul as comfort women, along with some number of mixed Japanese-Papuan women born to Japanese fathers and Papuan mothers. One Australian Captain, David Hutchinson-Smith, also mentioned of some mixed-race, young Japanese-Papuan girls who were also conscripted as comfort women.
To date, only one Japanese woman has published her testimony. This was done in 1971, when a former comfort woman forced to work for Showa soldiers in Taiwan published her memoirs under the pseudonym of Suzuko Shirota.
More than 2,000 Taiwanese women were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military, as of 2020 only two were still believed to be alive. Yoshiaki Yoshimi notes that more than half of Taiwanese comfort women were minors.
Treatment of comfort women
Based on a statement made by Representative Seijuro Arahune of the Japanese Diet in 1975 in which he claimed to cite numbers provided by Korean authorities during the 1965 Korea-Japan Treaty negotiations, as many as three-fourths of Korean comfort women may have died during the war, although the validity of this statement has since been brought into question as the number does not seem to be based on an actual investigation on the matter. It is estimated that most of the survivors became infertile because of the multiple rapes or venereal diseases contracted following the rapes.
Since comfort women were forced to travel to the battlefields with the Japanese Imperial Army, many comfort women perished as Allied forces overwhelmed Japan’s Pacific defense and annihilated Japanese encampments. In certain cases, the Japanese military executed Korean comfort women when they fled from losing battles with the Allied Forces. During the last stand of Japanese forces in 1944–45, “comfort women” were often forced to commit suicide or were killed. At the Truk naval base, 70 “comfort women” were killed prior to the expected American assault as the Navy mistook the American air raid that destroyed Truk as the prelude to an American landing while during the Battle of Saipan “comfort women” were among those who committed suicide by jumping off the cliffs of Saipan. In Burma, there were cases of Korean “comfort women” committing suicide by swallowing cyanide pills or being killed by having a hand grenade tossed into their dug-outs. During the Battle of Manila, when Japanese sailors ran amok and simply killed everyone, there were cases of “comfort women” being killed, though there does not seem to have been any systematic policy of killing “comfort women”. The Japanese government had told the Japanese colonists on Saipan that the American “white devils” were cannibals, and so the Japanese population preferred suicide to falling into the hands of the American “white devils”. It is possible that many of the Asian “comfort women” may also have believed this. British soldiers fighting in Burma often reported that the Korean “comfort women” whom they captured were astonished to learn that the British were not going to eat them. Ironically, given this claim, there were cases of starving Japanese troops cut off on remote Pacific islands or trapped in the jungles of Burma turning towards cannibalism, and there were at least several cases where “comfort women” in Burma and on Pacific islands were killed to provide protein for the Imperial Japanese Army.
According to an account by a survivor, she was beaten when she attempted to resist being raped. The women who were not prostitutes prior to joining the “comfort women corps”, especially those taken in by force, were normally “broken in” by being raped. One Korean woman, Kim Hak-sun, stated in a 1991 interview about how she was drafted into the “comfort women corps” in 1941: “When I was 17 years old, the Japanese soldiers came along in a truck, beat us [her and a friend], and then dragged us into the back. I was told if I were drafted, I could earn lots of money in a textile factory … The first day I was raped and the rapes never stopped … I was born a woman but never lived as a woman … I feel sick when I come close to a man. Not just Japanese men, but all men-even my own husband who saved me from the brothel. I shiver whenever I see a Japanese flag … Why should I feel ashamed? I don’t have to feel ashamed.” Kim stated that she was raped 30–40 times a day, every day of the year during her time as a “comfort woman”. Reflecting their dehumanized status, Army and Navy records where referring to the movement of “comfort women” always used the term “units of war supplies”.
Military doctors and medical workers frequently raped the women during medical examinations. One Japanese Army doctor, Asō Tetsuo, testified that the “comfort women” were seen as “female ammunition” and as “public toilets”—as literally just things to be used and abused—with some “comfort women” being forced to donate blood for the treatment of wounded soldiers. At least 80% of the “comfort women” were Korean, who were assigned to the lower ranks, while Japanese and European women went to the officers. For example, Dutch women captured in the Dutch East Indies (modern Indonesia) were reserved exclusively for the officers. Korea is a Confucian country where premarital sex was widely disapproved of, and since the Korean teenagers taken into the “comfort women corps” were almost always virgins, it was felt that this was the best way to limit the spread of venereal diseases that would otherwise incapacitate soldiers and sailors.
Studio portrait of Jan Ruff O’Herne, taken shortly before she, her mother and sisters, and thousands of other Dutch women and children were interned by the Imperial Japanese Army in Ambarawa. Over the following months, O’Herne and six other Dutch women were repeatedly raped and beaten, day and night, by IJA personnel.
Ten Dutch women were taken by force from prison camps in Java by officers of the Imperial Japanese Army to become forced sex slaves in February 1944. They were systematically beaten and raped day and night. As a victim of the incident, in 1990, Jan Ruff-O’Herne 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 “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.
In their first morning at the brothel, photographs of Ruff-O’Herne and the others were taken and placed on the veranda which was used as a reception area for the Japanese personnel who would choose from these photographs. Over the following four months the girls were raped and beaten day and night, with those who became pregnant forced to have abortions. After four harrowing months, the girls were moved to a camp at Bogor, in West Java, where they were reunited with their families. This camp was exclusively for women who had been put into military brothels, and the Japanese warned the inmates that if anyone told what had happened to them, they and their family members would be killed. Several months later the O’Hernes were transferred to a camp at Batavia, which was liberated on August 15, 1945.
Suki Falconberg, a comfort women survivor, shared her experiences:
Serial penetration by many men is not a mild form of torture. Just the tears at the vaginal opening feel like fire applied to a cut. Your genitals swell and bruise. Damage to the womb and other internal organs can also be tremendous … [B]eing used as a public dumping ground by those men left me with deep shame that I still feel in the pit of my stomach – it’s like a hard, heavy, sick feeling that never entirely goes away. They saw not just my completely helpless, naked body, but they heard me beg, and cry. They reduced me to something low and disgusting that suffered miserably in front of them … Even years later, it has taken tremendous courage for me to put these words on the page, so deep is the cultural shame … 
At Blora, twenty European women and girls were imprisoned in two houses. Over a period of three weeks, as Japanese units passed by the houses, the women and their daughters were brutally and repeatedly raped.
The Japanese officers involved received some punishment by Japanese authorities at the end of the war. After the end of the war, 11 Japanese officers were found guilty, with one soldier being sentenced to death by the Batavia War Criminal Court. The court decision found that the charge violated was the Army’s order to hire only voluntary women. Victims from East Timor testified they were forced into slavery even when they were not old enough to have started menstruating. The court testimonies state that these prepubescent girls were repeatedly raped by Japanese soldiers while those who refused to comply were killed.
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, in what is now 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”.
Contrarily, reports based on interrogation of Korean comfort women captured after the Siege of Myitkyina in Burma indicated that they lived comparatively well, received many gifts, and were paid wages while they were in Burma. The label ‘homecoming women‘, originally referring to comfort women who returned to Korea, has remained as a pejorative term for sexually active women in South Korea.
Sterility, abortion and reproduction
The Japanese Army and Navy went to great lengths to avoid venereal diseases with large numbers of condoms being handed out for free. For example, documents show that in July 1943 the Army handed out 1,000 condoms for soldiers in Negri Sembilan and another 10,000 for soldiers in Perak. The “comfort women” were usually injected with salvarsan, which together with damage to the vagina caused by rape were the causes of unusually high rates of sterility among the “comfort women”. As the war went on and as the shortages caused by the sinking of almost the entire Japanese merchant marine by American submarines kicked in, medical care for the “comfort women” declined as dwindling medical supplies were reserved for the servicemen. As Japanese logistics broke down as the American submarines sank one Japanese ship after another, condoms had to be washed and reused, reducing their effectiveness. In the Philippines, “comfort women” were billed by Japanese doctors if they required medical treatment. In many cases, “comfort women” who were seriously ill were abandoned to die alone.
The Survey of Korean Comfort Women Used by Japanese Soldiers said that 30% of the interviewed former Korean comfort women produced biological children and 20% adopted children after World War II.
The bronze statue is two meters tall, depicting a representation of an estimated 1,000 Filipinas who have undergone sexual slavery during World War II. It depicts a grieving blindfolded woman in traditional Maria Clara attire. The pedestal features the historical marker on its front, while its back cites the effort and donations of groups and individuals. On the base of the backside is a small plaque, with the title of the statue as “Filipina Comfort Women” and the name of its designer.
Roces has insisted that the statue is not made as means to protest against either the government of Japan and the Philippines but as a “reminder” of Philippine history that he wanted future generations not to forget. Aside from the sculpture as a whole symbolizing the Filipino comfort women, the statue’s other elements had symbolism. According to the sculpture’s artist, the blindfold represents “injustice or the continuous desire for justice” of surviving comfort women who are seeking a satisfactory official apology and compensation from the Japanese government. The comfort women’s resilience is signified by the sculpture’s dress which is embellished with images of the coral vine, a perennial plant also known locally as the “cadena de amor”. The position of the statue when it was still installed in Manila was a reference to Japan’s title as the “Land of the Rising Sun”; the statue did not face the sea where the sun sets.
Dutch East Indies
- Kim Hak-sun (1924–1997)
- Song Sin-do (1922–2017)
- Gil Won-ok (吉元玉) (1928–)
- Kim Bok-dong (1924-2019)
- Lee Yong-soo (이용수) (1928–)
- Yoo Hee-nam (1927–) 
- Kim Kyung-soon (1926-2016) 
- Kim Soon-duk (1921–2004)
Column of Strength statue
The San Francisco Comfort Women memorial and its bronze, 10-foot-tall “Comfort Women” Column of Strength statue were unveiled on September 22, 2017. The memorial statue was designed by the Carmel-based sculptor Steven Whyte. It depicts three teen-age girls, with each being of a specific nationality—Chinese, Korean, and Philippine—and altogether representing the estimated 200,000 “comfort women” from countries across East and Southeast Asia that were occupied by the Imperial Japanese Army before and during World War II. These three girls are cast in bronze, standing in a circle atop a pedestal and holding hands in a back-to-back posture. Standing next to the pedestal and gazing up at them is another bronze figure of a halmoni (Korean for grandmother). It bears a resemblance to the Korean human rights activist Kim Hak-Sun, who was a victim of the forced enslavement to the Imperial Japanese Army during WWII and the first woman in Korea to come forward publicly about her experiences as a comfort woman.
Steven Whyte, the sculptor of the “Comfort Women” Column of Strength statue, is a British-American artist living in Carmel, California. His works also include a life-sized Jumbo the Elephant at Tufts University and a multi-sculptures monument entitled National Salute to Bob Hope and the Military.
Whyte describes himself as “a figurative sculptor,” with a strong emphasis on the creation of characters in his works. He has a preference in human form as the sculpture subject, and often works with live models when designing sculptures. For “Comfort Women” Column of Strength, he found models from the Central Coast and designed the figures of the teen-age Chinese, Korean, and Philippine girls partially based on the models.
Whyte also describes himself as a “sculptor of people” who prioritizes “the emotional quality and impact of the sculpture” and intends for his work to become catalysts for public responses, interactions, and conversations. To make “Comfort Women” Column of Strength resonate with its audience emotionally, Whyte puts an emphasis on the girls’ strength and solidarity through their posture, and makes them look at viewers directly “in an almost accusatory way” and with “post-traumatic” stress and shock.
Whyte reflects on the Column of Strength statue that “this is a story that has been hidden for so long that if it serves a purpose —to make people look into history and learn from history a little more— then my work is done.”
1. The issue of comfort women between Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK)
- (1) As the issue of comfort women has been a major diplomatic issue in Japan-ROK relations since the 1990s, Japan has sincerely dealt with it. The issue concerning property and claims between Japan and the ROK was settled completely and finally in 1965 through the Agreement on the Settlement of Problem Concerning Property and Claims and on the Economic Cooperation between Japan and the ROK (see Foreign Minister Kono’s statement). However, from the perspective of facilitating feasible remedies for the former comfort women, the people and the Government of Japan cooperated to establish “Asian Women’s Fund (PDF) ” in 1995, through which they carried out medical and welfare projects and provided “atonement money” to each former comfort woman in Asian and other countries, including the ROK. In addition, successive Prime Ministers have sent letters expressing their “apology and remorse” to former comfort women. The Government of Japan has made every effort as mentioned above.
- (2) Furthermore, as a result of great diplomatic efforts, the Governments of Japan and the ROK confirmed that the issue of comfort women was “resolved finally and irreversibly” with the agreement reached at the Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in December 2015. The Japanese and ROK leaders also confirmed that they would take responsibility as leaders to implement this agreement, and that they would deal with various issues based on the spirit of this agreement. This agreement was welcomed by the international community, including then Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon and the U.S. Government.
In accordance with this agreement, in August 2016, the Government of Japan contributed 1 billion yen to “the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation” established by the Government of the ROK. The Foundation provided financial support to 35 out of the 47 former comfort women who were alive at the time of the agreement, and to the bereaved families of 64 out of the 199 former comfort women who were deceased at the time. The agreement has been received positively by many former comfort women.
- (3) However, in December 2016, a comfort woman statue(Note) was installed on the sidewalk facing the Consulate-General of Japan in Busan by a civic group in the ROK. Subsequently, the Moon Jae-in administration was newly inaugurated in May 2017. Based on the results of the assessment made by the Taskforce to Review the Agreement on Comfort Women Issue (see Foreign Minister Kono’s statement on the assessment) under the direct supervision of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the ROK, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha announced the position of the Government of the ROK on January 9, 2018 (see Foreign Minister Kono’s press conference) as follows: i) it will not ask for a renegotiation with Japan; and ii) the 2015 agreement, which fails to properly reflect the wishes of the victims, does not constitute a true resolution of the issue. In July 2018, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family of the ROK announced that it would arrange a reserve budget to “appropriate the full amount” of the 1 billion yen contributed by the Government of Japan and contribute this amount to “the Gender Equality Fund”. In November, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family announced that it would proceed with its dissolution of “the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation” (see Foreign Minister Kono’s press conference).
- (4) Moreover, on January 8, 2021, in the lawsuit filed by former comfort women and others against the Government of Japan, the Seoul Central District Court of the ROK rendered a judgment which ordered the Government of Japan, inter alia, to pay compensation to the plaintiff, denying the application of the principle of State immunity under international law. On January 23, 2021, the judgment was confirmed. Japan has repeatedly expressed its position that this lawsuit must be dismissed because it is not acceptable for the Government of Japan to be subject to the jurisdiction of the ROK in accordance with this principle of State immunity in international law. As mentioned above, the issue concerning property and claims between Japan and the ROK, including the issue of comfort women, was “settled completely and finally” with the Agreement on the Settlement of Problem concerning Property and Claims and on the Economic Co-operation between Japan and the ROK of 1965 (see Foreign Minister Kono’s statement). Furthermore, it was confirmed that the issue of comfort women was “resolved finally and irreversibly” with the agreement between Japan and the ROK in 2015. Therefore, this judgment is extremely regrettable and absolutely unacceptable, as it is clearly contrary to international law and agreements between the two countries. It is Japan’s policy that it once again strongly urges the ROK to immediately take appropriate measures to remedy the status of its breaches of international law on its own responsibility as a country.
- (5) The Japan-ROK agreement in 2015 is an agreement between two countries, and it must be implemented responsibly. The ROK has a responsibility to steadily implement the agreement not only to Japan but also to the international community. As stated above, the Government of Japan has implemented all measures it committed to under the Japan-ROK agreement. The ROK government itself also acknowledges that this agreement is an official agreement between the two governments and the international community is closely following the ROK’s implementation of the agreement. The Government of Japan will continue to strongly urge the ROK to steadily implement the Japan-ROK agreement.
(Note) For the sake of practical convenience, the statues in front of the Embassy of Japan in Seoul and the Consulate-General of Japan in Busan are referred to as “comfort woman statues.” However, the use of this term is not a reflection of the recognition that these statues correctly embody the reality of those women at that time.
2. The comfort women issue in the international community
- (1) The Government of Japan has sincerely dealt with issues of reparations, property, and claims pertaining to the Second World War, including the comfort women issue, under the San Francisco Peace Treaty (1 (PDF) , 2 (PDF) ), which the Government of Japan concluded with 45 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and France, and through other bilateral treaties, agreements, and instruments. These issues including those of claims of individuals have already been legally settled with the parties to these treaties, agreements, and instruments.
- (2) On this basis, the Government of Japan has actively taken measures to recover the honor of former comfort women and to provide remedies for them. In 1995, the AWF(PDF) was established with the cooperation of the people and the Government of Japan for the purpose of carrying out atonement and remedy projects for former comfort women. The Government of Japan provided a total of 4.8 billion yen. Approximately 600 million yen was donated to the AWF by the people of Japan. The Government of Japan extended maximum cooperation to the AWF, which implemented medical and welfare support projects and provided “atonement money,” to offer realistic relief to former comfort women. As part of the AWF’s projects, “atonement money” (2 million yen per person), which was funded by donations from Japanese people, was provided to 285 former comfort women (211 for the Philippines, 61 in the Republic of Korea, 13 in Taiwan). Moreover, the AWF provided funds in those countries/areas for medical and welfare support funded with contributions by the Government of Japan. (3 million yen per person in the Republic of Korea and Taiwan, 1.2 million yen for the Philippines) (for a total of 5 million yen per person in the Republic of Korea and Taiwan, 3.2 million yen per person in the Philippines). Furthermore, using funds contributed by the Government of Japan, the AWF extended support for projects to promote social welfare services for elderly people in Indonesia as well as projects to help improve the living conditions of former comfort women in the Netherlands.
- (3) When the “atonement money” as well as the medical and welfare support were provided to individual former comfort women, then-Prime Ministers (namely, PM Ryutaro Hashimoto, PM Keizo Obuchi, PM Yoshiro Mori and PM Junichiro Koizumi) sent signed letters expressing apologies and remorse directly to each former comfort woman.
- (4) As stated in the Statement by the Prime Minister issued in 2015, Japan will engrave in its heart the past, when the dignity and honour of many women were severely injured during wars in the 20th century. Japan will lead the world in making the 21st century an era in which women’s human rights are not infringed upon.
- (5) Despite such sincere efforts by the Government of Japan, there are claims that can hardly be said to be based on historical facts, such as the allegations of “forceful taking away” of comfort women and “sex slaves” as well as the figures “200,000 persons” or “several hundred thousands” for the total number of comfort women.
The Government of Japan’s position regarding these claims is as follows;
- “Forceful taking away”
“Forceful taking away” of comfort women by the Japanese military and government authorities could not be confirmed in any of the documents that the Government of Japan was able to identify. (This position is stated, for example, in a written answer approved by the Cabinet on December 16, 1997 to the question by a member of the House of Representatives.)
- “Sex slaves”
The expression “sex slaves” contradicts the facts so that it should not be used. This point was confirmed with the ROK at the occasion of the Japan-ROK Agreement in December 2015 and the expression “sex slaves” is not used in the agreement.
- Figures such as “200,000 persons” for the total number of comfort women
The figure “200,000 persons” lacks concrete evidence. As stated in the report of the Government study’s result of August 4, 1993, it is virtually impossible to determine the total number of comfort women as no documents have been found which either indicate the total number or give sufficient ground to establish an estimate.
- “Forceful taking away”
- (6) The Government of Japan has been making efforts to provide clear explanations regarding its sincere efforts and official position in international fora. Specifically, at the UN, the Government of Japan has explained its position at a number of opportunities such as during the examination of the Seventh and Eighth Periodic Reports by the Government of Japan on the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in February 2016 and the Ninth Periodic Report on the Implementation of the CEDAW in September 2021. In February 2017, the Government of Japan also submitted its amicus curiae brief(PDF) to the U.S. Supreme Court for the trial concerning a comfort woman statue installed in Glendale in the suburbs of Los Angeles, United States.
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‘One of the achievements of this volume is that it successfully personalises some of the ‘comfort’ women. It exhaustively details the inhumane process by which they were ‘recruited’ or forced into what amounted to sexual slavery and the degrading day-to-day treatment meted out to them by recruiters, managers and soldiers if the women refused to ‘comfort’ soldiers, became pregnant or were ill. Even more significantly, this volume attempts to establish the figures that helped to implement the ‘comfort’ women system, including senior Japanese military officers, Ministry of War bureaucrats, brothel owners and their recruiters and medical staff.’
– Intersections, Issue 9.
Yuki Tanaka is at Keiwa College in Japan and is the co-author of Hidden Horrors:Japanese War Crimes in World War II (1995).
陸軍が視察を依頼した精神科医早尾乕雄の論文である『戦場心理の研究』 によれば1938年の上海では強姦や輪姦が頻発し、南京では「皇軍に強姦されたら、幸運に思え」と怒鳴った隊長がいたと報告している。こうした強姦の多発により、慰安所の設置を急いだことが『飯沼守上海派遣軍参謀長の日記』『上村利通上海派遣軍参謀副長の日記』『北支那参謀長通牒』などの史料から分かる。また小川関治郎の陣中日記の1937年12月21日条には「尚当会報ニテ聞ク 湖州ニハ兵ノ慰安設備モ出来開設当時非常ノ繁盛ヲ為スト 支那女十数人ナルガ漸次増加セント憲兵ニテ準備ニ忙シト」との記述が見られる。
- 1938年1月19日付群馬県知事発内務大臣・陸軍大臣宛「上海派遣軍内陸軍慰安所ニ於ケル酌婦募集ニ関スル件」 と同年1月25日付高知県知事発内務大臣宛「支那渡航婦女募集取締ニ関スル件」、同日付山形県知事発内務大臣・陸軍大臣宛「北支派遣軍慰安酌婦募集ニ関スル件」 などでは、警察から「皇軍ノ威信ヲ失墜スルコト甚タシキモノ」とされた神戸の貸座敷業者大内の言葉として、「上海での戦闘も一段落ついて駐屯の体制となったため、将兵が現地での中国人売春婦と遊んで性病が蔓延しつつあるので3,000人を募集した」とある。業者大内によれば、契約は二年、前借金は500円から1,000円まで、年齢は16歳から30歳迄としている。
1938年（昭和13年）3月4日、「支那渡航婦女の取扱に関する件」に応じて陸軍省 兵務局 兵務課はに「軍慰安所従業婦等募集に関する件」（陸支密第745号）を発令した。この通達は、北京近郊で慰安所を設置するために内地（植民地以外の日本国内）で慰安婦を募集した者が、軍の名義を利用したり、誘拐のような方法で集め警察に検挙取締りを受けたため、今後は派遣軍が募集する者の人選を適切にし、軍の威信を保ち社会問題を引き起こさないよう依頼したものである。
当時の少女誘拐事件および人身売買については、警察の発表などを受けて朝鮮の新聞東亜日報や毎日新報（毎日申報。現・ソウル新聞）、時代日報、中外日報 で報道されている。朝鮮総督府統計年報によると、略取・誘拐での検挙数は1935年は朝鮮人2,482人・日本人24人、1938年は朝鮮人1,699人・日本人10人、1940年は朝鮮人1,464人・日本人16人 となっている。
ソ連（ロシア）では慰安所は設置されていないが強姦が黙認された。日本領となっていた満州や朝鮮半島に進軍してきたソ連兵は、日本人女性の強姦行為を各地で繰り返し、満洲の吉林省 敦化ではソ連軍が日本の工場の独身寮に約170名の日本人女性を監禁し強姦している（敦化事件）。大古洞開拓団（三江省 通河県）ではソ連軍による慰安婦提供の要請を受けて2名の志願慰安婦を提供した事例がある ほか、満州開拓団にソ連軍が進駐した際には兵士の妻でなく単身女性が慰安婦として提供された黒川開拓団や郡上村開拓団の例がある。(引揚者#ソ連軍占領下地域も参照）
占領軍の性対策については警視庁が1945年8月15日の敗戦直後から検討し、8月22日には連合軍の新聞記者から「日本にそういう施設があることと思い、大いに期待している」との情報が入った。また佐官級の兵士が東京丸の内警察署に来て、「女を世話しろ」ということもあった。8月17日に成立した東久邇内閣の国務大臣 近衛文麿は警視庁総監 坂信弥に「日本の娘を守ってくれ」と請願したため、坂信弥は一般婦女を守るための「防波堤」としての連合軍兵士専用の慰安所の設営を企画し、翌日の8月18日には橋本政実 内務省警保局長による「外国軍駐屯地に於る慰安施設について」との通達が出された。作家の早川紀代によれば、当時の慰安所は東京、広島、静岡、兵庫県、山形県、秋田県、横浜、愛知県、大阪、岩手県などに設置された。また右翼団体の国粋同盟（総裁 笹川良一）が連合軍慰安所アメリカン倶楽部を9月18日に開業している。こうした慰安所は公式には特殊慰安施設協会と称され、英語ではRecreation and Amusement Association（レクリエーション及び娯楽協会, RAA）と表された。
特殊慰安施設協会は1945年8月22日に設置されたが、30日に上陸した進駐軍は横須賀や横浜をはじめ、民家に侵入し日本人女性を強姦する事件が多発した。28日、9月2日開業予定の小町園慰安所には機関銃で武装したアメリカ軍兵士達が乗り込みすべての慰安婦たちを強姦した。横浜では、100名を超える武装したアメリカ兵が開業前日の慰安所に乗り込み慰安婦14名を輪姦した。9月1日には野毛山公園で日本女性が27人の米兵に集団強姦された。5日には神奈川県の女子高校が休校した。19日にGHQがプレスコードを発令して以後は連合軍を批判的に扱う記事は新聞で報道されなくなった。武蔵野市では小学生が集団強姦され、東京都大田区 大森では病院に2 – 300人の米兵が侵入し、妊婦や看護婦らが強姦された。これらのアメリカ軍による集団強姦事件はダグラス・マッカーサー元帥やロバート・アイケルバーガー将軍も把握しており、アメリカ軍は強姦から女性を守ろうと設立された自警団に対しては戦闘車両で鎮圧し自警団幹部らを長期間にわたって刑務所に監禁した。進駐軍相手の日本人娼婦（街娼）は「パンパン」などと呼ばれていた。占領直後の性的暴行や強姦の件数については確定していないが、藤目ゆきによれば上陸後一ヶ月だけでも最低3500人以上の女性が連合軍兵士によって被害をうけ、その後も1947年に283人、1948年に265人、1949年に312人の被害届けが確認されているがこれらは氷山の一角であり、藤目は占領とは「日本人女性に対する米軍の性的蹂躙の始まり」でもあったと述べている。
Comfort stations were established first in Shanghai in 1932, then in Japan, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaya, Thailand, Burma, East New Guinea, Hong Kong, Macau, French Indochina, and other regions.
During the early twentieth century, Japan gradually established its power and control over East Asia, including Taiwan (colonized in 1895), Korea (made a protectorate of Japan in 1905 and annexed in 1910), and Manchuria (a puppet government set up in 1932). Beginning with the outbreak of the Second Sino–Japanese War (1937), Asia was constantly at war, a state of affairs that later became part of World War II. During the period of constant warfare from the early 1930s to 1945, the Japanese Imperial Army implemented and maintained the comfort women system. That the Japanese military set up and controlled the system is clearly evidenced by official Japanese military records and personal memoirs. For example, Okabe Naosaburō, a senior staff officer in the Shanghai Expeditionary Force, wrote the following in his diary, related to establishing a comfort station in the Shangai area in 1932:
Recently, soldiers have been prowling around everywhere looking for women, and I often heard obscene stories [about their behavior]. As long as conditions are peaceful and the army is not engaged in fighting, these incidents are difficult to prevent. Rather, we should recognize that we can actively provide facilities. I have considered many policy options for resolving the troops’ sexual problems and have set to work on realizing that goal. Lieutenant Cononel Nagami [Toshinori] will bear primary responsibility in this matter.3
The document indicates that senior staff officers of each army typically issued orders to establish comfort stations, and staff officers of subordinate units made a plan and carried it out.4 Comfort stations were to be used exclusively for troops and officers. The Japanese military used several justifications for creating the system: to boost army morale; to control the behavior of the soldiers; to contain venereal diseases among the troops; and to prevent rapes by Japanese soldiers, thus avoiding the rise of hostility among the inhabitants of occupied areas.5
Comfort stations were established first in Shanghai in 1932, then in Japan, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaya, Thailand, Burma, East New Guinea, Hong Kong, Macau, French Indochina, and other regions. Comfort stations were established wherever the Japanese troops went.6
The Story of Yong Soo Lee
Comfort stations at the early stage were filled with prostitutes who voluntarily came from Japan. However, as the Japanese army continued military expansion from the late 1930s, it turned to the local population in occupied areas, such as Korea, Taiwan, and China, to coerce women into serving sexually in these stations.
In 1938, the Japanese military began to utilize Japanese or local brokers to “recruit” women, particularly in Korea and Taiwan. It was common that those agents or their subcontractors would go from one city to another, procuring forty to fifty young girls at once. Once they secured enough women, they would send them to China and other war zones. The most common way to “recruit” young girls in Korea was deceit, that is, making false promises of employment as factory workers, nurses, laundry workers, or kitchen helpers in Japan or other Japanese-occupied territories. Typically, daughters of poor peasant families would be deceived by this “recruiting” and would not know the real nature of the work until they were taken into a comfort station.7
Toward the end of the war, the military used the police force to procure women. Many young girls were forcibly taken. We can see how a girl was taken against her will to become a comfort woman in Yong Soo Lee’s story.8 Lee was one of three survivors who testified before the US House of Representatives’ Foreign Relations Committee about violations of their civil liberties by the Japanese government. This testimony resulted in the passage of the nonbinding US House Resolution 121 (2007), urging Japan to accept full responsibility for the actions of its military. The victims’ personal stories from the testimony provide us with a vivid picture of this horrible tragedy.
Lee lived in Taegu, Korea, under Japanese occupation in the early 1940s. Her family was poor, and she received only one year of formal education. She began working in a factory to support her family at the age of thirteen. In the autumn of 1944, when she was sixteen years old, she and a friend were taken to Taiwan, where they were forced to work as sexual slaves for the Japanese military. She remembers that a Japanese man came to her home and called her to come out. Without knowing where she was going or why, she was taken away by Japanese soldiers. She met three other girls, and they were all put on a train. They went to Kyôngju first, then to P’yôngan Province in northern Korea. During the trip, Japanese soldiers hit and kicked them, and she sometimes lost consciousness. On a ship and again a train, she was taken to Dalian, Shanghai, and finally Taiwan. Various official documents and testimony verified that comfort women were transported by army cargo ships from Japan and Korea to many places in the Asia–Pacific region. It implies that Japan’s Ministry of War was directly involved in transporting those women to war zones, since it was impossible to use any Japanese military ships without the ministry’s permission. 9
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