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  • 1. Did the Japanese military forcefully recruit Korean women to comfort stations during WWII? Navarat Aunaetitrakul #000307-103 Internal Assessment IB History HL May 2012 Word Count: 1,908 1
  • 2. Table of ContentsA. Plan of Investigation…………………………………………………………………3B. Summary of Evidence……………………………………………………………..3-4C. Evaluation of Sources……………………………………………………………..4-5D. Analysis……………………………………………………………………………5-7E. Conclusion…………………………………………………………………………..7F. Bibliography………………………………………………………………………7-8 2
  • 3. A. Plan of Investigation The following investigation assesses whether or not the Japanese military forcefully recruitedKorean women to comfort stations during World War II. After the war many women in Asia publicizedthat they were recruited by Japan against their own will, however Japan claimed that there is noevidence that Japan had recruited foreign women to give sexual services to Japanese military men.Most of the comfort women survivors who publicized their stories were Korean women and thus, theinvestigation focuses primarily on testimonials of these women. The investigation will include primary and secondary sources. The two main texts analyzed areComfort Women: Sexual Slavery in the Japanese Military During World War II by Yoshimi Yoshiakiand Behind the Comfort Women Controversy: How Lies Became Truth by Nishioka Tsutomu. Thesesources are evaluated for their origin, purpose, values, and limitations.B. Summary of Evidence After Japan had securely defeated Russia in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905, and did a series ofmaneuvers which included assassinating the Korean Royal family, by 1910 Japan officially annexedKorea. (“Japanese Occupation of Korea”). During the Japanese annexation of Korea, Korea’s culturewas repressed by the Japanese invasion (Fisher). Japan saw Korea as a part of Japan and so the Koreanlanguage, religion, and culture had to be Japanese (“Japanese Occupation of Korea”). The Japanesebanned Koreans from learning their language and forced them to learn and speak Japanese. TheJapanese also banned Koreans from learning their history (Fisher). In addition, the Japanese also forcedthe Koreans to change their Korean names to Japanese names (Fisher). Many of the Korean businessesand buildings were seized by the Japanese officials for their own benefits (“Japanese Occupation ofKorea”). However, the Japanese allowed some of the books and magazines to be published in theKorean language (“Japanese Occupation of Korea”). By World War II, the Japanese military began to draft many Koreans into helping the militaryefforts. Koreans were either drafted to the military or to work in dangerous factories. (“JapaneseOccupation of Korea”). Some scholars believe that the Japanese also recruited women from Korea,Taiwan and other countries in Asia to comfort stations to give sexual services to the Japanese soldiers 3
  • 4. (Fisher). These women that were recruited to the comfort stations are called comfort women(“Imperialism, War, and Revolution in East Asia: 1900-1945; Korea as a Colony of Japan”). It has beenreported that most of the comfort women were between the ages of 11 to 32, and approximately eightypercent of the comfort women in the comfort stations were Korean (Kwon). Also, each comfortwomen was forced to have sex with twenty to thirty soldiers per day (Yu). After the war had endedmany of the Japanese soldiers either had killed or abandoned the comfort women as they went back totheir homes (Yu). By the late 1980s the issue of comfort women began to rise in Korea. By 1991, Korean womenwho survived in the comfort stations began to file a law suit against the Japanese government. Theydemanded a compensation for violating the human rights (Soh). The Korean council sent a letter to theJapanese Prime Minister Kaifu Toshiki on November 1990, stating the six demands of what Japanneeds to do in order to compensate for violating the human rights of sexual slavery. These included:Japan must admit that they forced Korean women to comfort stations, issue a public apology, fullydisclose all barbarities, create a memorial for the victims, compensate survivors, and that this should bepart of the education curriculum so that it is not repeated (Soh). However the Japanese responded backthat there is no evidence that is able to trace the fact of Korean women being forced to the comfortstations (Soh). And so the demands that the Korean council have sent is still not fulfilled (Soh). C. Evaluation of SourcesYoshiaki, Yoshimi. Comfort Women: Sexual Slavery in the Japanese Military During World War II. New York : Columbia University Press, 1995. Print Comfort Women: Sexual Slavery in the Japanese Military during World War II, by Japaneseprofessor Yoshimi Yoshiaki is a secondary source written in 1995 that gives details of the system ofboth establishing and managing comfort stations during World War II (Wender).The purpose of thissource is to inform the Japanese public and the Japanese government officials that there is evidence thatthe Japanese military were involved in order to forcefully recruit women for prostitution. There aremany values for this source. Firstly, the testimonials that were used in this book are from comfortwomen survivors of different nationalities. Yoshiaki provided testimonials from Korea, China, Japan,Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, and other Southeast Asian countries. Secondly, Yoshiaki 4
  • 5. uses a uses a variety of reliable primary sources. They range from the Ministry of War report to atelegram from a foreign minister to the consulate general of Hankow (Wender). Additionally, Yoshiakiwas able to gain access to classified sources by the support of the government. He revealed hiddendocuments of the Japan’s Self Defense Agency that made the Japanese government later admit that themilitary had been involved in forming comfort stations (Wender). Lastly, Yoshiaki details all aspects ofthe comfort stations such as how women were recruited by Japanese military men, and an insightfulview of the lives of the comfort women in the comfort stations. However, one of the limitations of thissource is that the background history about the licensed prostitution system and the attitudes towardsexuality and sexual slavery in Japan is near the ending of the book. It should be in the beginning so thereaders can have a better understanding of the issue before encountering the authors analysis (Wender).Tsutomu, Nishioka. Behind the Comfort Women Controversy: How Lies Became Truth. Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact, 2007. PDF file. Behind the Comfort Women Controversy: How Lies Became Truth, is a secondary source writtenby Nishioka Tsutomu, a Japanese professor from Tokyo Christian University. The purpose of thissource is to explain that the Japanese military were not involved in recruiting comfort women nor didthey force women to give the Japanese military men any sexual services. Rather he suggests thatprostitution was one of the options that women chose for making money for their family. There areseveral values of using this source. Firstly, Nishioka has been investigating this issue for approximately16 years. Over those 16 years alongside with using documents, he also personally met and talked withKorean journalists in Seoul who interviewed Korean comfort women survivors to support hisargument. However, a limitation to this is that Nishioka did not talk to the comfort women survivorsdirectly. He mostly talked to Korean journalists. Another limitation is it is hard to tell if Nishoka isusing reliable sources because firstly, most of the document extracts that he puts in his report are notcomplete extractions. And secondly with some of the people that he quoted, he did not cite who theyare and says for an example “..one persons comment:” (Tsutomu).D. Analysis There are two main perspectives as to whether the Japanese military forcefully recruited Koreanwomen to comfort stations during World War II. One perspective is that the Japanese military 5
  • 6. forcefully recruited Korean women to comfort stations during WWII. Historian Yoshimi Yoshiaki states that Japan had set up comfort stations before WWII because there was an issue of Japanese military raping local women throughout Asia. The Japanese Army Central Command solved this problem by establishing comfort women stations throughout Asia (Yoshiaki 86). Yoshiaki further states that the Japanese government admitted themselves that they forcefully recruited foreign women to comfort stations because if Japanese women were sent to these stations and they were related to one of the soldiers either as a sister or a wife, it would destroy the soldier’s trust in the state and the army (Yoshiaki 154-155). In addition, Yoshiaki argues that Korean women did not have adequate education while Korea was under the rule of Japan. Therefore Korean women were easily deceived by Japanese soldiers that they would either receive a factory job or would be able to attend school if they went along with the Japanese soldiers (“Behind Forgotten Eyes”). In the end, they all could not escape as they were forcefully recruited to comfort stations by pickup trucks (“Behind Forgotten Eyes”). An example of this is Korean comfort woman, Yo Bok Sil, who was seized at home by Japanese officials and was forced on to a truck with seven other women (Hicks 49). Historian George Hicks also states that there were documents that contained the procedure of recruiting women in Korea and were all destroyed by the Japanese government at the end of the war (Hicks 45). Thus, Hicks also believes that the Japanese forcefully recruited Korean women to comfort stations. Another perspective is that the Japanese military did not forcefully recruit Korean women tocomfort stations during World War II. According to professor Nishioka Tsutomu, the stories publicizedby some of the former Korean comfort women were not true and caused the misunderstanding thatJapanese military forcefully recruited foreign women. An example is Uemura Takashi, a reporter for theJapanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun. He did not reveal the truth of how Korean comfort woman KimHak-Sun was recruited to comfort stations because it was not a case of coercion by the Japanese military(Tsutomu 14). Furthermore, the belief of Japanese military forcefully recruiting Korean women wasspread because one Japanese former soldier, Seiji Yoshida, wrote a book My War Crime in 1983. Herevealed that he forced foreign women into comfort stations in Jeju, South Korea. However, by the mid1990s researchers have found that Yoshidas story was made up ("Background of Comfort WomenIssue. The Yomiuri News paper, Japan."). In addition, Tsutomu argues that foreign women volunteered incomfort stations to make money themselves. Ko Jun-Seok, a left-leaning South Korean intellectual, toldTsutomu that the women in his village would become comfort women themselves and set up their own 6
  • 7. brothels in China to make money (Tsutomu 35). Tsutomu also argues that during the time period ofJapanese annexation of Korea, no one witnessed any abuction and/or coercion by the Japanese military.Chon Oktan age 85, a resident of Seongsan-il at Cheju Island said “If an incident that serious, where 15people were abducted, had taken place, everyone would have heard about it. But no one did” (Tsutomu28). In addition, Professor Ikuhiko believes that none of the Japanese soldiers during the time period ofannexation in Korea were able to communicate in Korean well enough to deceive Korean women tocomfort stations (Ikuhiko 9). Overall, some historians believe that the Japanese military did notforcefully recruit Korean women to comfort stations. E. Conclusion The majority of evidence indicates that the Japanese military forcefully recruited Korean women to comfort station during WWII. There are countless testimonials of former Korean comfort women and also other foreign comfort women who publicized that they were sent to comfort stations against their own will. Both professors Tsutomu and Ikuhiko, critics of the testimonials only provided a few testimonies of comfort women lying about being forcefully recruited to comfort station. Furthermore the Japanese soldier’s rape of local women throughout Asia caused the Japanese government to build comfort stations and forcefully recruit many foreign women instead of domestic Japanese citizens. There is a weak point in Professor Tsutomu argument that there were no witnesses who witnessed the Japanese abduction and/or coercion. It is possible that it was only in certain areas in Korea that there was Japanese abduction. As for Professor Ikuhiko’s argument that the Japanese were not able to communicate in Korea, this is a weak point as well. Since the Japanese annexed Korea since 1910, the Japanese made it required for Koreans to speak and learn Japanese. There should not have been a problem of communication. In the end, both of the professor’s arguments were relatively weak. Many Korean comfort women survivors have publicized their stories and the Japanese government took limited responsibility in compensating their violation of human rights. Justice must be served as the Japanese have violated human rights because these comfort women survivors were forced against their will. F. Bibliography "Background of Comfort Women Issue. The Yomiuri News paper, Japan." Study of 7
  • 8. English. N.p., 1 Apr. 2007. Web. 21 Jan. 2012.Behind Forgotten Eyes. Dir. Anthony Gilmore. Horizon Entertainment , 2007. YouTube. Web. 27 Nov. 2011.Fisher, Barry A. "Yasukini Shrine: Typhoons Eye of Japans Spiritual/Political Storm Rejecting Wartime Victim Redress." International Academic Symposium-Yasukuni Shrine. Columbia University . 8 Nov. 2007. PDF file.Hicks, George. The Comfort Women: Japans Brutal Regime of Enforced Prostitution in the Second World War. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1995. Print.Ikuhiko, Hata. No Organized or Forced Recruitment: Misconceptions About Comfort Women and the Japanese Military. Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact, 2007. PDF file."Imperialism, War, and Revolution in East Asia: 1900-1945; Korea as a Colony of Japan." Asia for Educators. Columbia University, n.d. Web. 7 Feb. 2012.“Japanese Occupation of Korea.” Korea Lessons for High School Social Studies Teachers. New York: Korea Society, l999. Print.Kwon, Hee Soo. The Military Sexual Slavery Issue and Asian Peace. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Jan. 2012.Soh, Chunghee Sarah. The Comfort Women Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Jan. 2012.Tsutomu, Nishioka. Behind the Comfort Women Controversy: How Lies Became Truth. Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact, 2007. PDF file.Wender, Melissa. "Military Comfort Women: Doing Justice to the Past." Literary Reference Center. N.p., 9 Apr. 2003. Web. 15 Nov. 2011. 8
  • 9. Yoshiaki, Yoshimi. Comfort Women: Sexual Slavery in the Japanese Military During World War II. New York : Columbia University Press, 2000. Print.Yu, Tong. "Recent Developments: Reparations For Former Comfort Women of World War II." Lexis Nexis. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Jan. 2012. 9