Introduction: History of Comfort Women Comfort Women (JugunIanfu) were the victims of sex slavery by the Japanese military troops before and during World War II (1942-1945) Women were kidnapped, forced, and/or tricked into becoming prostitutes for Japanese troops Earlier comfort women were Japanese prostitutes who volunteered for such a service The military found itself short of these women as Japan continued military expansion Turned to the local population to coerce women to serve the troops Soon the search was expanded to controlled territories: China, Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan, and Korea.
Comfort Station: Shanghai, China
The first "comfort station" was established in the Japanese concession in Shanghai in 1932.
Many women responded to calls for work as factory workers or nurses – unaware of the military’s true intentions.
Women were shipped all over the territories and many lost track of where they were and where their home was in relation.
Who Are Comfort Women? Comfort Women, Military Sex Slaves, MSS, JugunIanfu There was no one specific type of “comfort woman” They ranged from all walks of life – from the very young and prepubescent (11) to the middle-aged (35) – and were from all over Southeast Asia – Japan, China, Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan, and Korea. It’s difficult to determine just how many women were involved in this mass military sex slavery. Most have sworn themselves to secrecy, too ashamed to ever speak of the atrocities they faced Remaining survivors are well into their eighties and do not have very long to tell their tale.
What was Involved? According to the House of Sharing, a human rights museum and a safe house for former comfort women, when a woman was captured or lured into comfort stations, she was given a medical examination to determine if she was a virgin or diseased She was then raped by the medical examiner and sent to her station Her identity was quickly stripped of her as she was given a Japanese flower name by the first person to rape her. The women's names were written on wooden blocks and hung up much like menus are at restaurants in Japan.
On average, comfort women served 30 men daily on weekdays Served up to 50 men daily on weekends The days leading up to the soldiers shipping out to the front lines were the worst times Having sex before going into battle was a sign of good luck and vitality Some men would even take pubic hair for good luck
Women were beaten if they failed to act as if they enjoyed it or showed resistance Extremely sore after just a few men with dozens still left until the day’s end Some were given a few minutes to a half hour in-between to rest, but most were given only a jar of cotton swabs soaked in disinfectant and told to quickly clean before the next man Sometimes they were given a single condom which had to be washed in between uses
Medical Maladies Women were checked biweekly for STIs/STDs Contracting one or becoming pregnant would lead to punishment If given a “clean” bill of health, the woman would be raped by her physician(s) after check-up To combat STIs Injections of Mercury 606 Their internal organs including their uterus were mostly destroyed through this method Forced hysterectomies
Pregnancy: The Worst Offense The most brutal punishment was reserved for women who had “let” themselves become pregnant Babies were forcibly aborted: Kicking or knifing by a group of soldiers Raped with hot irons until the baby died Babies were subsequently chopped up and fed to dogs in front of the women to serve as an everlasting reminder
After the Japanese were defeated, most comfort women were abandoned on site
Comfort women who survived and were discovered by the Allied forces were not returned to their homelands; there was just too many of them
There is evidence supporting that American and European military personnel "recycled" many of the women for their own sexual use
Many were considered prostitutes rather than victims
Kim Hak Sun In 1991, former Korean comfort women Kim Hak Sun filed the first-ever lawsuit against the Japanese Government for its war crimes against women. Many others began to end their own silence and demands justice be brought before them.
Kim Hak Sun
Motivations & Reasoning
Statistics: War crimes in Numbers
Adam The Rape of Nanking: A Comparison
Kaitlyn Coons Comfort Women Outside Japan:A Global Menace
Alex Comfort Women of Today:
Government Responses Many women today are seeking apologies and reparations from the Japanese government As late as 1990 Japan has denied government involvement in the use of comfort women
Kono Statement 1991, a Japanese historian discovered government documents directly linking the government to use of comfort women This information was published in a national newspaper 1992, Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa formally apologized to comfort women Despite the apology, Japan has never admitted legal responsibility, insisting it wasn’t a war crime, wasn’t an organized system
Asia women’s fund Set up in 1995, came with signed apology: "As Prime Minister of Japan, I thus extend anew my most sincere apologies and remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences and suffered incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.“ –Tomiichi Murayama Fund gave money from private donations, not government
United Nations Human Rights Commission Report 1998, called Contemporary Forms of Slavery Use of comfort women was slavery, which was illegal in Japan at the time Rape was a war crime at the time Japanese government had committed crimes against humanity Japanese government is liable
Abe Controversy 2007, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denied that Japan had forced women into slavery Pressure from US led him to take back his statement However, Abe’s party purged comfort women from many history texts Important quote from education minister Nariaki Nakayama: "Those women deserve much sympathy, but (being forced to provide sex) is not so much different from what was commonly seen in poor rural Japanese communities in the past, where women were sold to brothels. It could be said that the occupation was something they could have pride in, given their existence soothed distraught feelings of men in the battlefield and provided a certain respite and order."
Litigation 2007, Japan Supreme Court ruled that individuals could no longer seek claims through litigation
International Resolutions Resolutions have been passed by several countries urging Japan to take full responsibility for the comfort women situation These countries include, the United States, the Netherlands, Canada, England, and the European Parliament