Japan's Comfort Women

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  • Topic: War rape, Comfort women, Sexual slavery
  • Pages : 5 (1755 words )
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  • Published : May 12, 2005
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This paper is a review of the book Japan's Comfort Women-Sexual slavery and prostitution during WWII and the US occupation by Yuki Tanaka. This book was published in 2002 by Routledge. The book deals with the thousands of Japanese, Korean, Chinese and other Asian and European women who were victims of organized sexual violence and prostitution by means of "comfort stations" setup by the Japanese military during World War II.

As we first get into the book, we find out that the origins of comfort stations i.e. military brothels are unknown, but official documents strongly suggest that the Japanese Imperial Forces created comfort stations roughly around 1931-1932 for Japanese sailors. In the introduction we get some of Tanaka's personal opinions and thoughts, and a vivid account of what it felt like to be a comfort woman by a Filipina. "Twelve soldiers raped me in quick succession, after which I was given half an hour rest. Then twelve more soldiers followed. I bled so much and was in such pain; I could not even stand up" (p.1). During the war, the Japanese could see that their soldiers were committing mass rape toward civilians. That led military leaders to ask the Japanese government for comfort stations to be made in order to prevent such crimes. This is a quote from a Japanese Lieutenant-General in 1932. "Recently I have heard a lot of scandalous stories, including that some of our soldiers wander around seeking women. Such a phenomenon is hard to prevent as fighting becomes less frequent. Therefore the establishment of appropriate facilities must be accepted as a good cause and should be promoted" (p.10). They were also created to boost soldier morale and to prevent the spread of VD among fellow troops. In the first couple of chapters Tanaka explains how women from different countries were procured into working as sex slaves and how they were brought into such dealings. The women used for comfort houses were at first professional Japanese prostitutes, and poor Japanese and Korean women. They were usually recruited by an agent who would go to a specific town and look for girls to recruit. Of course deceit was used to get these girls to come in that they were promised a nice paying job, food, and shelter if they came along. The recruiting of Korean women was a way of the Japanese to colonize their newly gained territories. Normally though before getting to their destination, these girls were treated well, fed, and usually didn't have to do any labor. Some other women however faced different routes.

Chinese and Filipina women were lured into these sexual schemes by not just deceit, but by force as well. Recruiters used violence and often kidnapping to get these women. While the Japanese forces had occupied China, they used Korean women for their authorized comfort stations for fear of anti-Japanese resentment among Chinese civilians. However, this did not stop some Japanese from setting up comfort stations using Chinese women. These unofficial comfort stations were not given approval from higher Japanese authority. "The Japanese army adopted the tactics called Shodo-Sakusen which meant scorched earth strategy" (p.46). This meant that the army could destroy any village if ordered too which of course included the rape of women. This is an account of a 15 year old Chinese girl who along with other girls, was abducted and separated from her family. "Day after day they were raped by Japanese soldiers in the cave. Each day she was raped by at least two or three soldiers sometimes by 10 soldiers. The cave was guarded by Chinese collaborators, making it impossible to escape. She was often taken to an officer's room in the fortress and raped there, too" (p.46). The Japanese also occupied the regions of the Philippines and Filipina women were kidnapped and abducted as well by force and were used as comfort women. The Filipino's had a lot of anti-Japanese guerilla movements going on and they were...
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