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Japan's Comfort Women

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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 spreading too. Just like their treatment of the Chinese, the Japanese felt that if pronounced an enemy, any citizen who is suspected as a guerilla collaborator should be dealt with accordingly with force. Also any women associated with these men should be punished as well. So random Filipina women acting as civilians were abducted by Japanese soldiers at any time and were sent to various comfort stations. All transportation was almost always by boat or ship for long distances, by vehicle for short transportation. Not only were these young girls raped, but some of their family was also killed during the kidnapping scuffle. "One night in 1942, two Japanese soldiers invaded the home of 13 year old Tomasa Salinog and her father in Antique on Panay Island. As the soldiers intruded, another two stayed outside to watch. Tomasa's father resisted the soldiers as they tried to take the child away. One of the Japanese, Captain Hirooka, suddenly drew his sword and severed the man's head in front of the girl's eyes" (p.50). The Chinese and Filipina women were more or less used as sex slaves rather than comfort women. Indonesian and Dutch women were also procured into working as comfort women for the same reasons as the control of VD and mass rape crimes after the Japanese invasion of the Dutch East Indies. In 1942 all men and women were put into internment camps. These camps had such harsh living conditions, that most of the procuring of Dutch women by deceit worked into the Japanese plans. Dutch women were willing to venture off with the Japanese in hopes of seeking better conditions and an overall better way of life. Some of the Indonesian women were kidnapped by just being picked up off the street. It is interesting that the Japanese did not care for the Indonesian women as much as the Dutch. Even after the war was over, Tanaka points out how the Dutch military did little to investigate the sexual crimes against Indonesian women. All women though once working as comfort women were treated equally the same. Some were not only raped but were beaten and tortured if they refused to do what they were told.

Tanaka then starts to point out some of his



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