Submitted by Dick Martin
The story of “Comfort Women” during World War II is one of the more tawdry and sad parts of the war. It is the story of the widely diverse estimates of 50,000 to 200,000 women forced into prostitution by the Japanese Military. Beginning in Shanghai, China in 1932, the young women were abducted from their homes in the countries under Imperial Japanese rule. In many cases, they were lured from their homes with promises of factory jobs and then sent to comfort stations against their will.
The Japanese Military established the comfort stations to prevent rape and venereal diseases among its soldiers, to provide comfort for its soldiers, and to head off espionage. Since prostitution was open and well-organized in Japan, it made it easier for the Military to set up the stations. The first “comfort women” were Japanese volunteers. With the huge expansion of the Japanese Army as the war expanded, many more women were needed. Consequently, most of the women were from occupied countries like Korea, China and the Philippine Islands. Little known is that the Japanese Army also forced Dutch women into becoming comfort women. The common use of the word prostitute to define “comfort women” is inaccurate since most of the women did not compromise their principles for personal gain or money. Instead, they were forced to become sex slaves against their will and did not receive money or personal gain.
There have been many attempts to tell the story of “Comfort Women.” They have been hampered by the China-Japan Joint Communique’ of 1972 in which the Chinese government agreed not to seek any restitution for war-time crimes and incidents; the burning of relevant documents by the Korean government; and the suicide, murder, and/or death of approximately 75% of the women. The Japanese government has partially accepted responsibility for its role in the creation of the Comfort Women Stations. In the 1993 Kono Statement, the Japanese government admitted coercion in setting up the stations and in 2007, the Japanese parliament issued an official apology. However, the Japanese prime minister at the time stated that there was no evidence that the Japanese government kept sex slaves. Since then, on December 28, 2015, Japan and South Korea reached agreement to settle the dispute. The agreement provided for Japan paying South Korea 8.3 million to fund supporting surviving victims and South Korea agreeing to refrain from criticizing Japan regarding the issue. In San Francisco, on September 22 of this year, a memorial was dedicated in memory of the thousands of “comfort women” from Korea, China, and the Philippine Islands, who were forced to serve as sex slaves for the Japanese Military in World War II.
Taken from Wikipedia, Mindy Kotler’s November 14, 2014 opinion piece article “The Comfort Women and Japan’s War on Truth” in the New York Times and the February 2018 edition of World War II magazine.