Chinese Comfort Women: Testimonies from Imperial Japan's Sex Slaves (Oxford Oral History Series)
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During the Asia-Pacific War, the Japanese military forced hundreds of thousands of women across Asia into "comfort stations" where they were repeatedly raped and tortured. Japanese imperial forces claimed they recruited women to join these stations in order to prevent the mass rape of local women and the spread of venereal disease among soldiers. In reality, these women were kidnapped and coerced into sexual slavery. Comfort stations institutionalized rape, and these "comfort women" were subjected to atrocities that have only recently become the subject of international debate.
Chinese Comfort Women: Testimonies from Imperial Japan's Sex Slaves features the personal narratives of twelve women forced into sexual slavery when the Japanese military occupied their hometowns. Beginning with their prewar lives and continuing through their enslavement to their postwar struggles for justice, these interviews reveal that the prolonged suffering of the comfort station survivors was not contained to wartime atrocities but was rather a lifelong condition resulting from various social, political, and cultural factors. In addition, their stories bring to light several previously hidden aspects of the comfort women system: the ransoms the occupation army forced the victims' families to pay, the various types of improvised comfort stations set up by small military units throughout the battle zones and occupied regions, and the sheer scope of the military sexual slavery-much larger than previously assumed. The personal narratives of these survivors combined with the testimonies of witnesses, investigative reports, and local histories also reveal a correlation between the proliferation of the comfort stations and the progression of Japan's military offensive.
The first English-language account of its kind, Chinese Comfort Women exposes the full extent of the injustices suffered by and the conditions that caused them.
shiryō shūsei [Governmental investigations: Documents concerning the military “comfort women”] (Tokyo: Ryūkei Shosha, 1999), 1:7-10. See also “Statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato Regarding the So-Called Problem of Korean Comfort Women,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan, 6 July 1992. Available at http://www.mofa.go.jp/ (viewed on 15 October, 2010). 7 Hicks, Comfort Women, 220-28. 8 Ibid. 9 Researchers such as Yoshimi Yoshiaki and women activists in both Korea and Japan were particularly
inspired the writing of this book. In order to facilitate further studies, the postwar lives of Chinese survivors and their struggle for justice is outlined in Part 3. Therein the contemporary scholarship on Japanese war crimes trials and the Allied occupation of Japan, as well as Korean, Japanese, and Western studies of Japan’s war responsibilities and the comfort women redress movement, were of enormous help in supplying the intricate historical, political, and legal contexts within which the
of the sexual violence exhibited by the Japanese military both inside and outside the comfort facilities: the establishment of the numerous comfort stations did not prevent but, rather, fostered sexual violence during the war. According to Tang Huayuan’s investigation, the Japanese 11th Army established military comfort stations at Yueyang County, Hunan Province, in October 1939, but even after that Japanese troops continued raping and assaulting local women in towns and villages. In September
century.” In crimes against humanity, the nationality of the victim is irrelevant; therefore, the Japanese government is liable for these offenses whether the crimes were committed against its enemies’ citizens or its own.22 The report points out that, even relying exclusively on the facts established in the Japanese government’s own review of the involvement of Japanese military officials in establishing, supervising, and maintaining the rape centres during the Second World War, it is clear
to reclaim war compensation from the Japanese state.25 The individual victims to whom Tong Zeng refers include more than just comfort women. The memorandum enumerates many Japanese atrocities committed in China, including the Nanjing Massacre, military sexual slavery, the killing and torture of POWs, forced labour, biological and chemical warfare, indiscriminate aerial bombing, and the selling of opium and illegal drugs. It urges the Japanese government to take responsibility and to compensate