Taking a copy in case of deletion. Some content of the links here has been copied at the end to be sure.

The comfort women issue exploded in 1992 when Japanese historian Yoshimi Yoshiaki announced 1 the discovery of documents linking the Japanese government to the wartime brothel network in the 1930s and ‘40s. Japan was accused of abducting hundreds of thousands of women as sex slaves, and then of massacring them in droves once the Fifteen-Year War in Asia had been all but lost. The main victims were said to be Koreans. Japanese politicians made endless apologies,and the anti-establishment Japanese press had a field day. Even the United Nations got involved, releasing the infamous Coomaraswamy Report on the comfort women issue in 1996.

For South Korea, where anti-Japanism is a perennial centerpiece of statecraft, the comfort women issue would seem to be a diplomatic slam dunk. And yet, the more South Korea presses the topic, the more it loses ground.

There are two main reasons for this.

First, the key comfort women claims are not true. Apart from rare war crimes (wherein offenders were later tried and punished), there was no systematized “forced abduction.” There were nowhere near “200,000 comfort women” 3. Many of the comfort women were not Korean 4. Much of this fantasy flowed from the pen of a communist named Yoshida Seiji, whose 1982 work of fictionWatashi no senso hanzai (“My war crimes”), was treated as fact by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper. Today’s comfort women partisans continue to recycle Yoshida’s points, even if they do not cite him by name. Indeed, even the Coomaraswamy Report is essentially a rehashing of Yoshida’s book.

The second reason is that the closer one examines the comfort women issue, the worse other countries (including South Korea) begin to look.

From the ancient Greeks to the American Civil War to Bordels Mobile de Campagne, prostitutes have always followed the columns. German researcher Magnus Hirschfeld was the first to investigate the inseparability of war and sex. During the Great War, Hirschfeld found, there was heavy traffic at brothels arranged by combatant governments. Business boomed.

World War II was different, with men stationed in far-flung garrisons surrounded by potentially hostile locals. Americans, with the largest military-run brothel system in the world, had the luxury of locating their comfort stations along Hotel Street in Honolulu, far from enemy lines. For security reasons, Japanese field commanders forbade patronizing local prostitutes in order to stem information leaks.

Also fearing reprisals by Chinese civilians, high-ranking Japanese officials, in imitation of Western models, set up “comfort stations” (iansho) in an attempt to reduce the scourge of rapes bedeviling operations. The recruitment of women for these iansho was often subcontracted to madams in Japan and pimps in Korea. (This was made much easier because the Korean peninsula, under the yangban system, had centuries of experience in buying and selling young women — another inconvenient fact for comfort women diplomacy.)

While the Japanese military strove to end wartime rapes, some other combatant countries actually encouraged it. The worst offender during World War II was surely the Soviet Union, whose troops went on a rape rampage at the end of the war. In Manchuria, countless Japanese women committed suicide after being brutalized by advancing Soviet troops. (Although not encouraged by commanding officers, U.S. GIs raped French women by the thousands after liberating Normandy.)

Controlling venereal disease was the other calculus in a commander’s decision to provide his men with prostitutes. U.S. Gen. Claire Chennault’s Flying Tigers, for example, were often grounded by syphilis and gonorrhea. Although forbidden to visit Kunming’s notorious red-light district, where the VD infection rate was said to be 100%, GIs kept going anyway. Exasperated, Chennault flew in prostitutes from India until Gen. Joseph Stilwell intervened.

Surprisingly, the comfort women system did not end in 1945. The Korean War brought comfort stations for troops from the United States. Indeed, the South Korean government supported this peninsular comfort women system. Former president Park Chung-hee personally signed an order in 1977 to clean up the “camptowns” where “Western princesses” serviced U.S. troops. The aim? To keep the American military in South Korea and U.S. dollars flowing into the economy. South Korean women who work at the brothels thronging U.S. bases are still stuck in an endless cycle of sex work and societal discrimination.

The hard truth is that South Korea is also guilty of heinous war crimes. In 1966 and 1968, for example, South Korean troops savagely raped and butchered dozens of defenseless Vietnamese peasant women in Binh Tai, Phong Nhi, and Phong Nhat. There is also the record of Korean cruelty against Allied POWs in World War II, and the sad legacy of the Lai Dai Han, the tens of thousands of abandoned, illegitimate children of South Korean soldiers born during the Vietnam War. It is a losing diplomatic gambit for any nation to bring up the history of wartime violence against women.

However, there is something much more sinister afoot with the comfort women issue than just shortsighted diplomacy. Today, the United States is home to several comfort women statues, most recently in San Francisco. (The mayor of Osaka, San Francisco’s sister city, cut ties after the city council approved the statue.) Comfort women statues can be found throughout South Korea, as well, most notably in front of the Japanese consulate in Busan. A comfort woman statue went up late last year in Manila, and in Sydney in 2016.

What do all these locations have in common? They are all key American allies in Asia. And the country with the biggest interest in breaking up American alliances with Asian nations is, of course, the People’s Republic of China. The comfort women controversy is a Chinese weapon to destabilize American relations with Asia and weaken Japan’s standing around the world. This is the overriding reason why South Korea must cease pressing the comfort women issue: it is now a subsidiary of the Chinese information war.

Jason Morgan is assistant professor at Reitaku University in Chiba, Japan, and a research fellow at the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies. He holds a PhD in Japanese history from the University of Wisconsin, and an MA in Chinese Studies from the University of Hawai’i, Mānoa. From 2014 to 2015 Morgan was a Fulbright scholar at Waseda University in Tokyo. He has written for Japan ReviewMichigan Historical ReviewJAPAN Forward, the Journal of American-East Asian Relations, the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, the Journal of Asian History, and Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, among other publications. His best-selling book, “Amerika wa naze Nihon wo mikudasu ka?” (“Why does America look down on Japan?”), was published by Wani Books in 2016. Morgan is also the translator of Hata Ikuhiko’s 1999 book on the comfort women, available from Hamilton Books this year.

  1. How did the Comfort Women Issue come to light?
    It cannot be said that people in Japan were completely unaware that there were comfort women during wartime. Those who went to war knew, at least to some extent, that they existed. But there was almost no awareness of the issue as a social problem. Beginning around 1965, those interested in Japan-Korean relations generally knew that there had been comfort women, and that their experiences were the cruelest outcome of Japan’s colonization of Korea. But the victims were thought of only as people who were part of history. When a campaign for girls to join a girls volunteer labor corps (during the war, girls were mobilized to work at factories mostly munition industries) was launched in Korea in 1943, toward the end of the war period, the rumor spread that corps members would be forced to become comfort women. The Governor-General’s office denied the rumors, saying they were being spread maliciously and intentionally without foundation, but this only caused people to believe the rumors even more. This shows that the existence of the comfort women system was not unknown in Korea in 1945. Even after liberation, however, the issue was probably something people preferred not to discuss. The issue was finally taken up and discussed openly in the Republic of Korea after democratization in 1987. Yun Chung-Ok published an article giving information on the issue in the Hankyoreh Newspaper in January 1990. The issue gained prominence at a time when greater attention was being paid to the history of Japanese-Korean relations and demands for an apology. The issue suddenly hit a nerve among the people in the Republic of Korea after a government representative on the House of Councilors’ Budget Committee replied to a question of a Diet member as follows, on 6 June 1990: “After listening to elderly people and piecing together what they say, it appears that the wartime comfort women were taken by private entrepreneurs to different places, going where the military went. Frankly, even if one were to conduct an inquiry into the circumstances, it would not yield any results.” In the Republic of Korea, this answer was strongly criticized for denying the involvement of the Japanese state and military, and for denying the possibility of an inquiry being held. On 17 October 1990, 37 women’s organizations in the Republic of Korea joined forces with a group studying the volunteer corps, issued a declaration criticizing the response of the Japanese Government’s representative, and presented the Japanese Government with six demands: (i) acknowledge that the comfort women were forcibly taken away; (ii) issue a public apology; (iii) conduct an investigation to discover what really happened and disclose the findings; (iv) construct a monument to commemorate the victims; (v) pay cKim Hak-Sunompensation to the victims or their surviving heirs; and (vi) establish educational programs to raise awareness of the history behind the issue.These demands were widely reported in Japan around the end of the year, and the issue was again raised in the Diet. But the decisive moment came when one victim, Kim Hak-Sun, came forward in Seoul in the summer of 1991 and demanded that Japan take responsibility. Ms. Kim was the only complainant to use her own name in a lawsuit demanding compensation for Pacific War victims. The lawsuit was lodged in December 1991. These developments created a shock in Japan, and a movement promoted mainly by women quickly gained ground in the country. On 10 January 1992, Yoshiaki Yoshimi, a Chuo University professor, announced the existence of documents proving the involvement of the Japanese military. One of these documents was the written notification of warnings quoted above, drawn up by Naosaburo Okabe, the Chief of Staff of the North China Area Army. Yoshimi’s revelations caused a sensation, and the Japanese Government also came to launch a full-scale inquiry. The results of the inquiry were released first on 6 July 1992 with a statement of Koichi Kato, Chief Cabinet Secretary. Kato said as follows:I will summarize the main points here. That is, the inquiry has revealed that the Government had been involved in the establishment of comfort stations, the control of those who recruited comfort women, the construction and reinforcement of comfort facilities, the management and surveillance of comfort stations, the hygiene maintenance in comfort stations and among comfort women, and the issuance of identification as well as other documents to those who were related to comfort stations.

    The Government again would like to express its sincere apology and remorse to all those who have suffered indescribable hardship as so-called “wartime comfort women”, irrespective of their nationality or place of birth. With profound remorse and determination that such a mistake must never be repeated, Japan will maintain its stance as a pacifist nation and will endeavor to build up new future-oriented relations with the Republic of Korea and with other countries and regions in Asia.

    As I listen to many people, I feel truly grieved by this issue. By listening to the opinions of people from various orientations, I would like to consider sincerely in what way we can express our feelings to those who suffered such hardship.

    It cannot be said that people in Japan were completely unaware that there were comfort women during wartime. Those who went to war knew, at least to some extent, that they existed. But there was almost no awareness of the issue as a social problem. Beginning around 1965, those interested in Japan-Korean relations generally knew that there had been comfort women, and that their experiences were the cruelest outcome of Japan’s colonization of Korea. But the victims were thought of only as people who were part of history. When a campaign for girls to join a girls volunteer labor corps (during the war, girls were mobilized to work at factories mostly munition industries) was launched in Korea in 1943, toward the end of the war period, the rumor spread that corps members would be forced to become comfort women. The Governor-General’s office denied the rumors, saying they were being spread maliciously and intentionally without foundation, but this only caused people to believe the rumors even more. This shows that the existence of the comfort women system was not unknown in Korea in 1945. Even after liberation, however, the issue was probably something people preferred not to discuss. The issue was finally taken up and discussed openly in the Republic of Korea after democratization in 1987. Yun Chung-Ok published an article giving information on the issue in the Hankyoreh Newspaper in January 1990. The issue gained prominence at a time when greater attention was being paid to the history of Japanese-Korean relations and demands for an apology. The issue suddenly hit a nerve among the people in the Republic of Korea after a government representative on the House of Councilors’ Budget Committee replied to a question of a Diet member as follows, on 6 June 1990: “After listening to elderly people and piecing together what they say, it appears that the wartime comfort women were taken by private entrepreneurs to different places, going where the military went. Frankly, even if one were to conduct an inquiry into the circumstances, it would not yield any results.” In the Republic of Korea, this answer was strongly criticized for denying the involvement of the Japanese state and military, and for denying the possibility of an inquiry being held. On 17 October 1990, 37 women’s organizations in the Republic of Korea joined forces with a group studying the volunteer corps, issued a declaration criticizing the response of the Japanese Government’s representative, and presented the Japanese Government with six demands: (i) acknowledge that the comfort women were forcibly taken away; (ii) issue a public apology; (iii) conduct an investigation to discover what really happened and disclose the findings; (iv) construct a monument to commemorate the victims; (v) pay cKim Hak-Sunompensation to the victims or their surviving heirs; and (vi) establish educational programs to raise awareness of the history behind the issue.These demands were widely reported in Japan around the end of the year, and the issue was again raised in the Diet. But the decisive moment came when one victim, Kim Hak-Sun, came forward in Seoul in the summer of 1991 and demanded that Japan take responsibility. Ms. Kim was the only complainant to use her own name in a lawsuit demanding compensation for Pacific War victims. The lawsuit was lodged in December 1991. These developments created a shock in Japan, and a movement promoted mainly by women quickly gained ground in the country. On 10 January 1992, Yoshiaki Yoshimi, a Chuo University professor, announced the existence of documents proving the involvement of the Japanese military. One of these documents was the written notification of warnings quoted above, drawn up by Naosaburo Okabe, the Chief of Staff of the North China Area Army. Yoshimi’s revelations caused a sensation, and the Japanese Government also came to launch a full-scale inquiry. The results of the inquiry were released first on 6 July 1992 with a statement of Koichi Kato, Chief Cabinet Secretary. Kato said as follows: Koichi KatoI will summarize the main points here. That is, the inquiry has revealed that the Government had been involved in the establishment of comfort stations, the control of those who recruited comfort women, the construction and reinforcement of comfort facilities, the management and surveillance of comfort stations, the hygiene maintenance in comfort stations and among comfort women, and the issuance of identification as well as other documents to those who were related to comfort stations. The Government again would like to express its sincere apology and remorse to all those who have suffered indescribable hardship as so-called “wartime comfort women”, irrespective of their nationality or place of birth. With profound remorse and determination that such a mistake must never be repeated, Japan will maintain its stance as a pacifist nation and will endeavor to build up new future-oriented relations with the Republic of Korea and with other countries and regions in Asia. As I listen to many people, I feel truly grieved by this issue. By listening to the opinions of people from various orientations, I would like to consider sincerely in what way we can express our feelings to those who suffered such hardship. By this time the Japanese government discovered 127 documents, including 70 documents from the Defense Agency, and 52 documents from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But strong waves of criticism appeared, deeming the government’s inquiry unsatisfactory. The government decided to carry out the inquiry more thoroughly.at home and abroad. Not only documents and materials were studied, but also the people related with comfort stations, including 16 ex. Korean comfort women, were interviewed. The result of the inquiry was released for the second time on 4 August 1993 with a statement of Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono. Finally 117 documents from the Defense Agency, 54 documents from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were discovered with 19 documents from the National Archives, the United States. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono’s statement (Full text see) outlined what the government had learned through its inquiry, and announced decisions taken as a result. Parts of the statement read as follows: Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono Comfort stations were operated in response to the request of the military authorities of the day. The then Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of the comfort stations and the transfer of comfort women. The recruitment of the comfort women was conducted mainly by private recruiters who acted in response to the request of the military. The Government study has revealed that in many cases they were recruited against their own will, through coaxing coercion, etc., and that, at times, administrative/military personnel directly took part in the recruitments. They lived in misery at comfort stations under a coercive atmosphere. Undeniably, this was an act, with the involvement of the military authorities of the day, that severely injured the honor and dignity of many women. The Government of Japan would like to take this opportunity once again to extend its sincere apologies and remorse to all those, irrespective of place of origin, who suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women. It is incumbent upon us, the Government of Japan, to continue to consider seriously, while listening to the views of learned circles, how best we can express this sentiment. We shall face squarely the historical facts as described above instead of evading them, and take them to heart as lessons of history. We hereby reiterate our firm determination never to repeat the same mistake by forever engraving such issues in our memories through the study and teaching of history.

    The then Deputy of Chief Cabinet Nobuo Ishihara said as follows in an interview for the AWF. Nobuo IshiharaThat’s why we said we should do field research. We decided that an inspector appointed by the Japanese government would go to Seoul and meet with the former comfort women, assess the circumstances and sentiments from their stories and make a final decision on whether they were forcibly taken to the comfort stations or not. But that’s when the Chongdaehyop (the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan) opposed us. It is not possible for us to conduct our field research under these irregular circumstances. So we said, “No.” The Japanese government said it can’t do it. However, the Korean side said that they won’t apply any pressure, and that they would select several people who were known as comfort women who would be willing to talk in person in a quiet environment. They insisted that we meet these women. Therefore, several people from each ministry went and met with 16 people known as comfort women. The people who went are not able to release the names of the people they met. We just heard the reports, as did the Chief Cabinet Secretary and the Prime Minister. In these reports, we heard that there were ones who were clearly taken against their will, ones who were tricked, ones who went to be recruited as ordinary female workers but were taken to a comfort station, and ones who didn’t want to go but weren’t able to resist the pressure applied when an officer to the Governor-General of Korea came and threatened them, specifying the particular number that he needed to take with him. Since there were several people like that, the inspectors made a comprehensive assessment and concluded that there were definitely individuals amongst these sixteen that were taken against their will and made comfort women. The Prime Minister and the Chief Cabinet Secretary heard the same reports. Consequently, we weren’t able to identify any documents, such as notifications or commands, or physical evidence that could prove that coercion took place, but from hearing out the sixteen people considered to be comfort women, we came to the conclusion that their stories couldn’t possibly be made up, and that they were definitely made comfort women against their will. The Kono Statement was released against the backdrop of these considerations. The government acknowledged the coercion based on the reports of the research group. This statement represented the Japanese Government’s understanding and stance regarding the comfort women issue. Once the statement had been made, vigorous debate continued for some time on how to express the Government’s feelings of apologies and remorse. The victims who came forward were very instrumental in highlighting the issue in society at large. As of November 2002, the Government of the Republic of Korea had registered as victims 207 people from among those who have come forward and notified the Government. Seventy-two had died as of November 2002. In Taiwan, it has been reported that 36 of all registered victims are still alive.It is known that there are former comfort women identifying themselves in Philippines, Indonesia, China, North Korea, and other countries. But it is essential not to forget that those who came forward are just a very small fraction of all of the victims. Many have already passed away, and others do not wish to identify themselves.

  2. No documents confirm military coerced ‘comfort women,’ Japan envoy tells U.N.  (Japan Times)

    KYODO

    Japan has found no documents confirming that the “comfort women” were forcefully recruited by military or government authorities, a Japanese envoy told a U.N. panel Tuesday.

    Deputy Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama made that claim during a session in Geneva of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

    The belief that women were forced into sexual servitude is based on the false accounts of the late Seiji Yoshida, Sugiyama said.

    Yoshida claimed to have forcibly taken women from the island of Jeju, then under Japanese colonial rule and now part of South Korea, and forced them into sexual labor for the Japanese military before and during World War II.

    The Asahi Shimbun in 2014 retracted articles that reported Yoshida’s accounts, Sugiyama noted.

    He also briefed the U.N. committee on the historic Japan-South Korean accord reached in December to “finally and irreversibly” resolve the protracted dispute over Korean women who were procured for Japan’s wartime military brothels.

    At the outset of his statement at the U.N. panel, Sugiyama said Japan will have a leading role in making the 21st century a time when women’s human rights are not violated.

    A South Korean Foreign Ministry official on Wednesday rebutted Sugiyama’s claims.

    “It’s a historical fact and has been recognized by the international community that (the comfort women) were forcefully recruited,” the official said.

    “We urge Japan to refrain from words and deeds that could impair the spirit of the agreement (between South Korea and Japan on the comfort women) late last year,” the official said.

    The panel is tasked with monitoring nations’ compliance with the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. It is scheduled to issue its findings March 7 regarding Japan and other nations under review.

  3. “Comfort Women of the Empire” by Professor Park Yuha

    “Comfort Women of the Empire” was written by Professor Park Yuha of Sejong University in South Korea. Please also refer to the New York Times article about this book: http://goo.gl/tKcbxg

    Professor Park Yuha
    “I first confronted the comfort women issue in 1991. It was near the end of my study in Japan. As a volunteer I was translating former Korean comfort women’s testimonies for NHK. When I returned to South Korea, the nationalism was out of control. The anti-Japanese activist group “Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery” (also known as Chong Dae Hyup 정대협 挺対協) was formed by the South Korean communists. Its leader said publicly it was determined to defame Japan for the next 200 years. Its propaganda turned me off, so I stayed away from this issue for years. I regained my interest in this issue in the early 2000s when I heard that Chong Dae Hyup was confining surviving women in a nursing home called House of Nanumu. The only time these women were allowed to talk to outsiders was when Chong Dae Hyup needed them to testify for the UN Special Rapporteur or the U.S. politicians. But for some reason I was allowed to talk to them one day in 2003. I could sense that women were not happy being confined in this place. One of the women (Bae Chun-hee) told me she reminisced the romance she had with a Japanese soldier. She said she hated her father who sold her. She also told me that women there didn’t appreciate being coached by Chong Dae Hyup to give false testimonies but had to obey Chong Dae Hyup’s order. When Japan offered compensation through Asian Women’s Fund in 1995, 61 former Korean comfort women defied Chong Dae Hyup’s order and accepted compensation. Those 61 women were vilified as traitors. Their names and addresses were published in newspapers as prostitutes, and they had to live the rest of their lives in disgrace. So the rest of the women were terrified of Chong Dae Hyup and wouldn’t dare to defy again. Chong Dae Hyup (some of its members were arrested as North Korean spies) has used the comfort women issue for its political purpose, which is to drive a wedge into U.S.-Japan-South Korea security partnership.”

    Comfort stations

    In wars, soldiers sometimes rape innocent women. To prevent this from happening, the Japanese military used existing brothels in Manchuria as comfort stations in the early 1930s. As it advanced into China and Southeast Asia, more comfort stations were needed. So men in prostitution business recruited women and operated comfort stations in order to meet the increased demand. Japanese businessmen recruited women in Japan. They owned and operated comfort stations employing Japanese women. Korean businessmen recruited women in Korea. They owned and operated comfort stations employing Korean women. (See footnote *3, *4)

    Two types of comfort women

    There were two types of comfort women. (1) Japanese and Korean women (both Japanese citizens)  They constituted over 95% of comfort women. They were not coerced by the Japanese military. They were recruited by business operators. (2) Local women in the battlefields (Dutch women in Indonesia, Filipino women in the Philippines, etc.)  They constituted less than 5% of comfort women. Dozens of them were coerced by the Japanese soldiers in violation of Japanese military rules. The Japanese soldiers who coerced local women were tried and some executed.

    These two types should have been identified differently. But when the comfort women became an issue in the early 1990s, all women who provided sex to the Japanese military were identified uniformly, and that created a big confusion.

    The myth “Korean comfort women were coerced by the Japanese military”

    The Korean woman who first claimed this in the early 1990s belonged to Chongsindae during the war. Chongsindae (also called Teishintai in Japanese) was a group of women conscripted by the Japanese military. They worked in factories to manufacture military equipment and uniforms. Since she was conscripted, she thought comfort women were also conscripted. It wasn’t that she fabricated the story. It was an innocent mistake on her part. None of the initial testimonies of former Korean comfort women claimed they were coerced by the Japanese military. The majority of the Korean women were sold by their fathers to Korean comfort station owners. Some Korean women were deceived by Korean comfort station owners’ agents. Other Korean women were in the world’s oldest profession, and they did volunteer to earn good money.

    The myth “There were 200,000 comfort women”

    Two hundred thousand was the number of factory workers conscripted. About 150,000 of them were Japanese and 50,000 were Korean. Common misunderstanding in the West “There were 200,000 comfort women” arose because Asahi Shimbun mistook factory workers for comfort women in its August 11th, 1991 article, which inflated the number. The estimates of comfort women numbers vary from 5,000 to 20,000 depending on the historians.

    The Japanese soldiers and Korean comfort women

    Korean comfort women typically made about 750 yen a month plus tips. (A house in Korea cost 1000 yen at the time)  Some also sang at parties to earn generous tips. Women attended sports events, picnics and social dinners with both officers and men. They were also allowed to go shopping in towns. Romances between Korean comfort women and Japanese soldiers were common, and there were numerous instances of proposals of marriage and in certain cases marriages actually took place.

    Korean comfort station owners

    The Japanese military sent orders (See footnote *7) to comfort station operators not to recruit unwilling women. The Japanese comfort station operators followed the order and only recruited willing women in Japan, but the Korean operators didn’t follow the order and recruited both willing prostitutes and unwilling women in Korea. If the Korean operators had followed the order, there wouldn’t have been any comfort women issue.

    Many of Korean comfort women’s fathers had debts from alcohol, gambling, etc. and sold their daughters without daughters’ consent. The Korean comfort station owners took over their debts, and depending on the amount of the debt, each woman’s contract length was determined. Korean women were not allowed to leave until their debts were paid off. Any coercion, violence or confinement was exercised by the Korean owners. So if one wants to use the term “sex slaves” to describe former Korean comfort women, they were the sex slaves of Korean comfort station owners. They were not the sex slaves of the Japanese military. The Japanese military’s involvement was limited to conducting sexually transmitted disease checkups and providing transportation to comfort station owners and comfort women. (Note: The Japanese government recognized its military’s involvement, not coercion, in the 2015 agreement. http://goo.gl/pq5l2s)

    A diary written by a Korean comfort station manager was discovered in 2013 (See footnote *3), and it makes it clear that Korean businessmen not only recruited Korean women but also owned and operated comfort stations. The diary contains the detailed account of Korean owners wire transferring huge profit they made from operating comfort stations. The common perception in the West that the Japanese military operated comfort stations is incorrect.

    Japan-South Korea Treaty of 1965

    During treaty negotiations, the Japanese government asked the South Korean government to identify and separate individual claims from the treaty because the Japanese government wanted to make sure the victims received compensation. The South Korean government declined and accepted the entire sum of 800 million dollars (over ten billion dollars in today’s money) in place of its citizens and spent all of it on infrastructures. Therefore it is not reasonable for the South Korean government to keep asking for additional compensation from Japan. (Note: Korean victims recently sued the South Korean government claiming part of the 800 million dollars was meant for them)

    Kono Statement in 1993

    Kono Statement acknowledged that some Korean comfort women were coerced. But it did not acknowledge that the Japanese military coerced them. Some may ask why it was necessary for the Japanese government to apologize via Kono Statement if Korean women were coerced by the Korean operators. Well, the Japanese military’s invasion into China and Southeast Asia did create the demand for comfort women. So Japan bears part of the responsibility for women’s suffering although its military did not coerce Korean women nor operate comfort stations.

    Asian Women’s Fund

    Asian Women’s Fund was established by the Japanese government in 1995. (Compensation came with a personal letter of apology from Prime Minister of Japan)  As for Korean women, although they were not coerced by the Japanese military and all individual claims were settled in the 1965 Japan-South Korea Treaty, the Japanese government still offered Asian Women’s Fund to Korean women as a good gesture. Ironically every nation involved except South Korea accepted compensation through Asian Women’s Fund and reconciled with Japan.  (Note: The South Korean government and Korean women wanted to accept Asian Women’s Fund as well, but the anti-Japanese activist group Chong Dae Hyup threatened Korean women not to accept Japan’s apology and compensation so that it could continue its anti-Japanese propaganda campaign. So most Korean women could not accept Japan’s apology and compensation.)

    Why has it been so difficult to resolve this issue only with South Korea?

    Chong Dae Hyup (정대협 挺対協) opposed Asian Women’s Fund claiming it wasn’t the legal apology and compensation. But considering all individual claims were settled in the 1965 Japan-South Korea Treaty, Asian Women’s Fund was the best the Japanese government could do. Chong Dae Hyup has had a very close relationship with North Korea. Its members including the leader’s husband were arrested as North Korean spies. The real reason Chong Dae Hyup opposed Asian Women’s Fund was because it wanted to use the comfort women issue to block reconciliation between Japan and South Korea. Chong Dae Hyup has hosted Wednesday protests every week in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul since 1992.

    The relationship between the anti-Japanese activist group Chong Dae Hyup (Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery) and North Korea:

    Yun Mi-Hyang (Chairwoman) was investigated for working with North Korea in 2013.
    Kim Sam-Suk (Yun Mi-Hyang’s husband) was arrested as a North Korean spy in 1993.
    Kim Eun-Ju (Kim Sam-Suk’s sister) was arrested as a North Korean spy in 1993.
    Choi Gi-Yong (Kim Eun-Ju’s husband) was arrested as a North Korean spy in 2006.
    Lee Seok-Gi (member) was arrested as a North Korean spy in 2013.

    World’s view

    Instead of reconciling with Japan by accepting Japan’s apology and compensation, Chong Dae Hyup and its U.S. affiliates have appealed to the world by dragging former Korean comfort women (now in their 90’s) around the world as exhibitions. UN reports such as Coomaraswamy Report and U.S. House Resolution 121 were issued based solely on materials provided by the activists with close ties to North Korea. (False testimonies of women who were coached by Chong Dae Hyup. Reference)  Most Western media and scholars fell for activists’ propaganda and believe “200,000 Korean women were coercively taken away by the Japanese military.” Obviously this world’s view is not based on fact. The Japanese soldiers did coerce dozens of Dutch and Filipino women in the battlefields of Indonesia and the Philippines. But the Korean women were not coerced by the Japanese military because the Korean Peninsula was not the battlefield and therefore very few Japanese soldiers were left in Korea and the majority of policemen were Korean. Japan apologized and compensated, and Netherlands, Indonesia and the Philippines had all accepted Japan’s apology and reconciled with Japan. So there are no comfort women issues between those nations and Japan. The comfort women issue remains only with South Korea because Chong Dae Hyup refuses to reconcile with Japan and continues to spread the false claim — 200,000 Korean women were coerced by the Japanese military — throughout the world. Chong Dae Hyup is a very powerful activist group in South Korea, and Korean politicians are scared to death to defy it. But South Korean government must somehow distance itself from Chong Dae Hyup if this issue is to be resolved. After all, Chong Dae Hyup has no interest in the welfare of former Korean comfort women. Its goal is to discredit Japan and to block reconciliation between Japan and South Korea.

    Empires and comfort women

    Just like the empires were created by European powers and Japan in the past, the United States has military bases all over the world. And wherever the U.S. military bases are located, there are women who provide sex to the U.S. military personnels. There is no doubt that the U.S. military interventions in Vietnam, Iraq and so on had caused suffering to local people especially to women. It is rather ironic that the United States keeps coming up with resolutions to criticize Japan and comfort women statues keep going up in the U.S.  Japan was partly guilty because its imperialism (the Japanese military’s invasion into China and Southeast Asia) created the demand for comfort women. But the Korean narrative — the Japanese military showed up at the doors and abducted young Korean women — just didn’t happen. The Korean businessmen (comfort station owners) capitalized on the demand, recruited Korean women, operated comfort stations and made lots of money. Japan has apologized for its part. South Korea should admit its complicity and stop demanding Japan for more apologies.

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    Footnote: Professor Park Yuha’s book “Comfort Women of the Empire” was banned from publishing in South Korea. Professor Park is also being sued for defamation by anti-Japanese activists and receives death threats from time to time. In South Korea, government often uses civic groups to hunt down people who speak out the inconvenient truth. It is now very difficult for Professor Park to publish anything in South Korea without being persecuted, but her books can be purchased in other Asian countries.

    (*1) The following is a momoir written by a former Korean comfort woman, Mun Oku-chu. It shows what it was like to be a comfort woman.

    http://scholarsinenglish.blogspot.com/2014/10/former-korean-comfort-woman-mun-oku.html

    (*2) The U.S. military interrogated hundreds of Korean POWs who belonged to the Japanese Army. They frequented comfort stations, and the following was what they said about Korean comfort women.

    “All Korean prostitutes that POWs have seen in the Pacific were volunteers or had been sold by their parents into prostitution. This is proper in the Korean way of thinking, but direct conscription of women by the Japanese would be an outrage that the old and young alike would not tolerate. Men would rise up in a rage, killing Japanese no matter what consequence they might suffer.”

    An American journalist, Michael Yon, makes a similar point in the article titled “Were Korean men cowards during World War II?”

    https://www.facebook.com/MichaelYonFanPage/posts/10152528332430665:0

    The following is the U.S. military report dated October 1, 1944. This report is accurate except where it says “Japanese agents recruited women and Japanese housemasters operated comfort stations.” It should have said “ethnic Korean agents recruited Korean women and Korean housemasters operated comfort stations.” The U.S. military interrogator thought they were Japanese because their surnames were Japanese. Actually the ethnic Koreans were Japanese citizens at the time, so the report might have referred to them as “Japanese agents” and “Japanese housemasters” for that reason. (See the list of comfort stations in footnote *3)

    http://ww2db.com/doc.php?q=130

    (*3) In 2013 Professor Ahn Byong Jik of Seoul National University discovered a diary written by a Korean comfort station manager. The diary contains the detailed account of Korean owners wire transferring huge profit they made from operating comfort stations. The diary also mentions that whenever comfort stations needed more women, Korean owners used their agents to recruit women. Professor Ahn Byong Jik confirms that Korean comfort women were recruited by Korean comfort station owners, not by the Japanese military.

    http://archive.today/1jcC4

    The Korean comfort station manager’s diary can be purchased at the following sites.

    http://book.daum.net/detail/book.do?bookid=KOR9788994228761

    The following is the list of comfort stations mentioned in the diary. The owners were all Korean although they had Japanese surnames. (click to enlarge)

    The following is the list of comfort stations in Shanghai where Korean women worked. The owners were all Korean as well.

    (*4) The photo below is a recruitment ad in Korean newspaper Maeil Sinbo (매일신보 毎日新報) on October 27, 1944 by a Korean comfort station owner. There are more ads like this.

    (*5) The photo below is a record of how much a typical Korean comfort woman made.

    (*6) The photo below is a report in Korean newspaper Donga Ilbo (동아일보 東亜日報) on August 31, 1939. It says, “About 100 Korean women were abducted by Korean comfort station owners’ agents but were rescued by Japanese policemen.” There are dozens of reports like this. (other reports)

    (*7) The photo below is an order sent by the Japanese military to comfort station operators. It says, “Do not recruit women against their will. Only recruit willing prostitutes.” Professor Yoshiaki Yoshimi (a well known communist and with close ties to North Korea) misrepresented this document as proof that the Japanese military coerced Korean women. Confronted by other scholars, Mr. Yoshimi admitted to the Japanese media that he was wrong, but he never did so to Western media. The New York Times in its 2007 article used his initial statement as proof that the Japanese military coerced Korean women. Many scholars have demanded NYT to retract the article, but NYT has refused to do so claiming it wasn’t their fault Yoshimi misrepresented.

    (*8) The photo below is an article in Korean newspaper Kyunghyang Shinmun (경향신문 京郷新聞) on June 6, 1977. It says that a Korean comfort station owner trafficked dozens of Korean comfort women to Rabaul, Papua New Guinea to provide sex to Japanese soldiers there during World War II. It was common knowledge in South Korea until the 1970s that Korean comfort station owners recruited Korean women and operated comfort stations, and no South Koreans contested that notion. Then Asahi Shimbun (Japanese newspaper) published a series of fabricated articles in the 1980’s falsely accusing Japanese military of abducting Korean comfort women. South Korean communists with close ties to North Korea thought this was a great opportunity to discredit Japan and block reconciliation between Japan and South Korea. So they formed the anti-Japan lobby Chong Dae Hyup in 1990 and began spreading comfort women lies worldwide. Their strategy was to use the case of a small number of Dutch and Filipino women who were coerced by lower ranked Japanese soldiers and make it look like the same thing happened to tens of thousands of Korean women. Since they had no evidence, they coached Korean women to testify falsely. 

    (*9) The relationship between the anti-Japanese activist group Chong Dae Hyup (Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery) and North Korea.

    Yun Mi-Hyang (Chairwoman) was investigated for working with North Korea in 2013.
    Kim Sam-Suk (Yun Mi-Hyang’s husband) was arrested as a North Korean spy in 1993.
    Kim Eun-Ju (Kim Sam-Suk’s sister) was arrested as a North Korean spy in 1993.
    Choi Gi-Yong (Kim Eun-Ju’s husband) was arrested as a North Korean spy in 2006.
    Lee Seok-Gi (member) was arrested as a North Korean spy in 2013.

    (*10) The South Korean government established comfort women system for its troops in Vietnam in the 1960s and for the U.S. troops stationed in South Korea in the 1960s & 1970s.

    http://ameblo.jp/workingkent/entry-12032249233.html

    http://archive.is/MWO4N

    A number of comfort women statues have been built in the U.S. as a result of tenacious lobbying by the Korean activists. The activists insist that the statues are for all women whose rights were violated in wars and not meant to be anti-Japanese. However, the statues only accuse the Japanese military and do not mention the South Korean military’s atrocities to women.

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    Asahi Shimbun published a series of fabricated articles on comfort women in the 1980s. Based on these articles, the anti-Japanese activist group Chong Dae Hyup was formed by South Korean communists in 1990. Then out of nowhere a woman named Kim Hak-sun came forward in 1991 and claimed she was abducted by the Japanese military. There is clear evidence (recorded tapes) that suggests she was coached by Chong Dae Hyup to give false testimony. If Korean women were indeed abducted by the Japanese military, it is rather odd that not a single woman claimed anything for over 45 years after the end of World War II.  Former South Korean President Roh Tae-woo said in a 1993 interview, “Asahi Shimbun created the comfort women issue out of nothing, provoked Korean nationalism and infuriated Korean people.”

    It is ironic that 99% of Westerners fell for Chong Dae Hyup’s (North Korean) propaganda and believe 200,000 Korean women were coerced by the Japanese military while South Korean scholars such as Professor Park Yuha of Sejong University, Professor Lee Yong-hoon of Seoul University, Professor Ahn Byong-jik of Seoul University, Professor Jun Bong-gwan of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Professor Lee Dae-gun of Sungkyunkwan University, Professor Choi Ki-ho of Kaya University, Professor Oh Seon-hwa of Takushoku University and Professor Chunghee Sarah Soh of San Francisco State University agree that the Japanese military did not coerce Korean women. Only a small number of fanatics with loud voice (South Korean activists with close ties to North Korea and China) falsely claim 200,000 Korean women were coerced by the Japanese military. Westerners must realize that North Korean and Chinese operatives are using the comfort women issue to drive a wedge into U.S.-Japan-South Korea security partnership.

    The following recording summarizes the comfort women issue very well.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6g-Yj6c-Hg

4. The Diary of a Comfort Woman Manager

This piece was first published under the title “Seoul University professor denied the theory of comfort women as the sex slave” in Monthly Hanada Selection: Hopeless South Korea and Tragic President Park Geun-hye, a special December 2016 edition of the Japanese monthly magazine. JAPAN Forward is serializing it.

Part 1: Why Korean Professor Believes Comfort Women Were Not Sex Slaves

Part 2: Korea Had Long History of Trafficking in Women—Even Before the Japanese Came

Seoul National University professor emeritus of economics Lee Young-hoon has noted there were many Korean comfort station managers listed in a volume titled List of Koreans in China, 1942. At a comfort station called Asahikan in particular, there was not only a Korean manager, but also nine Korean comfort women. He showed a photograph of this document, which lists the names and even the family registry information of each individual.

Lee said that, during this period, it was not considered shameful to work as a comfort station manager or even as a comfort woman. It was for this reason the women likely had their names listed in the volume.

His final argument, on the issue of the Japanese military comfort women, concerned the comfort women’s lifestyle itself. While there are fewer documents on this particular aspect, Lee found the diary of a Korean man back in 2012, that previously worked at reception desks for comfort stations located in Burma and Singapore.

The professor teamed up with several other researchers to conduct a detailed analysis of this diary, which had been published in South Korea under the title “Diary of a Manager of a Japanese Comfort Station.” Lee then launched into a thorough explanation of this diary.

The diary covers a period spanning from 1943 to 1944, detailing the life of a comfort station manager. The diary’s author was born in 1905 and earned a considerable sum as a notary public. He also sent his concubine to work as a prostitute at an inn.

His notary public business however, began to decline in 1940. In that same year, he also loaned 4,000 yen to a Korean human trafficking broker who left without repaying the money. In financially dire straits, he traveled to Burma with his concubine’s son to run a comfort station in July of 1942.

Unfortunately, the diary section for 1942—during which time he recruited comfort women—has been lost. The diary author worked the comfort station reception desk in a position of middle management. Despite the missing section, the following points have become clear from reading the diary.

Licensed Prostitution Managed by Military

The comfort stations were, in fact, managed by the military. Each comfort woman was required to submit a report to the military near the conclusion of every month. A ledger was kept showing the sales figures for each comfort woman—allowing them to complete said monthly reports. The military decided on the guidelines for patrons and on the fees to be charged. The military ran a public-management system, which was in effect a direct-management program carried out under very stringent rules.

The licensed prostitution system in Korea was, in effect, transferred to military units and/or comfort stations. When a woman wanted to quit, she brought a permission form to the unit and gave notice of her intention, after which a cessation of business notification was issued.

While it is possible to criticize the military’s management from an ethical perspective, it should nonetheless be recognized the military was rather unsparing in management of health and hygiene, while also protecting the comfort women from violence and/or abduction. In the two years the diary author worked at comfort stations, there was no reported incidence of violence. Part of the diary author’s job was to transfer money to the hometowns of comfort women at their request, which he did at the branch offices of the Yokohama Ginko bank in Rangoon and Singapore. After paying off their advance money, the women were able to send funds back to their families at home.

The diary author himself earned 43,000 yen in two years’ time—an enormous sum when one considers the average monthly worker’s salary during that period of time was just 40 yen. The author managed an orchard after returning home, and also served on the board of a private elementary school.

Lee argued that the comfort stations were examples of “the licensed prostitution system transferred to military units.”

How Were Comfort Stations Run?

“The brokers recruited women by means of employment fraud as well as by human trafficking, and ran what amounted to a licensed prostitution system under the powerful control of the Japanese military,” Lee said.

He further explained:

This system shared the special characteristics of the licensed prostitution system in that the women were not imprisoned or subjected to abuse, the women had to obtain permission to work as prostitutes in accordance with the law, and also had to provide a letter of consent stamped by their mother and father, a proof of the authenticity of the seal used on the letter, as well as a certified true copy of their family registry along with other documents. All of that documentation was in place.

After the paperwork was turned in, the women received permission to commence business. Once their contract period was up, they submitted a notification of cessation of operations and returned home. In a single year, 1944, among the 20 Korean comfort women working at the comfort station which also employed the diary author, 14 women went back to their hometowns. When women went home, others came to take their place. It is proof that these women were not being held against their will.

Lee was subjected to intense criticism as a proponent of the theory that the comfort women were licensed prostitutes after mentioning US military comfort women during a television debate in 2004.

At the time, Lee had been an adherent of the theory that comfort women were sex slaves, so the ensuing criticism was the result of his words being misunderstood. In his 2016 YouTube lecture, however, Lee openly and unequivocally stated that comfort women were licensed prostitutes under military management. I have nothing aside from heartfelt admiration for the scholarly courage Lee displayed.

Yoshimi Yoshiaki’s Book

Lee concluded his essay with a discussion of how one should understand the women at comfort stations under such conditions. This part is very important and what follows is a literal translation:

This question is an extremely difficult one. It is a political question, one that has been much debated. The most well-known Japanese researcher on this question, Yoshimi Yoshiaki, says that these women were sex slaves. Many South Korean researchers also follow the theory that these women were sex slaves. I too, in my 2007 book, said that these women were sex slaves. Reading Yoshimi Yoshiaki’s books and essays, I thought he was right, and I once supported the theory that the comfort women were sex slaves.

If the women had had no freedom of movement, had been confined, had been beaten and subjected to violence on a daily basis, and had received almost no compensation for their work, then this would be proof that they were slaves. When Yoshimi Yoshiaki argued that they were sex slaves, he placed the greatest emphasis on their not having freedom of movement, not having personal freedom. They could not come and go as they pleased, Yoshimi argued, and he gave several examples of this.

However, I have studied a wide variety of materials. As a result, I have come to doubt that the comfort women had a daily level of personal restriction any different from that under the licensed prostitution system.

As I said earlier, prostitutes were not able to live outside of the rental property, and were not free to leave the region. I doubt that the comfort women had more than that level, whether their restrictions exceeded those particular to that occupation.

Even in Mun Ok-ju’s memorandum and in the diary of the comfort station manager which I introduced, we read that twice a month there were days off. On days off, there was freedom to come and go. Mun Ok-ju says that even now, when she closes her eyes, she can recall being on the city streets of Rangoon. She enjoyed a wide variety of shopping experiences in a foreign country. It was not possible to leave the comfort station while working, but on days off it was possible to leave.

It was not possible to leave freely before the contract period was up. This was the extent of their personal restriction. And, once the contract period was up, then, having fulfilled certain conditions, many people filed notifications of cessation of operations, which were accepted.

Yoshimi seems not to have been aware of this. I just went back and looked at Yoshimi’s book again. His evidence is extremely fragmented and incomplete. In this sense, I wish to say that the evidence is badly lacking that the comfort women were sex slaves under personal imprisonment.

Next is the question of whether the comfort women received payment or not. On this point, there is not a basic overlap with the principles of the licensed prostitution system.

Because of the question of military morale and related issues, the military was not in a position to tolerate the use of personal violence inside the comfort stations. In wartime conditions, it is not possible to allow the use of personal violence—this is what I want to say. Look at any comfort station diary—there is no personal violence. In Mun Ok-ju’s autobiography, as well, there is no mention whatsoever of her having been beaten by her employer or bullied for her advance money.

It was an extremely labor-intensive, high-paying occupation. So, advance-money payments of 200 yen, 300, 1,000 yen or so would not have been enough to act as a yoke binding one’s person. It was easy to repay such amounts. In the wire-transfer sums recorded in the diary I mentioned earlier, one woman sent 12,000 yen home, and Mun Ok-ju says she sent 5,000 yen home and had 25,000 yen in military savings.

In this kind of highly labor-intensive, high-paying occupation, there was no way to make the women into debt slaves. Of course, some individual women might have been in such a situation. But it was impossible to make this the common lot.

Also, in a certain sense I am an expert on slavery. Because I have researched Korean servants. I have read many books on slaves. The essence of a slave is that they have no legal abilities. Their humanity is denied in law—they are not human beings in the eyes of the law. If you beat them, they cannot sue you. If their mother or father is beaten to death, they cannot press charges against you in court.

During the slavery period in the United States, a slave could not be a witness in court even if he or she had witnessed the scene of a murder. Because the slave was not a human being. Even if they said they had seen a certain white person in the act of committing a crime, they could not be called as a witness in court. Thus, slaves have no legal standing at all, and they are also denied the social status that would allow them to exercise any legal rights. This is what a slave is.

It is difficult to say that the comfort women were the same as slaves. They were in a very weak position, to be sure. But it cannot be said that they had been stripped of their legal rights, that they had no rights whatsoever.

For example, in Mun Ok-ju’s case, I recently read and was shocked to learn that a Japanese soldier who came to the comfort station was acting like a hooligan. He was a bad man, and he took out his sword and threatened Mun with it. And she stood up to him. Mun Ok-ju is an astounding person. She stood up to him, took his sword away from him, and stabbed the soldier with his own sword. The soldier was stabbed in the chest and he died.

When this happened, Mun was court-martialed. Mun had argued that she was a military personnel, so she was tried as such. Mun Ok-ju told the court that that man had first been acting like a hooligan, had come to the comfort station brandishing his sword. “Was that a good thing?” she asked. She argued that she acted in self-defense, and she was found not guilty.

What I want to say is that, if Mun had truly been a slave, then she would not have had any right to a trial. However, she had a trial, and her self-defense argument was accepted, and the court-martial handed down a verdict of not guilty. Again, then, I say that, on many different points, we must rethink the theory that the comfort women were sex slaves.

The word “slave” very easily causes misunderstandings. So I argue that when American scholars use the word “slave” to describe Chosen Period servants, they must use abundant caution.

The term “sex slave” is an extremely inflammatory expression. In the strict sense, I am very dubious whether it meets academic requirements or not.

Estimated Number of Comfort Women

Let us now discuss the specific number of Korean comfort women. According to textbooks and scholars in South Korea, that number is 200,000, but Professor Lee rejects this figure.

“If there were 200,000 Korean comfort women, then this number would become much larger once one factored in the Japanese and Chinese comfort women. It goes without saying that a Japanese military having 2.5 million troops could not have taken 500,000 comfort women,” he said.

Lee then used three different estimates to arrive at a figure of around 5,000 comfort women originating from Korea. First, he estimated using the number of comfort stations. For this, he used the regional comfort station distribution found in the diary of military physician Colonel Kinbara Setsuzo, as well as the Korean comfort stations in north China—as found in the documents introduced earlier from the governor-general’s branch office.

There were 500 comfort stations. In northern China, there were 100 comfort stations and 1,000 comfort women. So there would have been around 5,000 comfort women in total across 500 comfort stations or around 5,500 comfort women when Japanese and Korean women were counted together.

Second, Lee made a calculation based upon the number of condoms that the military provided to troops. In 1942, the Japanese military provided a total of 32.1 million condoms to its troops—88,000 per day. As seen above, each comfort woman serviced five soldiers on a daily basis. If we accept this, then there would have been a total of 17,600 comfort women—if 20% of these were Koreans, there would have therefore been 3,520 Korean comfort women. If 30% were Koreans, then would have been 5,280 Korean comfort women.

Third, Lee made another calculation based upon the ratio of comfort women to soldiers. Standard notifications put the ratio of soldiers and comfort women at 150 to 1. There were 2.5 million Japanese troops, thus, there would have been 16,000 comfort women. He then hypothesized the turnover rate for comfort women at 1.5 in both Manchuria and China, while it was 0 in the southern area. If true, the total number of comfort women would have been 20,000. If 20% of this number was Korean, there would have been 4,000 Korean comfort women. If 30% were Korean, there would have been 6,000 Korean comfort women.

After outlining these three methods of estimation, Lee further expanded upon his theory there were 4,000 to 6,000 Korean comfort women, saying, “It is completely incorrect to say that there were tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of Korean comfort women.”

The Trouble with NGO Activities

At the very end of his lecture, Lee said in conclusion:

There would be no end to talking about how this issue has developed over the past 25 years, from 1991 until today. I will end my discussion here. I will not discuss the reality of what kinds of results, and what kinds of problems, NGO activities, and in particular those of Chongdaehyup, have brought about.

I have spoken here about how this issue has developed against the historical background and within the environment of the system of licensed prostitution. I have also shown that, objectively speaking, there are many problems with the numerical estimates and with the extremist view that the comfort women were sex slaves.

Tsutomu Nishioka is a member of the planning committee at the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals and a visiting professor at Reitaku University. He was born in 1956 in Tokyo,  and graduated from the International Christian University. He worked at the Japanese embassy in South Korea as a researcher from 1982 to 1984, and served as editor in chief of monthly magazine Gendai Korea. He is chairman of National Association for the Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea (NARKN).

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