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Women's voices, women's pain.


The feminist movement has brought to the forefront the necessity of listening to women's voices and appreciating the distinctive insights of women. For centuries societies dominated by males have failed to document the experiences of women. Often there is a denial of the individuality and separateness of women's experiences.

The history of the comfort women is the story of voices being denied and suppressed. It is also the story of oppression and subjugation. Between 1928 and 1945 approximately 150,000 to 200,000(2) women were taken by the Japanese and used as sex slaves.(3) There is little doubt that the inferior status of women in Japan and elsewhere enabled the Japanese to believe that it was possible to undertake such actions with impunity. This belief was not dispelled by Allied action at the close of the war. Despite their knowledge of what had happened to these women, the Allied Forces and their respective governments remained silent, thereby compounding the harm(4) inflicted on these women. References to the "comofrt women" in Allied documents either contorted the women's experiences to make them appear responsible or focused on the Japanese military and the "amenities" provided to it, thereby making the women objects.(5)

Because the voices of the comfort women have been denied for so long, the emphasis of this paper will be on their experiences. In the world of men, labels are ascribed to phenomenon, and analysis is considered all important. However, if the experiences of women are to have an impact on our understanding of our world and our history, it is important that events particular to women be chronicled. Therefore, the following paper will concentrate on the lives of the women. Much of the factual material resulted from an investigative mission sent by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) to the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and Japan to interview the women and government officials. In order to give a "context" to the stories of the women, a brief overview of the events that took place in the Korean peninsula and the Philippines is necessary.


Relations between Japan and Korea have rarely been free of tension. Over the centuries Japan has tried to control or dominate Manchuria and the Korean peninsula.(7) In recent times the government of Japan has apologized for its aggressive behavior toward the Korean people. Typical is a statement made in January 1992 by the then Prime Minister:

We must not forget that our two countries have been linked for thousands of years. Regrettably, during much of this time, my country has historically been the aggressor and yours the victim. I take this opportunity to once again express my most heartfelt apologies for the unbearable pain and suffering brought upon you by my country in the past. Especially with the matter of comfort women coming to light, I am filled with pain and remorse.(8)

In 1905 Korea and Japan signed a treaty, making Korea a protectorate of Japan. The Korean Emperor ceded all sovereign power to the Japanese Emperor by treaty in 1910. The treaty stated that, henceforth, Koreans were to be Japanese subjects. Many scholars, Korean and Non-Korean, consider both of these treaties to be void under international law.

What distinguishes the period from 1905 onward in the minds of many Koreans is Japan's attempt to subjugate Korean culture to that of the Janpanese and to eliminate the distinctive identity of the Koreans. Through a series of decrees, Japan took control of the system of education, making Japanese the language of instruction and introducing measures for teaching Japanese to adult Koreans. Koreans were also forced to change their names so that they more closely resembled those of the Japanese. For Koreans this was a particularly onerous obligation as names denoted ancestry and clan affiliation; to change their names meant breaking with family tradition and fundamentally affected the way in which family honor could be maintained.(9)

Korea was ruled through a Japanese Governor-General, usually a high-ranking military officer. The police and gendarmerie were controlled by the Japanese and included some Japanese nationals. Local village offices continued to be held by Koreans, but these officials were viewed with suspicion by the Korean people as they were thought to be under the control of the Japanese.

In addition to its control over the political life of the country, Japan assumed control of the economy. Agricultural produce, especially rice, and natural resources were confiscated and sent to Japan. After its invasion of China, Japan began to view the Korean peninsula as a potential source of labor, initially for its factories and ultimately for its military.(10)

During the 1930s, a supposedly voluntary mobilization program was introduced to marshal the human and material resources of Japan and Korea for the purpose of national defence. Under this program many Koreans were taken to Japan to work in mines, factories, and in agriculture. This program was expanded in 1939. Three years later Japan instituted a program of "collective mobilization." Between 1939 and 1942 somewhere between 258,666 and 294,467 men were conscripted, and an additional 282,000 were mobilized "voluntarily."(11) Given the numbers of people involved, it is difficult to accept that this recruitment of labor took place voluntarily. The strict security measures surrounding the factories suggest that Korean men were not allowed to leave their place of work.(12)

Then, in 1944, Japan began the compulsory mobilization of labor; from 1943 until 1945 somewhere between 502,616 and 858,366 men were forcibly conscripted. During this same period another 481,000 men were "mobilized voluntarily."(13)

Although information about the "mobilization" of women is more difficult to obtain, it appears that they were also regarded as a potential source of labor. In 1937 a program was introduced to encourage the recruitment of Korean women into the labor force. Again this program was nominally voluntary, but the evidence suggests that pressure was put on women to work in factories.(14) In 1941 Japan enacted legislation which stipulated that women between the ages of fourteen and twenty were to participate in the National Labor Service Corps for thirty days or less per year. Two years later the term was extended to sixty days. Subsequently, in 1944 the ages were revised to fourteen and forty five years of age. Operating in tandem with this was the creation of a "voluntary corp" which had as its purpose the long term mobilization of women, usually for periods ranging from one to two years. Many women were sent to factories, particularly war industries in Korea and Japan.

It is within this context that the taking of women for the comfort stations has to be understood. By the late 1930s Japan was forcibly conscripting both women and men from the Korean peninsula. Such forcible conscription was tantamount to slavery. Given this situation it was inevitable that, when Japan decided to establish comfort stations on a massive scale, Korean women would be taken and forced to submit to sexual slavery in those stations.

Another factor that should be borne in mind is the extensive poverty which existed in Korea during this period of time. It was not unusual for young children to leave their families in order to find work in towns and cities. This made them more vulnerable as there were no family members to advise or protect them. Also, it was common practice for families to use their children, particularly girls, to pay off family debts or to obtain immediate cash for housing and food. Most often, girl children were put to work as maids or nannies. Although girl children were sometimes sexually abused, it should not be assumed that this was routine. However, the separation from their families and the powerlessness of this situation made it easier for ruthless "masters" to sell these children to the Japanese. A number of the Korean women interviewed by the ICJ mission were sold in this manner to "recruiters" for the Japanese.

What happened to the Filipino women must also be understood in light of the events which took place in their country. Japan invaded the Philippines in 1942. Immediately prior to the outbreak of the Second World War the United States of America had agreed to release its colonial hold on the country. There was enormous resistance to Japanese rule in most parts of the country; several guerrilla armies were formed in an attempt to dislodge the Japanese. The Japanese retaliated with brutality. The International Military Tribunal for the Far East (hereinafter the Tribunal) described in detail the treatment meted out by the Japanese. The following excerpt from the judgment was in reference to massacres perpetrated in anticipation of Japanese withdrawal from the Philippines; it described a massacre which occurred at the Manila German Club in 1944:

Japanese soldiers surrounded the club by a barricade of inflammable material then put gasoline over this barricade and ignited it. Thus the fugitives were forced to attempt to escape through the flaming barricade. Most of them were bayoneted and shot by the waiting Japanese soldiers. Some of the women were raped and their infants bayoneted in their arms. After raping the women the Japanese poured gasoline on their hair and ignited it. The breasts of some of the women were cut off by the Japanese soldiers.(15)

The Tribunal noted in its judgment that files captured by the Allies contained explicit instructions for the killing of Filipinos.(16) The Tribunal made it clear that the highest ranking members of the government and the military condoned and endorsed the actions taken by miliary officers in the field and that the government failed to punish any of those committing such atrocities. Japanese control over the Philippines meant that military personnel felt at liberty to seize Filipinas and use them for their sexual gratification. The military authorized the establishment of comfort stations throughout the Philippines. Because of this complete objectification of women, Japanese soldiers believed it was their right to have women available to them. Thus, soldiers would kidnap women from their villages and take them to nearby military installations. It is apparent that those in command felt able to take women as they wished, even if they had not been given permission to establish a comfort station.


A. Government Responsibility

When the issue of government responsibility was initially raised in Japan, the government denied that the comfort stations had been officially sanctioned by the government of that time. It was suggested that all the comfort stations were set up by "private entrepreneurs." This version of events was not accepted by scholars or activists within Japan. Professor Yoshimi of Chuo University, Japan, spent many hours in the archives of the Ministry of Defence. He uncovered documents establishing conclusively that the Japanese military authorized the establishment of the comfort stations. Further evidence of government involvement has come from former soldiers who were prompted to speak out after the government's denial. As a result of efforts by the women themselves, scholars, and activists the government has been forced to change its position and has now accepted full responsibility.

It appears that a policy favoring the establishment of comfort stations was adopted sometime between 1936 and 1937.(17) During the 1930s Japan invaded China. The behavior of its troops in Shanghai and Nanjing (then referred to as Nanking) led to an international outcry. Worried about its international reputation, the Japanese government and military became concerned by the Chinese reprisals against Japanese soldiers. These concerns apparently prompted the military to consider the establishment of "comfort houses." An entry in the official log of the Ninth Brigade referred to a circular, dated 27 June 1938, which was issued by Naosaburo Okabe, Chief of Staff of the North China Expeditionary Troops. The circular stated that the number of rapes committed by Japanese soldiers was threatening security in northern China, and that the Chinese were taking revenge. In Okabe's view it was necessary to set up "comfort houses" as soon as possible.(18)

What is not clear from the documents is the nationality of the women being placed in the early comfort stations. It has been suggested that the instructions to create such establishments could only have been carried out this rapidly if the majority of women were Chinese, but there is no conclusive evidence about this point. There have been reports that Chinese women were put into comfort stations in other theaters of war, which would support the view that they were taken to the early comfort houses.(19)

A statement taken from a former soldier, Mr. Kuki Nagatomi, by the ICJ mission supports the view that Chinese women were used in these first comfort stations. Mr. Nagatomi originally went to China as a student, eventually joining the Special Missions Organization, a form of secret service operating within the military. In 1938 he was told by the military to set up a comfort station in the Anching area (located in the region between Shanghai and Nanjing), which he did. A local person was used to establish the comfort house, and the women taken into it were CHinese.

The general acceptance of the use of girls and women for the sexual gratification of the Japanese military meant that Japanese troops felt it was their "right" as soldiers to have women available to them. In the Philippines a number of the women were taken to military barracks, as well as to areas which were not established garrisons. The prevailing ethos in the military allowed the soldiers to feel that they would not be penalized for such actions.

From the available evidence it is clear that the Japanese military condoned the establishment of the comfort stations and, in some cases, was responsible for their construction, furnishing, and day to day management. Some of the comfort stations were "managed" by civilians, but even in these circumstances they were heavily regulated by the military. Documents made available through the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence and the United States Defense Department contained translations of regulations issued by the Japanese military for brothels maintained in southern China and vaious regions of the Philippines.(20) These regulations were incredibly detailed, covering such points as who was to have access, the rates to be charged soldiers, petty officers, and commissioned officers, the hours of operation, and medical examinations of the women. They also included forms for licenses to be issued by the military.(21)

By the 1940s the women were being euphemistically referred to in correspondence as "Special Service Personnel Group." A series of documents which went between the field and Tokyo military headquarters included requests for additional comfort women and referred to "recruiters" heading to Korea to obtain additional women. These documents demonstrated the immense organizational effort put into the operation and control of the comfort stations by the Japanese military. One such communication from Rikichi And, Commander in Taiwan to the Minister-of-War, Hideki Tojo (later one of the main defendants in the Tokyo war crimes trials), requested travel permits for three recruiters chosen to go to Korea to select women for the troops stationed in Borneo. According to the telegraph the request emanated from the troops in the field. An affirmative reply to his request was sent from Tokyo.

The involvement of the Navy in this practice was first made public in 1955 when Minoru Shigermura, a commander in the Japanese Navy, documented a communication from the Naval Affairs Bureau to the Chief of Staff for the South West Pacific. The Bureau detailed the responsibility of the Navy for providing accommodation and furnishings for the comfort women who would be arriving. The communique stated that the comfort houses would be privately operated but supervised by the Navy. The document contained a list of the places to which comfort women would be sent: fifty to Penang, Malaya; forty-five to Macau; forty to Barihappan, on the island of Borneo; thirty to Java, Indonesia; and unspecified numbers to Singapore and Ambong.

The military was extensively involved in the recruitment and transportation of the comfort women as well. A number of the Korean women interviewed stated that members of the Japanese military police were present when they were taken from their families. Sometimes military police would use force to take them; in some instances family members who attempted to stop the kidnapping were killed or seriously injured. In the Philippines women testified to being kidnapped by members of the military.

Evidence gathered by the Allies supported the oral testimony of the women. Allied documents concerning Burma contained an interview with a civilian brothel owner, a Japanese man who had gone to Korea as a restaurateur. The Japanese military suggested that he could earn more money by establishing a brothel for Japanese troops in Burma. Due to declining trade he decided to take up the suggestion and applied for permission to take girls from Korea to Burma. His application was made to the local Army headquarters. The documents he received from the army giving him permission to take girls to Burma also requested all other military units to give him any necessary assistance with respect to transport, rations, and medical care.

After purchasing twenty-two Korean girls,(22) he headed to the port of Pusan where he boarded a ship with ninety other Japanese men undertaking the same venture. He stated that there were a total of 730 Korean girls on the ship. Although on a passenger ship, they received a military escort. They headed to Singapore where they changed vessels and headed to Rangoon. The Army provided free passage for the girls, although the man was required to pay for meals.

Many of the Korean women inteviewed by the ICJ mission described being kept at an "inn" with new girls arriving every day. After several days, they travelled by train to a port city such as Pusan and were placed on passenger ships. Some of the women stated that they were on military ships. In either case the military was heavily involved and was well aware of the reasons for the women's transport from the Korean peninsula.

One of the former soldiers, Mr. Yoshiro Suzuki, provided information on the manner in which the women had been brought to the comfort stations and were forced to remain there. He said that a particular woman whom he visited frequently told him that she had thought she was becoming a nurse with the Japanese military. He indicated that she repeatedly said that she had been deceived; she cried for most of the time that he knew her. Mr. Suzuki also stated that his colleagues told him that they had heard similar stories from the women they visited. Each of these women claimed to have been deceived and wanted to go home. As the women were controlled by the organizers and managers, they would not have been able to go home; also none of them would have had money. Mr. Suzuki believed that the women were afraid of the managers, that they were constantly supervised, and that they were afraid to go out of the comfort house. The managers were responsible for supplying food and clothing. Mr. Suzuki described the women's situation as one of extreme poverty.

B. Organization of the Comfort Stations

One of the Japanese military police interviewed, Mr. Schiro Ichikawa, was in charge of a comfort house while stationed in Manchuria in 1944. During his testimony Mr. Ichikawa drew a general outline of a comfort house under his control which showed an entrance area, a small waiting room, and a central corridor with adjoining smaller rooms. He indicated that each of the rooms was approximately four feet by five feet and was furnished with a mat, mattress, and blanket. This particular building was made of brick.

According to his testimony, the house was under the control of the military although there were outside managers: a husband and wife of Korean origin who were stationed there to oversee the women. Mr. Ichikawa was firm in his view that this house and many other houses were under the control of the military. Private houses were more often established within a local restaurant and most often catered specifically to military officers.

All ranks in the military had access to the comfort house under Mr. Ichikawa's control. The fee varied according to the rank of the soldier. Upon arrival a soldier would obtain a permit for entry: those for the rank and file were black, those for non commissioned officers were blue, and those for officers were red. The military police kept an accurate account of the number of times a soldier visited a comfort house. Given the soldiers' low wages, the officials' suspicions would be raised if a rank and file soldier visited a comfort house more than once or twice a month. Too great a frequency might indicate that the soldier was trafficking in a prohibited substance or was defrauding the local population.

The military police, concerned that soldiers might reveal military secrets to the women, limited the number of visits to prevent relationships developing between a soldier and a comfort woman. Every morning the Korean couple provided to the military police a list of users for each woman and the military police would look to see if one particular soldier was visiting the same woman too often.

Once a week a medical doctor examined each woman to determine whether or not she was suffering from a venereal disease. Mr. Ichikawa emphasized that this was not done for the benefit of the woman but for the benefit of the soldiers. Most of the women were suffering from uritis, an inflammation of the urethra.

He did not know whether any of the women were paid. The managers bought food for the women in the commissary. He does not recall ever seeing a woman making a purchase for herself.

Having made this admission, Mr. Ichikawa was frank enough to state that he had availed himself of the service. There were approximately thirty women at this comfort station, all of whom were Korean. It was located in the center of the town, and troops stationed in the general area, as well as those moving through, had access to the comfort station.

Testimony taken during the ICJ mission revealed that the vast majority of the women were held as virtual prisoners. Most of the women interviewed stated that they were not allowed outside of designated areas, such as army garrisons (which most often occurred in the Philippines) or small areas away from the main buildings (which seems to have been the case in China and Burma). In some areas, such as Manila, the military issued specific regulations about the women's freedom of movement. These regulations prohibited the women from going outside of designated areas without permission. The women were only allowed to take walks in specified areas between 8:00 am and 10:00 am; otherwise permission was needed from the officer in charge. Only a few of the women interviewed by the ICJ mission stated that they were allowed to go into a local village or town. It should be recalled that many of the Korean women were held in these comfort stations for as long as nine years. Some of the women were held in complete isolation, not being allowed to speak with one another or with any one else such as cooks or cleaners.

The number of women taken to comfort stations even by the end of the 1930s can only be guessed at, but must have been quite large. A report dated April 1939, prepared by the Twenty-first Army Unit deployed in southern China, stated that there were 850 comfort women under the Unit's immediate control. Another 150 women were under the control of various troops being supervised by the Unit. The report also indicated that comfort houses originally established for officers were being opened to ordinary soldiers.(23) Furthermore, the report furnished evidence of the military's involvement in the control and management of the comfort houses; in particular, it referred to the control and management of the Security Division and head of the Miliary Police.

The conditions of the women can be gleaned from this report. The Twenty-first Army Unit had approximately 50,000 soldiers. This meant that 1,000 women were being held for the sexual gratification of 50,000 soldiers. Mr. Suzuki was not aware of the number of soldiers that each woman was forced to receive each day, but does remember on Sundays there were long queues of soldiers. He estimated that each woman was forced to receive twenty to thirty soldiers.

C. The Aftermath

Little is known about what happened to the women at the close of the war. Although one would guess that several thousand women should still be alive,(24) only a few hundred have come forward. Many women did not survive; there are accounts of Japanese soldiers killing women because they feared the women would reveal their ordeal or military secrets to the Allies. This is confirmed by the Allied reports referred to above. Women interviewed by the mission said that they witnessed several women commit suicide because they feared the shame that would attach to them if they returned home. Mr. Yoshiro Suzuki described the desertion of the women by Japanese troops. Some of the women taken to China stayed there after the war.

Many of the women would have been suffering from venereal diseases. Several of those we interviewed stated that they sought medical treatment for various forms of venereal disease when they returned to their homeland (Korea) or homes (Philippines). Some of the women felt unable to seek medical assistance and either treated themselves or were treated by their families with herbal medicines. Many have had continuing medical problems because of their infestation with venereal disease. Mr. Suzuki referred to estimates made during the war that between thrity and forty percent of Japanese soldiers were suffering from some form of venereal disease. He suggested that there was not a single woman in any of the comfort houses who enjoyed complete health.

Most of the women interviewed were unable to reveal their experiences to anyone, including members of their immediate families. This forced them to carry alone an enormous emotional and psychological burden. Fear of revealing their shameful secret compelled many women to keep their distance from relatives and friends. The pain of what they endured was evident in their language and the great emotional strain the interviews placed on them. Because of this, the violation of their human rights has to be understood as something more than an act for a defined period of time: it is a violation which continues to affect their lives today.


Under the auspices of the International Commission of Jurists, women were interviewed in the Republic of the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The majority of the women came from economically-disadvantaged families and were particularly vulnerable to force and deceit. The tragedy these women endured must be understood in the context of the societies in which they lived. At the time these women were taken by the Japanese, heavy emphasis was placed on chastity. Therefore, the acts of brutality committed against the women went beyond the immediate and horrific suffering of the continual rapes. For the most part, the women were left with a profund sense of shame and considered themselves to be inferior human beings. Their pain and suffering has endured throughout their lifetime.

It has taken enormous courage for the women to tell their stories and to give the details of their experiences. The interviews recalled to them the full horror of what had happened as they virtually relived their experiences. As a woman, I feel deeply indebted to them for giving so much of themselves emotionally and for enabling me to gain greater insight into the history of women.

No greater manifestation of courage could exist than that exhibited by women such as Lola (Grandmother) Rosa, the first Filipina to come forward and tell her story. Many of the Filipinas we interviewed told us that they would not have come forward if they had not heard her speaking on the radio and television. While in Manila, Lola Rosa accompanied the ICJ mission to Fort Santiago, and we witnessed the respect that many Filipinos, young and old, have for her. Her commitment to insuring that this aspect of Filipino and women's history is not lost is admirable. Despite her age she now travels the country to encourage other women to come forward. She has also been to Japan for the Public Hearings organized in December 1992 and is a party to one of the lawsuits filed in Japan seeking compensation from the Japanese government. Her story is not reproduced here as it available from other sources.(25)

Below are excerpts from some of the interviews undertaken during the ICJ mission. Because the women chose individually to come forward, the stories told here may not fit the general pattern of women being taken to and held in comfort houses. This is particularly true in the Philippines where the majority of women interviewed were not held in what might be described as "typical" comfort houses. Many of the women in the Philippines lived in military camps, either in established barracks or in tents with soldiers. One woman lived inside a tunnel. Superficially this pattern appears different from the experience of the Korean women. However, the kidnapping and rape of the Filipinas was also fostered by the general attitude toward women. The availability of the comfort houses, established, controlled, and in many cases operated by the Japanese military, influenced the soldiers to believe that they too were entitled to take women and use their bodies without fear of punishment.

A. Philippines

1. Julia Porras, age 64(26)

One day when she was thirteen, she heard her sister who was washing clothes downstairs shout "run." She was surprised and looked out of the window. She saw some Japanese men dressed in camouflage outfits moving in the grass toward their house. She saw her sister running and instinctively jumped out of the window and cut her leg on a tree stump near the house. Because of her wound she was slow to get away and a Japanese soldier caught her by her hair and pulled her to the ground. She began to bow and to shout "I surrender" at which point she was slapped and her mouth and nose began to bleed. The soldier tied her hands with a handkerchief and she was dragged into the woods where two trucks were waiting.

One truck was full of soldiers and the other seemed to be a patrol truck as it only had a few soldiers. She was thrown into the second truck. At this point the soldiers began laughing at her. The truck took her and the soldiers to a tunnel which was full of military equipment including machine guns, rifles, bullets and canned goods as well as some cots to sleep on. Ms. Porras described the space to the interviewer: it would have been approximately seven feet in diameter and ten to twelve feet in length; as to height, the tunnel was just large enough to stand in. When she arrived, there were two other women there.

The first person to come over to her was an officer who she believes had indicated to the other soldiers that they ought to stay away from her. He untied her hands and began to kiss her; at first she thought that he was trying to calm her down because she was so young and then later realized that his actions had sexual overtones. As she attempted to evade his moves he grabbed her and slapped her face. At this point he put his hand under her dress and began to pull down her underwear, pushed her down onto a tarpaulin and pushed her legs apart. As she was attempting to keep her legs closed he continued to beat her all over her legs. The soldier never took his clothes off as he raped her. She continued to shout from the pain. After it was over she said she was unable to stand and curled up in a corner of the tunnel feeling as if her entire body were in pain. She was bleeding and continued to cry. After the officer raped her she was raped by another four soldiers.

She does not remember how many soldiers she was forced to have intercourse with each day; all she remembers is that each time one soldier was finished she would be forced to wipe herself with a cloth before the next soldier came to her. She was not permitted to speak with the other women in the tunnel and they were placed in separate areas.

The rapes continued on a nightly basis and sometimes occurred during the day. In addition to the soldiers in the tunnel she was sometimes forced to have sex with soldiers patrolling their area. There were fifteen to twenty soldiers in the tunnel on a permanent basis. As with other victims, Ms. Porras described herself as entering into a state of numbness while in the tunnel.

After the American bombardment of the Philippines began the Japanese soldiers ran from the tunnel and she and the other women were able to run away. She headed for her family home and arrived to discover that they had moved to another area; a neighbor went to get her parents for her. While waiting for their return she contemplated suicide, feeling herself to be worthless. When her parents came to her and asked what had happened she was unable to tell them and just cried. She believes that her mother knew although they never spoke about it. It was only when other women began to come forward that she decided to tell her story.

B. Republic of Korea

1. Kim Pok Sun(27)

Ms. Kim was born on 20 February 1926, by the lunar calendar. She lived in a remote village with her grandfather, her parents and two siblings both of whom were girls. Her parents were poor farmers. Her parents were divorced when she was twelve years old and she went to live with her paternal uncle.

During 1944 her uncle became concerned about her situation having heard that girls were being kidnapped for "sex slaves." She did not believe that she was at risk of being kidnapped because she was "immature" and "tall and fat." She said that her uncle had tried to convince her to get married but that she had refused a marriage proposal made to her.

Her uncle became increasingly concerned about her welfare and told her she should stay out of sight and remain in the family's attic. She followed her uncle's instructions for approximately two weeks, then believing that the atmosphere had calmed down, went out in the yard to have lunch with her cousins. As there was no gate around the family's house it was possible for neighbors and others to see what was happening in the general vicinity of their house.

During lunch a Korean man in a military uniform came in with two Japanese Military Police. The Korean man sat on the ground while she and her cousins finished their lunch and then said to her uncle, "Why do you leave your niece at home, you must send her to Japan for one year in order for her to work. She can earn big money there. And when she returns with the money she can meet a good man and get married." She asked this Korean man how much she would earn per month, how long she would have to stay in Japan and when she would be able to go home. He again repeated that she would stay for one year and said that she could either be paid monthly or have all her money deposited during that period and take it all with her when she left. Her uncle indicated that he was responsible for her as her parents were divorced and that she should get married in Korea and not go to Japan.

At this point the mood of the Korean and the Japanese changed; until that point they had been quite friendly to the family but when her uncle said no, the Japanese stood up and dragged her out of the yard. She asked to be able to take her personal belongings with her and was told that she would not need any clothing or other belongings as they would all be provided for her. She was driven to Kwanju where she was made to stay in an inn with five other girls. No one would tell her what was happening to her. As she understood a little Japanese from her school days, she listened to a conversation between the Japanese and a Mr. Trae, a Korean man. Mr. Trae was told not to say anything to her. During the two days at the inn she spoke to some of the other women; they were from various places on the Korean Peninsula. Some of them were married, others were quite young. The women were guarded constantly. At the end of two days they boarded a train; the Japanese soldier paid for the tickets.

They arrived in Seoul and were put on another train and taken into Inch'on where she was taken to a Japanese military camp. She estimated there were already sixty girls at the camp. The building they were put into had three rooms, each housing twenty girls. Six girls were put into another separate room. She stayed there one night and was examined by a Japanese doctor. The doctor did chest x-rays and four of the six girls were declared to be healthy; two others had consumption and were sent home. After this process a group of twenty girls were put together, and each of them was told that they would have to change their names to a Japanese name. Her Japanese name was Kanani Mosiko. They stayed at this military camp for one week and the only thing that was said to them was that they were all going to Japan. They were given two sets of slacks, two sets of underwear and two t-shirts. They were then put on a ship and sent to Pusan.

From Pusan to Osaka they travelled on a military ship. On arrival at Osaka they were taken to a military camp where she saw forty other girls. She and the other women were put into a plywood building. At this point she again asked Mr. Trae whether she was really going to have a job in a factory. She was told that there were no longer any jobs open in Japan and that they would have to move on to another country. She was then taken by military ship to Saigon with aproximately sixty other women. There she was sent to a large military camp where the women were divided into groups of twenty; at this point all of the women realized that they had been deceived and came to understand what was going to happen to them.

Twently of the women were then sent from the camp in Saigon to Rangoon in Burma. She said that she was told by Mr. Trae that she should put up with the pain of what was going to happen to her for one year and that she should try and endure the mental suffering that she would experience. She was told by Mr. Trae that if she cried and resisted she would be hit and beaten by the Japanese; she therefore decided to resign herself to her fate and consequently was not beaten.

At Rangoon they were placed on a military truck and travelled for about an hour and a half into the mountains, finally arriving at a military base. There they saw a sign indicating the name of the comfort station. The buildings were run down and, from her description, it appears that they were made of plywood. The building had a central corridor with ten rooms on each side and toilets at one end. The rooms were numbered one to twenty and she was put into room number three with her Japanese name hung on the door. Throughout the night many of the girls cried and she could hear them being hit by the Japanese soldiers because of their crying. The next day they were forced to begin "accepting" Japanese soldiers; on that day they were sent as many soldiers as the number on their room. Apparently, the Japanese soldiers went into the comfort house with tickets which they gave to Mr. Trae. Ms. Kim stated that she asked one of the soldiers for a notebook and kept count of the number of soldiers that she was forced to serve in that book. The maximum number that she was forced to accept in one day was twenty. Although many of the girls were bleeding at the end of their first day the Japanese soldiers continued to rape them and the girls were told by a Japanese doctor that they were not bleeding because of what was happening to them but because they were menstruating. Some of the women were given a rest period of three or four days to recover from the pain.

This comfort house was heavily regulated; there were separate hours for the soldiers, petty officers, and officers. Only officers were allowed to stay overnight. The hours for the soldiers were nine to three, for the petty officers three to seven and the officers from nine to the following morning. Because of the time constraints, many of the soldiers would strip before entering into the room. Because of her fear of venereal disease, Ms. Kim collected used condoms left by the soldiers. It appears that in this comfort station the women were able to refuse soldiers who were not using, or were unwilling to use, condoms. However, some of the soldiers when refused would beat her before leaving.

When the Japanese decided to move the military camp because of the intensity of Allied bombing, Mr. Trae told her and a friend of hers which truck to get onto and advised them to be the last to get onto the truck. However, she and her friend decided not to get on the truck and hid in the darkness; a few minutes later Mr. Trae came back and they decided to make their way through the jungle. They found their way into India and spent five months with an Indian family. When they found out that the air raids had stopped they decided to go to Rangoon in order to go home; on their way to Rangoon the other woman in the party drowned.

She said that while she was in Rangoon she was interviewed by some English soldiers. She relayed her story about being a "sex slave." She is not sure that the soldiers actually believed her, as she developed malaria about this time.

Asked to describe the location of the comfort house, vis-a-vis the military camp, Ms. Kim indicated that there was a perimeter fence around the camp and that the comfort house was immediately outside of that perimeter fence. The rooms in the comfort house were approximately five feet by three feet. It was the only building immediately adjacent to the military camp and was the only building that had women in it. The closest village was approximately one hour away.

She headed back to her home village but was unable to locate any of her family. She has lived alone since that time. She operates a small restaurant which she has done for the past thirty-four years.

As with many of the other women, Ms. Kim has lived an isolated life keeping herself secluded from other people in large part because of her sense of shame about what had happened to her. She said that it was a miracle that she had survived as many of the women in the comfort station died because of the conditions there.

C. Democratic People's Republic of Korea

1. Ri Po Pu(28)

Ms. Ri was born on 16 March 1921, by the lunar calendar. She grew up in the sub-county of Anju in South Pyonyang Province. Her father was a servant on land owned by a Kim Yun Si An; in addition to her father's work, her mother did cooking and washing for the family.

When she was eighteen years old a Korean policeman came to her family to say that he was going to establish a bar in Beijing and that she should come with him because she could earn lots of money. The man was known to the family for whom her parents worked. She went with him to Beijing along with four other women. Those women left the train near the border with China. The bar manager ordered her to play music and sing songs whereupon she responded by saying: "You told me that I was coming here to cook." He was quite angry with her and sent her to the kitchen where she washed vegetables. She was there for a total of three days; several times the manager told her to dance in the bar but she continued to refuse.

On the third day another Japanese man came to the bar; the policeman who had taken her from her village told her to follow the man and that, if she did so, she would be freed and allowed to go home. This was not to be the case as this second Japanese man took her to the comfort station. She does not know the exact location of the comfort station, she indicated that she was so frightened that she didn't pay attention to the direction in which they were heading. When they arrived she was sent into a house which was in the style of military barracks. There were several doors; behind the doors were mats. She had been taken to the military camp in a military vehicle.

The room she was given was very narrow; there was only enough space for one person. She was given two blankets and two pillows. On the first night she was not approached by any soldiers. She stated that when the Japanese man came to the bar he was dressed in civilian clothing, but she later saw him dressed in the uniform of a captain. Apparently there were three other girls in the truck with her but they continued to travel with the Japanese soldiers who were also in the truck; she does not know where they went.

The day after her arrival many soldiers began to come to the house and she was ordered by the manager to change into Japanese clothing. At some point the manager, who was a Japanese man, ordered a soldier to hit her; she did not understand why she was being hit. As she did not fully understand Japanese and the soldiers did not speak Korean there was no real communication between them. Apparently she managed to make it through the first day without being raped, but on the following day a number of soldiers again came to her room. She again resisted, then an officer came to her room and told the soldiers not to touch her.

The following day an officer came and forcibly raped her. When she resisted his efforts she was pushed to the floor and raped. He remained in her room throughout the night. She told him that she wanted to go home, but, as he only spoke Japanese and she only spoke Korean, he did not understand what she was saying to him, responding to her with grunts. The day after this ten soldiers came into her room and violated her. She said that by the end of this she was unconscious.

When asked to describe the location of the comfort station she indicated that the station and the soldiers' barracks were about twenty meters apart, but that both were inside the perimeter fence. She believes that the comfort station was an old store house.

At some point during her ordeal, after she lost consciousness, someone threw cold water on her and she awoke to find that there were still a number of Japanese soldiers outside her room. She decided to make an effort at running away thinking that one way or another she was going to die. She left the house through a rear door where a Chinese man was cooking food. She ran out the door and got about one hundred meters before being shot by a Japanese soldier. One bullet went into her knee and the other went into her groin. The interviewer was shown the scars from these injuries.

She was taken back to the comfort station. Despite the fact that she had been wounded she was forced to accept soldiers. She believes that, as she was new to the comfort station, every soldier wanted to go to her room. She was not given any medicines nor was she given a bandage. She indicated that she tore her clothes and used them as a bandage around the wound which apparently swelled quite profusely. Because of the swelling in her groin area it was impossible for the soldiers to have sex with her so she was carried by five soldiers to a lake and was thrown in. However, she did not land in the deep part of the water and was able to crawl four kilometers to a village called Linjo. At the village she encountered an old man who was selling tea. She begged him for food and also asked him to provide her with Chinese trousers and a jacket, which he did. She disguised herself as a Chinese woman. She then crawled to the train station (as her wound had not received any treatment, it was still quite painful and she was unable to walk). At the train station she met a Korean who asked her what had happened to her but she felt unable to tell him and just said that she had fallen down. He gave her train fare and asked her to carry a parcel with her to Korea. However, because of her wound she was unable to board a train and stayed in the town for about a month. Eventually her would healed and she was able to walk with two sticks. She arrived in Chongjin the following summer while the Japanese were still occupying Korea. They were defeated four months after her arrival.

She felt unable to tell anyone of her experiences as she thought that what had happened to her would disgrace her in the eyes of her fellow citizens. She lived an isolated life devoting herself to her work. However, after watching a television program during which it was stated that the Japanese were unwilling to apologize and had denied military involvement in the running of the comfort stations, she decided to speak out. It was important to her that the younger generation of Koreans learn of this part of their history and about the "crimes" committed by the Japanese. She repeatedly stated that, as a woman, what had happened to her was very disgraceful and emphasized how difficult it was for a Korean woman to speak out. She asserted that she was determined not to die before the government gave an official apology for what had happened. She also stated that she has often been struck with grief by the fact that as a result of what the soldiers had done to her she felt unable to marry and therefore had not been able to have children. She indicated that this was particularly difficult for her in the context of Korean society where it is important to have someone, particularly children, to bury you: "if I die, who will bury me?"


Although nothing can diminish the responsibility of the Japanese for what was done to these women, the Allies' lack of action in bringing to justice those responsible makes one question the views of Allied military officers. Despite extensive documentation about the conditions under which the women were taken from their homelands and mistreated, little was done to assist the women in their recovery or to make clear that such conduct was unacceptable under rules of international law.

As the Allied Forces moved through the Pacific and into Asia, they found Korean women as far afield as Burma, Manchuria, Borneo, Papua New Guinea, the Rykuku Islands, and the Philippines. These women were interrogated, and reports were filed with the Allied Command. One such report, prepared by the United States Office of War Information, Psychological Warfare Team (attached to the US Army Forces, India-Burma Theatre), described the experiences of twenty women in a camp in Burma. It described how Japanese agents, in recruiting women, had arrived in May 1942 and told Korean girls that they were to be enlisted for service in newly conquered Japanese territories in southeast Asia. They were told that they were being enlisted to give "comfort" to the Japanese soldiers, but the nature of what was expected of them was not detailed in any meaningful way. The girls were left with the impression that they would be rolling bandages, visiting wounded and ill soldiers in hospitals, and generally assisting with cooking, cleaning, and other chores around the camps. Money was offered by the recruiters to either the girls or their families. They were promised a new and more prosperous life in Singapore. When the girls enlisted for service they were given an advance of money. The report described the women as being, for the most part, uneducated and naive.

One of the officers who interrogated these women was Won-loy Chan, a combat intelligence officer on the staff of General Joseph W. Stilwell. Chan later wrote that most of the Korean women seemed to be daughters of farmers and peasants, although some came from city slums.(29) (This coincides with the impression gained from the interviews of twenty-eight women from the Korean peninsula by the ICJ mission.) It is clear from his description that he believed most of the women had come to Burma against their will. It was not his impression that they were what the military then referred to as "camp followers." Of the fifty women at the camp, only twenty-one were still there when the Allied troops arrived. It was assumed that many of them died while trying to escape either with the Japanese or after the Japanese had left. (Testimony that Chan took from one brothel manager indicated that some had tried to escape on their own when they realized that Japanese troops were about to flee and that many died either from gunshot wounds from Allied soldiers or through accidents while heading down the Irrawady river or in the jungles of Burma.) There were also reports that Japanese soldiers used the women as human shields while trying to escape from the Allies.

No one has yet explored the motivation of the Allied Forces in not pursuing this issue at the war crimes trials.(30) Some Allied documents categorized the women as "camp followers." It is impossible to understand how the women could have been categorized in this fashion given the knowledge of the Allies.

For the most part, it seems Allied interviews were conducted in order to gain intelligence information; little thought was given to the possibility of bringing this particular atrocity to the attention of the world. Only the Dutch included the use of women in Japanese military brothels in the war crimes trials. Two such trials occurred in what was then called Batavia, now the island of Java. However, both trials concerned the treatment of European women. Nothing was done to bring to light the horrors inflicted on Indonesian women.(31)

One suspects that prevailing attitudes toward women governed the decision-making process. In most of the countries making up the Allied forces, rape convictions were difficult to secure; women were often blamed for having brought it upon themselves. It is possible that some officers believed it would be better not to pursue these crimes because of the great shame it could bring upon the women. Certainly there were overtones of this attitude in Australian military documents.

However, what occurred was the forced silencing of these women which led to years of emotional and psychological suffering. Their pain could not be voiced, unlike that of the civilian and military prisoners of war. Although no outward recognition was given to their suffering, people knew that something had happened. Rumors abounded which meant that some women were treated harshly by their own societies.

In this author's view, colonialism and racism played a part in the Allies' lack of action. The decision to prosecute the Axis powers was taken by the Allies in their guise as the "United Nations" (those states that had united against the Axis Powers). These countries decided what would and would not be a war crime, gathered the evidence for the prosecution, and determined who would be prosecuted.(32) They also made the decision to prosecute Japan only for those acts that affected their own nationals. This excluded any crime committed against the Korean people as they had been subject to Japanese colonial domination.

The emphasis on nationals also meant that little attention would be given to the local population of those areas still subject to the colonial domination of the Allies, such as Malaysia and Indonesia. They only major exception to this was acts directed against Filipinos. Acts against the Philippines were treated as acts against the United States.

Because of the their failure to address the crimes perpetrated by the Japanese against women in the Asia/Pacific region, the Allies should accept some responsibility for reparation. In saying this I am not attempting to equate their responsibility with that of the Japanese. Nothing can lessen the legal and moral responsibility Japan has to the comfort women.


Women have not only begun to identify their harms but have also begun to identify new ways in which harms can be rectified.(33) One aspect of the existing tort system which has come under fire from feminists is the reliance on monetary damages to compensate victims. Some feminist scholars have argued that more should be done to personalize the redress offered to victims, in part so that those committing the harm can understand what they have done to the victims. To some extent the Public Hearing held in Tokyo in December 1992 undertook this function. However, the Public Hearing and the many efforts to educate the Japanese public and to sensitize them to the pain suffered by the women have been undertaken by individuals or groups outside the Japanese government. The sole exception is the final report issued by the government.

On several occasions the government has extended its sincere apologies to the women of the Korean peninsula and the Philippines through official channels. However, it has not sought personal interviews with the women in their home countries for the purpose of offering an apology.(34) I believe it should do so.(35)

Before going further, I should state that I am not in favor of attempting to bring any form of criminal prosecution against responsible members of the military or the civilian government who may still be alive. Recent trials in Australia, Israel, Canada, and the United States demonstrate the difficulty of proving a case after the lapse of so many years. It is also an incredibly expensive exercise, and I believe that the money would be better spent on individual compensation or group programs such as the establishment of health clinics. (This is a personal view and should in no way be attributed to the other member of the ICJ mission, Snehal Paranjape, or the ICJ itself.) Also, unfortunately, I have not had an opportunity to present this view to the women or the organizations working with them.

Japan must do more than it has done to make full restitution to the women. Although the government has now admitted the involvement of its military authorities in requesting, establishing, and managing the comfort stations, as well as the physical movement of the women, it has not as yet enacted any measures of compensation.(35) This is not a situation of which Japan can be proud.

When defending its position on the compensation issue, Japan has relied upon the existence of various treaties between itself and the Allied Powers and between itself and the governments of the Republic of Korea and the Republic of the Philippines. The author does not accept that those treaties were in any way intended to cover the issues raised by the mass enslavement of women.(36) Furthermore, the issue of Japan making further restitution was explicitly left open by the Treaty of San Francisco. More importantly, however, Japan has chosen to make a distinction between the legal and the moral: it admits moral culpability but denies legal responsibility. It would seem that, having admitted to a moral wrong, Japan would feel compelled to make some form of restituion for that moral wrong. There is nothing precluding Japan from setting aside any legal defenses it may have and moving forward of its own volition.

Given Japan's desire to obtain a permanent seat on the Security Council, it would set a precedent in international relations if Japan were to take a moral lead in this area. Other countries such as Germany, the United States, and Canada have on some occasions accepted their responsiblity to redress past wrongs. Japan could demonstrate its commitment to the ideals of the Charter of the United Nations by attempting to make restitution. This would send a clear signal to those who continue to perpetrate atrocities that world opinion will demand that they account for their deeds.

The Japanese government, in an interview with the ICJ mission, stated that it would consider possible steps to convey its feelings of compassion. The government representatives refused to elaborate on what might be done. Japan's expression of remorse is hard to accept when it has done so little to compensate for what it has referred to as the "immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds"(37) the women suffered. I am not unmindful of the difficulties presented by the potential number of women who may seek compensation and the possibility of the relatives of those who have already died making claims. But these are not insuperable difficulties. The handling of mass tort litigation in several industrialized countries offers ample precedent for procedures which could be established to handle the factual verification of claims. Lawsuits arising in lndia for violation of human rights also offer examples for the investigation and verification of claims.(38)

It is the personal view of this author that the Parliament of Japan should enact legislation awarding compensation to the women. The lawsuits which have been commenced in Japan may take years to complete,(39) especially as the government has chosen to defend them vigorously. Legislation could overcome any procedural or other hurdles to the women's claims. It would give due recognition to those who have so courageously spoken out before the passage of time ensures their death prior to any resolution.

The government should nominate a sum to be paid to each of the women who have come forward thus far and those who may come forward in the future. Given the passage of time and the enormous emotional strain of coming forward, it is doubtful that the numbers of women seeking compensation would surpass five or six thousand. Thus far fewer than 400 have come forward from the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and the Netherlands. Less has been publicized about investigations underway in Indonesia, but it appears that there may be a significant number of women there who will be able to demonstrate that they were held as comfort women. Although some organizations have suggested the sum of $20,000, I believe that this is too little. It in no way reflects the seriousness of the violations of human rights and does not take into account the continuing nature of the harm the women have suffered. A more realistic sum should be negotiated in conjunction with the organizations established to represent the women, and their lawyers. (It may be appropriate to include Japanese lawyers as well as lawyers from the women's countries of origin.) Efforts should be made to support the women in verbalizing their opinions about this matter.

A legislative framework could be created for the determination of claims: lawyers or others chosen by the Japanese government could travel to each country in which women have come forward to establish in a general way the veracity of their claims. It would be unfortunate if Japan attempted to turn each interview into a small-scale trial; it is not necessary to cross examine each of the women, as one might in a civil lawsuit, in order to verify their stories.

In addition to the payments to the individual women, Japan should consider the creation of health clinics and services for the women. As demonstrated in the ICJ report, most of the women continue to suffer physical effects from their ordeal. In addition, many of them bear psychological scars. They require specialized medical care, and this could more easily be made available through the establishment of specialized centers. Again, negotiations about how this might be done should be carried out with the organizations representing the women and with the participation of the women themselves.

The right of the women to compensation and their need for adequate health care override any concern that Japan might attempt to purchase goodwill. There may be reasons why the Japanese government may choose not to purse these matters on the diplomatic front, but this should not prevent the women from pushing forward their claims. Suggestions from the government that it is time to look to the future and move away from the past are not of assistance to the women. Such statements make it more likely that they will feel isolated and that these crimes will be viewed as something to hide.

Some groups, in their enthusiasm to detail the full extent of the horror, have urged that efforts be made to identify all the women who were put into comfort stations. However, there are issues of privacy involved. Many women have chosen to remain silent. Their reasons for doing so vary, though they appear in many cases to arise out of an unfounded sense of shame (as described most poignantly by the women interviewed during the ICJ mission) and a desire to insure that the lives they have managed to build for themselves are not damaged in any way. Those choices should be respected. To do otherwise is to deny the women autonomy over their lives and would only serve to lower their self esteem, not build it. Similarly, it is not appropriate to identify the families of women who may have perished. Perhaps a more fitting tribute to their suffering would be the establishment of a memorial, something which has been urged by both the Korean Council and the Filipina Task Force. Any such memorial or memorials should be created in consultation with the women.(40)

Finally, it would be appropriate if the countries making up the Allied Forces, in particular the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Netherlands, contributed to the creation of the memorial, as well as to the creation of health clinics. As outlined above, these countries knew of the atrocities perpetrated against the comfort women yet did nothing to prosecute those responsible nor to insure that the world viewed these acts as the heinous crimes that they were. This has contributed to the ongoing suffering of the women. Silence can be a form of aiding and abetting.

It is the responsibility of all of us to ensure that due recognition is given to the nature of these human rights violations committed against women and to begin to take steps to prevent their continuation.

(2.)No definitive figures exist as to the number of women taken. Researchers in the Republic of Korea have suggested that the number is at least 200,000. The report, issued by the government, does not state a figure, urging that more research be done in this area. George Hicks, an independent journalist who has spent eighteen months researching the issues believes the number to be about 135,000. George Hicks, The Comfort Women: Sex Slaves of the Imperial Japanese Army (draft, in personal possession of the author). Won-Loy Chan, an Allied officer who interrogated some comfort women at the end of the war, wrote that no one knew exactly how many women had been taken by the Japanese, but that some estimates range as high as 200,000. It appears that he believed that was the number taken from the Korean peninsula, which suggests that far more might have been taken overall. CHAN, WON-LOY, BURMA--THE UNTOLD STORY.

(3.)Most often the term "comfort women" has been used, as this is the English translation of the Japanese terminology. The two organizations that were interviewed by the mission preferred the term "military sexual slavery" as they believed this more accurately conveyed the situation of the women.

(4.)I have chosen the word "harm" intentionally. See Adrian Howe, The Problem of Privatised Injuries: Feminist Strategies for Litigation in AT THE BOUNDARIES OF LAW (Fineman & Thomadsen eds., 1991), for a discussion of how the definition of harm can exclude the experiences of women.

(5.)By the close of the war the Allied Forces were aware of the existence of the comfort stations. British miliary documents include interviews of Korean women taken to Burma by the Japanese miliary. Despite their knowledge of the methods by which the women were taken--by force and deceit--the miliary officers still referred to the women as "camp followers." The Allied intelligence services described the comfort stations in other documents compiled to detail "amenities in the Japanese armed services." See Inter-ministerial Working Group on the Comfort Women Issue, Republic of Korea, Military Comfort Women under Japanese Colonial Rule, Interim Report (Seoul, July 1992) [hereinafter Inter-ministerial Working Group].

(6.)Much of the material in this section is taken from the preliminary report of the mission. See Ustinia Dolgopol & Snehal Paranjape, Comfort Women: The Unfinished Ordeal (International Commission of Jurists, Geneva, 1993) [hereinafter Preliminary Report]. The final report canvasses some of the same factural materials but gives greater detail on the comfort stations; it also includes new chapters. Ustinia Dolgopol & Snehal Paranjape, Comfort Women: The Unfinished Ordeal (International Commission of Jurists, Geneva, 1994) (draft, in personal possession of the author) [hereinafter Final ICJ Report].


(8.)Inter-ministerial Working Group, supra note 5.

(9.)LEE, supra note 7, at 7--13.

(10.)Id. at 13--20. See also Memorandum in Support of Complaint against the Government of Japan for Damages Subcommittee by the Victims of the Asian-Pacific Theatre of World War II, submitted on 6 Dec. 1991 (Park, Chio-Bong and Thirty-four Others v. The Government of Japan) (English translation in possession of the author) [hereinafter Memorandum of Complaint!.

(11.)LEE, supra note 7, at 13--20. It has been suggested that one of the causes of the decline in Japanese rice imports from Korea during this period of time was the movement of Korean labor from agriculture to industry in order to supply Japanese military needs in China. See ALAN S. MILWARD, WAR, ECONOMY AND SOCIETY 1939--1945 (1977).

(12.)LEE, supra note 7, at 15--16.

(13.)Id. at 13--20.

(14.)Id.; see also Memorandum of Complaint, supra note 10.

(15.)20 R. J. PRITCHARD & S. M. ZAIDE, THE TOKYO WAR CRIMES TRIAL 49, 592 (1981).

(16.)Id. at 49, 693--94.

(17.)It appears that "comfort stations" may have existed prior to this, but on a less extensive scale and without such direct involvement from the military. A statement issued by the Japanese government on 4 Aug. 1993 refers to the existence of a comfort station in Shanghai during 1932 and states "it is assumed that comfort stations were in existence since around that time to the end of World War II."

(18.)Final ICJ Report, supra note 6, at 27.

(19.)There is no doubt that there were Chinese women in some of the comfort stations. A report prepared by the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers included translations of regulations issued for the south China area. The report included a chart which enumerated the rates for different nationalities; the chart referred to Japanese, Korean, and Chinese women. Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, "Amenities in the Japanese Armed Forces," (Nov. 15, 1945). See also Final ICJ Report, supra note 6, at 29--37, for greater detail on these regulations.

(20.)See Final ICJ Report, supra note 6, at 29--37 (referring to separate regulations issued by the various branches of the Japanese military).


(22.)In Korea as in Japan at this time poor families sometimes sold their children to pay off debts or to obtain immediate cash for housing or food. Usually there was an agreement concerning the number of years a child would have to stay with the person paying for them. Although girl children were sexually abused, it cannot be said that when families sold a child they were aware that they would be used as mistresses or put into houses of prostitution. Sometimes girls were put to work as maids or nannies and were not sexually abused. The witness' testimony relating to his purchases of the girls cannot be assumed to mean that all of the families were aware of what would happen to their children.

(23.)Final ICJ Report, supra note 6, at 28.

(24.)George Hicks has surmised that at least 58,000 women should still be alive. Hicks, supra note 2, at 3.

(25.)Those interested can obtain a copy of the text of her interview with the ICJ mission from the ICJ, Geneva, Switzerland, or can write to the Filipina Task Force for Women Drafted into Military Sexual Slavery by Japan and ask for written materials produced by that organization.

(26.)Preliminary Report, supra note 6, at 23--26.

(27.)Id. at 43--47.

(28.)Id. at 64--67.

(29.)CHAN, supra note 2.

(30.)Yuki Tanaka suggests that the Allies did not pursue this matter because their soldiers also raped women. See Yuki Tanaka, "Rape and War: The Japanese Experience." However, the Tokyo War Crimes Judgment is replete with references to single instances of rapes. It is the particular situation of the comfort women which is not addressed.

(31.)See Report of a Study of Dutch Government Documents on the Forced Prostitution of Dutch Women, 24 Jan. 1994 (unofficial translation in the possession of the author).


(33.)See Lesley Bender, Changing Values in Tort Law 25 TULSA L. J. 759 (1990); A Lawyer's Primer on Feminist Theory and Tort, 38 J. LEGAL EDUC. 3 (1988).

(34.)In comparison, the government did interview women for the purpose of finalizing its report.

(35.)Statement by the Delegation of Japan to the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, Aug. 1993 referring to the Japanese government report "Facts on the Issue of Wartime 'Comfort Women.'" (Statement in the personal possession of the author) [hereinafter Statement!.

(36.)See Final ICJ Report, supra note 6 (exploring the legal arguments in connection with this position).

(37.)Statement, supra note 35, at 4.

(38.)See Uprenda Baxi, Social Action Litigation in the Indian Supreme Court, 29 INT'L COMM'N JURISTS REV. 37 (1982) for a description of some of the Indian cases.

(39.)The lawyers who met with the ICJ mission indicated it could take up to eight or nine years before all avenues of appeal were exhausted.

(40.)I do not agree with those who argue that some form of compensation should be paid to the countries from which the women came. I am sympathetic to the arguments raised by some Korean scholars that the taking of so many thousands of women could be viewed as a form of genocide. But it is also the notion of patriotism and the state which, based as it is on male notions of power and hierarchy, led to the commission of such horrendous violations of the human rights of women. This is an opportunity to give recognition to women, and it should not be lost. In saying this I am not ignoring the differences in the individual's relation to her community that exist in countries such as Korea and the Philippines, but the community and its values must sometimes give recognition to a portion of its members and allow the community's values to be shaped by their experiences. It can not be forgotten that many of these women were isolated by their communities and were not given the opportunity to remain full members of the community.
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Title Annotation:Japanese treatment of comfort women
Author:Dolgopol, Ustinia
Publication:Human Rights Quarterly
Date:Feb 1, 1995
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