There are some very interesting items of information in the Coomeraswamy Report.
11. The establishment of "comfort stations" providing on-site prostitutes for the Japanese army started as early as 1932, following hostilities between Japan and China in Shanghai. This was nearly a decade before the use of so-called "comfort women" became a widespread and regular phenomenon, as it had undoubtedly become in all parts of Japanese-controlled East Asia by the end of the Second World War. The first military sexual slaves were Koreans from the North Kyushu area of Japan, and were sent, at the request of one of the commanding officers of the army, by the Governor of Nagasaki Prefecture. The rationale behind the establishment of a formal system of comfort stations was that such an institutionalized and, therefore, controlled prostitution service would reduce the number of rape reports in areas where the army was based.
12. When, in 1937, the Japanese Imperial Army captured Nanking, with resulting violence, the Japanese authorities were forced to consider the state of military discipline and morale. The comfort station plan as originally introduced in 1932 was revived. The Shanghai Special Branch used its contacts in the trading community to obtain as many women as possible for military sexual services by the end of 1937.
The above shows that the Japanese Government was concerned for the welfare of the population of the territories occupied by its armed forces, and wished to reduce the cases of rape of local women by Japanese soldiers, and the havoc caused by indiscipline. It wanted to avoid future outrages such as the mass rapes perpetrated at Nanjing.
19. Photographs of the stations, and even of the "comfort women" themselves in various contexts, have been preserved, along with a number of different records of the regulations of comfort stations in different parts of the Japanese Empire. Though little documentation remains that bears witness to the recruitment methods, the actual operation of the system is widely attested in records which survive from the period. The Japanese military meticulously recorded the details of a prostitution system that appeared as to be regarded as merely another amenity. The rules for comfort stations in Shanghai, Okinawa, other parts of Japan and China and the Philippines still survive, detailing, inter alia, rules for hygiene, hours of service, contraception, payment of women and prohibitions of alcohol and weapons.
20. These regulations are some of the most incriminating of the documents to have survived the war. Not only do they reveal beyond doubt the extent to which the Japanese forces took direct responsibility for the comfort stations and were intimately connected with all aspects of their organization, but they also clearly indicate how legitimized and established an institution the stations had become. Much attention seems to have been paid to see that the "comfort women" were treated correctly. The prohibition of alcohol and swords, the regulation of hours of service, reasonable payment and other attempts to impose what would appear to be a sense of decorum or fair treatment are in stark contrast with the brutality and cruelty of the practice.
The above rules demonstrate conclusively that the “ianfu” were not in a situation of slavery, but rather in an employer-employee relationship, receiving wages and regulated working conditions from their employer.
The fact Coomeraswamy has chosen to ignore the documentary evidence in favour of the sensational accounts of a grand total of 16 persons claiming to have been “ianfu” demonstrates her bias, and the low value of her report for historiographical purposes.
Many women speak of never having been allowed to leave the camp. Some were allowed to walk outside at set times each morning; others recall being allowed to make the occasional trip to have their hair cut or even to see a film.
Going to the movies? Hardly the conditions of slavery!
36. Food and clothing were provided by the army, though some former "comfort women" complain of having been kept short of food for long stretches of time. Though in nearly all cases the women were supposed to have been paid for their "services" and collected tickets in lieu of the pay they were due, only very few saw any "earnings" at the end of the war. Thus, even the small consolation of having perhaps saved enough to help themselves or their families after the war was rendered meaningless after the retreat of the Japanese army.
The fact that the sex-workers were unable to redeem their tickets for cash was due to the Japanese defeat, which rendered all promissory notes issued by the Japanese Government worthless. A bit like being paid in Confederate money.
If Japan had not been defeated, no doubt the “ianfu” would have returned to their native villages with a tidy nest-egg sufficient to elevate themselves and their families out of their rural poverty.
40. The Special Rapporteur noted that historian Dr. Ikuhiko Hata of Chiba University, Tokyo, refuted certain historical studies made on the issue of "comfort women", in particular Yoshida Seiji's book, which describes the plight of "comfort women" on Cheju-do island. Dr. Hata explained that he had visited Cheju-do, Republic of Korea, in 1991/92 seeking evidence and had come to the conclusion that the major perpetrators of the "comfort women crime" were in fact Korean district chiefs, brothel owners and even parents of the girls themselves who, he alleged, were aware of the purpose of the recruitment of their daughters. To substantiate his arguments, Dr. Hata presented the Special Rapporteur with two prototype systems of recruitment of Korean women for comfort houses in the years 1937 to 1945. Both models provide that Korean parents, Korean village chiefs and Korean brokers, that is to say private individuals, were knowing collaborators and instrumental in the recruitment of women to serve as sex slaves for the Japanese military. Dr. Hata also believed that most "comfort women" were under contract with the Japanese army and received up to 110 times more income per month (1,000-2,000 yen) than the average soldier (15-20 yen).
Despite Coomeraswamy’s tendentious use of the formulation “sex slaves”, the documented evidence of Dr Hata indicates that the “ianfu” were not slaves but paid contractors. The relatively high incomes earned by the “ianfu” suggests that there would have been no need to force women into this line of work. It sure beats slaving in the rice paddies!
The Special Rapporteur would like to refer, as an example, to the Ten Day Report of the 21st Army Unit of the Japanese Army stationed at Kwandong, China, from 11 to 21 April 1939, which states that military brothels were operated for officers and soldiers under the control of the military and that approximately 1,000 "comfort women" served 100,000 soldiers in that region.
The above figures enable a calculation of the work-load of the “ianfu”.
Assuming each soldier was allowed one visit to a “comfort station” per week, each “ianfu” would have to service 100 clinets per week. Assuming a five-day work week, that would mean 20 clients per day.
While that might seem burdensome, it should be borne in mind that the service provided was not an extended tantric session, but a 10-15 minute “quickie”. Accordingly, the actual wording time would be 20 x 15 minutes = 300 minutes = five hours. Allowing for 15 minutes between clients, that would mean a 10-hour working day, not excessive by the standards of the time.
If the soldiers received one visit every fortnight, the working day of the “ianfu” would be cut to five hours.
If the soldiers received a visit only every four weeks (a more likely proposition, given the reluctance of all armies to grant privileges), the working day would be only two and a half hours long. Plenty of time to see movies, go to the hair-dresser, and generally pity the less fortunate sisters scurrying around trying to scratch a living.
As one contributor to this Forum often comments, every army has its bad apples; what counts is the general policy of the army command. In the case of the “ianfu”, the documentary evidence shows that the intention of the Japanese armed forces was to treat them as paid employees with reasonable working conditions.
No doubt some of the soldiers who made use of the services provided by the “ianfu” abused them contrary to regulations. But they must have been the “bad apples”. The bad experiences of a small number of “ianfu”, even if entirely true, are not necessarily typical of the entire system of controlled military sexual service.