Japan's Comfort Women (and US Comfort Women)

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Liang Jieming
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Japan's Comfort Women (and US Comfort Women)

Post by Liang Jieming » 05 Jun 2006 07:55

I never realised the disgusting depth of forced prostitution employed by the Japanese (a conservative estimate putting the number of men a comfort woman serviced in a single day ranging from 10 men on a normal day to 40 men on pre- and post-battle days) in their conquered territories where women were practically used merely as a means of keeping troops VD-free and happy,

Extract from "Japan's Comfort Women - Sexual slavery and prostitution during World War II and the US Occupation" by Yuri Tanaka, page 31

The comfort women were treated as "military supplies", but relevant documents were either hidden or destroyed at the end of the war. It is impossible to know, therefore, how many women were exploited. The best estimates range from 80,000 to 100,000. According to the Japanese military plan devised in July 1941, 20,000 comfort women were required for every 800,000 Japanese soldiers, or one woman for every 40 soldiers. There were 3.5 million Japanese soldiers send to China and Southeast Asia during the war, and therefore, by this calculation, and estimated 90,000 women were mobilized. Of these women, 80 percent are believed to have been Koreans, but many also came from Taiwan, China, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia."

...or the hypocrasy of the Allied high command in their differential levels of prosecution and/or treatment applied to western and asian comfort women.

Extract from "Japan's Comfort Women - Sexual slavery and prostitution during World War II and the US Occupation" by Yuri Tanaka, page 87

"Why was awareness of the comfort women issue as a serious war crime clearly lacking in the minds of the leaders of the Allied forces? One reason probably lies in the fact that the majority of the women victims of this enforced military prostitution were Asians and were therefore neither white women nor civilians of the Allied nations. As we have seen in the previous chapter, the Dutch forces, who prosecuted Japanese officers for the crime of forcing Dutch girls and women into prostituion, did not even bother to investigate most cases in which Indonesian women were victimized. Some historians have pointed to the "absence of Asia" in the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal. Probably the comfort women issue was also ignored for the same reason. It took almost half a century for the enslavement of the comfort women to be considered one of the most serious and unprecedented war crimes in history.

Another reason can be sought in soldiers' common perception of women (ie. their sexual ideas), which we find more or less universally in military ideology, regardless of it nationality. A common refrain is the idea that women are morally obliged to offer amenities to soldiers who are fighting at the risk of their lives, to defend their people and the nation. This kind of androcentric ideology has been, and still is, deeply rooted in most military forces and the societies that support them. For this reason, military men are generally quite insensitive toward the services rendered by women. American soldiers and officers during World War II were undoubtedly tainted with these attitudes, and this was probably one of the major factors that hindered them from correctly understanding the comfort women issue."

Shocking too is the amount of rape by US troops during and after the battle for Okinawa and by the Allied occupation troops after the Japanese surrender and the subsequent "comfort" stations provided for the occupation troops by the Japanese government in the attempt to reduce wanton rape of civilians.

Relating to GI misbehaviour in the first year of Occupation 1945-1946;

There are a number of similar testimonies of women employed by the occupation forces. In fact, according to some Japanese men who worked as interpreters for the occupation troops at various camps, lists of names of officers and junior officers were put up on the wall in the officers' club and in their canteen. Next to each officer's name appeared lip marks signifying how many Japanese women that officer had "conquered".

At Camp Sendai, there were two different kinds of lists. One was similar to the above mentioned officers' lists with "MV" (abbrevation of Military Victory) marks instead of lip marks. The other was a series of pictures of all the female Japanese workers. These pictures were pinned on the wall and above some of the picture a cross was marked to identify that that woman had lost her virginity. According to Itsushima Tsutomu, one of the former interpreters at this camp, of the 200 photos only about ten photos did not have cross marks; they were all newly employed women. These lists were organized by a group called "Charming Members to Musumesan." This group consisted of about 500 officers, including all the junior officers at the camp. They completed with each other over how many women they had "conquered". GIs called this competition "hunting for moose," punning on the similarity of "musumesan" ("young women" in Japanese) and "moose". Holding parties was only one of their various strategies to create opportunities for them to rape Japanese female workers. According to another former interpreter, he often heard GIs discussing how to take the "virginity" of newly employed women. Indeed, some GIs proudly gave him detailed accounts of the rapes they had committed."

A reported statement by a (unmentioned) high-ranking officer of the 11th Airborne Division of the US 8th Army to a Japanese policeman shortly after his arrival in Atsugi. The US officer said;

"It is expected that women in our home country would blame us, if we asked you to set up pleasure facilities. Therefore we cannot request you to do so... However, if you do not provide us with such facilities voluntarily, many troubles tend to occur. As far as these kinds of facilities are concerned, our MP is prepared to co-operate with you if necessary. I presume that the occupation of Japan by our troops will be about three yeat at maximum if no trouble occurs, but if there are many troubles, I am afraid that it might be 10 to 15 years."

American GIs called these Japanese women "yellow stool", and the attitude of US medical officers of the PHW section charge with VD inspections viewed the women they processed as "defective sexual commodities."

The Japanese Tokushu Ian Shisetsu Kyokai (the Special Comfort Facilities Association), renamed the Recration and Amusement Association (RAA) put ads into the local papers to in a call for national service, to recruit young women for the new comfort stations for American troops in an effort to reduce the incidences of rape.

Yomiuri Hochi & Mainichi Shimbun - September 3 & 5

"Urgent Notice
Special female workers wanted
Free meals & accomodation, high salary, advance payment also available
Travel expenses paid for applicants from countryside
Tokyo, Kyobashi, Ginza 7-1
The Special Comfort Facilities Association
Phone: Ginze 919-2282"

Recruitment poster in front of the RAA Ginza office;

"Announcement to New Japanese Women! We require the utmost co0opoeration of new Japanese women who participate in a great project to comfort the occupation forces, which is part of the national emergency establishment of the post war management. Female workers, between 18-25 years old, are wanted. Accomodation, clothes and meals, all free."

The chief of Yokosuka Police, Yamamoto Yoshiji when given the nationwide call to setup brothels and recruit comfort women for US troops is quoted to have said;

"... contribute to building peace in Japan by softening the American soldiers' wild feeling."

Many Chinese and Korean women were tricked with promises of factory work and advance payments to parents to leave their homes only to find themselves thousands of miles away in Burma or Borneo or Saipan, locked into a room with lines of Japanese soldiers waiting to enter one at a time.

The Americans apparently weren't any better. Troops in Japan went on a raping spree, usually scouting houses in the day time on the pretext of inspections but in actuality to identify houses where young women lived, and returning in the night to rape. Japanese policemen were powerless to act against US occupation troops. Out of frustration, the government decided to build comfort stations and the Japanese police were tasked to setup and run such stations. Some took it beyond reason and resorted to colluding with the Yazuka to provide women for the troops to safeguard the rest. Unfortunately two incidents stand out where unscrupulous individuals collected teenage female students from domitories and factories on the premise of doing some specified duty for the peace effort only to find themselves locked in within US army barracks with soldiers. :x

4th April 1946 Nakamura Hospital in Omori district. At 11:30 at night, three military trucks stopped in front of the hospital throwing their headlights upon the hospital building. Then, at the signal of a whistle, about 50 US soldiers dashed out of the trucks and invaded the hospital from various directions, breaking windows and doors. They raped all 17 nurses on night duty, about 20 nursing assistants, and more than 40 female patients, including a woman who had just delivered a baby. A two-day-old baby was thrown out of the mother's bed onto the floor and killed. There were some male patients in the hospital, but two who tried to protect the women were shot. The soldiers left the hospital after about an hour's sexual orgy.

There were many other reported cases of rape committed by GIs in this and other districts, such as Kamata and Haneda, between April and June that year. In most cases, the perpetrators were never identified.

Another large-scale organized raped by US troops on Japanese women happened in Nagoya. At midnight on April 11, one of the blocks in Naka ward of Nagoya city was surrounded by US soldier (said to have been between 30 and 60 in number). They had come in a jeep and a truck. They cut off the telephone lines of the entire block and intruded into a number of houses simultaneously, raping many girls and women between the ages of 10 and 55 years.

Also at this time the number of so-called "special maids," working for officers of the occupation forces greatly increase. By June 1946, more than 19,000 women were working as "special maids" throughout Japan. According to Itsushima Tsutomu, 52% of these women were former employee of the occupation troops, 17% had worked in dance halls, cabarets, nightclubs and the like and the rest, some 31% were women whom the officers had met in town or through organized activities such as in Christian church functions.
Last edited by Liang Jieming on 06 Jun 2006 07:51, edited 1 time in total.

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Tom Houlihan
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Post by Tom Houlihan » 05 Jun 2006 09:30

What are your sources for these raids? Honestly, they seem a little far-fetched. I'm not saying that US Occupation forces were saints, but that type of activity doesn't seem to fit.

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Post by Liang Jieming » 05 Jun 2006 09:39

Tom Houlihan wrote:What are your sources for these raids? Honestly, they seem a little far-fetched. I'm not saying that US Occupation forces were saints, but that type of activity doesn't seem to fit.


The passages come from "Japan's Comfort Women - Sexual slavery and prostitution during World War II and the US Occupation", Yuki Tanaka, Routledge 2002 where he cites the following for information on those two cited rape-raids, Itsushima Tsutomu, ed., op. cit., pp. 53-58 and Itsushima Tsutomu, ed., op. cit., pp. 58-62.

Yuki Tanaka is a Professor at the Hiroshima Peace Institute, Hiroshima City University, Japan.

I don't really know where or what document that he cites is. Let me try and do some cross-referencing.

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Post by Liang Jieming » 05 Jun 2006 10:39

Ok, this is what I've found. Itsushima Tsutomu was a former Japanese-English interpreter for the US Army.

In another incident, from the JNDL Collection, Chian Josei No. 394 (Sept 15, 1945 in "Chian Josei Kempei Shireibu 1945, August-September," Japanese Army and Navy Archives, Reel 229, T1555/f02498-02511

"... on the evening of September 4, three Australian soldiers visited a comfort station at Higashiyama in Kyoto. They were apparently former POWs who had been released from a POW camp somewhere in Japan and were staying at a hotel in Kyoto, waiting to be repatriated. After they were entertained at this station, they insisted on being accompanied by three comfort women to their hotel, where their fellow Australian soldiers were staying. The manager of the station refused the request. However, they forcibly took the women away, shouting at the manager that "Japan lost the war and your police have no power at all!" At the hotel, the women were confined to one room and gang-raped by seven drunken former POWs. In the following morning these women were sent back to the comfort station. The Australian men apparently kept the women's underwear kimonos."

And another from "The GI War against Japan: American Soldiers in Asia and the Pacific during World War II", Peter Schrijvers, New York University Press, 2002.

"... A figure that does not seem unlikely when one realizes that during the first 10 days of the occupation of Japan there were 1,336 reported cases of rape of Japanese women by American soldiers in Kanagawa prefecture alone" (p. 212)."

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Post by Deterance » 05 Jun 2006 16:30

Liang Jieming wrote:4th April 1946 Nakamura Hospital in Omori district. At 11:30 at night, three military trucks stopped in front of the hospital throwing their headlights upon the hospital building. Then, at the signal of a whistle, about 50 US soldiers dashed out of the trucks and invaded the hospital from various directions, breaking windows and doors. They raped all 17 nurses on night duty, about 20 nursing assistants, and more than 40 female patients, including a woman who had just delivered a baby. A two-day-old baby was thrown out of the mother's bed onto the floor and killed. There were some male patients in the hospital, but two who tried to protect the women were shot.


Though I am sure that U.S. occupation troops did rape women in Japan, this story seems far fetched and exaggerated.
During and immediatly after WWII, the United States executed more than 40 American soldiers for various crimes including crimes against civilians (rape was a death penalty offense). Only one U.S. soldier was executed for desertion.

http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?scid=32&did=988

Granted, rapes of European women were viewed more seriously. Even still, General Macarthur specifially emphasized to occupation soldiers that rape was punishable by death and that he would enforce it. The magnitude and organized scale of this alleged attack including murder of patients does not appear credible when contrasted to Macharthur's orders. I also wonder if average U.S. troops would have carried weapons when not performing specific security duties. Post war Japanese resistance was non existant and U.S. Commanders probably feared that weapons carried by U.S. soldiers would be used against other U.S. soldiers in drunken fights etc.

In contrast, the Australian incident seems far more credible. The event occured shortly after the surrender (less occupation authority), was much smaller in scale, and involved former POWS who may have been viewed with sympathy by allied commanders, even when committing crimes, especially against designated comfort women whom they would have viewed as quasi prostitutes.
Last edited by Deterance on 05 Jun 2006 22:08, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Jarkko Hietala » 05 Jun 2006 20:12

Truth is that Japanese comfort woman doctrine worked pretty well to increse moral of Imperial Japanese troops it produced Kamikaze warriors and troops that did not (mostly) surrender in battle not even when fighting against enemy that has superior firepower in Battles where Japanese chances to survive was close to zero like in Iwo Jima where virtually all 22 000 Japanese troops died.

Same could not be said about many western armies where some countries armies surrendered after a week or two fighting or even at days when they had chance to still keep up resistance. Without nuclear weapons Japan might not have ever conquered or beaten. IMHO.

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Post by Liang Jieming » 06 Jun 2006 07:55

4th April 1946 Nakamura Hospital in Omori district...


Apparently, according to the author, this was the most famous incident of rape by US occupation troops.

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Post by Peter H » 06 Jun 2006 09:20

A previous discussion on rapes in Japan:

viewtopic.php?t=88648

Re rapes--I think one should distinguish the difference between a state endorsed policy and the actions of servicemen acting outside the law.Thats why armies have MPs.

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Post by Liang Jieming » 06 Jun 2006 09:25

Extract from "Japan's Comfort Women - Sexual slavery and prostitution during World War II and the US Occupation" by Yuri Tanaka, page 175

"The more dangerous a battle, the more intense a soldier's sexual desire may become. The following account by an American Vietnam War veteran vividly illustrates the psychological state that many soldiers confront:

'A man and a woman holding each other tight for one moment, finding in sex some escape from the terrible reality of war. The intensity that war brings to sex, the "let us love now becasue there may be no tomorrow" is based on death. No matter what our weapons on the battlefield, love is finally our only weapon against death. Sex is the weapon of life, the shooting sperm sent like an army of guerillas to penetrate the egg's defenses - the only victory that really matter. War thrusts you into the well of loneliness, death breathing in your ear. Sex is a grappling hook that pulls you out, ends your isolation, makes you one with life. again.'

It is therefore a common phenomenon through the history of warfare - not only during World War II - that soldiers desperately seek women. In World War I, British soldiers were given bromide to curb their sexual urges. Despite this, one brothel in Rouen set up by the British Army was visited by 171,000 men in the first year of the war alone. A startling number of soldiers - more than 400,000 British and 340,000 US - contracted VD during the war. VD was the cause of hospitalization for over one-quarter of the British army. The medical cost for treating these men must have been astronomical. In the final 11 months of World War II in Europe, one scholar has estimated that the average soldier slept with 25 women, not necesarily all of them professional women. In short, the problem of war is intimately intertwined with the problems of sexuality, and sexuality shaps the conduct of men in war."

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Post by Liang Jieming » 06 Jun 2006 09:26

Extract from "Japan's Comfort Women - Sexual slavery and prostitution during World War II and the US Occupation" by Yuri Tanaka, page 173

"She was simply a "sexual commodity," not an individual with human value and dignity. Military leaders viewed the comfort women as "commodities" supplied by "labor brokers" and managed by brothel keepers to be used as instruments to satisfy the sexual appetites of soldiers and sailrs, while securing them from contracting VD and committing rape. The fact that comfort women in transit were often listed in the inventory as "cargo" clearly demonstrated how the top military officers regarded these women.

From the perspective of the client, these were important continuities between the karayuki-san system and subsequent wartime comfort women system. In the comfort women system, soldiers usually purchased a ticket to receive service from a comfort woman. Entering the woman's room, they personally handed the ticket to her. This action encouraged the belief that their conduct was a ligitimate commercial transaction. Whether or not a woman was properly paid by her "employer" - the brothel keeper - was of no concern to these soldiers, as they had "paid" for the service in any case. Whatever the misery of her existence, they felt entitled to enjoy the service in the exchange for payment. For them, comfort women were not "slaves," but "serving women" who were commercially obliged to "comfort" them. If the service was not to his satisfaction, a serviceman might consider himself cheated and therefore assume the right to coerce the comfort woman to satisfy him - after all, he had "paid"! Such an attitude contributed to the frequent violence by soldier against comfort women. This fraudulent notion of "commercial transaction," which conceals and distorts both the direct role of the military in the system and elements of coercion, slavery, and deception in which many women were kidnapped or deceived and received little or no payment for their services, even now blurs the perception of former Japanese soldiers and some nationalist historians about the ral nature of the comfort women system. The fear of being branded a "prostitute" due to the deceptive nature of this business formatlity was for a long time a major hindrance preventing former comfort women from coming forward and testifying about their ordeals."

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Post by Liang Jieming » 06 Jun 2006 09:32

Peter H wrote:A previous discussion on rapes in Japan:

viewtopic.php?t=88648

Re rapes--I think one should distinguish the difference between a state endorsed policy and the actions of servicemen acting outside the law.Thats why armies have MPs.

Hehe but what's interesting in this book I'm reading is the accounts of MP patrolling the brothel districts near army barracks asking for and getting freebies in return for "protection".

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Post by waldorf » 08 Jun 2006 03:35

Hehe but what's interesting in this book I'm reading is the accounts of MP patrolling the brothel districts near army barracks asking for and getting freebies in return for "protection".


It also should not be surprising that you can have "crooked" law enforcement officers. I still agree with David that this was not a "state endorsed" policy. Also, if I may ask, what is so funny about David's answer?

Regards,

Chris

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Post by Liang Jieming » 08 Jun 2006 05:04

waldorf wrote:
Hehe but what's interesting in this book I'm reading is the accounts of MP patrolling the brothel districts near army barracks asking for and getting freebies in return for "protection".


It also should not be surprising that you can have "crooked" law enforcement officers. I still agree with David that this was not a "state endorsed" policy. Also, if I may ask, what is so funny about David's answer?

Regards,

Chris

Nope of course not. The US didn't have a state-endorsed policy on comfort women, but the Japanese apparently did, both for their own troops as well as for US troops.

What's so funny? Well, the blanket assumption that MPs can't be crooked.

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