Comfort Women System was obviously Slavary

ASAHI EVENING NEWS, 26 January 1997

Hayashi Hirofumi

This is my criticism to Mr Fujioka Nobukatsu, a demagogic revisionist, who claims 'sex slave issue is a scandal invented to bash Japan'.

Many former Japanese servicemen have described in written reports and in specific detail how women were forced to be comfort women for Japanese soldiers in occupied countries before and during World War 2.

According to a former officer in the Imperial Japanese Army stationed in Singapore, a soldier serving at a brothel tied the hands and legs of a comfort woman to a bed when she refused to have sex with soldiers and thus forced her to submit.

In his memoirs, a former Navy paymaster who was stationed on Indonesias Ambon Is1and attests to witnessing "comfort women hunts" in which women were brought to comfort houses and confined. He says, "Several times at the military club, I heard young Indonesian women screaming in tears and it made me feel terrible every time."

Our research indicates that many local women were turned into comfort women in Japanese occupied countries. Such women probably outnumber the Korean women who met a similar fate.

In July 1941, five months before Japan entered World War 2, a plan to have Indonesian village chiefs recruit women for sexual services on a quota system was already under study at the War Ministry.

In my field survey in Malaysia, senior village officials testified to having recruited women on the orders of the Japanese military.

In China as well as in Southeast Asia, the Japanese forces used their occupation authority to force the recruitment of "comfort women" on local administrators, as attested to by many former officers who were in charge of the task.

Cases of Japanese soldiers resorting to even the abduction of young women for use as sex slaves have been reported from the Philippines, China and elsewhere. More of the wartime realities will come to light in the time ahead.

Further, many women in Japan and in the Japanese colonies-Korea and Taiwan-also were forced into prostitution for the military.

It seems these women were generally recruited by brokers who acted under the supervision and guidance of the military and the police.

According to available data, about half of the women recruited in Korea and Taiwan were minors. Even with their consent, sending minors into prostitution clearly violated the international treaty on trafficking in women?to which Japan was a party.

Many of the adult women were victims of deceit, which was interpreted as coercion and thus was a crime under the international treaty.

Before the illegally recruited women were shipped to China, the police in Korea and Taiwan were required to carry out background checks and issue identification papers to them. The police played along?even though they knew what was going on was illegal.

After the outbreak of hostilities with the Allied powers, "comfort women" came to be shipped not only to China but also to Southeast Asia. Aware of the illegality of the operation, the Foreign Ministry, not happy with the prospect of issuing passports to the women, told the military authorities to issue identification papers to the women instead. The ministry thus denied them passports to avoid involving itself in this dirty business.

As a rule, the women shipped to the occupied territories were raped before being sent into "comfort houses". Once there, they were confined, forced to service soldiers and had no prospect of returning home. For these women, the only escape from hard reality was to save some money in the hope that at some point they would have a future in which to use it?For some, escape was only in a spiritual sense when they indulged in fleeting romance with soldiers they came to love.

Because many of the women put on superficial expressions of cheerfulness, many former servicemen came to think that coercion was not involved with the "comfort service". But many others testify that even seemingly happy women tearfully poured out their hearts to soldiers they came to know well, lamenting their misfortune.

Before World War 2, a number of Japanese women sold themselves into sexual servitude overseas. In Singapore, the destination of the largest number of karayukisan(overseas prostitutes), a Japanese consul called their miserable livestoo wretched to look at" and began efforts to clear away such women from the island.

Starting with the last years of the 19th century, the Foreign Ministry itself endeavored to end Japanese prostitution abroad. Yet despite that campaign, the "comfort women" system was introduced. The ministry's reluctance to issue passports to such women stemmed from this circumstance of history.

The arguments that prostitution was openly practiced in those days and that the Japanese military was not to blame since the "comfort service" was provided by brothel operators are clearly contrary to the facts. Not only that, such arguments ignore the diplomats whose hearts ached at the misfortunes of women recruited for sexual servitude.

The Japanese military's "comfort women" system was a crime committed by the state in violation of international law-a war crime and a sexual crime against women. Japan must acknowledge it and take legal responsibility for the victims. That is what we can and should do to make amends.