Japan's Comfort Women: Sexual Slavery and Prostitution during World War II and the U.S. Occupation

By Yuki Tanaka | Go to book overview

4

Why did the US forces ignore the comfort women issue?

US military indifference towards comfort women

Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945, and the occupation of Japan led by the US forces commenced less than two weeks later. The purpose of the occupation was “democratization” of Japan's entire political, economic, and social system. As one of the important exercises in this process, the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (usually known as the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal) was convened to prosecute Japanese war leaders who had instigated the war against the Allied nations and bore final responsibility for the various war crimes committed by their own forces. The tribunal, which lasted two and a half years, was presented with massive evidence of such war crimes as rape, murder, and ill-treatment committed by the Japanese against Allied soldiers and non-combatants. Yet the issue of comfort women - a crime against humanity on an unprecedented scale - was never dealt with by this trial.

Does this mean that the US authorities were utterly unaware of this crime? On the contrary, well before the end of World War II, the US armed forces became aware of the comfort women system organized by the Japanese Imperial forces.

One piece of evidence is the existence of a report entitled Amenities in the Japanese Armed Forces, prepared in February 1945 by the Allied Translator and Interpreter Service (ATIS), which was revised and expanded for publication in November of the same year. 1 The report explains in detail how Japanese military “brothels” were managed and operated. It details the regulations which covered the “brothels” that were available for Japanese officers and soldiers in various places in Southeast Asia and the Southwest Pacific. The report is based on information obtained from captured materials, with information on “brothels” listed in Section II under the heading of “Amusements.” Other ATIS documents, such as interrogation reports of Japanese POWs, also refer to the fact that Koreans, Chinese and Indonesians were used as comfort women at these military brothels. 2

Only a few interrogation reports on comfort women have so far been found at the US National Archives. One of these is Japanese Prisoner of War Interrogation Report, No. 49 prepared by the Psychological Warfare Team attached to US Army

-84-

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Japan's Comfort Women: Sexual Slavery and Prostitution during World War II and the U.S. Occupation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Figure and Tables xi
  • Plates xii
  • Foreword xv
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • Author's Note xx
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Origins of the Comfort Women System 8
  • 2 - Procurement of Comfort Women and Their Lives as Sexual Slaves 33
  • 3 - Comfort Women in the Dutch East Indies 61
  • 4 - Why Did the Us Forces Ignore the Comfort Women Issue? 84
  • 5 - Sexual Violence Committed by the Allied Occupation Forces Against Japanese Women: 1945-1946 110
  • 6 - Japanese Comfort Women for the Allied Occupation Forces 133
  • Notes 183
  • Index 206
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