This research project started as an extension of my last book, Hidden Horrors: Japanese War Crimes in World War II, in particular Chapter 3, “Rape and War: the Japanese Experience.”
Initially I had no plan to cover the conduct of the Allied forces in relation to the comfort women issue. However, my two research trips to the US altered the original plan. In late 1995 and early 1996 I was asked to conduct research at the US National Archives in Maryland by Mr. Ōmori Junrō, a director of the TV documentary section of NHK ( Japan Broadcasting Commission), for a documentary film project. My assignment was to find documents that would reveal why, at the end of World War II, the US military authorities were not interested in prosecuting the Japanese who had been responsible for the sexual exploitation of vast numbers of so-called “comfort women, ” despite their clear knowledge of this matter. On the first trip to the US in December 1995, I spent long hours at the US National Archives, searching any documents that might give some hint to the answer. I concentrated on the documents prepared during the Battle of Okinawa. As I knew that some of the US troops who landed on the Okinawan islands had come across many Korean comfort women abandoned by the Japanese forces, I hoped to find relevant official reports. The result was miserable. I could not find a single document that referred to comfort women, and I came back to Australia on Christmas Eve without any “Christmas present” for Mr. Ōmori. I was embarrassed to report this totally unsatisfactory result to him in Tokyo.
Therefore I was really surprised when he asked me to go back to the US to try again a few months later. This time I drastically changed my research strategy. I started investigating the US military documents in reference to their own soldiers' sexual conduct during World War II, hoping that I might find some clue using this indirect way of searching. My speculation was right. I was astounded by the amazing content and the large volume of vital documents that I found. I photocopied almost all of these documents and brought them back to Australia. As soon as I returned home, I visited the Australian National Archives and the War Memorial and started uncovering similar documents. The amount and content of relevant Australian documents that I subsequently found was a further surprise to me. Some of the results of these discoveries are included, mainly in