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

By Yuki Tanaka | Go to book overview

Introduction

Sex becomes a source of brutality and oppression, instead of one of joy and life, when it is exploited in warfare. A lengthy and comprehensive argument is unnecessary to illuminate this point, which is well illustrated by the following extract from the autobiography of Maria Rosa Henson, a former Filipina comfort woman. The passage depicts clearly how military violence involves atrocious abuse of women's sexuality.

Twelve soldiers raped me in quick succession, after which I was given half an hour rest. Then twelve more soldiers followed. They all lined up outside the room waiting for their turn. I bled so much and was in such pain, I could not even stand up. The next morning, I was too weak to get up…I could not eat. I felt much pain, and my vagina was swollen. I cried and cried, calling my mother. I could not resist the soldiers because they might kill me. So what else could I do? Every day, from two in the afternoon to ten in the evening, the soldiers lined up outside my room and the rooms of the six other women there. I did not even have time to wash after each assault. At the end of the day, I just closed my eyes and cried. My torn dress would be brittle from the crust that had formed from the soldiers' dried semen. I washed myself with hot water and a piece of cloth so I would be clean. I pressed the cloth to my vagina like a compress to relieve that pain and the swelling. 1

Sex is a beautiful and extremely enjoyable human activity when it confirms and reconfirms the intimate relationship with a partner. When out of control, however, sex becomes ugly and monstrously abusive. Unfortunately these are the two diametrically opposing characteristics of sex.

This book is about how sex is used and abused to maintain military organization and discipline; ultimately it is about control. It investigates mass rape under the control of military forces in the years 1931-1945, and the half-century effort to suppress information about the system and its role in sustaining the Japanese military in World War II. It also examines the lives of the women whom the system abused. This study of the Japanese system of military sexual slavery is an attempt to understand the origins, uses, and abuses of the system, and to tell the stories of those who ordered and implemented it, as well as those of the many Asian women victims.

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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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