In the week following its surrender, and before occupation forces arrived, the Japanese government had discussed ways of dealing with the anticipated problem of sexual violence by occupation forces. On August 21, Prime Minister Prince Higashikuni Naruhiko called a special meeting of several of his ministers. The subject of discussion was the various demands put forward by the Allied forces regarding the actual procedures for ending the war. The details of these demands were brought back by Lieutenant-General Kawanabe Torashirō, an envoy extraordinary, who had just returned to Tokyo that morning from a meeting with the military commanders of the Allied forces in Manila in the Philippines. 1
At this cabinet meeting, Prince Konoe Fumimaro, then Deputy Prime Minister, who had served as Prime Minister three times during the Asia-Pacific War, expressed grave concern about the possibility of “mass rape” of Japanese women by Allied troops. He suggested setting up a comfort women system to protect Japanese women and girls. The suggestion seemed to come out of his anxiety over the possibility of “mass rape” such as that committed by Japanese troops against civilians in occupied territories during the war. 2 It was during Konoe's first term as Prime Minister that Japanese troops committed mass rape in Nanjing city - the so-called “Rape of Nanjing.”
Lieutenant-General Kawanabe by contrast praised the strict morals of the Allied forces. He told the cabinet members that the Allies probably would not accept a scheme of military-controlled prostitution, even if offered by the Japanese. 3 However, after a long discussion, Konoe's proposal was endorsed by the attending cabinet members. In fact, the government had already taken the first step towards establishing such a system four days earlier - the day that Prince Higashikuni formed the new government. This comfort women scheme was probably initiated by Konoe, together with Prime Minister Higashikuni and the Minister of Home Affairs, Yamazaki Iwao, without consulting other cabinet members, as it was regarded an urgent matter.
On August 18, the Police and Security Department of the Ministry of Home Affairs telegraphed the following instructions to the governors and police chiefs of all prefectures: