The Japanese Imperial Army's "Comfort Women": Political Implications and the Gender of Memory

12 July, 2012
Lévy Christine

Introduction: The Contemporary Relevance of an Issue

It is now more than twenty years since the issue of the ‘comfort women’ (inanfu 慰安婦) was made public in Korea and Japan when, in 1991, Kim Hak-sun (1924–1997) broke the wall of silence. She came forward as a former Korean ‘comfort woman’ to bear witness to her story before a packed hall in Tokyo. In December of the same year, she initiated legal action against the Japanese state to obtain an apology and compensation from its representatives.

Who were the ianfu?

In addition to Japanese or Korean women recruited in Japan itself, the majority of them were young girls and women from the Japanese colonies of the time – Korea and Taiwan – driven into war zones by deception or force. Women from territories occupied by the Japanese army were likewise recruited in centres of prostitution, but collective rape was much more frequent in their case. With the extension of the conflict, their number grew and continued to do so until the defeat of Japan. In cases where the army was evacuated, the women were abandoned, but there were also instances where they were murdered in the context of ‘collective suicides’ – gyokusai 玉砕 – at the end of the war, as in Saipan. (In some cases, the Japanese women died with the soldiers and advised the Korean women to surrender – for example, in Lameng [Senda, 1973: 133].)

Here we shall use the term ianfu – a euphemism referring to women forced into ‘sexual service’ in the centres called ‘comfort stations’ (ianjo 慰安所), and directly or indirectly run by the army itself. While the reality approximated to ‘sexual slavery’, it seems to us legitimate to retain the term ianfu for at least two reasons. The first is that it is always used by Japanese, Korean (wianbu), and Chinese or Taiwanese (weianfu) researchers. The second reason, by contrast, is that it has completely disappeared from Japanese educational textbooks following a fierce campaign against recognition of their status as victims since the declaration of the former Justice Minister, Okuno Seisuke, in 1996 (Suzuki, 1997) via the creation in 1996 of the Association for the Creation of New History Textbooks Atarashii rekishi kyôkasho o tsukuru kai 新しい歴史教科書をつくる会, known by the name of Tsukurukai, and whose textbook was approved by the Education Ministry in 2001. The genesis of the term ianfu derives from the euphemization of a reality that the army sought to conceal (Hayakawa, 2005a: 17-28). This tendency is even more stubborn in South Korea in particular, but also in the North, where the single term teishintai 挺身隊 (volunteer corps) was used to refer both to young girls or young women recruited into factories in Japan and those who were forced into sexual service. This euphemization also masks a refusal to consider the more contemporary reality of the wianbu who worked for troops in the US military bases established in South Korea after independence (Soh, 2008: 71), which Soh characterizes as a ‘nationalist euphemism’ (ibid.: 62).

The word ianfu only appears in official Japanese army or administration documents from 1938, while the first occurrence of ianjo (comfort station) dates from 1932 in a navy document which the historian Yoshimi Yoshiaki (1992: 90-92; 2000: 43-5) unearthed. According to a number of researchers, the system of sexual slavery is distinguished from forced prostitution by a lack of remuneration and violence (Kim Puja, 2011: 106; VAWW-NET Japan, 2000: 284-85). These institutions – the ianjo set up and run by the army (or at its request) – in fact involved diverse living and working conditions, as well as forms of conscription (most often, deception or sale by a relative, in other instances violence). Historians who denounce this system, and compare it with sexual slavery on account of the loss of liberty, maltreatment, working conditions (quasi-systematic imprisonment), lack of remuneration or its fictive character (currency valid solely within the army or unreturned forced savings) that characterized it.

Their number

According to an Army Ministry document dated 3 September 1942, the number of ‘comfort stations’ was estimated at 100 in North China, 140 in Central China, 40 in South China, 100 in Southern Asia, 10 in the South Seas, 10 on the island of Sakhalin – some 400 in total. This figure increased in subsequent years and numerous other centres were established throughout the different regions, for which historians’ estimates vary considerably. In the Appendix we reproduce the table from the digital museum devoted to the issue by the Asian Women’s Fund. The number of ianjo and ianfu is a matter of controversy (see Table 1 in the Appendix). But their existence is not challenged and the crux of the controversy is whether they were coerced and the degree of the army’s involvement in the creation, organization and administration of these centres. At to their number, the range of the estimate has expanded: while some revised their number downwards (Hata between 1993 and 1999), other historians in possession of new data, especially in China, have considerably revised the number of women involved upwards (see, in particular, Su Zhiliang, 1999). Those who minimize their number are generally those who also deny the forced character of their recruitment and refuse to distinguish it from pre-war ordinary or ‘public’ prostitution.

In this article we shall attempt to show how the issue of the Japanese army’s ‘comfort women’ was tackled in the past, and came to occupy a central place in arguments over the subject of Japan’s responsibility in the Sino-Japanese and Asia-Pacific wars, by recalling its current diplomatic and domestic implications.

Diplomatic topicality

At a diplomatic level, the President of the Republic of Korea Lee Myung-bak 李明博, on a visit to Japan on 18 December 2011, stressed to the Japanese Prime Minister, Noda Yoshihiko 野田佳彦, the utmost importance of the issues surrounding the compensation of comfort women.

President Lee declared that the subject would remain problematic ‘forever’ if an immediate solution was not found, emphasizing the urgency of the problem given that the elderly victims risked dying before they received compensation or apologies from Japan. Some comments on the web site of the Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan indicated that with this they felt themselves recognized as citizens for the first time.

The Japanese Prime Minister Noda replied that Japan would display ‘wisdom from a humanitarian perspective’, but that legally the issue had been settled, therewith referring to the treaty signed in 1965 to restore diplomatic links between the two countries, which contains no mention of the issue of comfort women. He furthermore expressed Japan’s indignation at the erection of a ‘peace monument’ representing a young girl dressed in a traditional Korean robe in memory of the former comfort women on the occasion of the thousandth Wednesday demonstration in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul on 14 December 2011. But President Lee rejected the request for the removal of the monument, warning that ‘unless Japan takes honest measures to deal with the issue, there will be a second and then a third monument, with each new death of a former comfort woman’.

This protest, although relayed in the Japanese media, was soon overshadowed by the death of Kim Jong-il, President of North Korea, on 18 December 2011. Nevertheless, the incident that occurred a few days later – the throwing of Molotov cocktails at the walls of the Japanese embassy in Seoul by a Chinese man who claimed to be the grandson of an ianfu – indicates that the memory was now identified as a cause to be defended, even after the death of the last women who were victims of this sexual slavery.

Thus raised at the highest level in South Korea, the issue has been a national cause for two decades, whereas it long remained taboo.

The former comfort women had succeeded in breaking the silence and forcing the Japanese government to admit the facts, just as they secured acknowledgement of the facts from Tokyo’s courts and the Supreme Court through their verdicts (ten judgements between 2003 and 2009) – though without any compensation because of the agreements between the Japanese and Korean states signed in 1965 and the statute of limitations. But from 1994 certain members of the Japanese government declared that the women had voluntarily prostituted themselves. With the return of its most right-wing current to the leadership of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the ‘Kôno declaration’ was criticized for having gone too far. The statements by the Justice Minister Nagano Shigeto in 1994, like those of Mr. Abe in 2007 (see notes 15 and 16), represent a step backwards compared with the Kôno declaration, even if the latter was not officially disavowed. Why did the issue of ‘comfort women’ trigger such a lively reaction, leading to the formation and mobilization of groups of right-wing LDP deputies and historians who were conservative and close to revisionist currents? We shall seek to understand this by recalling the history of the issue and the coming out of the comfort women.

The breaking of a taboo

While the term ianfu was known in Korea after 1945, it remained a taboo subject until 1987. When the Korean historian Yun Jeong-ok 尹貞玉 published her investigation in January 1990 in the paper Hankyoreh (founded in 1987 by journalists who had been subject to repression during the successive military dictatorships issued from the 1961 coup d’état by President Park Chung-hee (1919–1979) and then General Chun Doo-hwan (born in 1931)), it prompted a mobilization of women around the former comfort women. In May 1990, during the Korean President’s visit to Japan, Korean feminist groups published a declaration in which they demanded reparation for the women conscripted into the ‘female volunteer corps’, the teishintai 挺身隊 – a synonym in South and North Korea for ianfu. On 6 June 1990, the reply of a member of the Japanese government to the question posed by the Socialist Senator Motooka Shôji 本岡昭次, denying any direct responsibility on the army’s part, provoked anger in South Korea and elicited lively reactions in Japan. Faced with the Japanese government, which asserted that the women had simply been recruited by private businessmen, and that it would be impossible for the government to take responsibility for an inquiry into the subject, 37 feminist groups protested and formed the Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan (subsequently named the Committee for Former Comfort Women). In response to these demands, Japanese lawyers (Takagi Kenichi, Fukushima Mizuho, and others) also mobilized to demand the creation of government commissions of inquiry.

The visit to South Korea by Prime Minister Miyazawa in 1992 took place in this tense atmosphere of revelations by former ianfu and the publication by the historian Yoshimi Yoshiaki of new documents discovered in the library of the Defence Agency (see below). The head of the Japanese government expressed his regrets and promised at the end of the visit to create a commission of inquiry whose conclusions were summarized in the Kôno declaration of 1993 (see Appendix). In 1995, on the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the war, in the framework of a peace and friendship exchange programme, the creation of a private compensation fund, known as the Asian Women’s Fund (Josei no tameno ajia heiwa kokumin kikin,女性のためのアジア平和国民基金), was decided on the initiative of Murayama Tomiichi 村山富市), Socialist Prime Minister in the coalition government in the first brief period of political alternation since 1948.

The issue of ‘comfort women’ abruptly took centre-stage, revealing what had hitherto remained buried, forgotten or hidden, and which only filtered out in very subterranean fashion through rare literary or documentary works. Memories that differed from official histories, Korean and Japanese alike, expressed themselves. The feminist movement in Korea, derived, among other things, from the Korean student movement of the 1980s, was going to put its critical and organizational capacities to the test.

Faced with this mobilization, negationists in Japan refused to give any credit to the testimony of the former ianfu, stating that no official document proved the existence of the deportation of Koreans (kyôseirenkô 強制連行). The issue of the ianfu was attached to historical acknowledgement of the wartime deportation of more than a million Koreans to Japan to labour. This issue explains the support feminism attracted in the context of the democratization of South Korea, a process in which the assertion of national identity was accompanied by glorification of the national movement against Japanese colonial domination. Moreover, after 1989, at the end of a decade of a mass movement for democratization against a dictatorial government whose raison d’état was anti-communism, it was time to find new themes to stimulate Korean national sentiment. Conversely, the movement for the rehabilitation of the former ianfu was violently attacked by Japanese nationalism, which, if not nostalgic for the past, was utterly reluctant to condemn it morally and politically. For their part, feminists revisited the role of their elders in wartime Japan and discovered that the bulk of them had supported nationalism and militarism. After the 1980s, and ever more in the 1990s, a break with this past has been the key concern of Japanese feminists. They denounced the active complicity with militarism of some female leaders, such as Ichikawa Fusae (1893–1981), and support for Pan-Asianism at a theoretical level in particular by the pioneer of women’s history, Takamure Itsue 高群逸枝 (1894–1964). At the same time, the methodological encounter between women’s history and oral history (the accounts collected directly from women), still in its infancy at the time, had led feminists to discover the existence of former comfort women, particularly in Okinawa. These were mainly Chinese or Korean women, who, after having been transported from one ‘comfort’ station to the next, had been abandoned on the island. Ômori Noriko 大森典子, a lawyer, began her interviews in 1977 with a former Chinese ianfu, Pae Pong gi 裵奉奇, on the island of Okinawa where the traces of 134 ‘comfort stations’ have been identified to this day (according to the Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace, WAM ). Subsequently, she headed the group of lawyers in the legal actions begun by Chinese women from the province of Shanxi, where she went more than twenty times in the 1990s and 2000s to conduct inquiries into the forms of sexual slavery practiced by the Japanese army in China.

Feminists who criticized Japan’s militarist past also mobilized in the 1970s against the sexual tourism organized by Japanese executives throughout Asia, a movement that led to the creation of the Asian Women’s Association (AWA) in 1977. The feminist journalist Matsui Yayori 松井やより(1934–2002), a central figure in this movement of solidarity with Asian women, also played a key role in the organization of the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery (Tokyo, 8-12 December 2000), proposed by VAWW-NET (Violence Against Women in War Network). The staging of this trial was both the result of the encounter and solidarity between feminists from different Asian countries and Japanese feminists, their participation in the world feminist movement, and the climax of the mobilization of the former ianfu in South Korea.

The labour of memory and the question of educational textbooks

Among the demands presented to the Japanese government in 1992 by the 37 groups representing former Korean ‘comfort women’ was ‘educating future generations, especially through the teaching of history in school, with a view to preventing the repetition of such deeds’. In 1997, all school history textbooks, as well as 19 of the 20 textbooks for secondary school pupils, mentioned the existence of the system in one way or another, even if it was restricted to a brief passage. However, in 1998 the then Education Minister, Machimura Nobutaka 町村信孝, deemed that these passages were ‘tendentious’ and undertook to ask their publishers and authors for corrections. Thanks to the system still in force in Japan, whereby the Education Minister approves school textbooks, he was able to exercise direct pressure on their content.

Today, following the pressure of the extreme right, the mobilization of conservatives and the intervention of successive Education ministers, not a single textbook for schoolchildren mentions the phenomenon. In November 2004, the Education Minister Nakayama Nariaki 中山成彬 publicly celebrated the fact. On 5 March 2007, Abe Shinzô 安倍晋三 declared that there was no forced recruitment strictly speaking – that is, the police did not forcibly enter houses to search out women. However, numerous accounts report the direct violence and coercion used to recruit women as sexual slaves, alongside the deception used towards very young girls (sometimes 13-14 years of age) to despatch them far from home, which can only be regarded as sheer violence. In truth, Abe Shinzô’s statements were not mere tactlessness - far from it – but the public expression of the position of the governing majority at the time.

Today, in 2011, two years after the change of government in 2009 and promises by some MPs to return to the issue, only one textbook (Atarashii shakai ‘Rekishi’, 2011) refers to the presence of women in war zones, but without any explanation of their role. Thus, in the sub-section ‘People’s lives in the colonies and territories at the heart of the war’, while it is indicated that the mobilization of the population for war led to the deportation of Chinese and Koreans to mines and factories in Japan, where working conditions were especially harsh, a single sentence gives it to be understood that women too were drafted: ‘And this kind of mobilization also affected women, who had to work in war zones’ (ibid.: 211). The term ianfu does not figure and still less is there any question of explaining the system of which it formed a part. It therefore falls to the teacher possibly to explain what was involved, if he or she is very committed and militates for this labour of memory. But the numerous pressures and the repression of teachers reluctant to sing the national anthem or stand to salute the Japanese flag, or of those who deal with themes not featuring in the textbooks, make this kind of initiative difficult, especially in the public sector. In response to the protests of certain feminist groups, the Tokyo Shoseki publishing house replied that it had gone as far as possible, given its domination of the educational textbook market. This indicates the pressure exerted so that the subject is no longer tackled in today’s school textbooks. Because mandatory education ends with secondary school, the introduction of the subject into history teaching at this level is regarded as a crucial issue by Korean feminist groups in particular. Thus, one of their main demands was not met during the decade 1997–2007, despite the existence of the Asian Women’s Fund.

For historians like Yoshimi Yoshiaki, as long as knowledge of the modalities of the establishment and management of this system of sexual slavery has not been widely diffused in Japan itself, it will not be possible to speak of reparation or restoration of the dignity of the victims (Yoshimi, 2010). Is not denying the very existence of a system born out of the institutionalization of sexual violence a way of perpetuating it? In Japan, as regards the issue of comfort women, the country has not entered the ‘age of the victim’ to which Henry Rousso refers in connection with the globalization of memory. The resolution adopted by the European Parliament on 13 December 2007 clearly refers to the declarations made in 1993 by the secretary of the Japanese government, Kôno Yohei 河野洋平 (who was president of the LDP at the time) (see Appendix), as well as the resolutions adopted by the Japanese Parliament in 1995 and 2005, which offered apologies to the victims of the war, including the victims of the system of ‘comfort women’. But since then the Japanese government has simply backtracked on the issue, giving in to the tendency to deny certain historical facts that is increasingly virulent in Japan. And the current survivors, who are ever less numerous on account of their great age – 63 in Korea in December 2011, fewer in the Philippines and elsewhere – do not feel that they have really been listened to. It has to be said that there is a double discourse, one intended for the outside world, with reiterated presentations of ‘apologies’, and the other for domestic purposes, which is much more ambiguous. A second look at the history is required in order to understand how the issue has been posed since the end of the war.

I. The Representation of the Comfort Women

I. 1. A long silence?

For 50 years, and even longer in Japan, these women have been condemned to silence in their country of origin and continue to be so today, for example, in Malaya (where only one woman has come forward as a former ianfu). How is it possible that in Japan itself an experienced lived by millions of soldiers was totally forgotten on their return from the front and ignored for so long? Apart from a few literary and cinematic exceptions, the rare published stories by soldiers or officers date from the 1970s or the early 1980s, and evince a confused mixture of feelings of pity, sympathy and contempt for the women, but the voices of the women themselves are absent.

I. 2. Literary and cinematic works

Before 1945

The first literary exception was a novel published in 1938 and written by the first winner of the prestigious Akutagawa literary prize, Ishikawa Taksuzô 石川達三 (1905–1985). Sent to China immediately after the fall of Nanking (13 December 1937) by the monthly Chûô kôron, he investigated the actions of the 33rd regiment of the Japanese army’s 16th division. He described the cruelty of the soldiers who raped and massacred civilians. He also described in his narrative two ianjo established in the city of Nanking. The novel ends with a scene in which a soldier furious at hearing the comments of a geisha on the cowardice involved in killing women shoots her. Ikiteiru heitai 生きている兵隊 (Living Soldiers) was published with a quarter of the text cut (by self-censorship in accordance with pre-war practice). This did not prevent it from being banned on the day of its publication in March 1938. Furthermore, its author was given a four months’ prison sentence, with three years suspended, for defaming the army (the novel was published in full in December 1946). After this episode in 1938, literary representation of the war was even more closely governed by very precise and strict rules, including a ban on referring to women. No work of literature mentioned either the ianfu or the ianjo. Thereafter, in 1938 Kikuchi Kan 菊池寛 (1888–1948), president of the writers’ association (Bungeika kyôkai 文芸家協会), organized with army subsidies a ‘troupe of pens’ (Penbutai ペン部隊), composed of famous writers of the time, which set off for the battlefields with a view to bringing back stories intended to enhance the army’s prestige.

After the defeat

The first work that emerged after the defeat was Shunfuden 春婦伝 (Biography of a Prostitute), written in 1947 by Tamura Taijirô 田村泰次郎 (1911–1983), in which he recounts the life of Korean ianfu. It was brought to the big screen twice. The first version was a film made in 1950 by the Shintôei company (directed by Taniguchi Senkichi

谷口千吉, with Akira Kurosawa as co-writer, under the title Akatsuki no dassô 暁の脱走 -

Dawn Escape). But the heroine, who is a Korean ianfu in the novel, is Japanese in the film, a member of a troupe of artists visiting the battlefields (imondan 慰問団). In 1965, under the same title as the novel, Shunfuden, the film was produced by the Nikkatsu company and directed by Suzuki Seijun 鈴木清順. It involves a story of thwarted love between an ordinary soldier and an ianfu, which a jealous non-commissioned officer seeks to destroy by every possible means. The soldier is accused of treason, the two lovers try to flee, and so on. The film is regarded as a critique of the army and the war, but the representation of the ianfu remains marked by sentimentalism, as in the film by Kobayashi Masaki 小林正樹, The Human Condition (Ningen no jôken 人間の条件, 1959). In contrast to this view, a different image – which still retains its contemporary relevance – was sketched in the 1960s with the production of nine films in a sequence entitled Heitai yakuza 兵隊やくざ (Hoodlum Soldiers), directed by Masumura Yasuzô 増村保造, where the ianfu appear as mercenary, immoral women attracted to the battle field by the prospect of earning money.

II. The Revival in the 1970s: Critiques of the War

The most remarkable work is the essay by Senda Kakô, who was the first to introduce the term jûgun-ianfu 従軍慰安婦 in 1973, with the posterity familiar to us today. His inquiry was a bestseller and remains the book whose content has formed the basis of all the writings published since on the issue, whether in Japanese or English. For this reason we shall dwell on it at some length.

Before it the issue had been revealed to the Japanese public by two novels by a former Japanese comfort woman – the sole Japanese to have come forward as an ianfu to the Asian Women’s Fund – Shirota Suzuko 城田すず子 (1962, 1971).

We might also mention an author who has made a lot of noise on the subject, a former military man, Yoshida Seiji 吉田清治 (1913–?), who in 1977 published a book entitled Korean and Japanese Comfort Women: Notes of a Former Head of Labour Requisitioning in Shimonoseki, in which he accused the Japanese army of having organized the deportation of Korean women to comfort stations for the army (Yoshida, 1977). Yoshida also met with great success in South Korea, where his books were translated and brought to the television screen from the 1980s. In 1982, and then in 1983, he published texts in which he accused himself of having been a war criminal (Yoshida, 1983), of having participated in this organization, and gave lectures in South Korea. Then in 1989, in a dramatic turn of events, he retracted in a local newspaper 済州新聞 (Sapio: 18) of the very island where he said he had committed his infamies in South Korea, and in which he said that he invented them. Subsequently, he was involved in a debate with the historian Hata Ikuhiko in March 1992, who stated that he had found no evidence of the facts recounted by Yoshida, and who had collected statements from people swearing that such deeds were impossible because no one in that island could have let them happen.

For his part, Yoshida justified himself by stating, in an interview given on 29 May 1996 to the journal Shûkan shinchô 週刊新潮, that while he had mixed actual facts and imaginary facts, especially as regards location, he had indeed participated in the rounding up of women.

This episode indicates that from the 1970s the issue aroused particular interest and that it sold books for whatever reason, good or bad. The movement against the Vietnam War in many respects made it possible to revisit the role of the Japanese army during 1931–45 war. A few journalists, motivated by a desire to overcome the antagonism between Koreans and Japanese on the basis of a critique of militarism and colonialism, set off to investigate on the ground after the restoration of diplomatic relations in 1965. Thus, while Yoshida Seiji’s book is no longer regarded as an account of historical value on the subject of the deportation of Koreans, the same is not true of the investigative work carried out by the journalist Senda Kakô 千田夏光 published in 1973, as well as that of Kim Il-men 金一勉 in 1976.

II. 1. Senda Kakô: key revelations

In his book Senda Kakô (1973) estimates that 80-100,000 of the 200,000 women mobilized in the ‘female volunteer corps’ in Korea during the war were sent to ‘comfort stations’, which were country brothels, in particular from 1937 onwards (ibid.: 94, 162). This calculation is based on data that he collected during his investigation in Korea and from various people who served as ‘brokers’. Among the various documents he analyses, we shall cite two reports by military doctors in particular. The first is by Dr. Asô Tetsuo 麻生徹夫, whom he interviewed in person. In a report sent on 26 June 1939, he compared his direct observations with Western sources on the problem of venereal disease in particular. His observations date from the time when he acted as a gynaecological military doctor responsible for examining women in a ‘comfort station’ situated in the north-east of Yangjiazhai 楊家宅 and containing 100 women (80 Koreans and 20 Japanese), directly run by the army, and another station run by private entrepreneurs in Jiãngwãnzhèn 江湾鎭. The second is by a certain Yasumura Kôkyô 安村光享, who also collected testimony from people who had acted as zegen 女衒 (brokers) in China at the time, as well as former comfort women (including a sole Korean, Kakô, 1973: 115). He analysed the process that made the army decide to requisition unmarried young women in the villages – in other words, virgins in the Korean society of the time. For young women not only did the loss of virginity, which was required as a precondition of marriage in a traditional society, mean condemnation to exclusion from society and becoming the prey of brokers for prostitution. In the context of war it also symbolized a national humiliation and shame which Korea still cannot forgive. According to the author, recourse to these young women was advocated by the military as a means of preventing venereal disease. Poverty, in Japan as in Korea, was the decisive factor in pushing families to ‘give up’ their daughters for advance payments and misery was all the more rife in the Korean countryside because a large number of peasants had been expropriated by the system of colonial domination.

Let us note in passing that it was on the basis of a photograph of the comfort station of Yangjiazhai, and of two comfort stations whose names are mentioned by Senda Kakô, that the Chinese historian Su Zhiliang undertook research from 1993 on the city of Shanghai, where he identified the existence of 149 ‘comfort stations’. This historian believes that around 200,000 Chinese women were subjected to forced prostitution in the 1930s and 1940s.

Senda gathered key testimony on the role of the administration in recruiting young girls. It involves an interview with Major Hara Zenshirô 原善四郎 (Senda, 1973: 95-98). The latter, responsible for logistics in the plan for reinforcing military strength on the Russian border in Manchuria (the operation known as Kantokuen 関特演, decided in June 1941), at the time estimated needs in ‘comfort women’ at 20,000, corresponding to a mobilization of 750,000 soldiers. He recounts having been transferred to Korea to engage in the ‘round-up of women’ and explains that he only managed to assemble 10,000. In this narrative Hara explains that he had presented the request to the Governor-General of Korea (Chôsen sôtoku朝鮮総督) (compulsorily a regular general or admiral). The latter issued the order to the prefectures, and it went down the various administrative levels to arrive at village level, a district called men (myeon in Korean) 面 at the time. According to other testimony, they were all locked in the large Chôjiya shop in Seoul’s Myeongdong quarter (the Japanese name of the capital was Keijô at the time, Kyõngsõng in Korean), without the right to receive visits or leave. ‘No one could approach or respond to the hand signals they made to us’, recounts a witness (Senda, 1973: 112-13). In a letter addressed to Senda Kakô, and displayed at the Comfort Women Museum (WAM), Murakimi Sadao 村上貞夫, who was under Hara’s command, estimates the number of women assembled by Hara in the shop at 3,000. The evidence on this episode tallies as regards both site and dates. Replying to Senda Kakô, who asked him how he had arrived at this estimate, he said that he had based himself on the experience of the Sino-Japanese war that had broken out in 1937. This response is corroborated by the documents subsequently assembled by the historian Yoshimi Yoshiaki, which attest to the fact that the initial establishment by the navy and army of ‘comfort stations’ dates from 1932 and 1933 (Yoshimi, 1995: 14-21), but that their proliferation on a large scale began in 1938 (Yoshimi, 1995: 34-5; 2000: 58-9). The archives concerning comfort stations, like so many others, were systematically destroyed at the defeat, and accounts remain scarce. It is only very recently that systematic research undertaken on the manuscripts written by soldiers, and deposited at the library of the Diet, have made it possible to reveal 260 documents containing a description of the comfort stations which soldiers frequented (Sensô sekinin kenkyû, 2009, no. 66). We have already stressed the shame and taboo surrounding this issue in post-war Korean society. When Senda was researching for his book, he found only one article in Seoul’s newspaper, dated 14 August 1969, on the ‘female volunteer corps’. One of the latter, Kan Bun-shului, explained that a Japanese man did rounds of the village offering well-paid work to the girls (Senda, 1973: 101). A Japanese policeman and the village mayor accompanied him. Many girls had already left to work in textile mills or clothing industries in Japan; thus they were deceived. Kan Bun-shu came from Chungcheongbuk-do, a central region of South Korea today (but she kept silent on the name of her native village). According to her statements, up to 1940 deceit was clearly the main way of recruiting women, similar to that employed by procurers in the region of north-east Japan (Tôhoku), except that in Korea they were supported by the Japanese police. Police powers were inordinate at the time and inspired terror. It was therefore not easy to refuse these ‘offers’. Although systematic mobilization and requisition were practiced from 1943 (Yoshimi, 2000: 109), the earlier involvement of the colonial administration is demonstrated by the episode (mentioned above and recounted by Hara Zenshirô) of the 8,000 women (or 3,000 according to Murakami Sadao) assembled in a large shop.

The sources therefore allow us to state that what was involved was a systematic organization backed by state power. The village chiefs could not have been fooled as regards what awaited these girls at the hands of the soldiers. They chose the poorest families to suggest to them that they send their daughters without explicitly stating where they would be sent. But the families no longer had any news and had suspicions about their fate. The majority of them never returned to the village. The families received notice of mobilization three days before their departure. The police knew how many as yet unmarried girls lived in each of the village’s households and it was difficult to evade them. Some families tried to marry their daughters or let them escape. But there was a great shortage of partners, because able-bodied men had already been mobilized either for forced labour or for the army. Flight was punished by fines and parents were beaten to divulge where their daughters were hidden (Senda, 1973: 111). The recruitment of the ‘female volunteer corps’ was thus systematized from 1943, and then generalized under the command of the governor-general Abe Nobuyuki 阿部信行 (1875–1953). Now all single girls and women aged between 12 and 40 were affected. Not all of them were sent to the battlefields to serve as sexual slaves; the criterion seems to have been age, with selection focusing on the youngest of them and probably those deemed to be the prettiest. In Korea confusion occurred between the two categories and, after 1945, those who had been deported to work in factories carefully hid this episode of their life, for in the view of Korean society all these ‘female volunteer corps’ had been recruited to be prostituted (Yamashita, 2008). Work in the arms factories was very hard. It resembled forced labour and the women suffered discrimination and malnutrition. Many received no remuneration, despite the promises, but faced with public opprobrium it was impossible for them to claim any compensation after the war. For their part, the great majority of ianfu were sent either to Manchuria or the South Sea islands.

II. 2. Coercion or intimidation?

Thus, it is difficult follow the historian Hata Ikuhiko 秦郁彦 (leader of the Japanese historians grouped in the Rekishi jujitsu iinkai 歴史事実委員会), the central claim of whose article on ‘comfort women’, published in the Washington Post on 14 June 2007 under the title ‘The Facts’ on the eve of the adoption by the US Congress of resolution (H.Res. 121), is that no coercion (kyôsei 強制) of these women was practiced. He proposed replacing the term ‘coercion’ by ‘intimidation’, this substitution in fact making it possible to shift the main responsibility onto the parents ‘who sold’ their daughters by accepting an advance payment. However, according to testimony collected by Senda in 1973 (from ‘organizers’ as well as victims), not only does violence emerge as a decisive element – those who wanted to extricate themselves could not – but the evidence received and studied from women who came forward from the 1990s (after cross-checking and assessment – Yoshimi, 2000: 99-129) confirms that, in addition to cases of deceit, there were cases of sale by relatives or other intermediaries, but also cases of abduction (ibid.: 107).

In China, according to the testimony of former captains or commanders of the Japanese army, village notables received the order to assemble women, the majority of them very young girls – for example, for the garrisons of Liangshitang or the village of Dongshi in the Hubei (Yoshimi, 2000: 119-121). The ‘requests’ of the Japanese army were in fact ‘orders’, rare written traces of which exist, like the demand presented to the governor of the town of Tientsin on 11 April 1945 to supply twenty ianfu, with precise specifications (WAM, 2008, catalogue 6: 19). We also find, in a report by the Tientsin police, a list of 42 Chinese prostitutes out of the 86 sent to a Japanese army station in the province of Henan who had made their escape. This document makes it possible to confirm that even for professionals the working conditions in these ianjo seemed intolerable and terrifying. It must be noted that in China, alongside ‘comfort stations’, numerous rape centres were created which differed from the ‘comfort stations’ in their modus operandi and, in particular, the absence of any regulation. Furthermore, the soldiers had to pay for the services (Hicks, 1996: 85-7). All these facts of sequestration and abduction were notably acknowledged in the judgements handed down by the Family Court of Tokyo in eight of the ten cases begun since 1991 by former comfort women or their families.

Inquiries conducted in Shanxi in the 1990s and 2000s reveal how numerous the rapes committed in China were. A list of rapes committed in the province of Shandong, with the names of the villages and a description of the facts, established by Kasahara Tokushi and published in the sixth issue of Chûkiren, as well as in numbers 13 and 17 of Sensô sekinin kenkyû (autumn 1997), makes it possible to form an idea of their scale. Kasahara establishes 84 cases of individual or mass rape (20-100 women) in the province of Henan and 123 different sites for the province of Shanxi, including 6,500 for the single prefecture of Jiaocheng Xian between 1937 and 1945 (Kasahara, 1997: 6).

According to Senda, the creation of prostitution stations for army soldiers was motivated in the first instance by an obsessive fear of venereal disease. The hostile reactions from the Chinese population provoked by the rapes are also cited as one of the reasons that led to the systematization of the requisition of women for the ‘sexual service’ of soldiers. Yet these acts of collective rape persisted in China, where many ‘rape centres’ have been counted. The violence escalated as a result of the emergence of a movement of resistance to the Japanese occupation. But there is a premise fundamental to the two main explanations invoked – namely, the idea that ‘sexual service’ was indispensable for maintaining the morale of the troops and was their due. Here the major difference with Western armies consists in the system of prostitution practiced. That is why some historians predominantly focus the debate on the forced or unforced character of the prostitution. Having claimed that it derived from the system of ‘public’ prostitution prevalent at the time – the kôshô – they consequently support the idea that there is no difference from the recourse to prostitution practiced by all the armies of the world, especially the US one, throughout Asia, and more particularly during the Vietnam War. In particular, Hata Ikuhiko relied on all the work undertaken by feminists – without citing them – on the conditions of prostitution in the Japanese colonies in order to ‘banalize’ what occurred during the war years (Hata, 1999).

The care taken by commanders to provide such ‘sexual comfort’ is surprising when one thinks that these same soldiers were condemned to die of hunger on many of the islands they were sent to – for example, on Guadalcanal, where 20,000 soldiers out of 32,000 perished from starvation. According to the historian Fujiwara Akira (2001), more than 60 per cent of the soldiers sent to the front in the context of the Pacific War were sacrificed for want of supplies. In fact, the soldiers were supposed to ‘help themselves’ on the spot, finding food and stealing it from the inhabitants of the occupied zones. The high command had not foreseen the supply difficulties and the obstacles that the soldiers would encounter in tropical territories where, contrary to their predictions, after having pillaged what they could, they did not rapidly find anything more to eat. The ‘comfort stations’ regarded as indispensable to the morale of the troops were conceivable and conceived because women were nothing but an available resource and a ‘due’ to be offered to the soldiers, in a colonialist vision of the occupied zones.

II. 3. Fear of venereal disease

The report by lieutenant doctor Asô Tetsuo was the first to advocate resort to young Korean women. He believed the Japanese ianfu to be of ‘bad quality’ (ibid.: 33), because they were much older and often ill. He noted groin scarring indicating that they had contracted syphilis and compared Western statistics on rates of infection according to the age of the prostitutes. According to the documents available in his time, the younger the prostitute, the less infected she was (ibid.: 38). He stressed the contrast in this respect between the Japanese and Koreans whom he was able to observe during his time in Shanghai in 1938 (see above). For this doctor the Japanese were worn-out women, abazure – tarts (ibid. 39), whose relapses indicated their profession and who recycled themselves on the continent. They were unworthy as a ‘present to make to the officers and soldiers of the imperial army’ (kore mikoku shôhei e no okurimono toshite jitsu ni ikagawashikimono nareba). He advocated employing much younger women (sareba senchi e okurikomareru shôfu wa toshi wakaki mono o hitsuyô to su) (Senda, 1973: 39). He recommended strict selection and rejected ‘recycled’ (kuragae 鞍替え) Japanese professionals. Moreover, he believed that Chinese prostitutes were dangerous, because those who had contracted venereal disease refused to use condoms so as to damage the Japanese army. His observations and his view played a significant role in the systematization of recruitment of young women from the colonies. He advocated the establishment of ‘comfort stations’ for the armies, under their supervision, and the introduction of systematic health screening of the women and the premises (ibid.: 43). In the same report, having analysed the harmful effects of alcohol and its links with increased rates of venereal disease once again on the basis of the statistics from Western armies, he concluded with the need to ban its consumption in ‘comfort stations’, which he described on this occasion as communal latrines whose purpose was exclusively hygienic (eiseitekinaru kyôdôbenjo naru: ibid., p. 45), and not a place of pleasure (kyôraku no basho ni arazu shite). This term kyôdô banjo is shocking: the word banjo (john, shit) persisted after the war to refer to sexual relations and the first manifesto of the feminist movement Ûman ribu (Women’s Lib in katakana) was entitled banjo kara no kaihô 便所からの解放 (Liberating ourselves from johns) (Tanaka Mitsu, August 1971, tract). Tanaka Mitsu thus expressed her revulsion at this expression, which was still used by men, including militants of the extreme left in the 1970s. The term kyôdo banjo or kôshû banjo is still used to express contempt and stigmatize prostitutes in particular.

Through this report we can read the extent to which sexuality was held to be ‘dirty’, and with the women who are its object. This highly negative view of sexuality and woman reduced to sex persisted in post-war society, in a social structure where guilt is unilaterally shifted onto the woman and where, according to investigations, half of men have had recourse to the services of a prostitute. Comparison between an inquiry of 1924 (Yamamoto Senji 山本宣治 1889–1929) and one conducted by a think tank on men and the clients of prostitution (「男性と買春を考える会」) in 1997 demonstrates just how slowly mentalities evolve. A paradigm shift was therefore doubly necessary for the issue of the ianfu to be acknowledged.

III. The Paradigm Shift

III. 1. The situation in South Korea

Censorship was practiced even more strictly in Korea, where evoking the past existence of the ianfu was out of the question (Yamashita, 2008: 8, 272). With the mission of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East just accomplished, Japan, a new unconditional ally of the United States in the Cold War, spared itself the trouble of a national historical debate on the issue of war responsibilities. Its political personnel, like its senior civil servants, escaped the purge. The Treaty of San Francisco signed in September 1951, which came into force in April 1952, exempted it from war reparations to Asian neighbours. In this context, set beside soldiers who had given their lives for the emperor and whose families deserved recognition and pensions, the ianfu were nothing but mercenary women who warranted only scorn and oblivion.

The break occurred in the new international context of the end of the Cold War and the emergence of a democracy movement in certain Asian countries, in which feminist movements played a very active role, particularly in South Korea. From 1988 the Korean University for Girls, Ewha 梨花, was equipped with a women’s studies centre, and the professors and doctoral students participated in the emergence of new paradigms in history and sociology, in the creation of new perceptions of gender relations, and paid particular attention to the birth of a global movement condemning forms of sexual violence in the 1990s. Rape and forced prostitution had not hitherto been recognized as violations of human rights or war crimes and the victims maintained their silence. The Dutch, French and Chinese governments had certainly brought charges to the Tokyo Tribunal on the countryside brothels, but the issue had fallen into oblivion until the historians Yoshimi Yoshiaki and Hirofumi Hayashine revealed their existence to the public in 1997 and 2007. Furthermore, sexual violence was condemned as an offence against family honour, rather than for the harm inflicted on the victims themselves, according to article 46 of the Laws and Customs of War on Land (Hague Convention, 1907). During the Second World War, no clause in the international law of war explicitly banned sexual violence against women in wartime.

After the war, the victims lived in patriarchal societies where shame prevailed and they feared only one thing – that their fate would be revealed. Others continued to work as prostitutes for American soldiers (Soh, 2008: 211-13). During the half-century that followed Japan’s defeat, the problem remained taboo in all the Asian countries that had suffered Japanese occupation, even more so than in Japan. Once revealed and brought to light by the victims themselves, the reality of this forced prostitution or sexual slavery, even in a national or international context conducive to the revelations, risked exposing the victims to trauma and rejection by their relatives (this was true of a significant number of them, particularly in the Philippines and Indonesia, as indicated by a number of filmed accounts ). Added to this stigmatization was the campaign of calumny conducted by the Japanese extreme right, which found a large audience on the Internet.

III. 2. History and the question of gender

Developed over more than two decades, women’s history and the gender approach in history have made it possible to liberate women’s voices. In Japan, however, it has been subject to targeted, violent attacks for ten years. Supporters of revisionist currents on the history of the Asia-Pacific War have mobilized against this approach to history, which has won international legitimacy, especially since the 1990s (Thébaud, 2007: 160, 186), by challenging the validity of this voice through a campaign of systematic calumny of the women themselves. Twenty years later, their existence and voices once again appear as a stain to be wiped away in order to construct an expurgated historical narrative. Moreover, this historical issue is directly bound up with the antagonism between forces working for the transformation of Japan into a ‘normal’ country – i.e. armed – and those who, loyal to a post-war pacifism, want to assert their point of view and resist marginalization.

III. 3. The facts and their acknowledgement

In acknowledging the facts, a large gulf separates the aggressors from the victims. During various inquiries – the first carried out in January 1992 via special telephone lines that ex-soldiers were invited to call (235 ex-soldiers in Tokyo and 135 in Kyôto called spontaneously), the others via interviews organized by members of the VAWW-Japan Net group in August 1999 and in 2000 in front of the Yasukuni shrine as well as by WAM in 2005 and 2006 – the protagonists referred to the ‘comfort stations’ with levity. As for the rapes, while they acknowledged that they had been witnesses and condemned them, they regarded them as inevitable in wartime and virtually no one admitted having been a perpetrator.

But in historical research, more than the facts in themselves, it is the interpretations – the meaning imparted the facts, the modalities of their organization, their scale too – which diverge and clash. The desire to minimize led some to deny the facts themselves. Thus, whereas the former Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro 中曽根康弘 boasted in an account of his war experience of having established an ianjo in Dabao and then Balikpapan in Indonesia for the 3,000 soldiers and personnel he commanded (he specified: ‘because they had begun to rape the native women’ – Nakasone, 1978: 98), he now refused to offer any explanation. The construction of such comfort stations was recently attested by official army documents dating from December 1941 and February 1942 (Kaigun kôkû kichi dai ni setueihan shiryô 海軍航空基地第2設営班資料 [Archives of the 2nd logistical group of the naval air force]), which indicate that native women were assembled in Balikpapan in inanjo. But Nakasone now remains deaf and dumb in the face of any question posed on this episode. In the 1990s, he denied having created ‘prostitution’ stations, claiming that they were merely ‘houses of entertainment’ where ‘one played go for example’.

III. 4. The issue of the reliability of testimony

On the other side, the testimony, all the more fragile in that it concerns facts which occurred more than 50 years ago, must be examined with caution. The existence of pressure from public opinion and activist organizations is undeniable and it has become stronger with the movement’s development and the emergence of divergences within it (Soh, 2008: 79-106). But consideration of the voices of former comfort women, without being regarded as sacred, makes it possible to assess to what extent women’s history has brought about an epistemological break in this domain. This testimony should, moreover, be subject to a subtler analysis, as Soh suggests in his book. In refusing the exclusive alternative of either the one thing or the other – either commercial prostitution or war crime – to explain the phenomenon, she shows how prostitution was bound up at the time with domestic violence, gender discrimination, and the absence of any prospect of emancipation for women who aspired to autonomy, but found themselves trapped as soon as they wished to leave the family straitjacket – so many phenomena that are still current throughout the world today.

The action brought before a Japanese court by Kim Hak-sun in December 1991 signalled the starting-point for the work of collecting this testimony by academics, historians and sociologists, or by activists of the feminist movement. This trial rekindled real interest on the part of historians in the book by Senda Kakô (1973). Until then, while his book had been a publishing success, since it had sold 500,000 copies, it had not had any critical success. The only paper that mentioned it on publication was Akahata 赤旗, the daily paper of the Japanese Communist Party. It attracted the attention neither of historians or sociologists, nor even of feminists (interview with the author in Ronza 論座, August 1997: 52-4). The author also indicates that a study of his readership revealed that it mainly involved former soldiers in the Asia-Pacific War who, once they had read the book, shut it heaving a sigh, put it on a shelf, and then definitively forgot it. In South Korea itself, where his book was immediately translated, a short item in a newspaper paid tribute to his research, but no one rendered any further account of it.

IV. Role and Limitations of the Asian Women’s Fund

To appreciate the role and limitations of the Asian Women’s Fund, let us recall the initial demands of associations supporting former comfort women in South Korea.

IV. 1. The initial demands of the ianfu in South Korea

On 17 October 1990, 37 groups of Korean women sent a public letter in which they requested the Japanese government:

1. To acknowledge the forced character of the recruitment of comfort women.

2. To offer a public, official apology from the Japanese state.

3. To make public all the barbaric acts committed against them.

4. To erect a commemorative monument in their memory and honour.

5. To pay legally acknowledged compensation to the surviving victims or their families.

6. To explain the facts to future generations, through the teaching of history in particular.

7. To create a centre of documentation and historical archives.

Furthermore, they also addressed a public letter to the Korean government in which they demanded (Yamashita, 2008: 42):

1. Obtaining apologies from the Japanese government.

2. Efforts to establish the truth.

3. The erection of a commemorative monument.

4. Obtaining compensation from the Japanese government.

5. The establishment of equal and sovereign diplomatic relations.

6. The inclusion of the issue of the ianfu in national history.

In South Korea the first demonstration by former comfort women in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul was organized on Wednesday, 8 January 2002 and has been repeated every Wednesday since (interrupted only at the time of the Kôbe earthquake, then during the earthquake and tsunami of 11 March 2011, in order to express condolences and solidarity with the victims).

IV. 2. Reactions in Japan

On 11 January 1992, the newspaper Asahi shinbun published an article on its front page by the historian Yoshimi Yoshiaki which revealed the existence of six official documents proving the direct involvement of the Japanese army in the recruitment of women and the establishment of ‘comfort’ stations (documents reproduced in Yoshimi, 1992: 105, 171, 209-16).

Following this campaign in Japan, the Japanese government acknowledged the facts. Initially, Kôno Yôhei, then secretary-general of the Miyazawa cabinet, admitted in a public statement on 4 August 1993 that comfort stations had been established at the request of the Japanese army and that it was directly or indirectly involved in running them. Still according to this statement, the recruitment of women was carried out by ‘specialists’ (traders in women), invariably by coercion or deception. He also acknowledged that the Japanese police authorities had participated in it and that daily life in the comfort stations was governed by coercion. This declaration, made public by the cabinet’s Foreign Affairs Committee, was based on the work of a second commission, which released 234 documents relevant to the issue and which, unlike the previous one, led to official acknowledgement of the forced character of the prostitution. Then the Asian Women’s Fund was created in 1995 (see above).

IV. 3. Activities of the Asian Women’s Fund

The creation of this fund was negatively received by all the groups representing ianfu in Korea, because it depended exclusively on private subscription. Individually, the great majority of them refused the compensation offered, in the belief that it was for the Japanese government, the principal culprit, to pay it. A campaign of opinion and collection was conducted nationally in South Korea to support them and the Korean government finally granted them an allowance. But for its part the Asian Women’s Fund organized a campaign of explanation to continue its activities. A letter of apology from the Japanese head of state was addressed solely to those who had accepted the compensation, which only reinforced the determination of Korean activists to oppose what they regarded as a half-measure. In Taiwan too the organizations, grouped together in the Association for Aid to Women Fuyuanhui 婦援會, opposed this solution and organized a lottery that made it possible to collect around two million yen (approximately 20,000 euros). The government offered an equivalent sum while awaiting official compensation from Japan, founded on legal bases.

To this day, a total of 285 women have received the compensation, the majority of them Filipinos (around 450 women came forward in 2000 after an information campaign) and Dutch (79). In South Korea only 7 women out of 231 accepted it and a single Taiwanese (not officially counted). In South Korea they were harshly criticized by other members of the Council for Former Comfort Women. In Indonesia, where the number of former comfort women was put at around 20,000, the government believed that it would be difficult to identify the victims and asked the Fund to contribute to the creation of old people’s centres. There was no publicity by the Indonesian government and it was therefore the elderly who benefited from these centres, not necessarily former comfort women.

The Fund was wound up on 31 March 2007, with the former Japanese Prime Minister who headed it, Murayama Tomiichi, believing it had achieved its objective. The organizations that supported the ianfu protested, accusing Tokyo of evading its responsibilities. It is in this context that various resolutions were adopted in North America and Europe calling upon the Japanese government to assume its responsibilities on these issues.

If the issue of the ianfu occupied a central place in the debates over the past role of the imperial Japanese army, it is because it was raised by the victims themselves, but also supported by organizations that were both feminist and nationalist in character in Korea, and by longstanding feminist and anti-militarist activists in Japan.

In a patriarchal society with a Confucian culture, especially in the private and family sphere, like Korea in the colonial era and then in the post-war period, their existence remained a national shame (in the ethnic sense), to be buried in silence (Yamashita, 2008: 43). In Japan, for a majority of public opinion it remained a misfortune bound up with the tragedy of the war, with its train of unavoidable cruelty and horrors on one side and, on the other, a past not to be sullied, to be honoured even, for the most nationalist or backward-looking.

Conclusion: Feminism Confronted with Anti-Feminism and Nationalism

With the Nanking Massacre, visits to the Yasukuni shrine (especially during the governments led by Koizumi), the issue of the ‘comfort women’ has represented the most difficult subject in Japan’s diplomatic relations, particularly with South Korea. For some time China has been looking into the problem of the ianfu, encouraging historical work and inaugurating its first museum devoted to ‘comfort women’ in 2000.

In Japan itself, together with the issue of the army’s responsibility for the collective suicides on Okinawa and the Nanking Massacre, it has been at the heart of the debates over school textbooks. Started in 1982, they were reactivated by the initiative taken under the leadership of the right wing of the LDP which sought to bring together a group of historians to form a ‘Committee for the composition of new history textbooks’ (Nanta, 2001: 127-53). Among these questions, that of the ianfu provoked the most violent reactions from conservative currents linked to negationist tendencies in Japan. How is this virulence to be explained? The enduring contempt for the victims – namely, women who have been subjected to humiliation – is patent on all the revisionist web sites, where they are treated as ‘whores’ and ‘sluts’ motivated solely by money, then and now. They are accused of wishing simply to harm Japan. And the hatred of the women – especially the Koreans – which is so virulent on these sites, while it can be interpreted as a pendant of the military cult of virility, of glorification of the imperial army by extreme right-wing currents in this backward-looking, nationalist view of the world, in fact signals a desire for revenge and an attempt at marginalization by intimidation of certain political forces that dare to express themselves. This desire relies on the wider presence in public opinion of a diffuse nationalism – that is to say, one which does not identify itself as such, but which reduces all demonstrations or demands by victims to Korean or Chinese nationalism and a form of political rivalry. It is sometimes tinged with a false indifference that expresses the persistence of misogyny in present-day society (Ueno, 2010). Although known about since the 1970s, this issue assumed a new importance with the coming out of Korean former comfort women, in a context of democratization and the persistence of anti-Japanese nationalism. Confronted with a demand that had become a national cause in Korea, revisionist currents and extreme right-wing circles in Japan discovered fertile ground for distilling their racist and sexist reaction. In the 2000s an anti-feminist offensive crystallized especially in connection with the disqualification of these former comfort women and the idea that their sole aim was to slander Japan and harm its image.

However, how are we to explain the fact that the movement in support of the former comfort women provokes mistrust from a public which, in principle, is much less full of prejudice towards Korea and Koreans than the previous generation, as illustrated by the success in Japan of the World Cup in South Korea in 2002 or the Korean television series Winter Sonata (Gyeoul yeonga)? There is no question yet of de-heroizing the soldiers of the Japanese imperial army (Wakamatsu Kôji’s last film, The God Soldier, is a welcome exception), because they sacrificed their lives and the wrongs they committed are attributable to the leaders who led them to a defeat as certain as it was cruel. Whereas in the post-war period a trend emerged that was strongly critical of militarism, and whose historical works essentially consisted in showing the horrors of war and, in particular, the responsibility of the aggressors – i.e. the Japanese army – the attempt to reduce the whole trauma of the war to the defeat is a pronounced new tendency, shared by the media, historical discourse and artistic circles. By raising a fundamental question – the relationship between state crimes and individual responsibility (perhaps soldiers received orders to kill the enemy, but none received orders to rape) – feminists disturbed the dominant discourse. While in 1996 Ueno Chizuko published a book announcing feminism’s radical, historical rupture with nationalism, fifteen years later feminist associations are more than ever committed to continuing their work of solidarity with the women of other Asian countries. The rupture with nationalisms, whatever they are, is at once a starting-point and an indispensable perspective for overcoming the antagonisms of the past but also of the present. From this standpoint the movement for the rehabilitation of former comfort women is far from having exhausted and resolved the political and social issues it raises. Work of critical reflection is beginning to be undertaken by some of the initiators and participants in different directions – on the one hand, with a deepening of the feminist perspective (Yamashita, 2008; Soh, 2008) and, on the other, a refusal to separate the question of gender from that of post-colonialism and the national question (Kim P., 2011). These debates are enriching a movement whose goal was to re-establish the historical truth, to restore the dignity of the victims, and secure justice for them, but one of whose main impulses has also been participating in the struggle against the violence done to women in times of war and peace alike.



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AMANO Masako 天野正子(ほか)編et al. (eds), 2009, Shinpen Nihon no feminizumu 10新編日本のフェミニズム 10 (New edition, Japanese Feminism, vol.10) : Joseishi jendâshi 女性史・ジェンダー史 (Women’s History, Gender History) Tokyo: Iwanamishoten 岩波書店.

AMANO Masako 天野正子(ほか)編et al. (eds), 2009, Shinpen Nihon no feminizumu 6新編日本のフェミニズム 10 (New edition, Japanese Feminism, vol.6) : セクシュアリティSekushuariti (Sexualities) Tokyo: Iwanamishoten 岩波書店.

AMANO Masako 天野正子(ほか)編et al. (eds), 2011, Shinpen Nihon no feminizumu 9 新編日本のフェミニズム9 (New edition, Japanese Feminism, vol.9) : Gurobarizêshon グロ−バリゼーション(Globalization), Tokyo : Iwanamishoten 岩波書店.

CHAN Pil-fa チャン・ピルファ2006, (Japanese translation by Nishimura Hiromi 西村裕美) Kankoku feminizumu no chôryû 韓国フェミニズムの潮流 (Currents in Korean Feminism) Tokyo: Akashishoten 明石書店.

DOMBROWSKI Nicole Ann, 2004, Women and War in the Twentieth Century: Enlisted with or without Consent, New York: Routledge.

DORLIN Elsa, 2006, La Matrice de la race, généalogie sexuelle et coloniale de la nation française (The Matrix of the Race: Sexual and Colonial Genealogy of the French Nation), : La Découverte.

DORLIN Elsa, 2008, Sexe, genre et sexualités : introduction à la théorie féministe (Sex, Gender and Sexualities: Introduction to Feminist Theory), : PUF.

FUJIWARA Akira 藤原彰, 2001, Uejini shita eireitachi『餓死(うえじに)した英霊たち』(The Souls of Heroes Condemned to Die of Hunger), Tokyo: Aokishoten 青木書店.

FUJINAGA Takeshi 藤永壮, 2005, « Shokuminchi kôshôseido to nihongun ‘ianfu’seido 植民地公娼制度と日本軍「慰安婦」制度 (The System of Public Prostitution in the Colonies and the Japanese Army’s Ianfu System) », in Hayakawa Noriko, 2005b: 7-38.

HATA Ikuhiko 秦郁彦,1999, Ianfu to senjô no sei 『慰安婦と戦場の』(The Ianfu and Sexuality on the Battlefield) Tokyo: Shinchôsensho 新潮選書.

HAYAKAWA Noriyo 早川紀代編(ed.), 2005a, Sensô bôryoku to josei, t.2戦争・暴力と女性. 2, (War, Violence and Women) Gunkoku no on'natachi軍国の女たち (The Women of Militarist

Countries), Tokyo: Yoshikawakôbunkan 吉川弘文館.

HAYAKAWA Noriyo 早川紀代 (編) (ed.), 2005b, Sensô bôryoku to josei, t.3戦争・暴力と女性. 2, (War, Violence and Women) Shokuminchi to sensô sekinin植民地と戦争責任 (Colony and Responsibility for War), Tokyo: Yoshikawakôbunkan 吉川弘文館.

HICKS George, 1995, The Comfort Women, New York: Norton.

HIRABAYASHI Hisae 平林久枝 (編), 1992, Kyôsei renkô to jûgun ianfu 強制連行と従軍慰安婦 (Deportation and the Jûgun Ianfu), Tokyo: Nihontoshosentâ 日本図書センター.

ITO Takashi 伊藤孝司, 1993, ShashinkirokuYaburareta chinmoku – Ajia no jûgun ianfu tachi 写真記録破られた沈黙−アジアの「従軍慰安婦」たち (Photographic Documents – The Silence Broken – The Ianfu of the Japanese Army in Asia), Tokyo: Fûbaisha風媒社.

KANKOKU JOSEI HOTTO RAIN RENGO (hen) 韓国女性ホットライン連合(編), 2004, Kankoku josei jinken undôshi韓国女性人権運動史 (History of the Korean Human Rights Movement, trans. Yamashita Y.) Tokyo: Akashishoten 明石書店.

KANKOKU TEISHINTAI MONDAI TAISAKU KYOGIKAI韓国挺身隊問題対策協議会 (Committee of Former Comfort Women), 1993 Shôgen-kyôseirenkô sareta chôsenjin gunianfutachi『証言・強制連行された朝鮮人軍慰安婦たち』(Testimony – The Koreans Deported as Ianfu of the Army), Tokyo: Akashishoten 明石書店.

KANO Chikako加藤千香子, Minoru HOSOYA細谷実, 2009, Bôryoku to sensô 暴力と戦争 (Violence and Wars), Tokyo: Akashishoten 明石書店.

KASAHARA Tokushi笠原十九司, 1998, « Chûgokusensen no okeru nihongun no seihanzai »「中国戦線のおける日本軍の性犯罪」(The Sexual Crimes Committed by the Japanese Army on the Chinese Front), Chûkiren中帰連, August.

KASAHARA Tokushi笠原十九司, 1997, « Nihongun no zangyakukôi to seihanzai »「日本軍の残虐行為と性犯罪」(Acts of Cruelty and Sexual Crimes of the Japanese Army) in Sensô sekinin kenkyû戦争責任研究, n°17.

KIKUCHI Keisuke, 2004, « Les femmes de réconfort devant la juridiction japonaise » (The Comfort Women before Japanese Courts), in Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, Jean-François Quéguiner, Santiago Villalpando (eds), Crimes de l’histoire et réparations ; les réponses du droit et de la justice (Crimes of History and Reparations: The Responses of Law and Justice), Brussels: Bruylant/Éditions de l’Université de Bruxelles.

KIM Il-men 金一勉, 1976, Ten.nô no guntai to chôsenjin ianfu 天皇の軍隊と朝鮮人慰安婦 (The Emperor’s Army and the Korean Ianfu) Toky : San.ichishobô 三一書房.

KIM Il-men 金一勉, 1980, Nihon josei aishi : yûjo jorô kara yuki ianfu no keifu日本女性哀史 : 遊女・女郎・からゆき・慰安婦の系譜 (The Tragic History of Japanese Women : Genealogy of the Yûjo, Jorô, Karayuki, Ianfu), Tokyo: 現代史出版会.

KIM Puja 金富子, 2011, Keizokusuru shokuminchishugi to jendâ継続する植民地主義とジェンダー (The Persistence of Colonialism and Gender), Tokyo: Seorishobô 世織書房.

KIM Puja金富子, Yonoku SON宋連玉編 (eds), 2000, Ianfu senjisei boryoku no jittai vol.1 (Nihon, Taiwan, Chôsen), 慰安婦」・戦時性暴力の実態. 1(日本・台湾・朝鮮編), Tokyo: Ryokufushuppan緑風出版.

KURAHASHI Masanao 倉橋正直, 2010, Jûgun ianfu to kôshô seido : jûgun ianfu mondai sairon, 従軍慰安婦と公娼制度 : 従軍慰安婦問題再論 (The Army’s Ianfu and the System of Public Prostitution: New Theories on the Subject of the Ianfu), Tokyo: Kyôeishobô 共栄書房.

KWONG In-sook 権仁淑, 2006, (Japanese translation by Yamashita Yeong-ae), Kankokuno gunjibunka to jendâ韓国の軍事文化とジェンダー (Military Culture in Korea and Gender), Tokyo: Ochanomizushobô お茶の水書房.

KYUNG Sik-suh, 1999, « Ne déshonorez pas ma mère » (Do Not Dishonour My Mother), translated from the Japanese by Kikuchi Keisuke, Dédale, n° 9 &10, autumn, pp. 261-281.

MARGOLIN Jean-Louis, 2009 [2007], Violences et crimes du Japon en guerre 1937-1945 (The Violence and Crimes of Japan at War 1937-1945), : Hachette Littératures.

NAKASONE Yasuhiro 中曽根康弘, 1978, « Sanjûsansai de sanzen.nin no sôshikikan »「二十三歳で三千人の総指揮官 (Commanding 3,000 Soldiers at the Age of 23), in Matsuura Takanori 松浦敬紀 (ed.), Owarinaki kaigun- , sedai e tsutaetai nokoshitai『終わりなき海軍若い世代へ伝えたい残したい』(The Navy is Not Dead – What I Want to Pass on to Young Generations) Bunkahôsôkaihatsusentâshuppanbu 文化放送開発センター出版部, pp. 90-98.

NANTA Arnaud, 2001, « L’actualité du révisionnisme historique au Japon » (The Actuality of Historical Revisionism in Japan), Ebisu, n°26, pp. 127-153.

NISHINO Rumiko, « Le tribunal d’opinion de Tôkyô pour les « femmes de réconfort » » (Tokyo’s Court of Public Opinion for the ‘Comfort Women’), Droit et cultures n°58, 2009 (consulted on 29.02.2012,

ÔMORI Noriko大森典子, KAWADA Fumiko 川田文子, 2010, Ianfu mondai ga tôtekita koto「慰安婦」問題が問うてきたこと (The Issues Raised by the Problem of the Ianfu), Tokyo: Iwanamishoten 岩波書店.

SENDA Kakô千田夏光, 1973, Jûgun ianfu, koe naki Hachimannin nokokuhatsu従軍慰安婦「声なき女」八万人の告発(The Army’s Comfort Women: The Accusation Made by 80,000 ‘Women without a Voice’), Tokyo: Futabasha双葉社.

SENDA Kakô千田夏光, 2005,Jûgun ianfu keiko : shisen o samayotta no shôgen, 従軍慰安婦・慶子 : 死線をさまよった女の証言 (The Account of an Ianfu, Keiko who Lived between Life and Death),Tokyo: Kurabuhausu クラブハウス.

SCHMIT David A., 2000, Ianfu: The Comfort Women of the Japanese Imperial Army of the Pacific War, Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press.

SHIROTA Suzuko 城田すず子,1962, Ai to niku no kokuhaku愛と肉の告白 (Romantic and Erotic Confession), Rôchôsha桜桃社.

SHIROTA Suzuko 城田すず子,1971, Maria no sankaマリアの讃歌 (Hymn to Marie), Nihon kirisutokyôdan 日本基督教団出版局, reprint Kanitashuppanbu, 1985.

SAPIO (ed.), 9 May 2007, Amerikajin ni mo wakaru jûgun ianfu mondai no kisochishiki「アメリカ人にもわかる『従軍慰安婦問題』の基礎知識」(Even the Americans Can Understand: The Basics on the Issue of the Jûgun Ianfu), Shôgakkan 小学館.

SOH Chunghee Sarah, 2008, The Comfort Women: Sexual Violence and Postcolonial Memory in Korea and Japan, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

SUZUKI Yûko 鈴木裕子,1997,Sensô sekinin to jendâ « jiyûshugishikan » to nihongun ianfu mondai戦争責任とジェンダー―「自由主義史観」と日本軍「慰安婦」問題 (Responsibility for the War and Gender –« The Liberal Conception of History » and the Question of the Japanese Army’s Ianfu), Tokyo: Miraisha.

SUZUKI Yûko, 2001 [1996], « Ianfu » mondai to sengo sekinin「慰安婦」問題と戦後責任−女性史を拓く4 (The Issue of the Ianfu and Responsibility for War – Opening the Perspectives of Women’s History 4), Tokyo: Miraisha 未来社.

SUZUKI Yûko 鈴木裕子(ほか)編et al. (eds), 2006, Nihongun ianfu kankei shiryô shûsei,日本軍「慰安婦」関係資料集成. 上, 下 (Collection of Documents on the Jûgun Ianfu vols 1&2), Tokyo: Akashishoten 明石書店.

TAKASAKI Ryûji 高崎隆治 (ed.), 1990, « Gun.ikan no senjô hôkoku ikenshû » 軍医官の戦場報告意見集 (The Reports of Military Doctors on the Battlefield) in Jûgonen sensô jûyô bunken shirîzu『十五年戦争重要文献シリーズ第1集・2集〈解説〉』 (Series of Key Documents on the Fifteen Years’ War), Tokyo: Fuji Shuppan 不二出版.

TANAKA Toshiyuki, 2002, Japan's Comfort Women: Sexual Slavery and Prostitution during World War II and the US Occupation, London/New York: Routledge.

THEBAUD Françoise, 2007, Écrire l’histoire des femmes et du genre (Writing the History of Women and Gender), : ENS Éditions.

THOMANN Bernard, 14/12/2007, « Le procès de Tokyo et la mémoire nationale. Le retour du débat sur la guerre 1937-1945» (The Tokyo Trial and National Memory: The Return of the Debate on the 1937-1945 War), (

TOMIMURA Jun.ichi 富村順一, 1977, Ryûkyû ianfu : ten.nôseika no yami no sei 琉球慰安婦 : 天皇制下の闇の性 (The Ianfu of the Ryûkyû Islands: The Black Market in Sex under the Imperial Regime), Tokyo: JCA.

TRAVERSO Enzo, 2011, L’histoire comme champ de bataille, interpréter les violences du XXe siècle (History as a Battlefield: Interpreting the Violence of the Twentieth Century), : La Découverte.

UENO Chizuko 上野千鶴子, 1998, Nashonarizumu to jendâ ナショナリズムとジェンダー (Nationalism and Gender), Tokyo: Seidosha 青土社.

UENO Chizuko 上野千鶴子, 2010, On.nagirai : nippon no misojinî, 女ぎらい : ニッポンのミソジニー, Tokyo: Kinokuniyashoten 紀伊国屋書店.

YAMADA Meiko 山田盟子, 1992 [1991], Ianfutachi no taiheiyô sensô慰安婦たちの太平洋戦争, 3 vols (The Pacific War of the Ianfu), Tokyo: Kôjinsha光人社.

YAMASHITA Yon.e (Yeong-ae)山下英愛, 2008, Nashonarizumu no kyôma kara ianfumondai e no mô hitotsu no shiza『ナショナリズムの狭間から-「慰安婦」問題へのもう一つの視座』(Transcending Narrow Nationalism – For a Different Perspective on the Issue of the Ianfu), Tokyo: Akashi Shoten 明石書店.

YOSHIDA Seiji 吉田清治, 1977, Chôsenjin ianfu to nihonjin : moto shimonoseki rôhô dôin buchô no shuki 朝鮮人慰安婦と日本人 : 元下関労報動員部長の手記 (The Korean and Japanese Ianfu: Notebooks of a Former Head of Information and Labour Requisition in Shimonoseki), Tokyo: shinjinbutsuôraisha, 新人物往来社.  

YOSHIDA Seiji 吉田清治, 1983, Watashi no sensô hanzai : Chôsenjin kyôsei rengô,私の戦争犯罪 : 朝鮮人強制連行 (My War Crimes: The Deportation of Koreans),Tokyo: San.ichishobô三一書房.  

YOSHIMIYoshiaki吉見義明 (ed.), 1992, Jûgun ianfu shiryôshû従軍慰安婦資料集 (Collection of Documents on the Jûgun Ianfu), Tokyo: Ôtsukishoten大月書店.

YOSHIMI Yoshiaki吉見義明 (ed.), 1995, Jûgun ianfu 従軍慰安婦 (The Jûgun Ianfu), Tokyo:

Iwanamishoten 岩波書店.

YOSHIMI Yoshiaki, 2000 (Jûgun ianfu, 1995, translated from the Japanese by Suzanne O’Brien), Comfort Women : Sexual Slavery in the Japanese Military during World War II, New York: Columbia University Press.

YOSHIMI Yoshiaki, 2010, Nihongun ianfu seido towa nanika日本軍「慰安婦」制度とは何か (What was the Japanese Army’s System of ‘Comfort Women’?), Tokyo :Iwanamishoten 岩波書店.

YOSHIMI Yoshiaki吉見義明, Fumiko KAWATA川田文子(eds), 1997, Jûgun ianfu o meguru sanjû no uso to shinjitsu「従軍慰安婦」をめぐる30のウソと真実 (Thirty Lies and Truths on ‘The Army’s Comfort Women’), Tokyo: Ôtsukishoten大月書店.

YOUNG-JOO Byun, Hélène CIXOUS, « À propos de l’affaire des ‘femmes de réconfort’ de l’armée japonaise. La cinéaste Byun Young-Joo s’entretient avec Hélène Cixous » (On the Issue of the Japanese Army’s ‘Comfort Women’: The Film-Maker Byun in an Interview with Hélène Cixous, CLIO. Histoire, femmes et sociétés n°17, 2003 (placed on line 11.07.2006 and consulted 29.02.2012.

YUN Jon-ok 伊貞玉, 2003,Heiwa o kikyūshite : ianfu higaisha no songen kaifuku eno ayumi平和を希求して : 「慰安婦」被害者の尊厳回復へのあゆみ (In Pursuit of Peace: The Road to Restoring the Dignity of the Ianfu Victims) Musashino: Hakutakusha 白澤社.

YUN Myong-suk 尹明淑, 2003, Nihon no guntai ianjo seido to chōsenjin guntai ianfu日本の軍隊慰安所制度と朝鮮人軍隊慰安婦(The Ianfu of the Japanese Army and the Ianfu of the Korean) Tokyo: Akashishoten 明石書店.

WAM, Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace, 女たちの戦争と平和資料館, 2006, Exhibition Catalogue, Josei kokusai senpan hôtei no subete ianfu higai to kagai sekinin女性国際戦犯法廷の全て『慰安婦』被害と加害責任 (Everything on the International Tribunal on War Crimes against Women – the Ianfu – Victims and the Responsibility of the Perpetrators of the Crimes).

WAM, 2008, Exhibition Catalogue, Aru hi nihongun ga yattekita –chûgoku, senjô deno gôkan to ianjoある日、日本軍がやってきた−中国・戦場での強姦と慰安所 (One Day the Japanese Army Arrived – China, Rape and Ianjo in the War Zone).


Special issues of the journal Sensô sekinin kenkyû「戦争責任研究」(Resarch on War Responsibilities) devoted to the issue of the Ianfu.

Dai ichigô (93nen shunkigô) 第1号(93年秋季号) n°1 (autumn 1993), « Tokushû : Jûgun ianfu mondai o kenshô suru » 特集=「従軍慰安婦」問題を検証する(Inquiry into the Issue of the Jûgun Ianfu).

Dai jûhachigô (97nen tôkigô) 第18号(97年冬季号) n°18 (winter 1997), « Tokushû : Jûgun ianfu mondai o kanngaeru shiten (2) » 特集=「慰安婦」問題を考える視点(2)(Reflections and

Viewpoints on the Issue of the Jûgun Ianfu).

Dai nijûyon gô (99nen kakigô) 第24号(99年夏季号) n°24 (summer 1999), « Tokushû : guntai to sei o kangaeru »特集=「軍隊と性を考える」(Reflecting on the Army and Sex).

Dai nijûnanagô (2000nen shunkigô) 第27号(2000年春季号) n°27 (spring 2000), « Tokushû : chûgoku shanghaï Nankin no nihongun ianjo »特集=中国上海・南京の日本軍慰安所(The Ianjo of the Japanese Army in China: Shanghai et Nanking).

Dai sanjûhachi gô (2002 Tôkigô) 第38号(2002年冬季号)n°38 (winter 2002),

« Tokushû : ianfu mondai no jûnen – sono gendankai to konpon kaiketsu ni mukete/jôhô kôkai to gendaishi » 特集=「慰安婦問題」の10年ーその現段階と根本的解決に向けて/情報公開と現代史 (Ten Years of the Ianfu Issue – Its Current Stage and Towards a Radical Resolution/The Public Diffusion of Information and Contemporary History).

Dai sanjûnigô 第32号(2001年夏季号), n°32 summer 2001), « Tokushû : Josei kokusai senpan hôtei/Tsukuru kai rekishi kômin kyôkasho hihan » 特集=女性国際戦犯法廷/「つくる会」歴史・公民教科書批判 (International Women’s Tribunal against War Crimes/ Critique of the Textbooks Published by Tsukurukai).

Dai yonjûnanagô 第47号, n°47 (March 2005), « Tokushû : ianfu seibôryoku saiban no seika to kadai » 特集=慰安婦・性暴力裁判の成果と課題 (The Results and the Questions Raised by the Tribunal on the Ianfu and Sexual Violence).

Dai gojûrokugô 第56号, n°56 (June 2007), « Tokushû ianfu mondai no saizensen » 特集=「慰安婦」問題の最前線 (On the Front of the Ianfu Question).

Dai rokujûnigô 第62号, n°62 (December 2008), « Tokushû : Okinawasen to nihongun ianfu/Nihongun ianfu mondai no kaiketsu ni mukete » 特集=沖縄戦と日本軍「慰安婦」/日本軍「慰安婦」問題の解決にむけて (The Battle of Okinawa and Japanese Army’s Ianfu: Towards a Resolution of the Issue of the Japanese Army’s Ianfu).

Dai rokujûrokugô 第66号, n°66 (December 2009), « Tokushû : kankokuheigô hyakunenshû shokuminchi shihai o toinaosu » 特集=韓国併合100年植民地支配を問い直す (The Centenary of Korea’s Annexation – Revisiting Colonial Domination) An initial presentation of the accounts by soldiers deposited in the Diet’s library, where mention is made of the Ianfu (260 descriptions located by Yoshimi Yoshiaki). 資料構成>戦争体験記・部隊史にみる日本軍「慰安婦」(1)本資料センター日本軍「慰安婦」・性暴力に関する、国会図書館文献調査の報告本資料センター研究事務局.

Dai nanajûichigô 第71号, n°71 (March 2011), « Tokushû : genzai no funsô to seibôryoku / shô tokushû ianfu mondai kankei shiryô » 特集=現在の紛争と性暴力/小特集 「慰安婦」問題関係資料 (Current Conflicts and Sexual Violence. Special Dossier on Documents on the Issue of the Ianfu).

Dai nanajûyongô 第74号, n°74 (December 2011), « Tokushû : ianfu-guntai to seibôryoku no saishin no kenkyû o yomu/ genpatsu tôka to hibakusha » 特集=「慰安婦」・軍隊と性暴力の最新の研究を読む/原爆投下と被爆者 (The Latest Research on the Ianfu, the Army and Sexual Violence/The Atomic Bombing and the Atomized).


Press articles on line:

« Installation d’une stèle commémorative des femmes de réconfort » (Erection of a Monument Commemorating the Comfort Women), KBS World, 18/12/2011:

« Les « femmes de réconfort » en attente de justice depuis soixante-deux ans » (The ‘Comfort Women’ Awaiting Justice for Sixty-Two Years), Amnesty International, 5.07.2008:

XIAO Zhen, HUI Linin, « Museum to 'comfort women' opens in Shanghai », China Daily, 2007.07.07:

YOSHIDA Reiji, « Evidence documenting sex-slave coercion revealed », The Japan Times online 18.07.2007:

« U.S. panel OKs sex slave resolution: Demand for apology now awaits House vote », The Japan Times online 28.06.2007:

BRASOR Philip, « Did NHK balk at covering war tribunal? », The Japan Times online 07.04.2002:

MOT Stéphane, « A Séoul, les « femmes de réconfort » de l'armée japonaise réclament justice » (In Seoul, The Japanese Army’s ‘Comfort Women’ Demand Justice), Rue89, 15.12.2011:

Blog Kôchi (Document on Nakasone): (consulted 29 February 2012)

Korean Sites

Kankoku teishintai mondai taisaku kyôgikai韓国挺身隊問題対策協議会 (Committee of Former Comfort Women): (English version: )

Sensô to josei no jinken hakubutsukan 戦争と女性の人権博物館 (Museum of War and the Human Rights of Women):

Japanese Sites

Hachi•jû Kansai Fôramu 8・10関西フォーラム (Kansai forum on the action of 10 August):

« Mô hitotsu no rekishikan •Matsushiro » kensetsu jikkô i.inkai「もうひとつの歴史館・松代」建設実行委員会 (Executive Committee for the Construction of a Different History Museum at Matsushiro): tachi no sensô to heiwa shiryôkan 女たちの戦争と平和資料館 (WAM):,

Sensô to josei no jinken hakubutsukan 戦争と女性の人権博物館 (Japanese Committee for the Construction of the Museum of War and the Human Rights of Women):

Violence Against Women in War – Network Japan VAWW-NETジャパン:,

Zainichi no ianfu saiban o sasaeru kai 在日の慰安婦裁判を支える会 (Support Group for the Legal Actions Brought by the Ianfu):

Site of the Foreign Affairs Ministry of the Japanese Government ;


Atarashii shakai « Rekishi » (A New « History » Society) 新しい社会『歴史』, 2012, Tokyo: Shoseki.

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Cite this item

Lévy Christine, The Japanese Imperial Army's "Comfort Women": Political Implications and the Gender of Memory, Mass Violence & Résistance, [online], published on: 12 July, 2012, accessed 17/05/2021,, ISSN 1961-9898
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