the “Comfort Women” issue website
Fight for Justice: the Japanese Military “Comfort Women” –– Resistance to Forgetting & Responsibility for the Future.
The Japanese military “Comfort Women” were women imprisoned at military Comfort Stations designed, managed and controlled by the Japanese military for a certain period of time, forced to have sexual intercourse with Japanese soldiers, and called “Comfort Women” in the process of the Japanese War of Aggression (1931-1945). Women in Japan, Japanese colonies and Japanese-occupied areas were forced to become “Comfort Women.” Specifically, they were Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, Chinese, overseas Chinese (Ethnic Chinese), Filipino, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Malay, Thai, Burmese, Indian, Eurasian (a person of mixed European and Asian birth), Guam, Pacific Islander and Dutch (living in Indonesia), etc.
In the early 1990s, the issue was raised by the Korean women’s movement and a victimized Korean woman, Kim Hak-sun, who came forward and filed a lawsuit, and in concert with this, official documents and testimonies of former soldiers about violence were uncovered by Japanese researchers and citizens. With this as a turning point, in January 1992 the Japanese government admitted “the Japanese military’s involvement.” Since that time victimized women in Asian countries have taken action, and there have been great cries for resolution and fact-finding inside and outside Japan. Under these circumstances in August 1993, based on the second government investigation, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono (Liberal Democratic Party) admitted that the military was “involved in the establishment and management of the comfort stations” and “the transfer” and “recruitment of the comfort women” and that there was “coercion” in the recruitment process and at comfort stations, and extended “apologies and remorse” (“Kono Statement”).
Still, the Japanese government refused to pay national compensation to the victims, and the Japanese head of state and other politicians have repeatedly made remarks denying the facts of the situation and the coercion of “Comfort Women.” In response, recommendations and resolutions asking the Japanese Government to apologize and pay compensation to victims were adopted in a plenary session of the United States House of Representatives, the Dutch House of Representatives, the House of Commons of Canada and European Parliament in 2007, and in the National Assembly of South Korea and Legislative Yuan in 2008, not to mention the positions of international organizations including the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and reports addressing the “Comfort Women” issue such as the Coomaraswamy and McDougall Report. The issue is thus understood as a matter of global historical significance.
Based on the testimonies of victims and the results of historical studies, international society understands that so-called “Comfort Women” were coerced to have sexual intercourse at Japanese military Comfort Stations, or in other words that the “Comfort Women” system was “sexual slavery” forcefully accomplished by means of abduction, kidnapping and human trafficking, etc.
However, in Japanese society, discourse and actions denying these facts (such as hate speech, demonstrations, etc.) continue, often with claims such as: “They were not forcibly taken,” “The Kono Statement should be withdrawn,” “Comfort Women conducted commercial transactions,” and “The testimonies of Comfort Women were fabricated.” Recently, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe mentioned “revising the Kono Statement” (December 27, 2012) and Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto said, “Anyone can understand that the Comfort Women system was necessary [at that time]” (May 13, 2013). Their remarks have been strongly condemned inside and outside Japan. Such statements conveniently focus only a part of the factual situation, which is distorted to deny the Japanese military and government’s responsibility. In addition to this, they infringe on the honor and dignity of the victimized women.
We aim to resolve the issue of Japanese military “Comfort Women” based on clear sources and evidence such as materials and testimonies in order to establish the historical facts of who is responsible for the Japanese military “Comfort Women” system.
This is the principal mission of this site.
For this purpose, in January 2013, the Japanese Military “Comfort Women” Issue Website Production Committee was established mainly by two organizations: Violence Against Women in War Research Action Center (VAWW RAC/the successor organization to VAWW-NET JAPAN) and the Center for Research and Documentation on Japan’s War Responsibility, which has made fact-finding and issue-resolving efforts on the “Comfort Women” issue for more than twenty years. In cooperation and coordination with researchers, experts, technicians, journalists, artists and citizens’ organizations, and others supporting the mission of this site, we decided to create a well-made and reliable website addressing the facts of the “Comfort Women” issue. Information is mainly provided in Japanese at present, but efforts are underway to provide information in multiple languages including English in the future.
On this site, the term “Japanese military ‘Comfort Women’” is used. In the 1990s, concrete and various examples of the damage of wartime sexual violence were evident in the testimonies of victimized women in Asian countries, and there were suggestions to reconsider the use of the term “Comfort Women.” Our use of “Japanese military ‘Comfort Women’” includes the words “Japanese military” to indicate who is responsible, and quotation marks are used around “Comfort Women” to convey criticism. Moreover, the title “Resistance to Forgetting & Responsibility for the Future” conveys our intent to resist those who distort and encourage the forgetting of the facts of the “Comfort Women” issue, and to share in our responsibility to communicate the real story for the future.
At its launch, this site is organized in four sections labeled “Introduction,” “Q&A,” “Solution” and “Testimonies.” Additional content will be added to the “Q&A,” “Solution” and “Testimonies” sections, and in the future we will also be adding audio-visual content to enrich this website with the following sections: “Map of Comfort Stations,” “Video Testimonies,” “3-Minute Message,” “Materials Database” and “Book and Video Guide.” Furthermore, we plan to provide the latest information on a blog.
●The four sections
“Introduction”―This section provides basic knowledge and the facts of the Japanese military “Comfort Women” issue. Beginners are advised to read this first.
“Q&A”―This section directly refutes discourse and questions that distort the facts of the Japanese military “Comfort Women” issue, as well as Japanese colonial rule and the War of Aggression. In the form of questions and answers, the facts are established based on evidence.
“Solution”―This section aims to resolve the Japanese military “Comfort Women” issue by documenting the positions of the governments of Japan and the victimized Asian countries, and the voices of international society as well as opinions on responsibility for war and colonialism from around the world.
“Testimonies”―This section provides testimonies of victims in Asian countries, including information regarding their current situation, as well as testimonies of soldiers who harmed victims. Listen to testimonies of the history that only those involved can tell.
●For deeper understanding
“Map of Comfort Stations”―This section is created based on the testimonies of victims and soldiers who harmed victims, as well as official documents and other documentary sources. Click the city or town to see official documents and testimonies related to that place.
“Video Testimonies”―This sections makes publicly available videos such as “The Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery” (held in Tokyo in December 2000).
“3-Minute Message”― This section will collect messages from activists in various movements and organizations from Japan and all over the world.
“Materials Database”―Valuable materials are provided in this section.
“Book and Video Guide”―This section refers visitors to more information for a better understanding.
The contents of this site are written by researchers and experts who have carried out a great deal of research and fact-finding regarding the “Comfort Women” issue, Japanese colonial rule and the War of Aggression, and how other countries in the world deal with the past, as well as activist organizations and citizens committed to resolving the “Comfort Women” issue. We have prioritized readability in creating this site and thus have not included notes and the like. Readers who are keen to learn more are encouraged to read reference books (please also refer to the Book and Video Guide). Unauthorized reproduction of the contents of this site is strictly prohibited.
This site is operated by experts and citizens at their own expense. If you support the mission of this site, your donation will be greatly appreciated.
Our sincere hope is that this site deepens your understanding of the real story of the “Comfort Women” issue and brings us to a resolution that meets the demands of the victims.
August 1, 2013
The Japanese Military “Comfort Women” Issue Website Production Committee
Co-representative : Yoshiaki Yoshimi, Rumiko Nishino
Center for Research and Documentation on Japan’s War Responsibility
Violence Against Women in War Research Action Center (VAWW RAC)