ASIAN COMFORT WOMEN - WORLD WAR II PERIOD - SEXUAL SLAVERY
Link to Associated Press Article by Eric Talmadge:
America's Comfort Women - Tokyo Officials Kept Sex Slaves for US Occupiers
Attached is a Photo Copy of the Memorandum for the Members of the Third Fleet Naval Landing Force Regiment - US Navy - By Commandier L. T. Malone.
September 29th, 2007
- Lys Anzia - WNN - Women News Network
Trafficking of women for forced sexual use is a long standing crime. The United States was also guilty of involvement in these acts immediately following World War II in Japan.
According to an April 25, 2007 Associated Press article about US involvement with Japanese brothels in 1945, by Eric Talmadge, “An Associated Press review of historical documents and records shows American authorities permitted the official brothel system to operate despite internal reports that women were being coerced into prostitution. The Americans also had full knowledge by then of Japan’s atrocious treatment of women in countries across Asia that it conquered during the war.”
On the days of Japanese surrender to the United States after the devastation of World War II and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, records show that Japan’s Ibaraki Prefectural Police Department, the Kempeitai, which had been in charge of forced prostitution during the war, set up numerous “comfort stations” for US GIs by order of the office of Japan’s Ministry of Interior on August 18, 1945.
The Kempeitai were founded in 1881 as Japan’s military police force. They numbered up to 75,000 during the war and were the ongoing managers of the Japanese brothel system.
One brothel called Yasu-ura House “comfort station” in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture was set up immediately by the Japanese Kempetai and Japan’s RAA – the Recreation and Amusement Association using Japanese government funds. This brothel was used for US military men flooding Japan at the end of the war on August 18, 1945.
Numerous other brothels were also created. At times, the brothels were very crowded with up to 600 men standing in line. The publicly accepted logic, used by Japan’s office of the Ministry of Interior for setting up the prostitution houses, was that a strong barrier between the foreign “winners of the war” and the “good” women of Japan had to be made to save “respected” regular women from the invaders.
In massive numbers women from the Philippines, Korea and China were shipped to “comfort stations” worldwide. Through this forced trafficking of women the continuing betrayal and severe suffering of the women in the brothels went on – even after the war was over.
“Twelve soldiers raped me in quick succession, after which I was given half an hour rest. Then twelve more soldiers followed. They all lined up outside the room waiting for their turn. I bled so much and was in such pain, I could not even stand up. The next morning, I was too weak to get up. . . I could not eat. I felt much pain, and my vagina was swollen. I cried and cried, calling my mother. I could not resist the soldiers because they might kill me. So what else could I do? Every day, from two in the afternoon to ten in the evening, the soldiers lined up outside my room and the rooms of the six other women there. I did not even have time to wash after each assault. At the end of the day, I just closed my eyes and cried. My torn dress would be brittle from the crust that had formed from the soldiers’ dried semen. I washed myself with hot water and a piece of cloth so I would be clean. I pressed the cloth to my vagina like a compress to relieve that pain and the swelling,” said Maria Rosa Henson, a former Filipina comfort woman, in Yuki Tanaka’s 2001 searing book, Japan’s Comfort Women: Sexual Slavery and Prostitution during World War II & the US Occupation.
On landing in Japan, the overwhelming numbers of US troops demanding sexual service grew quickly causing Japan’s (RAA) Recreation and Amusement Association to use force and coercion to get greater and greater numbers of women for forced sex-use. Another “comfort station” brothel after Japan’s surrender was called Komachien, The Babe Garden. It quickly expanded in size from 38 to 100 women.
When the US Navy landed in Yokosuka Naval Yard, Japan, on Aug. 30 1945, Commander of the Third Fleet Naval Landing Force – US Navy Commander L.T. Malone set the ground rules for all military men going on shore. At that time the “comfort station” in Yokusuka was quickly being set in place for the incoming men by the Ministry of Interior’s office in Tokyo. On landing, Cmdr. Malone wrote a memo to his men two days before the men stepped ashore stating, “We have been chosen, largely by luck, to represent our U.S. Navy in occupation of Tokyo. There were close to one quarter of a million officers and men in the THIRD Fleet to pick from and we got the nod. We are honored to have this opportunity to represent our Navy in this occupation. Many others will follow us in after we have squared things away but we make the initial impression and, mark you well, it will be one of the great first impressions of history.”
Today this “good” impression of history is being re-written so the truth can be told about the US use of trafficked women in Japan.
In Dec. 6, 1945, Lt. Col. Hugh McDonald, a senior officer with the Public Health and Welfare Division of the US occupation’s General Headquarters, wrote of the US knowledge in the forced use of women as sex-servers. In his memorandum he wrote on the subject, “The girl is impressed into contracting (the RAA) by the desperate financial straits of her parents and their urging, occasionally supplemented by her willingness to make such a sacrifice to help her family. . . It is the belief of our informants, however, that in urban districts the practice of enslaving girls, while much less prevalent than in the past, still exists.”
“These recruiters were actively assisted by the military police (kempeitai) and local police, to ensure that the girls and women ‘volunteered’. It is indisputable that these women were forced, deceived, coerced and abducted to provide sexual services to the Japanese military,” states the 1994 report, Japan – Comfort Women: An Unfinished Ordeal: Report of a Mission by Ustinia Dolgopol and Snehal Paranjape for the International Commission of Jurists, Geneva, Switzerland.
The postwar Japanese sponsored brothels serviced US military men for almost a year from August 1945 until General Douglas MacArthur closed the program in the spring of 1946 as occupied Japan began to attempt rebuilding from its 3 million dead and nine million homeless.
“Whether it was morning or night, once one soldier left, the next soldier came. Twenty men would come in one day…” said Korean comfort woman, Pak Kumjoo, of her torture from sex-enslavement at the age of seventeen.
Women forced by the Japanese to service men during the war years were called the “jugun ianfu” – “comfort women.” The place where women were forced to sexually perform was called a “comfort house” or “comfort station.” In recent, April 2007, “previously undisclosed” war documents provided by the French, Dutch and Chinese governments provide undisputed proof of the forced use of women as “comfort women.” Brothels in remote locations at the Japanese frontlines included “comfort stations” in Indonesia, China, East Timor, Vietnam and as far away as New Guinea.
From these newly released documents the conditions of the unending suffering of women used as sex-slaves during the war has finally come to light in the public’s eye, especially the eye of Japan. In an attempt to pander to conservative politicians, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has given opposite statements on the subject though. As recently as March 1, 2007 he said to a group of reporters, “The fact is, there is no evidence to prove there was coercion.”
The newly released documents from 1948 clearly prove the opposite. These documents, filed under the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in Tokyo, also called the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, were released in April 2007 by the scholars from the Center for Research and Documentation on Japan’s War Responsibility.
The Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal is simply called today by many Japanese citizens the “Tokyo Trials.” Nation participants in the tribunal included eleven judges from the allied powers of the United States, Soviet Union, United Kingdom, Republic of China, the Netherlands, Provisional Government of the French Republic, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, British India and the Philippines.
In the 1948 judgment on war crimes during the tribunal, prosecution document No. 5330, clearly mentions the forced use of women for brothels during the war. This document was quoted recently in a April 18, 2007 article in The Japan Times by Reiji Yoshida, saying, “The Special Naval Police (Tokei Tai) had ordered to keep the brothels supplied with women; to this end they arrested women on the streets and after enforced medical examination placed them in the brothels.” The 1948 document continues, “Women who had had relations with Japanese were forced into the brothels, which were surrounded by barbed wire. They were only allowed on the streets with special permission.”
- Jang Jum Dol, Japanese Comfort Woman, was 14 when Kidnapped by the Japanese - image: Chris Steele-Perkins -
These and other statements included in numerous tribunal documents and findings caused 28 defendants, comprised of military and political leaders, to be sentenced. Two Japanese defendants died during the trial, seven were sentenced to death and sixteen more were sentenced to life imprisonment.
In 1948, the US government played a strong position as a member of the tribunal. Only three years earlier US troop use of the atrocious “comfort stations,” were set in place in the late summer 1945 to spring of 1946. During this time these crimes and behaviors were accepted and encouraged the US military.
“The Japanese military preyed on the most vulnerable members of society for its sexual slavery system – those who because of age, poverty, class, family status, education, national, or ethnicity were most susceptible to being deceived and otherwise trapped into slavery. The women were drawn primarily from Japan’s occupied and annexed territories, mostly from poor and rural communities,” said the transcript from The Oral Judgement delivered by the Judges of the Women’s International Tribunal on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery given on Dec. 4, 2001 at The Hague, in the Netherlands.
Today, through recent exposure of tribunal documents, we know that the War Crimes Tribunal specifically cited the forced sexual use of women as an example of war crimes during World War II. While the US was attempting to legally close the door on war atrocities, along with all other nation partners during the tribunal, it was hiding its own terrible secret – its own direct involvement in sex crimes against innocent women that occurred as US military men reached the shore of occupied Japan in August 1945.
The U.S. position is “hopelessly hypocritical,” said Japan scholar Chalmers Johnson president and co-founder of the Japan Policy Research Institute, on issues surrounding the history and breath of the atrocities during World War II.
Sources for this article include the Associated Press, The Japan Times, Time Inc., ZMagazine, Amnesty International, KoreaisOne.org, International Commission of Jurists – Geneva, Switzerland, University of North Carolina - Caroline Brendt report – Endeavors magazine, ABC News, The Washington Coalition for Comfort Women, the NavShips History Ring, MSN News, The Washington Post, Wikipeidia, VAW-NET (Violence Against Women in War – Network Japan), Comfort-Women.org, the Center for Research and Documentation on Japan’s War Responsibility and Yuki Tanaka’s 2001 book – Japan’s Comfort Women: Sexual Slavery and Prostitution during World War II & the US Occupation. / Photo images in this article provided by Comfort-Women.org and Chris-Steele-Perkins of Magnum Studios.
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