|Alternate Japanese name|
Comfort women were women and girls who were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army in occupied territories before and during World War II. The name "comfort women" is a translation of the Japanese euphemism ianfu (慰安婦) and the similar Korean term wianbu (위안부). Ianfu is a euphemism for "prostitute(s)". Estimates vary as to how many women were involved, with numbers ranging from as low as 20,000 to as high as 360,000 to 410,000, in Chinese sources; the exact numbers are still being researched and debated. Many of the women were from occupied countries, including Korea, China, and the Philippines, although women from Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan (then a Japanese dependency), Indonesia (then the Dutch East Indies), East Timor (then Portuguese Timor), and other Japanese-occupied territories were used for military "comfort stations". Stations were located in Japan, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, then Malaya, Thailand, Burma, New Guinea, Hong Kong, Macau, and French Indochina. A smaller number of women of European origin from the Netherlands and Australia were also involved.
According to testimony, young women from countries in Imperial Japanese custody were abducted from their homes. In many cases, women were also lured with promises of work in factories or restaurants; once recruited, the women were incarcerated in comfort stations in foreign lands.
Establishment of the Comfort Women System 1
Japanese military prostitution 1.1
- Outline 1.1.1
- Late archives inquiries and trials 1.1.2
- Number of comfort women 1.2
- Country of origin 1.3
- Treatment of comfort women 1.4
- Japanese military prostitution 1.1
History of the issue 2
- Apologies and compensation 2.1
- Controversies 2.2
Survivors of Comfort Women 2.3
- Wednesday Demonstrations 188.8.131.52
- House of Sharing 184.108.40.206
- Archives by Comfort Women 220.127.116.11
- Philippines 2.3.2
- Taiwan 2.3.3
- Korea 2.3.1
- International support 2.4
- Health-related issues 3
- List of former comfort women 4
- See also 5
- References 6
- External links 7
Establishment of the Comfort Women System
Japanese military prostitution
Military correspondence of the Japanese Imperial Army shows that the aim of facilitating comfort stations was the prevention of rape crimes committed by Japanese army personnel and thus preventing the rise of hostility among people in occupied areas.
Given the well-organized and open nature of
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United States historical documents
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- Letter from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to the former comfort women (2001, Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
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慰安婦は戦地で外征軍を相手とする娼婦を指す用語(婉曲用語)だった。 (Ianfu was a euphemism for the prostitutes who served for the Japanese expeditionary forces outside Japan)
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궁지에 몰린 요시다는 "일부 사례의 시간.장소에는 창작이 가미됐다"고 털어놨다.
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List of former comfort women
In the aftermath of the war, the women recalled bouts of physical and mental abuses that they had experienced while working in military brothels. In the Rorschach test, the women showed distorted perceptions, difficulty in managing emotional reactions and internalized anger. A 2011 clinical study found that comfort women are more prone to showing symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), even 60 years after the end of the war.
In 2014, Pope Francis met with seven former comfort women in South Korea. Also in 2014, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination called for Japan to, as the Committee's deputy head Anastasia Crickley put it, "conclude investigations into the violations of the rights of ‘comfort women’ by the military and to bring to justice those responsible and to pursue a comprehensive and lasting resolution to these issues.”  U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay had also spoken out in support of comfort women several times.
The cause has long been supported beyond the victim nations, and associations like Amnesty International are campaigning in countries where governments have yet to support the cause, like in Australia, or New Zealand. Support in the United States continues to grow, particularly after the United States House of Representatives House Resolution 121 was passed on July 30, 2007, asking the Japanese government to redress the situation and to teach the actual historical facts. In July 2012, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a strong advocate of the cause, denounced the use of the euphemism 'comfort women' for what should be referred to as 'enforced sex slaves'. The White House continues to express the need for Japan to do more to address the issue. In addition to calling attention to the issue, the American memorial statues erected in New Jersey in 2010 and California in 2013 show support for what has become an international cause.
In November 2014, "Song of the Reed" a documentary film directed by Wu Hsiu-ching and produced by TWRF, won the International Gold Panda documentary award.
Thanks to these awareness in the society and with the help of TWRF Taiwanese comfort women have gain the support their government, which in many opportunities had ask Japan for apologize and compensation.
.Tokyo but also for Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace based in Taipei TWRF has produced in exhibitions giving survivors the opportunity to be listened in  Survivors claims against Japan government have been backed by
Since the 1990s Taiwanese survivors have bringing to light the comfort woman issue in the Taiwanese society. And gain support from woman rights activist and civil groups. Their testimonies and memories has been documented by newspaper, books, and documentaries films.
Similar to the Korean grandmothers, Filipino "Lolas" have their own Grandmother house with a collection of their testimonies. Also two of them have published two autobiographic books, "Comfort Woman: Slave of Destiny" by Rosa Henson and "The Hidden Battle of Leyte: The Picture Diary of a Girl Taken by the Japanese Military" by Remedios Felias this last one was written in the 1990s after Lila Filipina was formed.
These groups have made demonstrations in front of the Japanese embassy in Manila in many occasions, or giving testimonies to Japaneses tourist in Manila.
 (CEDAW).Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and Children then against their own government to back their claims and, as of August 2014, planned to take the case the UN  These groups have taken legal actions against Japan, together with the "Malaya Lolas" (Free grandmothers) ask for a formal apologize from the Japanese government, compensation, and the inclusion of the issue in the Japanese history textbooks. These groups also ask the Philippine government to back their claims against the Japanese government. In Philippines comfort women formed different groups, similar to the Korean survivors they are called "Lolas" (grandmothers). One group named "Lila Pilipina" (League of Filipino Women) which started in 1992 and is member of
Some of the survivors, Kang Duk-kyung, Kim Soon-duk and Lee Yong-Nyeo, preserved their personal history through their drawings as a visual archive Also, the director of the Center for Asian American Media, Dai Sil Kim-Gibson, made a comfort women video archive, a documentary film for K-12 through college level students. Feminist visual and video archives have promoted a place for solidarity between the victims and the public. It has served as a living site for the teaching and learning of women’s dignity and human rights by bringing people together despite age, gender, borders, nationality, and ideologies.
Archives by Comfort Women
The House of Sharing is the home for living comfort women. The House of Sharing was founded in June 1992 through funds raised by Buddhist organizations and various socio-civic groups and it moved to Gyunggi-do, South Korea in 1998. The House of Sharing includes “The Museum of Sexual Slavery by Japanese Military” to spread the truth about the Japanese military’s brutal abuse of comfort women and to educate descendants and the public.
House of Sharing
Every Wednesday, living comfort women, women’s organizations, socio-civic groups, religious groups, and a number of individuals participate in the “Wednesday Demonstrations” in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, sponsored by “The Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan (KCWDMSS)”. It was first held on January 8, 1992, when Japan’s Prime Minister, Miyazawa, visited the Republic of Korea. In December 2011, a statue of a young woman was erected in front of the Japanese Embassy to honor the comfort women, on the 1,000th of the weekly “Wednesday Demonstrations”. The Japanese government has repeatedly asked the South Korean government to have the statue taken down, but it has not been.
The last surviving victims have become public figures in Korea, where they are referred to as "halmoni", the affectionate term for "grandmother". China remains more at the testimony collection stage, particularly through the China "Comfort Women" Issue Research Center at Shanghai Normal University, sometimes in collaboration with Korean researchers. For other nations, the research and the interaction with victims is less advanced.
Survivors of Comfort Women
Prime Minister Hirofumi Nakasone, chairs a commission established to consider "concrete measures to restore Japan's honor with regard to the comfort women issue."
The new president of NHK has compared the Japanese program to the practices of western militaries; western historians point out the differences between the Japanese government program which forced women to participate and the free enterprise institutions frequented by western troops where the women were forced only by economic necessity or by non-state actors.
There was a controversy involving NHK in early 2001. What was supposed to be coverage of the Women's International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan's Military Sexual Slavery was heavily edited to reflect revisionist views.
A comic book, Neo Gomanism Manifesto Special – On Taiwan by Japanese author Yoshinori Kobayashi, depicts kimono-clad women lining up to sign up for duty before a Japanese soldier. Kobayashi's book contains an interview with Taiwanese industrialist Shi Wen-long who stated that no women were forced to serve, and that they worked in more hygienic conditions compared to regular prostitutes because the use of condoms was mandatory.
Some Japanese politicians have argued that the former comfort women's testimony is inconsistent and unreliable, making it invalid. Mayor of Osaka and co-leader of the nationalist and far-right Japan Restoration Party, Tōru Hashimoto, while initially maintaining that "there is no evidence that people called comfort women were taken away by violence or threat by the [Japanese] military", he later modified his position asserting that they became comfort women "against their will", still justifying their role during World War II as "necessary", so that soldiers could "have a rest".
Japanese historian and Nihon University professor, Ikuhiko Hata estimates the number of comfort women to be more likely between 10,000 and 20,000. Hata claims that "none of [the comfort women] were forcibly recruited".
Within Japan, there is still great controversy related to the usage of comfort women by the Japanese military, particularly in the areas of denial or minimization by Japanese politicians, activists, and journalists.
In 2007, the surviving sex slaves wanted an apology from the Japanese government. Shinzō Abe, the prime minister at the time, stated on March 1, 2007, that there was no evidence that the Japanese government had kept sex slaves, even though the Japanese government had already admitted the use of coercion in 1993. On March 27 the Japanese parliament issued an official apology. On February 20, 2014, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the Japanese government may reconsider the study and the apology. However, Prime Minister Abe clarified on March 14, 2014 that he had no intention of renouncing or altering it.
Three Korean women filed suit in Japan in December, 1991, around the time of the 50th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, demanding compensation for forced prostitution. In 1992, documents which had been stored since 1958 when they were returned by United States troops and which indicated that the military had played a large role in operating what were euphemistically called "comfort stations" were found in the library of Japan's Self-Defense Agency. The Japanese Government admitted that the Japanese Army had forced tens of thousands of Korean women to have sex with Japanese soldiers during World War II. On January 14, 1992, Japanese Chief Government Spokesman Koichi Kato issued an official apology saying, "We cannot deny that the former Japanese army played a role" in abducting and detaining the "comfort girls," and "We would like to express our apologies and contrition". Three days later on January 17, 1992 at a dinner given by South Korean President Roh Tae Woo, the Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa told his host: "We Japanese should first and foremost recall the truth of that tragic period when Japanese actions inflicted suffering and sorrow upon your people. We should never forget our feelings of remorse over this. As Prime Minister of Japan, I would like to declare anew my remorse at these deeds and tender my apology to the people of the Republic of Korea." He apologized again the following day in a speech before South Korea's National Assembly. On April 28, 1998, the Japanese court ruled that the Government must compensate the women and awarded them US$2,300 ($3,328 in 2016) each.
In negotiations, the South Korean government initially demanded $364 million in compensation for Koreans forced by into labor and military service during the Japanese occupation; $200 per survivor, $1,650 per death and $2,000 per injured person. In the final agreement Tokyo provided an $800 million aid and low-interest loan package over 10 years. In 1994, the Japanese government set up the ) per person from the AWF along with the signed apology, while 142 others received funds from the government of Korea. The fund was dissolved on March 31, 2007.
Apologies and compensation
In 2014 China released documents it said were "ironclad proof" that the comfort women were forced to work as prostitutes against their will, including documents from the Japanese Kwantung Army military police corps archives and documents from the national bank of Japan's puppet regime in Manchuria.
In 2010, the first American monument dedicated to the comfort women was established in New Jersey, United States.
In 1993, following multiple testimonies the Kono Statement was issued by Japanese Government confirming that coercion was involved in seizing the comfort women. In 2007, the Japanese government made a cabinet decision, "No evidence was found that the Japanese army or the military officials seized the women by force."  In 2014 Yoshihide Suga has formed a team to reexamine the background of the report. The review brought to a light that coordination between Japan and South Korea in the process of composing the statement and concluded that at the request of Seoul, Tokyo stipulated coercion was involved in recruiting the women. After the review, Suga and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated that Japan continues to uphold the Kono Statement.
, was pressured to terminate his position.Hokusei Gakuen University, a journalist who wrote one of the retracted articles, was subject to similar attacks from conservatives, and his employer, Takashi Uemura Following the retraction, attacks from conservatives increased.  In 1989, the testimony of
In 1973 a man named Kakou Senda wrote a book about the comfort women system that focused on Japanese participants. His book has been widely criticized as distorting the facts by both Japanese and South Korean historians. This was the first postwar mention of the comfort women system and became an important source for 1990s activism on the issue.
In 1944, allied forces captured twenty Korean comfort women and two Japanese comfort station owners in Burma and issued Report no. 49. According to the report, Korean girls were deceived into being used as comfort women by the Japanese; in 1942 there were about 800 girls trafficked from Korea to Burma in this manner of obtaining comfort women.
History of the issue
In China some Korean comfort women stayed behind instead of going back to their native land. The Korean comfort women left behind in China married Chinese men.
Nelson also quotes from Kentaro Igusa, a Japanese naval surgeon who was stationed in Rabaul. Igusa wrote in his memoirs that the women continued to work through infection and severe discomfort, though they “cried and begged for help.”
Hank Nelson, emeritus professor at the Australian National University's Asia Pacific Research Division, has written about the brothels run by the Japanese military in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea during WWII. He quotes from the diary of Gordon Thomas, a POW in Rabaul. Thomas writes that the women working at the brothels “most likely served 25 to 35 men a day” and that they were “victims of the yellow slave trade.”
The Japanese officers involved received some punishment by Japanese authorities at the end of the war. After the end of the war, 11 Japanese officers were found guilty with one soldier being sentenced to death by the Batavia War Criminal Court. The court decision found that the charge violated was the Army's order to hire only voluntary women. Victims from East Timor testified they were forced into slavery even when they were not old enough to have started menstruating. The court testimonies state that these prepubescent girls were repeatedly raped by Japanese soldiers while those who refused to comply were executed.
In their first morning at the brothel, photographs of Ruff-O'Herne and the others were taken and placed on the veranda which was used as a reception area for the Japanese personnel who would choose from these photographs. Over the following four months the girls were raped and beaten day and night, with those who became pregnant forced to have abortions. After four harrowing months, the girls were moved to a camp at Bogor, in West Java, where they were reunited with their families. This camp was exclusively for women who had been put into military brothels, and the Japanese warned the inmates that if anyone told what had happened to them, they and their family members would be killed. Several months later the O'Hernes were transferred to a camp at Batavia, which was liberated on 15 August 1945.
Many stories have been told about the horrors, brutalities, suffering and starvation of Dutch women in Japanese prison camps. But one story was never told, the most shameful story of the worst human rights abuse committed by the Japanese during World War II: The story of the “Comfort Women”, the jugun ianfu, and how these women were forcibly seized against their will, to provide sexual services for the Japanese Imperial Army. In the “comfort station” I was systematically beaten and raped day and night. Even the Japanese doctor raped me each time he visited the brothel to examine us for venereal disease.
Ten Dutch women were taken by force from prison camps in Java by officers of the Japanese Imperial Army to become forced sex slaves in February 1944. They were systematically beaten and raped day and night. As a victim of the incident, in 1990, Jan Ruff-O'Herne testified to a U.S. House of Representatives committee:
Approximately three quarters of comfort women died, and most survivors were left infertile due to sexual trauma or sexually transmitted diseases. Beatings and physical torture were said to be common.
Treatment of comfort women
To date, only one Japanese woman has published her testimony. This was done in 1971, when a former comfort woman forced to work for Showa soldiers in Taiwan, published her memoirs under the pseudonym of Suzuko Shirota.
A Dutch government study described how the Japanese military itself seized the women by force in the Dutch East Indies. It concluded that among the 200 to 300 European women found in the Japanese military brothels, “some sixty five were most certainly forced into prostitution.”  Others, faced with starvation in the refugee camps, agreed to offers of food and payment for work, the nature of which was not completely revealed to them.
In further analysis of the Imperial Army medical records for venereal disease treatment from 1940, Yoshimi concluded that if the percentages of women treated reflected the general makeup of the total comfort women population, Korean women comprised 51.8 percent, Chinese 36 percent and Japanese 12.2 percent.
According to State University of New York at Buffalo professor Yoshiko Nozaki and other sources, the majority of the women were from Korea and China. Chuo University professor Yoshiaki Yoshimi states there were about 2,000 centers where as many as 200,000 Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Filipino, Taiwanese, Burmese, Indonesian, Dutch and Australian women were interned. Ikuhiko Hata, a professor of Nihon University, estimated the number of women working in the licensed pleasure quarter was fewer than 20,000 and that they were 40% Japanese, 20% Koreans, 10% Chinese, with others making up the remaining 30%. According to Hata, the total number of government-regulated prostitutes in Japan was only 170,000 during World War II. Others came from the Philippines, Taiwan, Dutch East Indies, and other Japanese-occupied countries and regions. Some Dutch women, captured in Dutch colonies in Asia, were also forced into sexual slavery.
Country of origin
A 2015 study examined archival data which was previously difficult to access, partly due to the China-Japan Joint Communiqué of 1972 in which the Chinese government agreed not to seek any restitution for wartime crimes and incidents. New documents discovered in China shed light on the facilities inside comfort stations operated within a Japanese army compound, and the conditions of the Korean comfort women. Documents were discovered verifying the Japanese Army as the funding agency for purchasing at least some comfort women. Documents were found in Shanghai that showed in detail how the Japanese Army went about opening comfort stations for Japanese troops in occupied Shanghai. Documents examined included the Tianjin Municipal Archives from the archival files of the Japanese government and the Japanese police during the periods of the occupation in World War II. Municipal archives from Shanghai and Nanjing were also examined. One conclusion reached was that the relevant archives in Korea are distorted. A conclusion of the study was that it is conceivable that the Japanese Imperial government and the colonial government in Korea tried, as far as possible, to avoid revealing traces of the illegal mobilization of comfort women, and they burned most of the records immediately before the surrender, but the study confirmed that some documents and records have survived.
Based on these estimates, most international media sources quote about 200,000 young women were kidnapped by Japanese soldiers to serve in Japanese military brothels. The BBC quotes "200,000 to 300,000" and the International Commission of Jurists quotes "estimates of historians of 100,000 to 200,000 women." The Asahi Shinbun apologized in 2014 for stating the number of 200,000 Korean comfort women which, on reconsideration, was regarded as inaccurate and the result of a conflation with an unrelated factory program.
Lack of official documentation has made estimates of the total number of comfort women difficult, as vast amounts of material pertaining to matters related to war crimes and the war responsibility of the nation's highest leaders were destroyed on the orders of the Japanese government at the end of the war. Historians have arrived at various estimates by looking at surviving documentation which indicate the ratio of the number of soldiers in a particular area to the number of women, as well as looking at replacement rates of the women. Historian Yoshiaki Yoshimi, who conducted the first academic study on the topic which brought the issue out into the open, estimated the number to be between 50,000 and 200,000.
Number of comfort women
In June 2014, more official documents from the government of Japan's archives were made public, documenting sexual violence and women forced into sexual slavery committed by Imperial Japanese soldiers in French Indochina and Indonesia.
In 2014 China produced almost 90 documents from the archives of the Kwantung Army on the issue. According to China, the documents provide ironclad proof that the Japanese military forced Asian women to work in frontline brothels before and during the Second World War.
The South Korean government designated Bae Jeong-ja as a pro-Japanese collaborator (chinilpa) in September 2007 for recruiting comfort women.
On 12 May 2007 journalist Taichiro Kajimura announced the discovery of 30 Dutch government documents submitted to the Tokyo tribunal as evidence of a forced mass prostitution incident in 1944 in Magelang.
 On April 17, 2007 Yoshiaki Yoshimi and
Late archives inquiries and trials
In 1944, the United States Office of War Information report of interviews with 20 Korean comfort women in Burma found that the girls were induced by the offer of plenty of money, an opportunity to pay off family debts, easy work, and the prospect of a new life in a new land, Singapore. On the basis of these false representations many girls enlisted for overseas duty and were rewarded with an advance of a few hundred yen. Only some of these girls who had paid their debt were allowed to return to Korea.
The situation became worse as the war progressed. Under the strain of the war effort, the military became unable to provide enough supplies to Japanese units; in response, the units made up the difference by demanding or looting supplies from the locals. Along the front lines, especially in the countryside where middlemen were rare, the military often directly demanded that local leaders procure women for the brothels. When the locals, especially Chinese, were considered hostile, Japanese soldiers carried out the "Three Alls Policy", which included indiscriminately kidnapping and raping local civilians.
In the early stages of the war, Japanese authorities recruited prostitutes through conventional means. In urban areas, conventional advertising through middlemen was used alongside kidnapping. Middlemen advertised in newspapers circulating in Japan and the Japanese colonies of Korea, Taiwan, Manchukuo, and China. These sources soon dried up, especially from Japan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs resisted further issuance of travel visas for Japanese prostitutes, feeling it tarnished the image of the Japanese Empire. The military turned to acquiring comfort women outside mainland Japan, especially from Korea and occupied China. Many women were tricked or defrauded into joining the military brothels. The Japanese forced Hui Muslim girls in China to serve as sex slaves by setting up the "Huimin Girl's school" and enrolling Hui girls into the school for this purpose.
The first comfort station was established in the Japanese concession in Shanghai in 1932. Earlier comfort women were Japanese prostitutes who volunteered for such service. However, as Japan continued military expansion, the military found itself short of Japanese volunteers, and turned to the local population to coerce women into serving in these stations. Many women responded to calls for work as factory workers or nurses, and did not know that they were being pressed into sexual slavery.
, they aggravated the problems. Yoshimi has asserted, "The Japanese Imperial Army feared most that the simmering discontentment of the soldiers could explode into a riot and revolt. That is why it provided women."Yoshiaki Yoshimi The Japanese Army established the comfort stations to prevent venereal diseases and rape by Japanese soldiers, to provide comfort to soldiers and head off espionage. The comfort stations were not actual solutions to the first two problems, however. According to Japanese historian