Cover image for Comfort women : sexual slavery in the Japanese military during World War II
Comfort women : sexual slavery in the Japanese military during World War II
Yoshimi, Yoshiaki, 1946-
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Jūgun ianfu. English
Publication Information:
New York : Columbia University Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
253 pages ; 24 cm.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
D810.C698 Y6713 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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First brought to the attention of the Japanese public in 1991 when three Korean women filed suit in Tokyo District Court charging that they were forced into sexual servitude by the Japanese military during World War II, the existence of comfort stations and the military's role in running them have been hotly debated in Japan. How large a role did the military, and by extension the government, play in setting up and administering these camps? Were the women in actuality willing prostitutes freely offering their services, as some officials have averred, or victims of deception and, in some cases, kidnapping?

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

For 10 years, Japan has been torn by the question of its moral and legal responsibility for the women from various Asian countries (primarily Korea) that its World War II military used as "comfort women." Yoshiaki, a professor of modern Japanese history at Tokyo's Chuo University, found and published the first documentary evidence that the military (not independent procurers) established and ran "comfort stations"; the angry debate stirred by the Japanese publication of his book continues because the government has not yet adequately addressed the issue. After a new introduction for U.S. readers, the volume traces the history of the military comfort station system at various stages of the war in Asia and describes how women were "rounded up" and how they lived, placing both issues in the context of international law. In addition to testimonies of surviving women, Yoshiaki combed government archives (though many relevant documents were destroyed, and others remain classified) and analyzed memoirs and biographies of men who served in the military during the war. His study considers the gender, ethnic, and class aspects of this disturbing history. --Mary Carroll

Library Journal Review

During the Asia Pacific War (1931-45), the Japanese government forced up to 200,000 Korean, Taiwanese, Indonesian, and other young Asian women to work as so-called comfort women, providing sexual services for the armed forces of Imperial Japan. Yoshiaki's invaluable study explodes the claims of right-wing Japanese nationalists that comfort women were merely wartime prostitutes. Citing official military records and correspondence, the author proves beyond a doubt that the victims of this monstrous system were actually sex slaves who were subjected to repetitive rape and violence. Often kidnapped or tricked by false promises of legitimate employment, the comfort women were trebly exploited as colonial subjects, members of the rural and urban poor, and women. Yoshiaki, a politically engaged scholar, analyzes the comfort-women issue against the background of Japan's prewar system of licensed prostitution and contemporary Asian sex tourism, where Japanese men continue to exploit the women of neighboring Asian countries. The translator's introduction illuminates the Japanese debate over comfort women, to which this book is an indispensable contribution. Steven I. Levine, Univ. of Montana, Missoula (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

On this recently popularized topic of the brutalization of young, poor, mostly non-Japanese females by WW II military troops and civilians, Yoshimi, a reputable historian/scholar (in a manner uncharacteristically explicit among Japanese), declares himself a social activist aiming to provide "a cornerstone of certainty from which inquiry into all aspects of the military comfort women issue can proceed." Toward that aim, he has meticulously sleuthed out chronological data (based on both Japanese and US military documents as well as "memories" of both perpetrators and victims), exposing from its bitter outset that sordid, endless business of sexual slavery. Yoshimi's account extends to the essence of feminist political purpose: the magnitude of its well-articulated claims encompasses multiple varieties of discrimination--sexual/gender/class/racial/ ethnic--as well as imperialistic domination. He addresses point-blank the agency solely capable of redeeming itself and its victims, prodding the Japanese government toward accountability. The book makes solid headway toward legitimizing his demands for public access to still-secret documents; acknowledging and apologizing for all violations of international law and war crimes and for failure to punish guilty parties; rehabilitating and compensating victims; and, lastly, disseminating truthful information to the public. A vigorous work, enhanced by a precise, graceful translation. All collections. G. D. Claiborne University of Maryland University College

Table of Contents

Translator's Introduction Author's
Introduction to the English Edition The Emergence of the Issue
1 The Course and Conditions of the Establishment of the Military Comfort Station System: From the First Shanghai Incident to the Start of All-Out War in China
2 Expansion Into Southeast Asia and the Pacific: The Period of the Asia Pacific War
3 How Were the Women Rounded Up? Comfort Women's Testimonies and Soldiers' Recollections
4 The Lives Comfort Women Were Forced to Lead
5 Violations of International Law and War Crime Trials
6 Conditions After the Defeat