Monday, December 19, 2011

Nanking massacre & Comfort Woman

13th December, is the anniversary of the Rape of Nanking or Nanking Massacre.

On 18-12-2011, South Korea's visiting president Lee Myung-bak pressed his Japanese counterpart to resolve a long-standing grievance regarding Korean women forced to serve as sexual slaves during World War II, calling it a "stumbling block" in their relations.

Most of the Japanese military records on the Nanking killings and comfort woman were deliberately destroyed or kept secret shortly after the surrender of Japan in 1945. So until today, it was extreme difficult to obtain historical documentary evidences on the issues of Nanking Massacre and Comfort woman. Ironically the establishment of Comfort Woman system by the Japanese Imperial Army has direct relation with the Nanking Massacre, and General Okamura Yasuji (岡村寧次).

General Okamura Yasuji (岡村寧次)& Comfort Woman

General Okamura Yasuji (岡村寧次)is named as the first confirmed officer in the Japanese army who instituted forced prostitution. Widely known as the system of ' comfort women' or Ianfu. May be he should be called Father of Comfort Woman....he was also the one who was responsible for the Three Alls Policy in China. Yasuji Okamura(15 May 1884 – 2 September 1966) was a general of the Imperial Japanese Army, war criminal, and commander-in-chief of the China Expeditionary Army from November 1944 to the end of World War II. But he was lucky as his good friend, General Chiang Kai-sek saved him from death, making use of him as Military Advisor to Nationalist Chinese Army from 1946-1949. (Note: this revealed that the war criminal court may not be truly independence but may be influenced by some country, especially USA). He was General Officer Commanding 2nd Division, China from 1936-1938, when the Rape of Nanking took place during the WW2.

The Three Alls Policy(三光作戦), originally referred to as "The Burn to Ash Strategy" (燼滅作戦 Jinmetsu Sakusen), was initiated in 1940 by Major General Ryūkichi Tanaka, but the Sankō Sakusen was implemented in full scale in 1942 in north China by General Yasuji Okamura(1884-1966) who divided the territory of five provinces (Hebei, Shandong, Shensi, Shanhsi, Chahaer) into "pacified", "semi-pacified" and "unpacified" areas. The approval of the policy was given by Imperial General Headquarters Order Number 575 on 3 December 1941. Okamura's strategy involved burning down villages, confiscating grain and mobilizing peasants to construct collective hamlets. It also centered on the digging of vast trench lines and the building of thousands of miles of containment walls and moats, watchtowers and roads. These operations targeted for destruction "enemies pretending to be local people" and "all males between the ages of fifteen and sixty whom we suspect to be enemies."(source: wikipedia)

While he was questioned by the investigators, he testified about the Nanking massacre:

"I surmised the following based on what I heard from Staff Officer Miyazaki, CCAA Special Service Department Chief Harada and Hangzhou Special Service Department Chief Hagiwara a day or two after I arrived in Shanghai. First, it is true that tens of thousands of acts of violence, such as looting and rape, took place against civilians during the assault on Nanking. Second, front-line troops indulged in the evil practice of executing POWs on the pretext of (lacking) rations”

His order on comfort woman can be traced back to 1932 with documentation of Japanese Lieutenant-General Okamura Yasuji’s proposal for a “shipment” of comfort women to be sent to Shanghai. He was the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Shanghai Expeditionary Army
Comfort Women In 1932, the Japanese army’s comfort stations began. The Japanese Lieutenant-General Okamura Yasuji, was trying to find a solution to the 223 reported rapes by Japanese troops. So the only solution that he could find was to ask for comfort women to be sent for his soldiers in Shanghai, China. The Japanese Army made use of comfort stations a lot until the war ended in 1945. At a typical comfort station, a soldier paid a fee, obtained a ticket and a condom, and was admitted to a woman's space.

March 1932 Following the “First Shanghai Incident”, 223 cases of rape by Japanese soldiers are reported in the area. Lieutenant-General Okamura Yasuji (岡村寧次) subsequently demands the creation in Shanghai of the first “comfort station” (慰安所 ianjo) for naval troops, an initiative immediately imitated by the Imperial Army. The number of Chinese as well as Japanese women rounded up is unknown (see the rest of the chronology for available numbers and estimates.)(Soh, 2005: 360, Hicks, 1994: 45, Yoshimi, 2000: 43-44)

The establishment of "comfort stations" providing on-site prostitutes for the Japanese army started as early as 1932, following hostilities between Japan and China in Shanghai. This was nearly a decade before the use of so¬called "comfort women" became a widespread and regular phenomenon, as it had undoubtedly become in all parts of Japanese-controlled East Asia by the end of the Second World War. The first military sexual slaves were Koreans from the North Kyushu area of Japan, and were sent, at the request of one of the commanding officers of the army, by the Governor of Nagasaki Prefecture. The rationale behind the establishment of a formal system of comfort stations was that such an institutionalized and, therefore, controlled prostitution service would reduce the number of rape reports in areas where the army was based

March 1933
According to testimonies, organised prostitution sections are gradually established under the name of “Young Women Auxiliary Corps” (若年女子補助部隊 jakunen joshi hojo butai) and set up by the Imperial Army Staff in Manchuria for the benefit of Japanese troops. (Some former victims claim that the corps dates back to 1931-32.) The total number of women abused is unknown. ** (Soh, 2005: 364-65)

(source ; Chronological Index: Japanese mass violence and its victims in the Fifteen Years War (1931-45) )

Nanking massacre

The Nanking Massacre or Nanjing Massacre, also known as the Rape of Nanking, was a mass murder, genocide and war rape that occurred during the six-week period following the Japanese capture of the city of Nanjing (Nanking), the former capital of the Republic of China, on December 13, 1937 during the Second Sino-Japanese War. During this period hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians and disarmed soldiers were murdered and 20,000–80,000 men, women and children were raped by soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army

The event remains a contentious political issue, as various aspects of it have been disputed by some historical revisionists and Japanese nationalists, who have claimed that the massacre has been either exaggerated or wholly fabricated for propaganda purposes. As a result of the nationalist efforts to deny or rationalize the war crimes, the controversy surrounding the massacre remains a stumbling block in Sino-Japanese relations, as well as Japanese relations with other Asia-Pacific nations such as South Korea and the Philippines.

13 December 1937
The city of Nanking falls to Japanese troops under the command of General Matsui Iwane (松井石根). Rape, pillaging and executions by Japanese soldiers take place over the following six weeks, until January 1938, in the city and neighbouring area, making the precise localisation of the event a source of dispute. However, most reasonable historians today accept that what constitutes the incident is the plurality of cases of mass violence exerted first on the road to Nanking, and then in and around the city, whereas revisionists tend to reduce the area in which acts of violence were committed, in order to minimise the number of victims. Chinese civilians and soldiers alike are killed, either individually in sporadic acts of violence or machined-gunned and thrown into mass graves. The female population is subjected to mass rape by Japanese troops. The total number of victims is still the main source of public disagreement today. The Nanking Memorial Museum claims a total of 300,000 deaths and 20,000 rapes. Some revisionists/negationists in Japan still maintain that what is known today as “The Great Nanking Massacre” (南京大虐殺 nankin dai gyakusatsu) or “The Nanking Incident” (南京事件 nankin jiken) did not take place in these proportions and that there was a maximum of 50 Chinese victims. The vast majority of historians today put the death toll at over 200,000. (Brook, 1999, Fujiwara, 1997: 54-74, Ishida, 2006: 170, Kasahara, 1997: 201-232, Rabe, 1998, Yamamoto, 2000: 234-281, Yoshida, 2006: 11-26)
(source: Chronological Index: Japanese mass violence and its victims in the Fifteen Years War (1931-45) )

The Comfort Woman System or Military Prostitution

December 1937
The (first?) Japanese military brothel (in China) is set up by the Army in the city of Nanking, a few days after its fall, marking the beginning of the systematisation of this practice. Military police round up an unknown number (over a hundred) of Chinese women to serve as forced prostitutes. It is estimated that more than 1,200 women, a minority of them prostitutes, had been transformed into sex slaves by the Japanese Army by 1939. It is also widely believed that brothels had already been established in Manchuria, by and under the responsibility of the Kwantung Army, and had been in use by Imperial troops stationed there since 1931. If the Nanking “comfort station” is not technically the first such institution of its kind, it does, however, mark the beginning of their extremely rapid increase. *** (Imai & Iwasaki, 2010, Soh, 2005: 360-65, Tanaka, 2002: 12-19, Yoshimi, 2000: 53-54)

July 1941
In preparation for war with the Soviet Union, an estimated 10,000 Korean women are brought to Manchukuo to serve as “comfort women” for the Kwantung Army, and large numbers of brothels are set up throughout the area. (Yoshimi, 2000: 57)

(source: Chronological Index: Japanese mass violence and its victims in the Fifteen Years War (1931-45) )

When, in 1937, the Japanese Imperial Army captured Nanking, with resulting violence, the Japanese authorities were forced to consider the state of military discipline and morale. The comfort station plan as originally introduced in 1932 was revived. The Shanghai Special Branch used its contacts in the trading community to obtain as many women as possible for military sexual services by the end of 1937.

These women and girls were employed in a comfort station situated between Shanghai and Nanking, operated directly by the army. This station became the prototype for later stations and photographs of the station, as well as regulations for the users, are preserved. This station's direct operation by the army did not continue as the norm for comfort stations in the more settled environment which followed when the phenomenon became more widespread. There were enough private civilians willing to run the stations and to see to their internal operation; they were given paramilitary status and rank by the army. The army remained responsible for transportation and the general overseeing of the stations, and matters such as health and general supervision remained the responsibility of the military.

Following the rape of Nanking in 1937, it became apparent to the Japanese that discipline had to be improved and the "comfort women establishment" was revived. Agents were sent to the same area in North Kyushu, and when there was inadequate response from volunteers from brothels they resorted to deceiving local girls with offers of well¬paid jobs, ostensibly as cooks and laundresses for the army. Instead, they worked as military sexual slaves in a comfort station situated between Shanghai and Nanking, a centre which became the prototype for future stations.

Japanese buying/thieving of women’s flesh did not begin with the advent of comfort women. Diaries and military documents during the Russo-Japanese war reveal the popularity of brothels among the Japanese military during the early twentieth century. Japanese soldiers’ high demand for sexual commodities continued into the Shanghai War, the Manchurian conflict, and World War II. The pre-1937 brothels, although employing military physicians, were generally privately run. During the escalating war with China and the subsequent Second World War, the Japanese government took a more direct hand in the organization and operation of brothels or “comfort stations.” There was logic behind their depravity. The Japanese government, in the wake of the widespread murder, rape, and rampant destruction of Nanking by Japan’s military, argued that comfort stations allowed soldiers to release their pent up sexual aggressions in a controlled environment. Incidents such as the rape of Nanking, the Japanese government believed, would cause backlash and public outcry, but the systematic and covert recruitment of women as sex-slaves could go unnoticed. Comfort stations were also seen as necessary to reduce the spread of infections diseases11 among Japanese soldiers. One must be careful not to blame the sexual exploitation of comfort women solely on the horrors of war and thus create a simplistic “war equals atrocities” equation.

The unequal power-relations the comfort women experienced are much more complex The extent of the Japanese government’s involvement in running comfort stations is hotly disputed. After former comfort women came forward and shared their dark experiences, Japanese officials reluctantly apologized for military mistreatment of women. In 1992, Koichi Kato, the Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan, stated, “I would like to express the sincere apology and remorse of the Government of Japan to all those…who underwent indescribable pain and suffering as comfort women.” Although offering an apology, Mr. Kato refused to admit government responsibility. Mr. Kato went on to state, “We did our best. Such problems, unthinkable in a time of peace, occurred in the midst of a war in which behavior often defied common sense.”. Mr. Kato evades government responsibility and relegates the pain inflected upon the comfort women as merely an unfortunate result of hysterical war fever.

(source: Colonizing sex: sexology and social control in modern Japan
By Sabine Frühstück, University of California Press, 2003)

After the war, comfort woman continue in Japan to provide service to the American GIs under RAA

RAA - The Recreation and Amusement Association

The occupation of Japan by the Allied Powers started in August 1945 and ended in April 1952. General MacArthur was its first Supreme Commander. The whole operation was mainly carried out by the United States.

An undated photo from the Yokosuka City Council in Japan shows U.S. sailors gathered in front of a "Yasu-Ura House" in the town south of Tokyo. Japan's practice of enslaving women to provide sex for its World War II troops continued after Americans began to flood the country after its surrender. U.S. occupation officials provided penicillin and condoms. (AP / Yokosuka City Council) Tens of thousands of women were employed to provide cheap sex to U.S. troops until the spring of 1946, when Gen. Douglas MacArthur shut the brothels down. Police officials and Tokyo businessmen established a network of brothels under the auspices of the Recreation and Amusement Association, which operated with government funds.

Seiichi Kaburagi, the chief of public relations for the RAA, wrote in a 1972 memoir that occupation GIs paid up front and were given tickets and condoms. The first RAA brothel, called Komachien - The Babe Garden - had 38 women, but due to high demand, that was quickly increased to 100. Each woman serviced from 15 to 60 clients a day. The Recreation and Amusement Association (特殊慰安施設協会 tokushu-ian-shisetsu-kyōkai) (RAA), or more literally Special Comfort Facility Association, was the official euphemism for the prostitution centers arranged for occupying U.S. armed forces by the Japanese Government after World War II. The RAA was created on August 28, 1945 by the Japanese Home Ministry and a civilian organization through joint capital investment (50 million yen each), officially to contain the sexual urges of the occupation forces, protect the main Japanese populace from rape and preserve the purity of the Japanese race. The official declaration of 19 August 1945 stated that "Through the sacrifice of thousands of 'Okichis' of the Shōwa era, we shall construct a dike to hold back the mad frenzy of the occupation troops and cultivate and preserve the purity of our race long into the future..." In September, the system was extended to cover the entire country. Allied GHQ (General Headquarters) commandeered these institutions (22 places of prostitution) on September 28 because rapes by the occupation army soldiers were frequent. In January 1946, the RAA was terminated by an order to cease all "public" prostitution. The ban is traditionally attributed to the efforts of former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. General Douglas MacArthur declared all places of prostitution off limits in an attempt to counter the spread of sexually transmitted diseases on March 25, 1946 as by then more than a quarter of all American GIs in the Japanese occupation forces had a sexually transmitted disease

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. Tens of thousands of women were employed to provide cheap sex to U.S. troops until the spring of 1946, when Gen. Douglas MacArthur shut the brothels down. The documents show the brothels were rushed into operation as American forces poured into Japan beginning in August 1945.

Japan 'gave GIs comfort women,

R&R - Rest and Recuperation

The RAA system was continued during Korea War and Vietnam war under R&R or Rest and Recuperation, leave Program for the United States Army G-1. Soldiers who are serving in areas designated as hostile fire and imminent danger area may be eligible for one Rest and Recuperation (R&R) trip per 12-month period. R & R is a chargeable leave program that authorizes use of ordinary leave and may not be combined with other absences. Soldiers must meet certain requirements to be eligible for an R & R trip.

R&R, military slang for rest and recuperation (or rest and relaxation), is a term used for the free time of a soldier in the US military or International UN staff serving in non-family duty stations. R&R includes various forms, including mail, sports, film screenings, "using the services of prostitutes" and leave time. During the Korea and Vietnam wars, you can see American GIs in Bangkok, and many designated R & R areas, and the development of prostitution services for the American GIs in R&R designated areas, another form of military prostitution system developed, isn't it similar to Comfort Woman system of Japan in another form? the only difference is there was an element of mutual consent in free market....

As time go by, many may have forgotten the war history; but the actual happening will still lingering in the mind of many families; some former comfort woman stations are still remained to remind the people of what happen during the war.

The feeling is just like what the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is not easy to delete from memories....

Japan is buying time to let people forget her war crime history, which created hostile relationship and adding more salts to the old wound; Germany boldly admitted the war crime history and looking forward to let time to heel the old wound and built new relationship.

Japan is still carrying the heavy burden of national pride of military nationalism......the price is high to maintain the pride of past glory.....

References & Suggested readings:

1. Chronological Index: Japanese mass violence and its victims in the Fifteen Years War (1931-45) )
2. Colonizing sex: sexology and social control in modern Japan(2003), by Sabine Frühstück, University of California Press, 2003
3. Comfort Women: Systems of Domination Revealed, by Jonathan Stratton,
4. Asian Holocaust : WMD Opium, Sex Slaves, Nanjing Massacre Pillage, Slavery, WMD Unit 731, 100, 516
5. Who are the Ianfu (Comfort Women)? Kirsten Orreill University of Queensland
6. Washington Coalition for Comfort Women Issues Inc,
7. Japan 'gave GIs comfort women',
8. Comfort Woman: A Filipina's Story of Prostitution and Slavery Under the Japanese Military (1999), by Maria Rosa Luna Henson, Rowman & Littlefields Publisher Inc, USA (Maria Rosa Luna Henson or "Lola Rosa" (Grandma Rosa) (1927- 1997) was the first Filipina to tell the world of her story as a comfort woman for the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.)
9. The Comfort Women: Japan's Brutal Regime of Enforced Prostitution in the Second World War(1997), by George Hicks, WW Norton & CO, NY.

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