Thursday, May 31, 2007

Did you know?


I read this in The Columbus Dispatch, dated April 26, 2007. I've been wanting to post this little piece of Americana since early May but the accident thwarted me - typing with my nose just isn't much fun.

Anyway, On to the actual tidbits of this little known fact.

Japan, with tacit approval from the US occupation authorities, set up a 'comfort women' system for American GI's. It was an actual brothel system that was condoned by the American government irregardless of the fact that women were being forced into prostitution against their will. Tens of thousands of women were involved in this 'trade' until General Douglas MacArthur shut the brothels down in 1946.

The brothels were rushed into operation in August 1945 when the US forces poured into Japan to begin the occupation.

According to the official history of the Ibaraki Prefectural Police Department whose jurisdiction is just northeast of Tokyo - 'The strategy was the hope that the GIs would use these 'experienced' women instead of harrassing the locals.' A dormatory was converted to a brothel and twenty women were 'working' there.

"As expected, after it opened it was elbow to elbow." the history says. "the comfort women...had some resistence to selling themselves to men who just yesterday were the enemy...there was a great deal of apprehension. But they were paid very highly and they gradually came to accept their work peacefully."

Does this make anyone else ill? No woman 'accepts' selling her body to strangers, 'peacefully' - especially when they are being FORCED into it. For example - Natsue Takita, 19 - applied for an office worker job then was told the only positions were for the comfort women. They persuaded her to sell her body and she committed suicide after working there for four days. What is peaceful about jumping in front of a train?

By the time the brothels were shut down, 70k of prostitutes were employed by the system. The fee was 1 dollar for 15 minutes and they were forced to serve between 15 and 60 men a day. Most of the women working there were forced into it due to dire financial circumstances and lack of family. More than 25% of the GIs contracted a veneral disease from the brothels.

In 1993 Japan's Government apologized for its role in the controversy and established a fund (Asian women's fund) to reimburse the women. In January 2007, California Rep Mike Honda offered a resolution in the house to condemn Japan's use of sex slaves, in part as leverage to force the Japanese government to keep the Asian women's fund open.

The fund compensated only 285 women though there were an estimated possibly 200k of women in the system in Japan, South Korea, Phillipines and Taiwan. Each received about 17,800.00. The fund closed on March 31, 2007.

Haruki Wada, the fund's exectutive director said, "No one Japanese women has come forward to seek compensation or an apology. Unless they feel they can say they were completely forced against their will, they feel they cannot come forward."

I can only wonder how many of them stayed prostitutes, became addicts or died in the street - uncounted victims of a society gone mad.


Bianca D'Arc said...

Uh, actually, the "comfort women" as they were called, were used by the Japanese army throughout their campaign. Thousands and thousands of Korean women, in particular, were forced into sexual slavery to service the Japanese army. Only recently has it come out as these women are older and starting to die off - many of them are stepping forward so history will not forget them, regardless of the imagined "stain" to their honor.

There have been some rather dramatic protests in Japan and Korea over the past decade or so as these older women don't want to die without their voices being heard. Evidence has even been presented of REQUISITIONS where women were being ordered, just like socks and other supplies. It's completely disgusting and should be known far and wide.

And it wasn't just Korean women, though they were the greatest number. It was Chinese women and any other non-Japanese women unfortunate enough to be the right age - from about 10 to about 25 - in that region. POW's were taken from many other countries, including the US, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada and the UK. Those women suffered too and many died in those state-run brothels where there was no medical care and the women were kept as slaves.

Damn, sorry I got all upset on my very first visit to your blog, J.C., but this subject hits very close to home for me. See, members of my family were living in the Pacific during the war and were incarcerated as POW's. It's something we in the US don't think about much, but the camps in that region were just as hellish as those famous ones in Germany.

J.C. Wilder said...

Bianca - there are so many things that happened in history the people are simply unaware of. Thanks for adding to my post.


Angelle Trieste said...

In 1993 Japan's Government apologized for its role in the controversy and established a fund (Asian women's fund) to reimburse the women.

Correction should be made to what you stated here.

The Japanese government never funded the Asian Women's Fund with public money (tax). It was something that was funded with private donation. The Japanese government, to this date, denied that sexual slavery was something that the Japanese Imperial Army forced upon thousands and thousands of women. Shinzo Abe caused a lot of stir in Asia when he said Japan did nothing wrong re: comfort women last year when he was the Prime Minister of Japan. That was another reason why Mike Honda felt compelled to condemn Japan very strongly last year. Because it's a dire foreign policy matter to America. Japan is probably the biggest US ally in Asia. Every time Japan denies it did anything wrong, it angers a lot of former victims in Asia and make them take positions against Japan (and indirectly against US foreign policy interests).

Sorry my first comment is so long and boring. >.<

J.C. Wilder said...

Thank you, Angelle. I honestly didn't know anything about this before reading it in the newspaper. I should've know better as my local paper is the Dispatch and most people call it the Disgrace. :)

Angelle Trieste said...

No problem, JC. :) It's such a hot topic in Asia, esp. every time Japan does something to deny it and/or its PMs go to Yasukuni, etc. so I just read about it, that's all. :)