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.