Japan’s comfort women: sexual slavery and prostitution during World War II and the US occupation, 2002

Mr. ToshiYuki Tanaka is a professor, currently attached to the Hiroshima Peace Institute. He is the sole author of five titles, all of which are related to wars of the past and crimes against persons committed during the time. He has made editorial contributions to three books, performing translations for two others.

It is noteworthy that all these titles are focused on combats and crimes perpetrated in that duration. It should not be forgotten that he has authored electronic publications, book reviews, article critiques and articles in books, all these in addition to giving lectures, in Chicago and Australian universities.

This wealth of experience bestows the right credentials on him to handle the subject objectively. He interrogates the genesis of a disjuncture involving moral identity and human response, by arguing that none of the servicemen, both Japanese and foreign received instructions to avail themselves at these bureaus (Tanaka 4).

He begins this explanation with the story of a woman who was gang raped by members of the force. She took twelve men in an instant, before a thirty minute break was quickly succeeded by another twelve. She further informs that this was the inclination for her and six other ladies in adjacent rooms (Tanaka 1).

During the discourse, personal hygiene was not prioritized, since the unbearable pain could not allow most of the ladies to move their bodies. They also had painstaking schedules, which ensured they were occupied throughout the day up to tardy hours in the late afternoon.

He vividly reports of the horrors abused women had to contend with, including abortions, venereal diseases and stigma. He also contends clear of all uncertainty that instances of abuse to civilians prevailed in spite of the availability of these comfort houses (ianjo), whose existence was sanctioned by senior officials (Tanaka 24).

Questionable methods were employed during the recruitment of ladies to serve in the facilities. Although they were examined on regular occasions for venereal infections, it was challenging to reign in on servicemen and influence them to make use of protective gear during such encounters.

A different aspect of the discourse saw successive Japanese regimes try their best to suppress information on this episode of their history. Cites his frustration by the volumes of classified documents he encountered in the course of his research.

Tanaka attempts to distance himself from the school of thought denying the existence of institutions perpetrating the advancement of comfort women. He also abstains from tasking the existent regime with culpability for the same, although, it should be noted that he does not explicitly state his chosen viewpoint on the said matter (Tanaka, 120).

His attempts to explain the stillness of the global community against these atrocities are evident in the latter sections of the volume. He accurately notes that oversees nations and humanitarian organizations have been conspicuously silent, a factor he interprets as their approval of the happenings.

He rightfully points to the lack of edicts against similar happenings, but informs of a decree against forced labor which is what those in positions of power propagated (Tanaka 30). The paucity of legal aspects into the same qualifies this work to be an interrogation into the factors that made the allied nations abandons the war crimes committed.

He supports this argument by citing evidence of school going children recruited as volunteers who later ended up as console women after they were orphaned or disillusioned in life (Tanaka 129). Tanaka cites credible evidence by word of mouth from multitudes of ladies who were raped by the forces, but admits to the lack of documented versions of the same (Tanaka 110).

He further cites county records, which revealed, daily instances of rape by allied officers (Tanaka 117). In other instances, the management of the associated forces proved they expected similar handling for their troops, although, they did not ask for the favors explicitly. He cites this as the main reason why the global society failed to kick off prosecution.

It should be noted that these revelations prove his work is not an attempted act of contrition to the victims and their families, neither is it an attempt to rationalize the irresponsible actions of the servicemen (Tanaka, 6).

Summarily, he holds Japanese servicemen and all other allied forces during the confrontation, in addition to health officers and the armed forces hierarchy liable for these occurrences (Tanaka 165).

The main strength of the book is Mr. Tanaka’s neutrality. It is a milestone worth mentioning, considering he is Japanese, and the story highlights crimes committed by his nation’s army. He takes a swipe at the international community for their role in the saga, albeit within acceptable bounds.

He also avoids trivializing the issues in the course of the narrative. All in all, the fact that he approaches and dissects such a difficult and sensitive topic without fear or bias is another outstanding strength of the publication.

The lack of material concerning the milestones achieved by human rights advocates after the Second World War disqualifies the term crimes against humanities as used in this story. He also ignores overlooks literature with options that could be pursued, especially by the international community with regards to this matter.

Work Cited

Tanaka, Toshiyuki. Japan’s comfort women: sexual slavery and prostitution during World War II and the US occupation. New York: Rutledge Publishers, 2002, 1-165

Go Top