“Comfort women were essential”

Sanne van Oosten

Yesterday, the mayor of the Japanese Osaka said that the comfort women, who were forced into prostitution during the Pacific War, were essential back then. They were useful in keeping the soldier disciplined and, above all, they were recruited voluntarily, he said. This rightfully caused a wide range fierce protests. This reminded me of the time we were in Seoul. It was a rainy Wednesday afternoon in and we headed towards the Japanese embassy to see the weekly “Comfort Women Protest.” Since it was raining we were afraid nobody would be there, but the contrary turned out to be true: a large group of men and women of all ages were gathered armed with banners, camera’s, loudspeakers and an army of police.

Replica of a so-called comfort station in Nanjing massacre memorial

Comfort woman is a term for women who were forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese during the Japanese occupation across Asia. These young women were abducted from their houses and brought to so called “Comfort Stations,” where they would spend the next couple of years being raped by Japanese soldiers. There were cases of comfort women all over Asia, but the Korean women were targeted the most, as they are ethnically the most like the Japanese and therefore the most popular.

A well-known comfort woman, Kim Bok-dong, is now 87 years old. From the age of 14 she was abducted and raped at least once a day for the next 6 years. She has never had a normal life since, as this trauma haunts her up to today. One way she deals with her trauma is to protest at the Japanese embassy every Wednesday, demanding recognition. But the Japanese government will still not confess what they have done. They still claim, it was even discussed in the Japanese parliament, that these women were willing prostitutes and they weren’t coerced into becoming comfort women.

A former comfort woman giving a speech at the weekly protest

When we visited the protest we saw one of the former comfort women give a speech. Of course we could not understand a word she was saying as she was speaking Korean, but we could hear the emotion in her voice. Even without a translation, it was very moving. All she is asking for is recognition, someone who says, you were wronged, you didn’t deserve this. The last thing she deserves is to be called a prostitute, someone who asked for what happened to her.

The Japanese Embassy keeping their blinds shut for the comfort women protest every Wednesday

But recognition from the Japanese is the very last thing she is getting. Every Wednesday, the curtains of the Japanese embassy are shut. They won’t acknowledge what happened to them. They won’t set it right.

Every single woman who has gone through rape has to deal with immense shame issues. It is common for rape victims to feel as if they deserved it. They’ll think things like: I should have fought harder, I shouldn’t have worn that skirt, I shouldn’t have gone out on that date with him, I shouldn’t have laughed at his stupid jokes. These feelings overwhelm the rape-victims mind and prevent her from dealing with her pain without shame, a feat hard enough in itself. Most of the comfort women were actually only girls when they were abducted and don’t carry an inch of the fault, but nevertheless, shame is an overwhelming feeling in all rape victims, no matter the context of the rape.

Statue of a comfort woman staring at the Japanese embassy in Seoul Korea

Covered in shame the Korean comfort women didn’t dare to protest what happened to them until 1992. And when they protest, they protest hard. Ever since 1992 a group of people gathers in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, no matter the weather, cold, heat, rain or shine. Since 2011 a statue of a girl staring at the Japanese embassy was erected as a permanent reminder of what happened and what the Japanese still haven’t owned up to. These women are so courageous, they are no longer ashamed of what happened to them and they know where the shame belongs: at the culprits. Only 63 comfort women are still alive. In 2011 alone, 16 comfort women died, and their numbers are declining more heavily every year. Time is running out.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

13 responses to ““Comfort women were essential””

  1. Millie says :

    I ha8;#&nv217et heard of Benbo either, I have found the Manfrotto easy to set up, besides the screw things to extend the legs. I am lucky, it isn’t urgent, I can keep using the one I have, so I can take the time to find the one I want and save for it. Thanks grumpytykepix

  2. Cinsel Performans Arttırıcı hap says :

    It eliminates discord and instead promotes harmony among members.
    Some drugs of the group of Statins and Fibrates, usedd to treat high cholesterol, may
    also haave a disadvantageous effect on sexual
    health. Men who have watched any type of adult video mayy assume women arre expecting back-breaking acrobatics in the sack.

  3. jacquelynmcvicker says :

    The past is the past, but they need to own up to their mistakes. The Japanese were pretty brutal and nasty in WWII and it seems like they just wanna forget the whole thing happened. It’s insulting to all those who suffered under their occupation.

  4. bullettrain777 says :

    Holland just wanted to charge Japanese soldiers there. The lieutenant said they had not forced Dutch women into prostitution after he returned to Japan. He was charged with crimes that are not true.

  5. Modern Comfort Women says :

    Again, I’d like to raise the current comfort women issue. Actually I don’t care about the comfort women issue Japanese army caused. That’s the history and over. Also it was just a problem lasting for five years or so though it was during the war time. However, the current comfort women problem has been going on for over half a century. Yes, the comfort women issue is still going on — they changed the customers from the Japanese army to the USA army, but their business has kept on going. Please read the Stanford or Rhode Island university reports. They’re a free report, then you can see who is behind the scene. This looks the nation related problem because the government seems involved, and perhaps that’s why it’s so hard for people to know this problem.

    Modern day comfort women – University of Rhode Island.
    http://www.uri.edu/artsci/wms/hughes/modern_day_comfort_women.pdf

    Also you can visit the page (modern comfort women) to know more, which is https://www.facebook.com/pages/Modern-Comfort-Women/389352384499538

  6. Bob-san says :

    So the aged women in Korea, Holland, and other countries, who still say they were forced into prostitution are all lying, when they could be quiet and ignore the past? Doesn’t that seem highly unlikely? Doesn’t it seem more likely that Bullettrain777 is believing propaganda which he has heard in school and on the internet?

    I have had many positive experiences in Japan. Japanese people are hospitable and helpful to strangers and henna gaijin like me, work hard and produce quality goods. But I do not understand the need by some Japanese and by the government to white wash the past and deny the atrocities that were committed. They are certainly not the only country to do this. But how can we learn from the past if we pretend we were only good?

  7. bullettrain777 says :

    In fact, Korea and Japan were the same country after the annexation in 1910, and both countries fought against westerns.
    The comfort women earned 30 times more than Japanese soldiers. Japanese soldiers at that time earned 10 yen a month where as comfort women earned more than 300 yen, which was splendid pay. Many women applied to job advertisement. There was no need for brothels to abduct women against their will.
    次に戦中のソウルの新聞に「慰安婦至急大募集。月収300円以上­­、本人来談」のような業者の募集広告が、いくつも発見されて­い­る­事実を指摘したい。日本兵の月給が10円前後の当時、この高­給な­ら応募者は少なくなかったろうから強制連行する必要­はなか­った。

    • shelly kim says :

      Are you hearing yourself? Do you seriously think they got payed when they were locked inside the troops to “comfort” the soldiers during the colonization? Just think again. It has been 11 years since they’ve started protesting and god knows what they had to go through during the war, and you only see them as liars. I just can’t believe it.

    • James Hahn says :

      the world war 2 began by Japan attacking Korea and occupied them. they were not not same country. matter of fact, no Asian countries like Japan in any manner. Your ignorance is beyond my imagination. They forced many Asian women to be prostitutes for Jap soldiers. No one wants to be comfort women for the Jap soldiers. they were even 13 yrs old girls in there. shame shame. Jap Nazi are still in Japan. Learn from Germany.

Share your thoughts on this article

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s