Ob-La-Di Oblako 文庫

帝国日本の侵掠戦争と植民地支配、人権蹂躙を記憶し、再現を許さないために、ひたすら文書資料を書き取る。姉妹ブログ「歴史を忘れる民族に未来はない!」https://obladioblako.hateblo.jp/ のデータ·ベースを兼ねる。

【工事中】文書記録証拠と日本の戦争犯罪の研究 ダキン·ヤン より/序説的小論集 日本の戦争犯罪を研究するにあたって ナチス戦争犯罪および帝国日本政府の記録文書 省庁横断作業部会 2006

2.  Documentary Evidence and Studies of Japanese War Crimes: An Interim Assessment

Daqing Yang


Revelation and Contention

From Mass Rape to Military “Comfort Women”

The rape of Chinese women by Japanese soldiers has long been identified with Japan’s war atrocities in China.  Reports by American missionaries during the Rape of Nanking in late 1937 provided a glimpse into the extent of sexual violence committed by the Japanese Army.  Numerous other incidents in China and later in Southeast Asia further tarnished the reputation of the Japanese forces.  The postwar trials, however, largely considered rape to be part of a more general violation of law or inhumane treatment, and not a war crime per se.

  Japanese authorities were aware of the problem during the war.  In fact, Japanese records show that orders were issued to deal with the problem and that a small number of Japanese soldiers had been tried by Japan’s own military courts during the war for rape or other crimes against civilians.  In part to reduce local resentment against Japan and in part to prevent the spread of venereal disease among its ranks, the Japanese military contracted private vendors to set up “comfort stations” for the troops as early as 1932.  Again, this practice was known to the Allies but no criminal charges were filed at the trials. There was one exception.  After Japan occupied the Dutch East Indies (present-day Indonesia), the Japanese military forced many young women—including Dutch as well as Eurasian—into providing sexual service to the Japanese.  Those Japanese responsible were punished by the Dutch authorities after the war on account of the abuse of the Dutch women.

  In the 1970s, a few writers in Japan began treating the subject as a crime committed by the Imperial Japanese Army.  It was not until the early 1990s that the case of the military “comfort women” (ianfu) began to attract wide attention, following the first public testimony of a Korean woman who had been forced into military prostitution for the Japanese.  Her account galvanized activists around the “comfort women” issue. Most publications on the subject initially appeared in Korean and Japanese. Numerous works have been also published in English.99 Gathering extensive oral histories, Su Zhiliang, a historian from Shanghai, published the most comprehensive work on this topic in China and set up a Center for the Study of Chinese Comfort Women at his university.  In terms of scope and impact, perhaps no other Japanese war crime has reached the level of international publicity since the 1990s as that of the military “comfort women,” a phenomenon helped by new interest in human rights and standards regarding sexual violence toward women.

  Initially, the Japanese government denied official involvement in the operation.  Yoshimi Yoshiaki, a leading Japanese scholar on Japanese war crimes, made headlines by discovering documents in the Japanese Self-Defense Agency’s library that suggested direct military involvement.  He went on to publish them in a collection of primary documents, which included numerous ATIS reports from NARA.102 Under public pressure, the Japanese government admitted its complicity and set up the Asian Women’s Fund (AWF) to compensate former “comfort women” from private sources.  AWF established a History Committee in 1996 to gather and examine relevant documents in archives in Japan, the United States, Holland, and Taiwan.  Historians hired by the AWF also interviewed former “comfort women” in Indonesia and the Philippines.  Their work resulted in a multi-volume collection of documents and a comprehensive bibliography on the subject.  Many are not fully satisfied, however. As Yoshimi points out, numerous Japanese government documents were either lost or remain classified. Among them are police records belonging to the former Home Ministry that allegedly had been destroyed.  Private records, such as the journal of army doctor Aso Tetsuo, contributed much to the understanding of conditions in the comfort stations in China, but many others held by the Self-Defense Agency War History Department Library remained closed to the public for privacy reasons.

  Many issues concerning the “comfort women” are still hotly disputed in Japan.  The number of women victims remains a subject of disagreement; popular accounts frequently give the figure of 200,000.  Takasaki Shōji, an expert on Korean history and chair of the AWF History Committee, emphasized the distinction between the Korean women’s volunteer corps (teishintai), who were sent to work in factories in Japan, and “comfort women.”  As he noted, these two terms had been confused by many Korean activists and had led to an inflated estimate of the number of Korean “comfort women.”  A bigger issue concerns the degrees of coercion and government involvement.  Some also question the veracity of the testimony provided by former “comfort women” as well as their motivation to testify in public.  Hata Ikuhiko, for one, has taken the lead and published many essays as well as a major work on this subject.  Hata essentially equates the “comfort women” system with prostitution and finds similar practices during the war in other countries.  He has been criticized by other Japanese scholars for downplaying the hardship of the “comfort women.”