Essay On Comfort Women

In 1992, he published his findings in major Japanese newspapers.Faced with documentary evidence from its own archives, the Japanese government had no choice but to acknowledge military involvement, and Prime Minister Miyazawa Kiichi officially apologized to South Korea.Feminist approaches began to appear after the Japanese journalist and feminist Matsui Yayori (1934-2003) took up the issue.

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By examining the process, through which the challenges to the normative interpretation were posed and the ways they were countered, this article provides a comparative perspective for understanding contemporary controversies over women’s voices, testimony, and history generally.[10] Challenges to the Meaning of Comfort Women in Postwar Japan A number of reports, diaries, and memoirs published in Japan during and after World War II mentioned military comfort facilities on various war fronts and throughout territories occupied by Japanese imperial forces.[11] In these writings, the term ianfu (comfort women) was a euphemism for prostitutes who provided sex to men in service.

Although the story had no place in Japan’s official war history, it was told and retold privately as a nostalgic (and sometimes romantic) episode in men’s memoirs and novels.

Matsui’s interviewee, a former comfort woman whose name was not disclosed, was a Korean living in Thailand.

She spoke of her experience this way: The life of comfort women was this--during the day doing laundry of soldiers’ clothes, cleaning the barracks, and some heavy labor such as carrying ammunition, and at night being the plaything for the soldiers.

Yun Chung-ok, a professor at Korea's Ewha Womans University, was an important catalyst in this development.

In the late 1980's she met with Matsui to exchange information about the comfort women, and in 1990 she wrote a series of reports on the issue for a Korean newspaper.[15] Yun’s reports ignited and enraged the South Korean public, prompting calls for redress from the Japanese government.

The “Comfort Women” Controversy: History and Testimony* By Yoshiko Nozaki [A] conference of historians, psychoanalysts, and artists, gathered to reflect on the relation of education to the Holocaust, watched the videotaped testimony of the woman in an attempt to better understand the era. The testimony was not accurate, historians claimed. Historically, only one chimney was blown up, not all four. Testimony as such has been “an act of memory situated in time,” “vital” to historical knowledge, as it “dislocate[d] established frameworks and shift[ed] paradigms” of the discipline.[2] The power of words has also been evident in current educational practices.

Since the memory of the testifying woman turned out to be, in this way, fallible, one could not accept--nor give credence to--her account of the events. Teachers working at different levels of education--from a classroom where twelfth grade students read I, Rigoberta Menchu[3] to a classroom at Yale where college students watched films of Holocaust survivors[4]-- have reported that the testimonial narratives of previously marginalized voices have powerful transformative effects upon the consciousness and actions of students.

Many non-Japanese women were minors, rounded up by deception or under conditions of debt slavery, and some were violently abducted.[21] Prostitution for military personnel in war zones and occupied territories was widely practiced during and prior to World War II,[22] but Japan’s comfort women system was unusual in the extreme forms of coercion and oppression imposed on women, including teenage girls brought from Korea and Taiwan.

The evidence reveals that state and military authorities at the highest levels were extensively involved in the policymaking, establishment, and maintenance of the system, and in recruiting and transporting women across international borders.[23] One result of both the Japanese government's apologies and of recent scholarship on comfort women was backlash from neonationalist groups.


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