SDHF Newsletter No.239 Book review Comfort Women and Sex in the Battale Zone
Comfort Women and Sex in the Battle Zone
Hamilton Books, 2018
Reviewed by Tadashi Hama
May 8, 2019
The reviewer, Mr. Hama, writes that recent events in the Republic of Korea have demonstrated that it has transformed into a state that George Orwell would readily recognize—one where facts that contradict the Korean nationalist narrative can be discarded down a “memory hole”, thereby allowing the Korean nationalist elites to create a history to their liking.
A typical example would be the “comfort women” issue. Korean government and nationalists are still seeking reparation for war-time Korean “comfort women” and now “slave laborers”. However, it has been verified by objective research that there were no “comfort women” who were coerced or “sex slaves”. No document supporting such a view has ever been found.
A major reason why such ridiculous lies still prevail not only in Korea but also throughout the world is that very few authentic publications concerning the “comfort women” are available in the English language. However, a thoroughly comprehensive academic text written by Hata Inkuhiko, professor emeritus of Nihon University, has been recently translated into English and published by Hamilton Books in the US.
Hata’s book shows that the prewar and wartime Japanese military brothel system was entirely a fee-based service: the women were given an advance by civilian recruiters, worked as prostitutes exclusively for military personnel and military-related civilians until they repaid their advance and were free to either leave or continue to work. The current book also points out that the women were paid much more than civilian factory workers, prostitutes working back in the home country and military officers. The book suggests that the “comfort women” can hardly be characterized as “sex slaves”, as luridly depicted by activists and the media.
One other major activists’ claim that the current book deflates is that most of the “comfort women” were Korean—in fact, many were Japanese. Hata points out that this fact raises an interesting question: why are former Korean “comfort women” strident in seeking redress but former Japanese “comfort women” are not?
Hata goes on to show the true nature of the former Korean “comfort women” by collecting their mercurial autobiographies, which change as circumstances and the needs of their Korean nationalist handlers change. Surprisingly, as Hata points out, that former Korean “comfort women” were in fact “comfort women” have yet to be independently verified, such as by their former owners or their Korean or Japanese clients. In spite of this, their word is taken as gospel by willing audiences, including representatives of foreign governments and nongovernmental organizations.
From media coverage of the Korean “comfort women” issue, it may seem that civilian-run military brothels were somehow unique to Japan. However, this is not at all the case and Hata gives lengthy descriptions of other countries’ military brothel systems, including South Korea’s and the U.S.’s during the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Probably the most useful aspect of Hata’s book is that it asks questions about the “comfort women” issue that have yet to be addressed, despite the outpouring of literature and media coverage on this subject. As mentioned earlier, the current book asks why there has been no attempt at independent verification of any of the “comfort women’s” stories. The book raises other puzzling questions, such as why are there no stories from the “comfort women” recruiters or those that ran the comfort stations? If there were “200,000 Korean comfort women”, then why are there almost no stories from those who “captured” them?
MOTEKI Hiromichi, Acting Chairman
for KASE Hideaki, Chairman
Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact