Thursday, August 27, 2015

Comfort Women...

Village women accompany Chinese former “comfort woman” Hao Juxiang (right) as she poses for a picture outside their houses in Gucheng Town, Shanxi Province, China, July 16, 2015. Hao Juxiang lives in a small community, and many of her neighbors know about her past as a “comfort woman.”

“Comfort women,” translated from the Japanese term ianfu, is a euphemistic name for the prostitutes and sex slaves forced to serve Japanese soldiers during the second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945). These “women” were mostly young girls from occupied regions, who were held and forced into sexual slavery at “comfort stations” established by the Imperial Japanese Army.

The Japanese established the first “comfort station” in 1932 to serve soldiers stationed in Shanghai leading up to the war. Many more were established as fighting increased in China and spread to South Korea. The stations, according to statements by military officials at the time, were intended to prevent sex crimes against the local population by soldiers, but they were hardly a solution or a force for good. Instead, they systematized rape and torture.

In 1998, the UN released a report suggesting the Japanese government pay compensation to former “comfort women” and prosecute surviving military officials, to which the government did not comply.

Former “comfort women” are shown in China and South Korea today, where they continue to await state compensation as well as the apology of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which they say would help them find peace in their final days. Sadly, time is running out to make amends.

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