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The Best of Times the Worst of Times

Essay Topic: ,

Comfort women were women and girls forced into a prostitution corps created by the Empire of Japan. [1] The name “comfort women” is a translation of a Japanese name ianfu (??? ). [2][3] Ianfu is a euphemism for shofu (?? ) whose meaning is “prostitute(s)”.

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[4] The earliest reporting on the issue in South Korea stated it was not a voluntary force,[5] and since 1989 a number of women have come forward testifying they were kidnapped by Imperial Japanese soldiers. Historians such as Lee Yeong-Hun[6] and Ikuhiko Hata stated the recruitment of comfort women was voluntary. 7] Other historians, using the testimony of ex-comfort women and surviving Japanese soldiers have argued the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy were either directly or indirectly involved in coercing, deceiving, luring, and sometimes kidnapping young women throughout Japan’s occupied territories. [8] Estimates vary as to how many women were involved, with numbers ranging from as low as 20,000 from some Japanese scholars[9] to as high as 410,000 from some Chinese scholars,[10] but the exact numbers are still being researched and debated.

A majority of the women were from Korea, China, Japan and the Philippines,[11] although women from Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia and other Japanese-occupied territories were used for military “comfort stations”. Stations were located in Japan, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, then Malaya, Thailand, Burma, New Guinea, Hong Kong, Macau, and French Indochina. [12] According to testimony, young women from countries under Japanese Imperial control were abducted from their homes.

In many cases, women were also lured with promises of work in factories or restaurants. Once recruited, the women were incarcerated in “comfort stations” in foreign lands. [13] A Dutch government study described how the Japanese military itself recruited women by force in the Dutch East Indies. [14] It revealed that a total of 300 Dutch women had been coerced into Japanese military sex slavery[15]

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