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Teaching about the Comfort Women during World War II and the Use of Personal Stories of the Victims

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“Comfort women” refers to the system of sexual slavery created and controlled by the Imperial Japanese government between 1932 and 1945. It is the largest case of government-sponsored human trafficking and sexual slavery in modern history. Many scholars have argued that the term comfort women, a euphemism coined by the Japanese military, obscures the gravity of the crime. While the authors agree that “military sexual slaves” is a much more accurate and appropriate phrase, we use the term comfort women in this article to refer specifically to the victims of the Japanese military’s sexual slavery system during World War II and “on which decades of international debate, historical research, and legal discourses are mounted,” following the earlier scholarly works.1 Estimates vary as to how many women were involved, but most scholars agree that hundreds of thousands of women were victimized, and that includes girls as young as twelve years old. A majority of the women who were forced into sexual slavery came from Korea and China, although many women from Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Việt Nam, Thailand, East Timor, and the Dutch East Indies, as well as European women in Japanese-occupied territories, were forced into sexual slavery.

The history of the comfort women is still largely unknown in the United States, but more and more educators are paying attention to the issue as a significant historical precedent in human trafficking and sexual violence. 2 The case study of comfort women is a significant historical issue, not only because it affected so many women, but also because it teaches us the value of human rights, much like other historical atrocities, such as the sexual degradation of many black women in US antebellum slave states and contemporary international sexual human trafficking.

Four Korean comfort women after they were liberated by US-China Allied Forces outside Songshan
Four Korean comfort women after they were liberated by US-China Allied Forces outside Songshan, Yunnan Province, China on September 7, 1944. Source: The Hankyoreh website at https://tinyurl.com/y4dddxjn. Photo by Charles H. Hatfield, US 164th Signal Photo Company. Note: The original photo is available in the National Archives Catalog at https://tinyurl.com/yyumu88z.

As in these other issues, we have to study the past in order to prevent similar tragedies in the future. Furthermore, the comfort women story is a current issue that has not yet been resolved. The victims and organizations working on their behalf have sought an apology from Japan’s government, reparations, and recognition of the atrocities the women suffered.

Using personal stories of the comfort women as teaching materials can help educators emphasize the importance of protecting human rights by providing students a vivid picture of the impact that human rights violations have on people’s lives. Comfort women stories may be graphic, but are necessary to fully understand the human rights violations that those women endured. For students who hear about today’s wars and atrocities from the media, an open and forthright discussion would be helpful to teach how to critically understand such events in both the past and the present.

History of the Comfort Women

Japanese soldiers waiting in line at a comfort station. Source: Digital Museum: The Comfort Women Issue and the Asian Women’s Fund website at https://tinyurl.com/y6skq9hv. Photo by Japanese journalist Murase Moriyasu.
Japanese soldiers waiting in line at a comfort station. Source: Digital Museum: The Comfort Women Issue and the Asian Women’s Fund website at https://tinyurl.com/y6skq9hv. Photo by Japanese journalist Murase Moriyasu.
Rescued Korean comfort women under Allied protection in Burma. Source: The Fight for Justice website at https://tinyurl.com/y4qpvamv.
Rescued Korean comfort women under Allied protection in Burma. Source: The Fight for Justice website at https://tinyurl.com/y4qpvamv.

Comfort stations were established first in Shanghai in 1932, then in Japan, China,  the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaya, Thailand, Burma, East New Guinea, Hong Kong, Macau, French Indochina, and other regions.

During the early twentieth century, Japan gradually established its power and control over East Asia, including Taiwan (colonized in 1895), Korea (made a protectorate of Japan in 1905 and annexed in 1910), and Manchuria (a puppet government set up in 1932). Beginning with the outbreak of the Second Sino–Japanese War (1937), Asia was constantly at war, a state of affairs that later became part of World War II. During the period of constant warfare from the early 1930s to 1945, the Japanese Imperial Army implemented and maintained the comfort women system. That the Japanese military set up and controlled the system is clearly evidenced by official Japanese military records and personal memoirs. For example, Okabe Naosaburō, a senior staff officer in the Shanghai Expeditionary Force, wrote the following in his diary, related to establishing a comfort station in the Shangai area in 1932:

Recently, soldiers have been prowling around everywhere looking for women, and I often heard obscene stories [about their behavior]. As long as conditions are peaceful and the army is not engaged in fighting, these incidents are difficult to prevent. Rather, we should recognize that we can actively provide facilities. I have considered many policy options for resolving the troops’ sexual problems and have set to work on realizing that goal. Lieutenant Cononel Nagami [Toshinori] will bear primary responsibility in this matter.3

The document indicates that senior staff officers of each army typically issued orders to establish comfort stations, and staff officers of subordinate units made a plan and carried it out.4 Comfort stations were to be used exclusively for troops and officers. The Japanese military used several justifications for creating the system: to boost army morale; to control the behavior of the soldiers; to contain venereal diseases among the troops; and to prevent rapes by Japanese soldiers, thus avoiding the rise of hostility among the inhabitants of occupied areas.5

Comfort stations were established first in Shanghai in 1932, then in Japan, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaya, Thailand, Burma, East New Guinea, Hong Kong, Macau, French Indochina, and other regions. Comfort stations were established wherever the Japanese troops went.6

The Story of Yong Soo Lee

Comfort stations at the early stage were filled with prostitutes who voluntarily came from Japan. However, as the Japanese army continued military expansion from the late 1930s, it turned to the local population in occupied areas, such as Korea, Taiwan, and China, to coerce women into serving sexually in these stations.

In 1938, the Japanese military began to utilize Japanese or local brokers to “recruit” women, particularly in Korea and Taiwan. It was common that those agents or their subcontractors would go from one city to another, procuring forty to fifty young girls at once. Once they secured enough women, they would send them to China and other war zones. The most common way to “recruit” young girls in Korea was deceit, that is, making false promises of employment as factory workers, nurses, laundry workers, or kitchen helpers in Japan or other Japanese-occupied territories. Typically, daughters of poor peasant families would be deceived by this “recruiting” and would not know the real nature of the work until they were taken into a comfort station.7

Toward the end of the war, the military used the police force to procure women. Many young girls were forcibly taken. We can see how a girl was taken against her will to become a comfort woman in Yong Soo Lee’s story.8 Lee was one of three survivors who testified before the US House of Representatives’ Foreign Relations Committee about violations of their civil liberties by the Japanese government. This testimony resulted in the passage of the nonbinding US House Resolution 121 (2007), urging Japan to accept full responsibility for the actions of its military. The victims’ personal stories from the testimony provide us with a vivid picture of this horrible tragedy.

Lee lived in Taegu, Korea, under Japanese occupation in the early 1940s. Her family was poor, and she received only one year of formal education. She began working in a factory to support her family at the age of thirteen. In the autumn of 1944, when she was sixteen years old, she and a friend were taken to Taiwan, where they were forced to work as sexual slaves for the Japanese military. She remembers that a Japanese man came to her home and called her to come out. Without knowing where she was going or why, she was taken away by Japanese soldiers. She met three other girls, and they were all put on a train. They went to Kyôngju first, then to P’yôngan Province in northern Korea. During the trip, Japanese soldiers hit and kicked them, and she sometimes lost consciousness. On a ship and again a train, she was taken to Dalian, Shanghai, and finally Taiwan. Various official documents and testimony verified that comfort women were transported by army cargo ships from Japan and Korea to many places in the Asia–Pacific region. It implies that Japan’s Ministry of War was directly involved in transporting those women to war zones, since it was impossible to use any Japanese military ships without the ministry’s permission. 9

There were detailed regulations for the use and operation of comfort stations, which is a clear indication that the Japanese military was controlling the system.

Regulations for the Use of Comfort Stations

Clause 59   Basic Principle

To help to enforce military discipline by providing ways for relaxation and comfort

Clause 60   Facilities

Comfort stations are set up inside the south walls of Nikka Hall…

Visiting days are appointed to each unit.

Hoshi unit—Sunday

Kuriiwa unit—Monday and Tuesday

Matsumura unit—Wednesday and Thursday

Narita unit—Saturday

Achiwa unit—Friday

Murata unit—Sunday

Clause 61 Price and Time

1 For non-commissioned officers and enlisted men, comfort stations are open from 9:00 to 18:00.

2 Price Time limit is one hour for one man.

Chinese—1 yen

Korean—1 yen 50 sen

Japanese—2 yen

Clause 62   Examination

Every Monday and Friday are examination days. On Friday women are examined for sexually transmitted disease.

English translation of the 2nd Independent Heavy Siege Artillery Battalion’s “Regulation for the Use of Comfort Stations.”  March 1938, Shiryoshusei, Vol. II, PP. 351–258.  Source: Asian Women’s Fund website at https://tinyurl.com/y3roaafs.

On the way and at the comfort station in Taiwan, Lee was raped, beaten, and tortured. She had to serve four or five men a day. Some victims testified that they had to serve up to sixty soldiers a day. Lee was never paid for these services. According to the Japanese policy of the time (the socalled “Rules of Use for Military Comfort Stations”), acts of abuse against comfort women were prohibited, but daily violence by comfort station operators or soldiers was common. There were detailed regulations for the use and operation of comfort stations, which is a clear indication that the
Japanese military was controlling the system. For example, the regulations of the Huayue-lou comfort station in Nanjing, dated March 6, 1939, includes clauses on the medical examination of those women, the schedule and fees both for soldiers and officers in different rankings, and the requirement to use condoms.10

Yong Soo Lee delivering her 2007 testimony before the US House of Representatives’ Foreign Relations Committee about violations of their civil liberties by the Japanese government. Source: Screen capture from House Hearing on WW2 Korean Comfort Women on YouTube at https://tinyurl.com/y238hdvb.
Yong Soo Lee delivering her 2007 testimony before the US House of Representatives’ Foreign Relations Committee about violations of their civil liberties by the Japanese government. Source: Screen capture from House Hearing on WW2 Korean Comfort Women on YouTube at https://tinyurl.com/y238hdvb.

Nevertheless, these regulations were not enforced on-site, particularly at the temporary comfort stations on the frontline, where no strict supervision and an insufficient supply of condoms were problems. Soldiers refused to use condoms, and medical staff was not always available. Many women were forced to work even after they had been infected with sexually transmitted diseases. In some cases, including the Shanghai comfort station, the Japanese military forced the women to receive an injection of Salvarsan or Arsphenamine to prevent syphilis. Salvarsan is extremely toxic, and many women who received it suffered from serious side effects, such as infertility. Also, the fees charged by the comfort stations did not go to the women, but to those who ran the comfort stations. Even though some women could put their savings into military postal savings accounts, they were unable to withdraw their money during and after the war.11

For the women, refusal to serve meant immediate punishment and torture. Lee said that the girls were warned that if they tried to venture beyond the confines of the station, they would be killed. As she was so frightened and did not know where she was, she could not think of escape. Another survivor from Korea, Ok-sun Yi, described how strict the surveillance at the comfort station was. She tried to escape once, but was caught by Japanese soldiers and stabbed in the arm and leg. She still has those scars, permanent reminders of what she went through. She said that many women were assaulted, tortured, killed, or committed suicide at the comfort station. Yi commented, “It was not a ‘comfort’ station. It was a slaughterhouse!”12 The accusation shows the striking contrast between the dictionary definition of the word “comfort” and the horrible reality of the comfort women system. Yi’s point is supported by other survivors’ stories that in comfort stations, including the one in Qhaojiauyan, Hainan Island, China, comfort women who were “too sick to work were killed rather than given medical treatment.”13 Other survivors testified that they were prohibited from going out or only allowed to go out for specific purposes under heavy surveillance. Even if they were allowed to go out, unfamiliarity with the local languages and geography made it impossible for the women to escape. In addition, those who did attempt to escape were publicly tortured and killed as examples to the others. According to testimony, when comfort women died, they were not properly buried and were instead abandoned in the street. The women were hungry and constantly abused.

“They had stripped me of everything.  They had taken everything away from me, my youth, my self-esteem, my dignity, my  freedom, my possessions, and my family.”

Lee said that the women were given Japanese names and were not allowed to speak in Korean. If they were caught doing so, they were beaten. Many other Korean survivors similarly testified about being prohibited from speaking Korean. Presumably, it was part of the “Japanization policy” in the 1940s that required all Koreans to change their names to Japanese-style names and to speak only Japanese. But it was also to keep the women from escaping. Some survivors testified that they were ordered to sit apart from each other on carriages or ships while they were transported to war zones so that they could not talk. Other survivors said that at the comfort station, the Japanese soliders did not allow the women to congregate and talk, as they were afraid that the women might plan an escape together.

Comfort women on the frontlines had to share the fate of the Japanese soldiers. During frequent air raids, these women, along with the soldiers, had to be evacuated and hidden in mountains or caves. Lee described how, after the bombing ceased, the soldiers would set up makeshift tents and make the women serve them. Many women were killed by bombings or drowned in transit when transport ships sank. After the war, many other comfort women were murdered by retreating Japanese soldiers or abandoned. Some of the victims were rescued or captured as prisoners of war by the Allied Forces and eventually sent home. Lee was one of them. After the war, she was in a POW camp and then went home. When her mother saw her, she thought Lee was a ghost and fainted.

Even after coming back to her hometown, Lee suffered from serious psychological trauma and social stigma, in addition to physical injuries, like many other survivors. Lee said that she could not tell her story to anybody for decades and that the shame of her shattered childhood has haunted her through her life. Some people, she said, might think what happened to her sounds like a movie script or a novel, but she assured them that these are true things that really happened to her. She could not think about getting married after all she had experienced during the war. In 1992, Kim Hak-soon, a survivor, testified in public for the first time. Encouraged by Kim’s testimony and by support groups working on behalf of survivors, Lee broke her silence and began to talk about her experiences during World War II. Lee has now become a public figure and an activist for the women’s right movement, pressing the Japanese government for official acknowledgments and apologies to the comfort women to this day. She has attended numerous international conferences and US congressional hearings, and presented her testimony in Japan, the United States, China, and Taiwan to promote public awareness of the comfort women issue.

The Story of Jan Ruff O’Herne

Jan Ruff O’Herne shortly before the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies. Source: Wikipedia at https://tinyurl.com/ycaggj7f.
Jan Ruff O’Herne shortly before the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies. Source: Wikipedia at https://tinyurl.com/ycaggj7f.

Jan O’Herne is another survivor who testified at the US Congressional hearing in 2007. She was born in Java, in the former Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), in 1923, a fourth-generation member of a Dutch family. She grew up on a sugar plantation. When she was nineteen years old in 1942, Japanese troops invaded Java and interned thousands of Dutch women and children, including O’Herne’s family, in a prison camp. In 1944, when she was twenty-one years old, she was forced into a brothel to become a sex slave for the Japanese military. One day, high-ranking Japanese officers arrived at the camp and ordered all single girls from seventeen years old to line up in the compound. They paced along the line, eyeing the women up and down, and selected ten pretty girls from the camp. O’Herne was one of them. The whole camp protested, and the girls’ mothers tried to pull the girls back. O’Herne embraced her mother, not knowing if she was ever going to see her again. Those girls were thrown into an army truck and taken to a Dutch colonial house in Semarang, which turned out to be a brothel.

O’Herne with South Korean comfort women survivors in a hearing organized by the US House of Representatives’ Subcommittee of Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation in Washington, DC, in February 2007. Source: YouTube at https://tinyurl.com/y238hdvb.
O’Herne with South Korean comfort women survivors in a hearing organized by the US House of Representatives’ Subcommittee of Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation in Washington, DC, in February 2007. Source: YouTube at https://tinyurl.com/y238hdvb.

Although they protested, the girls were given Japanese names and were dragged away, one by one. She could hear the screaming coming from the bedrooms. She was raped “in a most brutal way,” and there were still more Japanese soldiers waiting. This went on all night, and “this was only the beginning, week after week, month after month.” The girls were “systematically beaten and raped day and night,” O’Herne said. “They had stripped me of everything. They had taken everything away from me, my youth, my self-esteem, my dignity, my freedom, my possessions, and my family.” She was repeatedly abused, beaten, and raped for three months. She was returned to prison camp with threats that her family would be killed if she revealed the truth about the atrocities.

Survivors in the Philippines have also testified that they were forcibly abducted and taken to comfort stations. At many places in the Philippines and China toward the end of the war, the Japanese troops directly secured young women to fill the comfort stations.14 At an interview, a Filipino suvivor, Hiralia Bustamante, said that she was kidnapped by Japanese soldiers on her way home from helping her mother pick rice. She was taken to a house and confined in rooms with two or three other women who were also kidnapped. They were not allowed to talk to each other and ordered to cook and clean during the day. Every night, they were raped by the Japanese soldiers. Nobody could escape. If anyone tried to escape, they would be shot to death on the scene or executed in public. The horror lasted for several months.15

Comfort Women Column of Strength memorial in San Francisco, California. Photo by Phyllis Kim.
Comfort Women Column of Strength memorial in San Francisco, California. Photo by Phyllis Kim.

It took fifty years for O’Herne and many other survivors’ lives to become a human rights issue. While testifying to the US Congress, O’Herne said that “the war never ended for the comfort women.” In 1992, when the war in Bosnia broke out, O’Herne saw that women were again being violated in an organized way, and she also watched comfort women survivors on TV as they pleaded for justice, for an apology, and compensation from the Japanese government. That was when O’Herne decided to break her silence in order to back up the other survivors and to prevent similar crimes against women. She testified as a witness at the international public hearing on Japanese war crimes in Tokyo, Japan, in 1992.

O’Herne has worked for the plight of comfort women in Australia and other countries and for the protection of women in war. O’Herne highlights that time is running out. After sixty years (as of 2007, when she testified in front of the US Congress), the comfort women deserve justice. Even though their background and experiences vary, those former comfort women have surprisingly similar demands with each other. They have sought a formal apology from the Japanese government, legal compensation and reparations, a thorough investigation of the comfort women system, and recognition of the atrocities that they suffered through the establishment of memorials and museums. They especially want the inclusion of their story in Japanese textbooks. They want future generations to know about this atrocity.

O’Herne has worked for the plight of comfort women in Australia and other countries and for the protection of women in war. O’Herne highlights that time is running out. After sixty years (as of 2007, when she testified in front of the US Congress), the comfort women deserve justice. Even though their background and experiences vary, those former comfort women have surprisingly similar demands with each other. They have sought a formal apology from the Japanese government, legal compensation and reparations, a thorough investigation of the comfort women system, and recognition of the atrocities that they suffered through the establishment of memorials and museums. They especially want the inclusion of their story in Japanese textbooks. They want future generations to know about this atrocity.

What the Stories Tell Us

The stories of these women represent the stories of many more victims, dead and alive. Sex trafficking and exploitation is a denial of human rights and civil liberties. The Comfort Women are an important case study because they represent as an institutionalized government-sponsored sex trafficking operation during wartime, and also as an ongoing issue. As Margaret Stetz points out, teaching about the comfort women will encourage solidarity with these victims, who deserve support, and help a new generation understand their experiences of sexual violence. 16

Although the comfort women issue is often depicted as a nationalist conflict between Korea and Japan on the media, 17 those stories of former comfort women let us turn to their personal lives and approach this issue from a human rights perspective, transcending national boundaries. The active redress movement for the comfort women in the US is a good example. Japanese–American Congressman Mike Honda introduced HR 121 in the US Congress. Following its passage in 2007, similar resolutions urging the Japanese government to acknowledge and apologize were passed in city councils in many American cities and other countries, including the Philippines, the Netherlands, Canada, as well as the European Union. Over the following years, comfort women memorials were installed in at least ten cities across the US, including Palisades Park, New Jersey; Fairfax County, Virginia; and Glendale, California. While Korean–American groups initiated this move in the beginning, public-private partnerships and cross-cultural linkages have been a driving force of the comfort women awareness movement in the US. For example, the Comfort Women Memorial Peace Garden in Fairfax County, Virginia, is a result of the cooperation between a Korean–American activist group, the Washington Coalition of Comfort Women Issues (WCCW), and the Fairfax County government, who considered the comfort women a history of women’s rights and human trafficking that resonated with their own serious teen trafficking issue in 2014.18 The comfort women memorial in San Francisco is another prime example of cross-cultural efforts regarding this issue. A cross-cultural nonprofit organization, Comfort Women Justice Coalition, initiated the installation of a memorial. In 2015, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution to build a memorial dedicated to the comfort women to educate the community about stopping human trafficking of women and young girls. The statue was unveiled in 2017. This bronze statue presents three teenage girls, representing China, Korea, and the Philippines, standing in a circle, holding hands. Next to them is an elderly woman figure in Korean dress, looking at the young girls. The inscription starts with a former comfort woman’s remark: “Our worst fear is that our painful history during World War II will be forgotten.”

Survivors’ Stories as Teaching Material

Using victims’ personal stories as teaching materials has many benefits. We conclude this essay by presenting the reactions of students who learned about the comfort women issue through the survivors’ personal stories. One of the authors conducted a special internship program with urban community college students on war crimes that focused on East Asia during World War II. The students were both male and female and of diverse ethnicities. Using Skype, the students interviewed comfort women survivors in Korea and the Philippines. The survivors told stories of being tricked into prostitution and treated brutally. After classroom discussion and interviews with survivors, students reacted strongly. One student talked about how he had learned the facts of the comfort women system in the internship class, but interviewing one of the survivors and learning her personal story made the history real to him. He has a fifteen-year-old sister, which helped him relate to the survivor’s story, as this survivor was taken to a comfort station when she was fifteen. He said that he would not know what to do if that happened to his little sister. Another student said that interviewing a comfort woman was like talking to his own grandmother, and this fact made her story very personal to him. One young female student talked about how strongly the testimony of the comfort women had affected her and pledged that she would tell their stories so that their suffering will be known to the world. As their final projects, students wrote poems, designed fliers on behalf of the survivors in order to inform the public, and created Facebook pages. One young man painted a portrait of a comfort woman, showing a single face divided in half, with one side represented as a young woman and the other as an older woman. As he explained, she does not have a mouth on either side, because the comfort women do not have voices, neither in the past nor today. Not only did the victims lack agency when the crimes took place, but they continue to lack agency today, even excluded from the negotiating process specifically dealing with the issue between Japan and South Korea in the 1993 Kono Statement and the 2015 agreement as prime examples.19

Taken Away, a painting by the late Soon-duk Kim during her stay at the House of Sharing. The House of Sharing was founded in Seoul in 1992 and is now located in Gwangju, Geyonggi-do, Seoul Korea as a shelter and home for the victims of Japanese sexual slavery during World War II. Source: “Curriculum and Resources Handbook,” on the The Comfort Women Education website at https://comfortwomeneducation.org.
Taken Away, a painting by the late Soon-duk Kim during her stay at the House of Sharing. The House of Sharing was founded in Seoul in 1992 and is now located in Gwangju, Geyonggi-do, Seoul Korea as a shelter and home for the victims of Japanese sexual slavery during World War II. Source: “Curriculum and Resources Handbook,” on the The Comfort Women Education website at https://comfortwomeneducation.org.

 

These students’ reactions to the topic are instructive. The atrocities occurred almost eighty years ago, but the students found the dilemmas and aftermath faced by the women very real today. The survivors’ personal stories, in all their vividness and immediacy, galvanized the students into taking action.20

NOTES

1. Peipei Qiu, Zhiliang Su, and Lifei Chen, Chinese Comfort Women—Testimonies from Imperial Japan’s Sex Slaves (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 1.

2. In 2016, the California Board of Education included an explanation of the Japanese imperial sex slavery system in the revised tenth-grade history/social science framework.

3. Okabe Naosaburō, Okabe Naosaburō taishō no nikki (Tokyo: Fuyō shobō, 1982), 23 (entry for March 14, 1932), quoted in Yoshimi Yoshiaki, Comfort Women: Sexual Slavery in the Japanese Military During World War II (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), 45.

4. Yuki Tanaka, Japan’s Comfort Women: Sexual Slavery and Prostitution during World War II and the US Occupation (New York: Routledge, 2002), 21.

5. For historical background of comfort stations, see chapter 2 in Yoshimi’s book. This chapter includes context and evidences how the Japanese military was involved in establishing and controlling comfort stations.

6. Dai Sil Kim-gibson, Silence Broken: Korean Comfort Women (Parkersburg: Mid-Prairie Books, 1999), 40.

7. Tanaka, 38.

8. Stories of Yong Soo Lee and Jan Ruff O’Herne are based on their statements at the US Congress hearing. Protecting the Human Rights of comfort women: Hearing before the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, 110th Congress, 1st Session (2007, February 15)  (Serial No. 110–16) (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office).

9. Tanaka, 24–25.

10. Qui, Su, and Chen, 6.

11. Ibid., 61–62.

12. CUNY Queensborough Community College, Asian Social Justice Internship Final Presentation, 2015, https://tinyurl.com/y4qxv2qc.

13. Based on Wu Lianshen’s testimony, quoted in Qiu, Su, and Chen, 61.

14. Tanaka, 48.

15. Hiralia Bustamante’s story is based on her interview with Asian Social Justice interns at CUNY Queensborough Community College in May 2015.

16. Margaret D. Stetz, “Teaching ‘Comfort Women’ Issues in Women’s Studies Courses,” The Radical Teacher 66 (2003): 18.

17. In 2015, governments of Japan and South Korea signed an agreement to resolve the comfort women issue. However, most survivors in Korea and their supporters did not accept it as a proper or legitimate way of resolving the war crime, because it lacked the voices of the victims from Korea and other countries altogether. For recent debates and issues over comfort women between Japan and South Korea, see Tom Phuong Le, “Negotiating in Good Faith: Overcoming Legitimacy Problems in the Japan-South Korea Reconciliation Process,” Journal of Asian Studies 78, no. 3 (2019): 621–644; and Young-Hwan Chong, “The Japanese Military ‘Comfort Women’ Issue and the 1965 system: Comfort Women of the Empire and Two-fold Historical Revisionism,” European Journal of Korean Studies 19, no. 1 (2019): 201–227.

18. Mary M. McCarthy, “US Comfort Women Memorials: Vehicles for Understanding and Change,” Asia Pacific Bulletin, no. 275 (2014): 1.

19. Le, 631–632.

20. The authors developed a lesson using the Inquiry Design Format for the high school or college classroom. The curriculum and resources are available for free download at https://tinyurl.com/y5zo3wle.

The AAS Secretariat is closed on Friday, July 3, 2020 in observance of the Fourth of July holiday.