Tessa Morris-Suzuki

Military brothels were created all over the occupied areas of Asia during the war for the use of Japanese soldiers: the first were set up as early as 1932 [in Shanghai, China], but most were created after the outbreak of full-scale fighting in China in 1937. Some of these were managed by civilians for profit, but frequented by members of the Japanese armed forces; others were established and run directly by the Japanese military…. The number of women recruited to work in these places is unknown – estimates vary from 20,000 to 400,000, though a careful study by historian Yoshimi Yoshiaki suggests a narrower range of between 50,000 and 200,000. The methods of recruitment and the conditions which women faced also varied enormously. Some were Japanese women who had worked as prostitutes previously, and were ‘volunteers’ in a sense, although often driven to ‘volunteer’ through pressures of poverty, debt and desperation. A very large number were women from Korea and China. Many had been lured away from their homes with promises of work in factories or restaurants, only to find themselves incarcerated in ‘comfort stations’ in foreign lands. Other women in Korea, Southeast Asia and elsewhere were rounded up at gunpoint.

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