U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

Early in May of 1942 Japanese agents arrived in Korea for the purpose of enlisting Korean girls for “comfort service” in newly conquered Japanese territories in Southeast Asia. The nature of this “service” was not specified but it was assumed to be work connected with visiting the wounded in hospitals, rolling bandages, and generally making the soldiers happy. The inducement used by these agents was plenty of money, an opportunity to pay off the family debts, easy work, and the prospect of a new life in a new land, Singapore. On the basis of these false representations many girls enlisted for overseas duty and were rewarded with an advance of a few hundred yen.
The majority of the girls were ignorant and uneducated, although a few had been connected with “oldest profession on earth” before. The contract they signed bound them to Army regulations and to war for the “house master ” for a period of from six months to a year depending on the family debt for which they were advanced …

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  1. shinichi Post author

    Report No. 49: Prisoners of War
    Interrogation on Prostitution

    by Exordio
    http://www.exordio.com/1939-1945/codex/Documentos/report-49-USA-orig.html

    by FeND
    http://fendnow.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/pow_report_49.pdf

    UNITED STATES
    OFFICE OF WAR INFORMATION

    Psychological Warfare Team
    Attached to
    U.S. Army Forces
    India-Burma Theater
    APO 689

    Japanese Prisoner
    of War Interrogation
    Report No. 49.

    Place interrogated: Ledo Stockade
    Date Interrogated: Aug. 20 – Sept. 10, 1944
    Date of Report: October 1, 1944
    By: T/3 Alex Yorichi

     

    Prisoners: 20 Korean Comfort Girls
    Date of Capture: August 10, 1944
    Date of Arrival: August 15, 1944
    at Stockade

    PREFACE

    This report is based on the information obtained from the interrogation of twenty Korean "comfort girls" and two Japanese civilians captured around the tenth of August, 1944 in the mopping up operations after the fall of Myitkyin a in Burma.

    The report shows how the Japanese recruited these Korean "comfort girls", the conditions under which they lived and worked, their relations with and reaction to the Japanese soldier, and their understanding of the military situation.

    A "comfort girl" is nothing more than a prostitute or "professional camp follower" attached to the Japanese Army for the benefit of the soldiers. The word "comfort girl" is peculiar to the Japanese. Other reports show the "comfort girls" have been found wherever it was necessary for the Japanese Army to fight. This report however deals only with the Korean "comfort girls" recruited by the Japanese and attached to their Army in Burma. The Japanese are reported to have shipped some 703 of these girls to Burma in 1942.

    RECRUITING;

    Early in May of 1942 Japanese agents arrived in Korea for the purpose of enlisting Korean girls for "comfort service" in newly conquered Japanese territories in Southeast Asia. The nature of this "service" was not specified but it was assumed to be work connected with visiting the wounded in hospitals, rolling bandages, and generally making the soldiers happy. The inducement used by these agents was plenty of money, an opportunity to pay off the family debts, easy work, and the prospect of a new life in a new land, Singapore. On the basis of these false representations many girls enlisted for overseas duty and were rewarded with an advance of a few hundred yen.

    The majority of the girls were ignorant and uneducated, although a few had been connected with "oldest profession on earth" before. The contract they signed bound them to Army regulations and to war for the "house master " for a period of from six months to a year depending on the family debt for which they were advanced …

    Approximately 800 of these girls were recruited in this manner and they landed with their Japanese "house master " at Rangoon around August 20th, 1942. They came in groups of from eight to twenty-two. From here they were distributed to various parts of Burma, usually to fair sized towns near Japanese Army camps.
    Eventually four of these units reached the Myitkyina. They were, Kyoei, Kinsui, Bakushinro, and Momoya. The Kyoei house was called the "Maruyama Club", but was changed when the girls reached Myitkyina as Col.Maruyama, commander of the garrison at Myitkyina, objected to the similarity to his name.

    PERSONALITY;

    The interrogations show the average Korean "comfort girl" to be about twenty-five years old, uneducated, childish, and selfish. She is not pretty either by Japanese of Caucasian standards. She is inclined to be egotistical and likes to talk about herself. Her attitude in front of strangers is quiet and demure, but she "knows the wiles of a woman." She claims to dislike her "profession" and would rather not talk either about it or her family. Because of the kind treatment she received as a prisoner from American soldiers at Myitkyina and Ledo, she feels that they are more emotional than Japanese soldiers. She is afraid of Chinese and Indian troops.

    LIVING AND WORKING CONDITIONS;

    In Myitkyina the girls were usually quartered in a large two story house (usually a school building) with a separate room for each girl. There each girl lived, slept, and transacted business. In Myitkina their food was prepared by and purchased from the "house master" as they received no regular ration from the Japanese Army. They lived in near-luxury in Burma in comparison to other places. This was especially true of their second year in Burma. They lived well because their food and material was not heavily rationed and they had plenty of money with which to purchase desired articles. They were able to buy cloth, shoes, cigarettes, and cosmetics to supplement the many gifts given to them by soldiers who had received "comfort bags" from home.

    While in Burma they amused themselves by participating in sports events with both officers and men, and attended picnics, entertainments, and social dinners. They had a phonograph and in the towns they were allowed to go shopping.

    PRIOR SYSTEM;

    The conditions under which they transacted business were regulated by the Army, and in congested areas regulations were strictly enforced. The Army found it necessary in congested areas to install a system of prices, priorities, and schedules for the various units operating in a particular areas.  According to interrogations the average system was as follows:

    1. Soldiers

    10 AM to 5 PM

    1.50 yen

    20 to 30 minutes

    2. NCOs

    5 PM to 9 PM

    3.00 yen

    30 to 40 minutes

    3. Officers

    9 PM to 12 PM

    5.00 yen

    30 to 40 minutes

    These were average prices in Central Burma. Officers were allowed to stay overnight for twenty yen. In Myitkyina Col. Maruyama slashed the prices to almost one-half of the average price.

    SCHEDULES;

    The soldiers often complained about congestion in the houses. In many situations they were not served and had to leave as the army was very strict about overstaying. In order to overcome this problem the Army set aside certain days for certain units. Usually two men from the unit for the day were stationed at the house to identify soldiers. A roving MP was also on hand to keep order. Following is the schedule used by the "Kyoei" house for the various units of the 18th Division while at Naymyo.

    Sunday

    18th Div. Hdqs. Staff

    Monday

    Cavalry

    Tuesday

    Engineers

    Wednesday

    Day off and weekly physical exam.

    Thursday

    Medics

    Friday

    Mountain artillery

    Saturday

    Transport

    Officers were allowed to come seven nights a week. The girls complained that even with the schedule congestion was so great that they could not care for all guests, thus causing ill feeling among many of the soldiers.

    Soldiers would come to the house, pay the price and get tickets of cardboard about two inches square with the prior on the left side and the name of the house on the other side. Each soldier’s identity or rank was then established after which he "took his turn in line". The girls were allowed the prerogative of refusing a customer. This was often done if the person were too drunk.

    PAY AND LIVING CONDITIONS;

    The "house master" received fifty to sixty per cent of the girls’ gross earnings depending on how much of a debt each girl had incurred when she signed her contract. This meant that in an average month a girl would gross about fifteen hundred yen. She turned over seven hundred and fifty to the "master". Many "masters" made life very difficult for the girls by charging them high prices for food and other articles.

    In the latter part of 1943 the Army issued orders that certain girls who had paid their debt could return home. Some of the girls were thus allowed to return to Korea.

    The interrogations further show that the health of these girls was good. They were well supplied with all types of contraceptives, and often soldiers would bring their own which had been supplied by the army. They were well trained in looking after both themselves and customers in the matter of hygiene. A regular Japanese Army doctor visited the houses once a week and any girl found diseased was given treatment, secluded, and eventually sent to a hospital. This same procedure was carried on within the ranks of the Army itself, but it is interesting to note that a soldier did not lose pay during the period he was confined.

    REACTIONS TO JAPANESE SOLDIERS;

    In their relations with the Japanese officers and men only two names of any consequence came out of interrogations. They were those of Col. Maruyama, commander of the garrison at Myitkyina and Maj. Gen.Mizukami, who brought in reinforcements. The two were exact opposites. The former was hard, selfish and repulsive with no consideration for his men; the latter a good, kind man and a fine soldier, with the utmost consideration for those who worked under him. The Colonel was a constant habitué of the houses while the General was never known to have visited them. With the fall of Myitkyina, Col. Maruyama supposedly deserted while Gen. Mizukami committed suicide because he could not evacuate the men.

    SOLDIERS REACTIONS;

    The average Japanese soldier is embarrassed about being seen in a "comfort house" according to one of the girls who said, "when the place is packed he is apt to be ashamed if he has to wait in line for his turn". However there were numerous instances of proposals of marriage and in certain cases marriages actually took place.

    All the girls agreed that the worst officers and men who came to see them were those who were drunk and leaving for the front the following day. But all likewise agreed that even though very drunk the Japanese soldier never discussed military matters or secrets with them. Though the girls might start the conversation about some military matter the officer or enlisted man would not talk, but would in fact "scold us for discussing such un-lady like subjects. Even Col. Maruyama when drunk would never discuss such matters."

    The soldiers would often express how much they enjoyed receiving magazines, letters and newspapers from home. They also mentioned the receipt of "comfort bags" filled with canned goods, magazines, soap, handkerchiefs, toothbrush, miniature doll, lipstick, and wooden clothes. The lipstick and cloths were feminine and the girls couldn’t understand why the people at home were sending such articles. They speculated that the sender could only have had themselves or the "native girls".

    MILITARY SITUATION;

    "In the initial attack on Myitleyna and the airstrip about two hundred Japanese died in battle, leaving about two hundred to defend the town. Ammunition was very low.

    "Col. Maruyama dispersed his men. During the following days the enemy were shooting haphazardly everywhere. It was a waste since they didn’t seem to aim at any particular thing. The Japanese soldiers on the other hand had orders to fire one shot at a time and only when they were sure of a hit."

    Before the enemy attacked on the west airstrip, soldiers stationed around Myitkyina were dispatched elsewhere, to storm the Allied attack in the North and West. About four hundred men were left behind, largely from the 114th Regiment. Evidently Col. Maruyama did not expect the town to be attacked. Later Maj. Gen. Mizukami of the 56th Division brought in reinforcements of more than two regiments but these were unable to hold the town.

    It was the consensus among the girls that Allied bombings were intense and frightening and because of them they spent most of their last days in foxholes. One or two even carried on work there. The comfort houses were bombed and several of the girls were wounded and killed.

    RETREAT AND CAPTURE;

    The story of the retreat and final capture of the "comfort girls" is somewhat vague and confused in their own minds. From various reports it appears that the following occurred: on the night of July 31st a party of sixty three people including the "comfort girls" of three houses (Bakushinro was merged with Kinsui), families, and helpers, started across the Irrawaddy River in small boats. They eventually landed somewhere near Waingmaw, They stayed there until August 4th, but never entered Waingmaw. From there they followed in the path of a group of soldiers until August 7th when there was a skirmish with the enemy and the party split up. The girls were ordered to follow the soldiers after three-hour interval. They did this only to find themselves on the bank of a river with no sign of the soldiers or any mea ns of crossing. They remained in a nearby house until August 10th when they were captured by Kaahin soldiers led by an English officer. They were taken to Myitleyina and then to the Ledo stockade where the interrogation which form the basis of this report took place.

    REQUESTS

    None of the girls appeared to have heard the loudspeaker used at Myitkyina but very did overhear the soldiers mention a "radio broadcast."

    They asked that leaflets telling of the capture of the "comfort girls" should not be used for it would endanger the lives of other girls if the Army knew of their capture. They did think it would be a good idea to utilize the fact of their capture in any droppings planned for Korea.

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  2. shinichi Post author

    Does 1944 U.S. Military Report Prove “Comfort Women” Were “Just Prostitutes”?

    Japan-U.S. Feminist Network for Decolonization (FeND)

    http://fendnow.org/2014/11/denialist-talking-points-1-1944-u-s-military-report-on-comfort-women/

    pow_report_49When Japanese politicians visited Glendale and tried to “convert” Japanese American leaders who had supported the city’s peace memorial dedicated to the victims of Japanese “comfort women” system of enforced military prostitution, the politicians presented a copy of a U.S. military report from 1944 that they believed would “prove” their position that “comfort women” were simply prostitutes who followed Japanese military for business. Their American apologists Tony Marano (a.k.a. “Texas Daddy”) and Michael Yon both cited the same document when they descended on our facebook page to argue the same thing. Clearly, they view this U.S. report as their strongest evidence absolving Japanese military of wrongdoings.

    The report is based on interviews with 20 Korean “comfort women” as well as two Japanese civilian “house masters” held by the U.S. military as prisoners of war in Burma. Because it was written by the U.S. Army that was still fighting against the Japanese Empire at the time, right-wing nationalists argue, it cannot be challenged as being biased in favor of Japan. Unfortunately, however, both Japanese and American military can still be biased against Koreans or women, and especially against Korean “comfort women.”

    POW Report No. 49 (1st page)

    Indeed, the report does contain passages that seem to uphold right-wing nationalists’ view that “comfort women” were prostitutes making good money doing business with the Japanese military. The right-wing nationalists selectively quote passages such as “a comfort girl is nothing more than a prostitute or ‘professional camp follower’ attached to the Japanese Army for the benefit of the soldiers,” or “they lived in near luxury… they had plenty of money.”

    The right-wing nationalists cannot help also quoting parts of the document that do not actually help their argument that the author was an objective third party, but are too pleasurable for them to ignore. For example, they like to quote the report’s description of Korean “comfort women” as “uneducated, childish, whimsical, and selfish” and “not pretty either by Japanese or Caucasian standards” (this is why Marano decided to place a paper bag over the Glendale memorial, according to his own article published in Japan). While Japanese nationalists may be quoting these passages to amuse their racist and sexist selves, they clearly show that the author’s prejudice toward Korean “comfort women.”

    Some of the Japanese right-wing nationalists cite this report as if it is a newly uncovered historical evidence, but it has been known among scholars of “comfort women” for more than 20 years. In fact, it was part of the supporting documents compiled by the Japanese government when then-Cabinet Minister Yohei Kono released the famous statement in 1993 in which Japanese government acknowledged responsibility for its direct involvement in the trafficking and exploitation of “comfort women” for the first time. While right-wing nationalists believe the report to be the “silver bullet” proving their case, scholars actually consider it one of many documents that prove Japan’s culpability.

    Right-wing nationalists are correct that the U.S. military report describes a “comfort woman (girl)” as “nothing more than a prostitute.” But in the next paragraph, the report details how “comfort women” were taken from Korea under false pretense (offer of a good job) and placed in a situation that they could not escape from due to debt. Also according to the report, most “comfort women” were never involved in prostitution prior to arriving at Japanese military “comfort stations,” and many were considered “underage” under the International Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Women and Children of 1921, which Japan had signed.

    “House masters” took 50-60% of the fees paid by Japanese soldiers, depending on the amount of money the women owed. Women also had to purchase food and other necessities from the house masters, which “made life very difficult for the girls” because house masters often charged excessively high prices for these necessities. We find these descriptions believable because they are very similar to how contemporary human trafficking cases look like.

    The report also states that women had the freedom to refuse customers, for example when a soldier was extremely drunk. But even if it were true, they obviously did not have the freedom to refuse the “job” altogether and leave because they were taken far away from home in a foreign land and had to repay their debt, which was made difficult by the fact that they had to pay excessive prices for food and other necessities in order to survive.

    To understand why the report seems to contain such contradictory information (did “comfort women” lived in near luxury, or had difficult life due to economic exploitation?), we need to understand the context and purpose of the report itself. The report’s author is Alex Yorichi, a Japanese American soldier working for the U.S. Army’s Office of War Information, Psychological Warfare Team. Yorichi was tasked with finding out the effectiveness of Japanese-language leaflets that the Psychological Warfare Team had distributed in Japanese-occupied territories in Burma, and interrogated “comfort women” and their “house masters” as part of that investigation.

    In other words, it was never Yorichi’s intention to investigate the “comfort women” system itself. As such, he simply recorded testimonies of the “comfort women” and their “house masters” without verifying any particular claim about the “comfort women” system. Because the interview was likely conducted in Japanese (after all, the unit was interviewing Japanese prisoners of war), and many Korean “comfort women” did not receive Japanese education (most “comfort women” could not read the propaganda leaflets distributed by Yorichi’s colleagues), it would be natural to assume that the voices of the two Japanese “house masters” are disproportionately represented over the voices of Korean “comfort women” in the final report. Even then, the report details policies, structures, prices, and schedules at “comfort stations” that clearly prove the active involvement of Japanese military in managing or administering the everyday operation of “comfort stations.”

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