The subject of the use of “comfort women” by the Japanese military during World War II has popped up in the news repeatedly starting in 2007 when Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister at that time, denied that the Japanese military had forced women into sexual slavery during World War II in an orchestrated way. The term “comfort women” is a translation of a Japanese euphemism for sex slaves.
The subject of the Japanese military engaging in the systematic use of sexual slavery was raised again in June as described in an article by Kim Ji-yeon of Arirang News in South Korea, dated June 23, 2013:
New data shows involvement of Japanese military on sexual slavery during WWII
Documents from the Japanese government indicate that the administration of Shinzo Abe (elected as Prime Minister for the second time December 2012) had dismissed evidence which could prove the Japanese military had engaged in the systematic use of sexual slavery during World War II.
The data in question is from the Batavia military court proceedings, a trial in which Dutch victims of Japanese sexual slavery took the issue to court in Indonesia, where they had been victimized. The documents show the Japanese military had used force to transfer victims to comfort stations, where they had to provide sexual services for Japanese officers.
Japanese Communist Party Seiken Akamine made a parliamentary inquiry to the Abe administration earlier this month, asking whether the Batavia proceedings were included in its 2007 formal investigation of the Kono Statement, a 1993 official apology on the comfort women issue. Abe’s administration had held that there had been no concrete evidence of government involvement.
But eight days after the parliamentary inquiry, the administration admitted the Batavia proceedings were indeed included in its 2007 investigation, contradicting its initial stance.
Akamine argued that since the Abe administration confirmed the existence of the Batavia court proceedings, it now has to withdraw its 2007 statement renouncing the involvement of the Japanese military in the so called “comfort women” issue.
The 2007 statement by the first Abe administration has been used by Japanese hardliners like Hashimoto Toru to deny Japan’s past wrongdoings during its colonial era.
The Japanese military occupied the former Netherlands East Indies, a Dutch colony and the present-day Indonesia, in 1942. The Batavia War Criminal Court proceedings in 1946 involved 35 Dutch women and the local natives who were taken as comfort women to camps located in central Java.
Note: Batavia is now called Jakarta, the Capital of Indonesia.
Eleven Japanese military officials were sentenced to prison from this trial and Army Major Okada was executed for guilty charges in their involvement of sexual slavery using Dutch women.