An examination of the various ways Japanese citizens have protested their government's denial of the comfort women issue and demanded recognition and justice for the victims. Despite the Japanese government's attempts to erase the history of military sexual slavery, many Japanese citizens have taken it upon themselves to challenge this denial. From scholars and journalists to lawyers and artists, some Japanese individuals have found ways to engage with and recognize Japan's history of wartime sexual slavery, helping to keep the memory of comfort women alive.
Memorare Comfort Women Historical Marker, Roxas Boulevard
Donations and Support for Comfort Women Foundations
The financial contributions of Japanese citizens to organizations supporting comfort women and their role in keeping the issue in the public eye. Japanese citizens have also shown their support for comfort women through financial contributions. Between 1995 and 2000, Japanese citizens donated approximately 448 million yen (around 5 million USD) to the controversial Asian Women's Fund. This financial support has helped to keep the issue in the public eye and challenge the government's denial.
沖縄戦、海兵隊が記録した朝鮮人慰安婦 original caption - These ten Korean girls, sold into prostitution by their destitute families, were found by a Marine patrol near an enemy quartermaster after a skirmish with Japanese soldiers, on Okinawa.
Japanese citizens' activism and support for comfort women are a powerful reminder that the pursuit of justice and reconciliation transcends political boundaries. By joining forces and standing in solidarity with the survivors, these citizens are creating an environment in which healing can take place and a more compassionate future can be realized.
Denial: Quick Look of History of Comfort Women and Present Days’ Complication - Guide
Approximately 200,000 women and girls were forced into sexual slavery during World War 2. They were also known as comfort women, a translation of Ianfu(慰安婦), the Japanese term for "comforting, consoling woman." Although most of the women came from Korea, women from other occupied regions such as Burma, China, Philippines, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaya, Manchukuo, Taiwan, New Guinea, Portuguese Timor, and the Dutch East Indies were also taken into the military sexual slavery.
The women suffered beatings, torture, forced pregnancies, and rape throughout the war. Even after the war, they suffered from medical complications as survivors of sexual violence. In addition, some former comfort women lived in shame and were ostracised by their community after the war. It was not until nearly 50 years after the end of WW2 that former comfort woman Kim Hak-Sun shared her testimony, inspiring other women to come out and share their stories. This work describes the system of military sexual slavery that had been erased from historical memory, and it traces Japan's alternating acknowledgment and denial of its comfort women system from the 1990s to the present.