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Comfort Women Speak: Testimony by Sex Slaves of the Japanese Military : Includes New United Nations Human Rights Report (Science and Human Rights Series, 1) Hardcover – September, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-0841914131 ISBN-10: 0841914133 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

From about 1933 until the end of WWII, the Japanese military conscripted an estimated 200,000 women to work in "Comfort Stations" or brothels where Japanese soldiers could receive sex on demand. Frequently lured from their homes with promises of high-paying factory work, these women, most of whom came from countries like Korea and the Philippines (which were under Japanese rule at the time), were imprisoned in the comfort stations for as long as eight years, received no money for their services and suffered torture or even death if they refused to comply with the soldiers' demands. Because those who survived were too traumatized and ashamed to speak of their experience, the history of the comfort women remained largely unknown until 1991, when one survivor spoke out and brought the attention of human rights activists to the women's plight. Here the Washington Coalition for Comfort Women Issues has compiled an oral history comprised of interviews with 19 surviving comfort women, who describe their ordeals in harrowing detail. They were routinely underfed and forced to service up to 50 soldiers a day. While their responses to their experience range from anger to resignation, all feel that their lives were permanently blighted as a result. As the first volume in a series on science and human rights issues, these testimonies make a powerful case for the apologies and reparations that the Japanese government has yet to grant. Readers dedicated to human rights, and women's rights in particular, as well as Korean-Americans will form a solid if modest market for this moving document, whose text is complemented by articulate photographs by Soon Mi Yu.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"Failure to address crimes of a sexual nature committed during the war has added to the level of impunity with which similar crimes are committed today - UN Special Rapporteur GJ McDougall

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Product Details

  • Series: Science and Human Rights Series, 1 (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Holmes & Meier Pub; 1st edition (September 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0841914133
  • ISBN-13: 978-0841914131
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 10.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,050,939 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Philip Huang on January 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Stark and moving. The sheer numbers of women dragged into sex slavery, the extreme youth of many, and the brutality of their experience... That a handful of courageous women were allowed to tell their story is the first step to justice for the comfort women. It demands our attention.
I'm curious, what in Japanese society prompted them to establish such an "institution"? Even today, Japanese sex culture is problematic, to say the least, with its manga and Lolita fetish.
The sad thing is the American government has opposed the suit against Japan brought by some comfort women in the California courts, based on what it claims is the settlement of all claims in the 1951 treaty. I'll bet no Koreans and Filipinos were represented there.
The reviewer below should be ashamed at his atrocity denial. Elsewhere on Amazon he denies the Nanking incident. Civilized people would not tolerate such unreconstructed behavior from a German, and the same standard should apply to Japanese.
Contrary to Hiromi's assertions, the Japanese government apologized not to save Korean face, but its own. Imagine the national shame if this controversy kept appearing in the headlines, and Japan had to pay reparations. Ishihara is hardly a bleeding-heart liberal, if he was party to such concessions the truth must have been damning.
"They had picnic, sports-day, fun evening and diner [sic] party with Japanese soldiers"? This lame attempt at justification makes me ill. He doesn't refute the kidnapping, the 11-year-old sex slaves, nor the frequency of debasement these women faced.
"...there are unbelievable amount of propaganda spreaded by so-called anti-Japanese Japanese out there." So if a person questions the actions of his government, past or present, we should not believe him? I can see Hiromi would have made a good life during the fascist era. False patriotism - the last refuge of a scoundrel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By chuka on March 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I am born and raised in Japan.

I have just read this book. I am truly shocked and appalled by the cruelty of our forefathers who it seemed to possess no human heart and mind.
At the same time I sincerely respect and admire the courage of former Japan's comfort women from Korea in this book to testify with such honest candidacy.
I gave 5 stars to the book because this book had and will have a great impact over Asian women's issues.

It was in 70s' when the comfort women became a big topic in Japan. But they were professional Japanese prostitutes. But to young school students like us, it was still a surprise because we were never taught at class nor in any history book that Japanese troops during WWII marched alongside the troop of " prostitutes" and we felt that was incredibly shameful and morally unacceptable.
Recently I have leaned that those comfort women were from other occupied territory by Japanese military and the horrible atrocity was committed by none other than our people.

When I was growing up, we often heard about the cruelty of the oppressive Imperial regime and suffering and exploitation of the Japanese people especially during WWII.
That is the reason why so many Japanese including Japanese Communist Party thought that American occupation in 1945 was "liberation" and General MacArthur as a liberator. (General "Mac" as he was referred to in Japan)

Then why can't current influential groups of Japanese who call themselves "patriotic" cannot accept the governmental responsibility by denying the obvious and further covering up these atrocities with pitiful excuses?

This phenomenon has truly opened my eyes about the truth about public prostitution system in Japan.
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By spark5 on October 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Comfort Women is one of the most heinous crimes committed by Imperial Japan, and yet it does not receive the international scrutiny and condemnation that it rightly deserves. This book goes a long way toward exposing the horrific nature of Imperial Japan's crimes through chilling personal accounts.

My only reservation with this book is that I also have read the Korean version of the testimonies by many of these women, and the English versions appear to be heavily abridged. I am not sure why that was done.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Naomi Sato on August 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Having lived in Japan for twenty-three years, I have seen too much
whitewashing and denial by the Japanese government whenever there's any
attempt by outside scholars or journalists to report on wartime atrocities
carried out by the Japanese Imperial Army against its former colonial or
imperial subjects. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prevented Japan's national
television station NHK from broadcasting even a one-hour documentary about
the heinous comfort stations and Japan's brutal wartime system of sex
slavery and serial rape. The sex slaves were twice victimized. First by
Japanese soldiers in the field who looked upon these enslaved women and children as nothing more than "masturbation machines", the diseased or broken "machines" were taken out and disposed of with a gunshot to the head. After Japan's half-hearted surrender in l945, the thousands of
'liberated' sex slaves were victimized again by the total whitewashing or denial of these atrocities by postwar Japan. Shinzo Abe and his ilk are no better than those Europeans who deny the Holocaust when they deceitfully suggest that the women forced into Japan's wartime hell of sex slavery were just "common prostitutes", which I have heard in Japan a number of times. Abe is certainly just a very common politician, bought
and paid for. Part of the problem has also been America's Eurocentric
focus for far too long. The crimes against these former sex slaves were
all but ignored during the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal in the late l940's.
Justice delayed is justice denied. Thankfully the U.S. House of Representatives saw fit to offer the last surviving sex slaves some measure of justice by passing the sex slave Congressional Resolution this
past week (Aug. 1st, 2007).
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