Transparently Disclosed Crimes of Sexual Slavery Committed by Imperial Japanese Army
The point in question is why the sexual slavery committed by the Imperial Japanese Army came to be revealed only with the turn of the 1980s.
First reason is that all the documents related to the “comfort women” were incinerated by the order from the top authorities of the Japanese Army.
Immediately after their defeat, the Japanese military authorities gave instructions to all their aggression forces in other countries, government-general in Korea and government-general in Taiwan to incinerate the documents relating to their war crimes.
So thoroughly was the incineration carried out that scholars and social media could not know at all about the factual truth behind “comfort stations” and “comfort women.”
To take one case, 100, 000 rolls of documents now kept in the Jilin Province Archive located in Changchun, which had been buried in the yard of the military police headquarters of Kwantung Army of the Japanese Imperialists (now the office of People’s Government of Jilin Province), were unearthed during construction work. These confidential documents are just a tiny part of the remains left from the incineration in mid-August 1945 following the Japanese defeat.
Second reason is that the surviving victims of sexual slavery felt too shy to step forward and betray their shameful past life.
Who would willingly tell about shameful life, their elementary rights and dignity having been stained because they were treated as pieces of sexual tools?
They managed to save their lives after their integrity as social beings, dignities as women and minds and bodies as youth had been violated and destroyed into pieces. It is too natural, therefore, that they could not easily tell about their personal sufferings of the past.
Third reason is that that the Japanese themselves – offenders of sex slavery – kept their mouths tight shut.
Millions of Japanese who had been conscripted into the aggressor army made it their business to commit murder, arson and rape. And they frequented “comfort stations.”
But their crimes had been buried, as the offenders themselves kept their mouths tight shut and denied the crimes, driven by the Japanese peculiar way of reasoning that “dirt and stink should be covered up.”
Nonetheless, the conscientious figures, journalists and female activists came forward, and the sexual slavery committed by the Japanese army came to be consequently laid bare to the whole world.
Simultaneously, an official document suggesting that the sexual slavery for Japanese military was directly ordered by the military authorities was found inside Japan. Overpowered by the increasing denunciation and pressure from the international society, the Japanese government that had kept pretending complete ignorance could no longer hold out.
On August 4, 1993, Kono Yohei, spokesperson for the Japanese government and Chief Cabinet Secretary, second person after prime minister, issued an official statement. He admitted the coercive nature of the sexual slavery for Japanese military by saying “the military was directly involved”, and he made an apology, saying “Japan remembers for a long time.”
Cha Hye Gyong
Researcher, Institute for Studies of Japan
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea