Wartime brothels may have been established by the Imperial Japanese Army, but it didn’t mean managing a ‘comfort station’ was exclusive to Japanese soldiers. A Korean man used to work in one during the Japanese occupation in World War II. However, his service was for the Japanese soldiers assigned in Burma and Singapore. While working as a clerk, the man wrote his working experiences in diaries. His journals were recently found in South Korea and are believed to give light to the controversial topic of forced sex-slavery.
A museum in South Korea was able to purchase the 1922-1957 diaries of the Korean clerk through a shop selling second-hand books. Although some entries were missing, researchers were still able to find interesting accounts on how WWII brothels were run. The diaries are received with suspicion, but experts believe its authenticity as the Korean, born in 1905, died at a time when the issue of “comfort women” was not yet the source of tensions between Japan and South Korea. He died in 1979.
Among those who have examined the diaries is Professor Ahn Byung-Jik from Seoul National University, together with Japanese Professors Kazuo Hori and Kan Kimura from Kyoto University and Kobe University, respectively. They looked into the entries from 1943 and 1944. The researchers said that the result of their findings will be made into publication in South Korea. Professor Kimura also considers the diaries “highly credible” and should there be any alteration of entries, they’re only minimal.
In one entry it was written how the Korean clerk made money transactions on behalf of a comfort woman. The amount mentioned was 600 yen, which is believed to imply that women working in brothels also received compensation. Another entry mentioned that “comfort women went to see a movie screened by the railroad unit.” On his July 10, 1943 entry, the Korean recalled, “On this day last year, I boarded a ship at Busan port and took the first step of my southbound journey.” Nine months later, the author described a Mr. Tsumura, “who came as head of the 4th comfort corps,” in his diary. He mentioned that Tsumura was “working in a fresh food association” when a team of comfort women left Busan two years ago.
Ahn also believed that the diaries testified on the existence of 4th comfort corps. “It has also become certain that the Japanese government had organized comfort teams and took women to the frontline,” he said. Based on the journal entries, Ahn doubts the charges of forced abduction by the Japanese military and police in the Korean Peninsula knowing that Korea was a “well-ordered society, although it was a colony.”
[via Jiji Press]