The National Archives of Japan disclosed Sunday a set of official documents accounting the forced sexual slavery of Dutch women under the imperial military. According to the records, there were about 35 Dutch prisoners in Batavia, the old name of Indonesia’s capital, forced to become ‘comfort women.’
The documents have been used as evidence that Japan did carry out wartime brothel activities. It also led to the 1993 statement by Yohei Kono, the Chief Cabinet Secretary at the time, and an official apology from Japan for forcing women into slavery during the Second World War. About 530 pages of accounts detailed tribunal records, which included charges and trials, as well as interviews with WWII officers. A summary made by the Justice Ministry was also included and was used when the Kono Statement was drafted.
The documents were labeled “Class-B and -C (re: Dutch tribunals) Batavia trials, case No. 106” in reference to a provisional military tribunal by the Netherlands in Jakarta, Indonesia. It accounted for Class-B and Class-C war criminals in which five Japanese imperial military officers were convicted of rape and other war crimes committed until 1949. There were also four civilians indicted with the same charges.
One of the records of a ruling for a lieutenant-general of the Imperial Japanese Army noted that the Dutch women were taken as prisoners in a camp located in a province known to be Semarang in the island of Java. Orders were issued by a military officer to take the Dutch women to four “comfort stations” for the purpose of being comfort women. One of the quotations in the ruling was from [military] officers. “We asked the chief of the provincial police to select women at the camp for prostitute house.” Also noted in the documents confirmed the receipt and execution of the order. “The women were brought out by provincial officials at the request of [one officer’s name].”
However, according to another officer, “The women were not told of what work they would be doing until they got into the prostitute houses.” The lieutenant-general was interviewed in 1966 when he returned to Ishikawa Prefecture. “Some coercion was seen on a few people in taking written consent (to be comfort women),” said the general, but he argued that some Dutch women lied in their accounts only to condemn the Japanese Imperial Military.
According to the members of a civic group based in Kobe, to whom the documents were disclosed, the original documents were first housed by the Ministry of Justice until 1999, when it was transferred to the National Archives of Japan in the capital. The civic group requested the disclosure of the documents and was granted so late last month.
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