Comfort Women: The Bitter Truth of Japanese Colonies


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Origin and Extent of Comfort Women System

Comfort women chapter remained one of the shameful past events in Imperial Japanese history. The whole series of events took place during the period of 1932-45.

Imperial Japan was considered a part of the axis force against the British American allies. As we can see with the advent of far right leaders like Mussolini and Hitler, Japan joined the fore to destroy British dominance over the world.

They were very strong challengers of British colonial force all over the world and started to colonize newer territories in the eve of 1930’s. Japan colonized parts of China, Malaya, Korean peninsula, Philippines, Thailand etc.

These countries were considered to be East Asian countries. In these countries Japan had thousands of military force stationed in several military bases.

Thousands of innocent women were treated as sex slaves and were forced to stay in these military camps. These women predominantly belonged from Korea, China and Philippines and they were exported to military bases at Burma, Malaya, Thailand and other military occupations of Japan.

Conservative Japanese estimates suggest there were 20000 comfort women but several Chinese scholars suggest that it may run to around 3.5 to 4 lakh in numbers. These women sometimes were forcibly abducted from homes, job advertisements also given to lure poor women to these torture camps.

But one thing for sure can be said about these places is there is no coming back after entering these places and after death these women are also incarcerated inside the camps. These places were infamous for sexual violence, rapes, gang rapes and even murders en-masses.

Execution of the Comfort Women System

Japan has a historical legacy of having a organised prostitution system and they wanted to follow that in their military occupations also so that their soldiers never have to face any troubles.

Initially they tried to send registered prostitutes of Japan to these military stations so that they don’t have to face any difficulty in finding sexual pleasure.

But  Japan’s expansion in newer territories created huge problem in providing sex workers to these huge armed forces that is stationed at different countries.

Japan also not wanted to create any further mass rape or violence situation like Nanking rape massacre in 1937. So they tried to contact the local prostitutes and middlemen to get sex workers in the army camps.

On the other hand Japan external ministry was reluctant to give visas to prostitutes of their country as they thought it will create a bad impact on the country's international image.

On the other hand giving entry to local prostitutes may lead to breach of security in military camps as many can be spies altogether and lead to information leak.

So they started to lure local women and used them as sex slaves. It started in Shanghai in the year 1932 and went onto destroy lives of thousands of women in those occupied countries.

These women were abducted or given job opportunities and forever got locked in this hell. A payment of 800 to 1000 yens would suffice to take a Korean young girl.

Korean contractors were assigned to get more girls to these Japanese military camps. Most of these contractors were of Korean origin and very little were of Japanese origin.

In urban areas though getting women was easy but in rural areas army has to raid villages to drag women from villages. If women were reluctant they followed three all's policy (rape all, burn all and loot all).

Most of the women were taken from Korea because Korea was under Japan's licensed prostitution jurisdiction and it was easy to pick women from this place. Most of the Korean women filled up the comfort women corps to entertain the soldiers. The Dutch and Japanese were a small fraction of the force.

Another urgency that Japan military felt was to protect the army from venereal diseases. The brutality that these women faced were against all human rights and can be termed as one of the worst abuses of the world.


As in the war the Japanese troops went onto loose the battle the allied forces captured many territories and destroyed many comfort stations. It is sad to say that excessive use of contraceptives made these women sterile and psychologically ill. More that 75 % of these comfort women died during or after world war.

Many memorials and statues have been made to describe this large scale of atrocities. Japan government openly admitted these atrocities and apologised to these victims and paid compensation to the present comfort women those living in different countries.


Written by Bodhiswatta Mukherjee

Edited by – Adrija Saha

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