“Comfort Women” and History

Comfort Women Marker--A 7 feet bronze Statue of a Filipina comfort woman is unveiled along Roxas Blvd., in Manila in remembrance of the estimated 1,000 Filipino women who were onscripted into sexual slavery in Japanese-run "comfort stations" during WWll. Photo by Jansen Romero

By Dan Steinbock

Empirical evidence for the truth-seeking rationale for freedom of expression – the assertion that truth prevails in a free marketplace of ideas – is difficult to interpret. Analysis of how Wikipedia functions, and the accuracy of its content, provides preliminary indications of the validity of the truth-seeking rationale and its limits.


A new debate has been unleashed about Japan’s wartime sex slaves and the weight of history, amid the year 2018 which many see internationally as the “Year of the Woman”.

In early December, a memorial was erected along the Roxas Boulevard facing Manila Bay. It commemorates the Filipino “comfort women”, who were forced to work as sexual slave labour in Japanese military brothels during World War II. Soon thereafter, a spokeswoman from Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was “extremely regrettable” that comfort women statues had been erected.

In reality, the extent of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery has been downplayed until recently.

According to conservative historian Ikuhiko Hata, there were barely 20,000 “comfort women” in the 1930s and 40s and they were largely willing prostitutes, with no or minimal direct involvement by Japanese military. However, the very notion of the “comfort women” is a euphemism for sex slaves and historical revisionism. In fact, even Hata’s initial estimate was 90,000 but he revised the number downward following his political alignment with Japanese conservatives in the late 1990s.
In reality, the extent of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery has been downplayed until recently.

In reality, the number of Japan’s wartime sex slaves is today estimated at some 200,000 women. According to Chinese scholars in Shanghai, in which a “comfort station” was established in the Japanese concession already in 1932, the real number of “comfort women” may have been as high as 360,000-400,000.

Unlike Hata and other Japanese historians would like to believe, these women were not prostitutes and Japanese military was involved. Most were from areas occupied by Imperial Japan, particularly China and Korea, but also the Philippines. There were also “comfort stations” in Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia, Singapore, East Timor and other Japanese-occupied territories. Additionally, hundreds of women in the region were involved from the Netherlands and Australia.

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Dr. Dan Steinbock is an internationally recognised strategist of the multi-polar world and the founder of Difference Group. He has served as at the India, China anAmerica Institute (USA) , the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (Chinaand the EU Center (Singapore). For more, see https://www.differencegroup.net/

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The Political Anthropologist.