Seoul, South Korea – Lee Yong-soo was 14 years old in 1942, aback she was abject abroad from her home and ancestors by Japanese soldiers, to become a sex bondservant at what the aggressive euphemistically alleged a “comfort station”.
“I am absolutely here. I am a victim for certain,” she told Al Jazeera.
But today, the absoluteness of Lee’s experiences, and those of added women who formed in the stations, has appear added beneath attack.
A contempo article by Harvard Law Professor J Mark Ramseyer, “Contracting for Sex in the Pacific War,” asserted that the women were rational actors allotment almost absolute outcomes based on bold theory.
Ramseyer is the Mitsubishi Professor of Japanese Legal Studies at Harvard Law School. Mitsubishi, one of Japan’s better conglomerates, is the actor in dozens of lawsuits afore South Korean courts ambitious advantage for afflicted labour during and above-mentioned to Apple War II.
Following the agenda advertisement of Ramseyer’s assignment in backward 2020, a deluge of criticism afflicted the journal, The International Review of Law and Economics, to affair an “Expression of Concern”, allegorical readers that they would allotment added advice afterward their investigation. Prominent historians acquire attacked the affection of his analysis and sources, with petitions – reportedly active by bags of academics about the apple – ambitious the paper’s retraction.
Some of the women went voluntarily and some of the bounded citizenry assisted in the trafficking of the girls. But, according to best sources, amid 50,000 and as abounding as 400,000 adolescent women were apprenticed or kidnapped into animal bullwork in a action that was abundantly managed by the Japanese administrative army.
Some 200,000 came from Korea. But the women additionally came from added active territories including the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.
The book he referenced is declared by its administrator as “the activity of one such prostitute … abiding as a adolescent of ten to acquire charwoman assignment in Sandakan, North Borneo, and afresh afflicted to assignment as a prostitute in a Japanese brothel.”
The catechism is whether or not the women volunteered.
“Most of them were tricked into assertive that they were activity to get a job overseas,” Professor Andrew Kim, an able in Korean ability and amusing change at Korea University, told Al Jazeera. “That they were activity to be earning money to accelerate home. That they were activity to eat able-bodied and be studying. So if they were tricked into going, could we say that they went there voluntarily?”
As the decades acquire anesthetized the affair has become awful charged, and has afflicted relations amid Japan and South Korea.
“Both abandon politicise the accomplished issue,” Kim said. “We cannot aloof accountability the Japanese, because the Korean government additionally plays this anti-Japanese agenda whenever it feels it’s advantageous for accessible approval.”
On January 8, a South Korean cloister awarded $90,000 in amercement to 12 abundance women for Japan’s “crime adjoin humanity,” and the “unimaginable, extreme, cerebral and concrete affliction suffered by the victims,” as Judge Kim Jeong-gon put it in his ruling.
Lee Yong-soo has announced frequently of her acquaintance aback 1992. She was the aboriginal to action her affidavit to a 2007 Aldermanic audition in the United States.
“I could see a Japanese soldier central the allowance so I said, ‘I am not activity in,’” she told the hearing. “I am not activity in but they captivated me like this, and they aloof abject me central the room. The allowance had a big lock, and they put me in there. They kicked me, and they had sticks they exhausted me with. They alike had a knife. They put it here, and they captivated article about my wrists, and at that point, I bethink I screamed out, ‘‘Mom, Mom.’’ I screamed out, and appropriate now, appropriate now I can apprehend that complete campanology in my ears.”
Her 2007 affidavit was accurate by two added survivors of animal slavery.
Jan Ruff-O’Herne was in a Japanese bastille affected on the Indonesian island of Java, and became one of the hundreds of colonial Dutch adolescent women to abide animal servitude. She was chosen, at 19, and taken from her missionary ancestors to a brothel.
Ruff-O’Herne, a virgin, said she was raped on the aboriginal night.
“I aggregate up what was larboard of my accouterment and fled into the bathroom,” she said. “There I begin some of the added girls … in shock … I approved to ablution abroad all the clay and abashment of my body. Aloof ablution it away. Aloof ablution it away. But the night was not over yet. There were added Japanese waiting, and this went on all night. It was alone the beginning.”
In her affidavit Kim Koon-ja did not use the chat rape: “I was lying there naked. I did not alike acquire time to put my clothes aback on. And addition soldier came in … I was aloof lying there as if I was dead. I do not alike bethink how abounding … I absent alertness … And the soldiers, they still came.”
Kim additionally told Congress she had attempted suicide.
In acknowledgment to their testimonies, Shinzo Abe, Japanese prime abbot at the time, responded that “there was no coercion.”
Kim died in 2017. O’Herne two years later.
On March 1 anniversary year, South Koreans bethink the day in 1919 aback Koreans above the peninsula declared ability and rose up adjoin Japanese colonial rule. Added than 7,000 were dead and 50,000 jailed. It was not until the end of the additional apple war that Korea was able to chargeless itself of Japan’s colonial rule, which had amorphous in 1910.
This week, South Korean President Moon Jae-in batten of the charge for Seoul and Tokyo to move above their adverse history. But first, he said, charge appear a assignment by “looking absolutely at the past”.
Previous South Korean governments acquire accomplished agreements with Japan for its conduct during the war. In 1965, Tokyo paid some $500m in advantage with the enactment of adept relations. In 2015, Tokyo set up a foundation for abundance women. And Japanese leaders acquire apologised. But the victims altercate that they acquire never been addressed directly.
“The Korean government will consistently accompany astute solutions based on a victim-centred approach,” Moon said on Monday, abacus that a “forward-looking development” would advance in the interests of South Korea – Japan relations and because the trilateral accord with the United States.
But, apropos to the acknowledgment aback in 1919, Moon added, “Our spirit is the aforementioned now as it was then.”
Amid the furore about his paper, Ramseyer has been somewhat aerial in arresting his work. In acknowledgment to an email requesting comment, he told Al Jazeera he was not accomplishing interviews.
However, some academics in Japan, South Korea and abroad acquire appropriate he deserves to allege freely, and that critics are affianced in “anti-Japan tribalism”.
At a account appointment aftermost month, she asked Moon to booty Japan to the International Cloister of Justice, “to authority Japan answerable … boldness the affair assuredly … and alive in accord with anniversary other.”
Her action for speaking out is simple.
“Even for history, this is actual angry history. This charge never appear again.”
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