Sex slave documents detailed in a full catalogue

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Sex slave documents detailed in a full catalogue

A state-affiliated Korean think tank has compiled the first complete catalog of documents on Japan’s wartime sexual slavery, including rare records from China and Thailand.

The Seoul-based Northeast History Foundation recently published “The Complete Catalogue of Documents on the Japanese Military’s ‘Comfort Women,’ Vol. I-IV.”

The four-volume publication lists all the documents compiled by the foundation since it was launched in 2006 through the end of last year from Japan, the Allied Powers during World War II, China, Taiwan and Thailand. The catalogue can be used as a comprehensive reference of documents on the Imperial Japanese Army’s forceful recruitment of girls and young women into sexual slavery before and during World War II. It also includes records that have yet to be revealed to the Korean public gathered from the Second Historical Archives of China and the National Archives of Thailand.

Some right-wing Japanese lawmakers and politicians, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, have, in recent years, claimed that there is “no evidence” of the forced mobilization of women into wartime sexual slavery. The so-called comfort women issue came to international attention in the early ’90s following the testimonies of victims and continues to be a source of diplomatic friction between Seoul and Tokyo, despite a 2015 agreement that attempted to resolve the problem.

The books list when the documents were produced, the original source and where they are preserved. When relevant, it includes the original writer of the document, where it was forwarded and the original language.

The various documents cover the establishment of so-called comfort stations, their management, and the recruitment and mobilization of the victims, as well as their repatriation and damages incurred.

The first two volumes are composed of a total of 594 Japanese documents, including 375 from Japan’s Defense Ministry, 162 from its Foreign Ministry, as well as records from the National Archives of Japan and police.

The third volume includes 202 documents from the Allied Powers, including the United States, Britain, the Netherlands and Australia, as well as the Allied Translator and Interpreter Section (ATIS), Southeast Asia Translation and Interrogation Center (Seatic), the Netherlands East Indies Forces Intelligence Service (Nefis) and the U.S. Office of War Information (OWI).

The fourth volume compiles government records from Chinese archives, including never-released documents from Nanjing in Jiangsu Province, Shanghai, Jinhua in Zhejiang Province, Heilongjiang Province and Shanxi Province and the Second Historical Archives of China.

The catalog also lists 53 documents from Taiwan and 60 from the National Archives of Thailand, namely those produced around the end of World War II. This includes a Nov. 18, 1945, record of “Koreans Interned at Ayuthia,” drafted by the No. 3 Intelligence Team in Bangkok. Another document drafted by the 207 Military Mission South East Asia Command (SEAC) in November 1945, “Koreans & Formosans - Disposal instructions,” details the how Korean and Thai women, including civilians, “comfort girls” and nurses, were sent to a prison camp in Ayutthaya, Thailand.

“The publication of the books is significant, as it provides evidence of the forced mobilization and the harm caused to the comfort women victims by the Japanese military, which has been denied by Japan,” said Doh See-hwan, the director of the Northeast Asian History Foundation’s Research Center for Japanese Military Comfort Women. “There is a need for the systematic organization of the Korean, Japanese and Chinese documents to enable quantitative and qualitative research into the comfort women issue.

Doh added that the comprehensive compilation and public dissemination of the data was “a top priority for the center to play the role of a state-affiliated hub of research into the comfort women issue” and contribute to a solution. The foundation plans to make the data available on an online database from April.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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