Sunday, April 12, 2015

Truth about "Sex Slaves": Powerful Revisionist Voice of George Akita

“… Koreans have nationalized the comfort women issue in such a way that all sexual encounters between Korean military prostitutes and Japanese soldiers are extrapolated to the rape of Korea (the women) by Japan (the soldier). In this sense, all Koreans were terrorized and shamed. Given this sort of distorted academic coverage, it is worth noting that revisionistic histories are challenging this nationalistic narrative.
“The recruitment of women for prostitution and the operation of brothels have a particular history that is critical to understanding why the comfort women cannot be categorically classified as military sex slaves. Revisionists note that the system of military prostitution (the comfort station system) was an expansion of licensed prostitution that existed in Japan and Korea. C. Sarah Soh, professor of Anthropology at San Francisco State University, discredits claims that most of the women were tricked into prostitution by recruits; in most cases, the process was open and the woman (and her family) knew she was headed to a brothel because thousands upon thousands of Korean women were often sold into brothels by their fathers, husbands, or went willingly as a way to rescue their family from poverty. The Confucian patriarchy in Korean society relegated women to an expendable resource.
“The academic pendulum… is now beginning to swing in the direction of placing greater accountability on Korean society and families… [A]s revisionist studies show… [the Japanese military was] not solely responsible.
“Comfort women were purchased by middlemen who were most often Korean, although many Japanese were also recruiters. Herein we see that Koreans were critical in every phase of the recruitment process; Korean men sold their female family members to Korean recruiters who sold them into brothels….
“… We do not deny that some comfort women suffered sexual slavery; however, almost all accounts related to the comfort stations note that the Japanese soldiers paid the brothel proprietor, who was Korean or Japanese, for the sexual encounter. Some proprietors paid the prostitutes for their work and some did not; some comfort women left the comfort station when their debts were paid and some were detained against their will… [T]herefore it is inaccurate and misleading to project slavery as the master narrative of the comfort women.
“Too often ignored in this discussion are the thousands of Japanese comfort women… Yet, Japanese prostitutes experienced the same victimization as their Korean counterparts…. Yet, there is no international outrage over the plight of these Japanese women because they are of the ‘wrong’ nationality. Victimization of any group of people is wrong, regardless of their country of origin.” ("Japanese Colonial Legacy in Korea 1910-1945: A New Perspective," George Akita and Brandon Palmer, MerwinAsia)