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Rape and Sexual Assault, Women's Health

U.S. Troops in World War II Raped and Prostituted the Comfort Women

I made note, in one of my earlier posts about the “Comfort Women”, here and here, that the women and girls who were kidnapped, tricked, lured or forced into rape camps created by Japan to “service” soldiers during  World War II were also offered up to U.S. troops stationed in Japan at the end of World War II.  Reports about U.S. soldiers raping and prostituting the Comfort Women are in the mainstream news now, though, so I thought I would post a link .  

Police officials and Tokyo businessmen established a network of brothels under the auspices of the Recreation and Amusement Association (RAA), which operated with government funds. On Aug. 28, 1945, an advance wave of occupation troops arrived in Atsugi, just south of Tokyo. By nightfall, the troops found the RAA’s first brothel.

“I rushed there with two or three RAA executives, and was surprised to see 500 or 600 soldiers standing in line on the street,” Seiichi Kaburagi, the chief of public relations for the RAA, wrote in a 1972 memoir. He said American MPs were barely able to keep the troops under control.

Though arranged and supervised by the police and civilian government, the system mirrored the comfort stations established by the Japanese military abroad.

The Babe Garden

According to Kaburagi, occupation GIs paid up front and were given tickets and condoms. The first RAA brothel, called Komachien—The Babe Garden—had 38 comfort women, but due to high demand that was quickly increased to 100. Each woman serviced from 15 to 60 clients a day.

In his book “Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of WWII,” American historian John Dower says the charge for a short session with a prostitute was 15 yen, or about a dollar, roughly the cost of half a pack of cigarettes.

Once you realize that U.S. troops, and Allied troops, and troops out of every nation, in every war, have routinely and regularly participated in the raping of the “other side’s” women, since the earliest wars, you realize why it is that it is not until this decade that rape has finally acknowledged as a war crime, instead of swept under the rug as something like the collateral damage of war.    Once you recognize that soldiers rape — including “our” guys, our fathers, uncles, grandfathers, sons, husbands, boyfriends, grandsons — then you understand the tremendous resistance to recognizing mass rapes during wartime as the atrocity it has always been and still is.  Then you understand why Japan has been able to deny its enslaving of 200,000 women, and why the United States, until now, has for the most part allowed that denial to go unchallenged, unconfronted.

In his book “Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of WWII,” American historian John Dower says the charge for a short session with a prostitute was 15 yen, or about a dollar, roughly the cost of half a pack of cigarettes.

By the end of 1945, about 350,000 US troops were occupying Japan. At its peak, Kaburagi wrote, the RAA employed 70,000 prostitutes to serve them. Al

The US occupation leadership provided the Japanese government with penicillin for comfort women servicing occupation troops, established prophylactic stations near the RAA brothels and, initially condoned the troops’ use of them, according to documents discovered by Tanaka.



15 thoughts on “U.S. Troops in World War II Raped and Prostituted the Comfort Women

  1. Some comfort women did it voluntarily, no? There is a world of difference between rape and prostitution in my opinion.

    PS If you don’t print this, you’ll confirm my suspicions that you just manage the discussion so it’s an echo chamber.

    Posted by Comfortable Woman | April 27, 2007, 5:41 pm
  2. Some comfort women, as with all prostitution, were understood to have prostituted themselves “voluntarily” and did prostitute themselves as voluntarily as is possible under male heterosupremacy, where women are forced to sell their bodies — in all sorts of ways — to men in order to survive.

    Most comfort women were kidnapped when Japanese troops invaded their countries (Phillipines, Korea, Indonesia, and other nations) and prostituted or were lured into prostitution under the aegis of “working for the New Japan,” only to find this “work” meant fucking up to 100 men per day.

    If you click on that link up there you will read of a woman whose story was similar to the stories of many others. She signed up to work for the “New Japan” at 19 only to find herself expected to sexually service hundreds and thousands of men in what amounted to a rape camp. A few days later she killed herself. Or you can read my earlier posts describing the testimonies of former Comfort Women who described being beaten and gang raped repeatedly, raped by doctors who examined them, subjected to butcheries of all kinds.

    Now. If there were any topic that is serious and important, this is it. Yours is the last comment, whoever the hell you are, which I will approve in which someone wants to talk about prostitution as “voluntary” in the face of hundreds of thousands of women forced into prostitution during war time, which is rape, who are now seeking justice in their old age, before they pass on. Take your bullshit manipulations elsewhere.

    Here, we are all about justice for the Comfort Women. What you’ve got to sell nobody here is buying.


    Posted by womensspace | April 27, 2007, 5:54 pm
  3. Prostitution is rape guised as employment.
    “Sex” cannot be considered freely consensual if the womun has “sex” out of fear of violence against her, economic necessity, social pressure, or convinces herself it is a reasonable employment choice because she knows that her body can always be sold to rapists – oops, I meant men (unless of course you want to uphold male dominated heterosexist society, in which case I find it odd that you would be reading this blog).

    No I do not mean to say that all men are rapists, but I beleive there is a strong argument for saying that all men who buy sex are rapists.

    Read: “The Idea of Prostitution” by Sheila Jeffreys, “Not For Sale” edited by Christine Stark and Rebecca Whisnant, and “Making Sex Work” by Mary Lucille Sullivan.
    See also

    And with specific reference to the so-called comfort wimmin (I personally object to that term because I think it disguises the very real violence these wimmin suffered, as well as making sexual slavery sound less objectionable) it cannot be argued that they volunteered to be treated they way that they were. I suspect that anyone who suggests such a ridiculous, insensitive, misogynist idea probably wants to benefit personally from wimmin’s sexual slavery (whether that be in war, legalised prostitution, all forms of rape, or compulsory heterosexuality).

    Sorry Heart for my enraged comment. I chose not to hold back. Edit as you see fit 🙂

    Posted by Sazz | April 27, 2007, 11:51 pm
  4. Yeah, Sazz, I hate the term “comfort women” and use it only because the women themselves do. I usually try to put quotes around. It hurts me to use that term to describe what these women suffered.

    So TRUE that even if the women DID “volunteer” or were “already prostituted” and “enlisted” as “comfort women” during the war, NONE “volunteered” for what they suffered, which was sexual slavery and many other kinds of slavery.

    Hey, Sazz, you never need to apologize for being enraged about this kind of issue!


    Posted by womensspace | April 28, 2007, 2:35 am
  5. Heart, the story you link, which is almost identical to the one I found two days ago, seems to imply the Japanese set up these brothels for the American occupation army with Japanese women, not the women the Japanese army had enslaved from other countries. That is a minor point, not relevant to the issue, but perhaps someone could clear up my confusion?

    Posted by Aletha | April 28, 2007, 7:06 am
  6. “Some comfort women did it voluntarily, no? There is a world of difference between rape and prostitution in my opinion. ”

    Your opinion is crap. I would use a worse word. Do you have any idea what these women suffered? Do you honestly think any reasonable woman, acting under sane circumstances, would willingly “volunteer” to sexually service men, hundreds of men, up to 60 a day? You must be a man.

    Posted by Kiuku | April 28, 2007, 2:29 pm
  7. “Each woman serviced from 15 to 60 clients a day.” Putting aside the numbers, which are scary, “serviced” “clients” is almost creepier to me than “comfort women”.

    Posted by Miko | April 28, 2007, 4:31 pm
  8. So true, Kiuku and Miko. “Serviced” and “clients” should be replaced by “raped by men,” because that is what is true. And among those men were American troops. How much do I rage that Americans either don’t know this or don’t admit it.

    Aletha, I have a post on the “comfort women” that I’ve been working on (you know me! :/) that gets into some of this, but as I understand, the Japanese set up these rape camps all over the place enslaving whatever women were available. It is probably true that most of the “comfort women” in Japan were Japanese, but my understanding is that women were shipped around from place to place as necessary, and some traveled from neighboring countries thinking they were going to get work, only to find themselves enslaved. 😦


    Posted by Heart | April 28, 2007, 7:03 pm
  9. The Japanese took captured women from the countries they occupied, and made them into sex slaves. This was no more voluntary than the forced labourers the germans used in Europe.

    Heart, this is a link to details about a programme which was on TV here in Australia recently, about a woman who was one of the “comfort women”. She went to Washington in February to testify before Congress about the issue.
    There is a link to a transcript at the bottom of the page:

    Posted by Sheena | April 30, 2007, 1:31 am
  10. I agee with the author
    American troops behaved just as badly as japanese in ww2
    I have been told how they acted in New zealand while on rest and recreation and there motto seems to be
    We are big therefore we can do what we like
    George Bush has the same motto
    Great Britain is about as silly
    Fancy sending a prince to Iraq what a challenge to the enemy

    Posted by charles | May 2, 2007, 1:02 am
  11. And Korean troops did exactly the same in Vietnam.

    Posted by enjoykorea fuga | May 2, 2007, 9:50 am
  12. So what if some of the women wanted to do it?… some of them were still forced to do it. It is a horrific crime.

    Posted by ana | June 10, 2007, 10:31 am
  13. There are some crimes that are so repugnant that they leave a tear in the human heart. I can’t believe that anyone would deny these women’s suffering, to belittle it is to belittle the suffering of all women who have been maimed, raped, and brutalized by war on the battlefield and in their own homes. 15 to 60 men day…there is no way anyone would have volunteered for what is essentially a death sentence. These were children that were taken from there homes by force. I saw their art. Children trying to work out what happened to them through paper and crayons. Nothing can make this right and wanting a little apology, a little recognition and then being shat on essentially by the government that forced them into sexual slavery…and denied even the smallest compensation for their suffering…there is not enough anger in the world. Governments should be overthrown for this.

    Where is the woman-god who cried in the desert for her children? A thousand years of weeping and now it is an ocean.

    Posted by Jessant | July 10, 2007, 1:32 am
  14. I am looking for evidence of US military involvement, read rape, of the Japanese women who were held as sex slaves, first by Japan, and then by the US military for a period of about one year after WWII. I have read about this on some website, I thought it was Amnesty Int’l but they don’t seem to know about how the US Army kept it open for US soldiers. I also read that the US Surgeon General at the time (1945) recommended it to the military as a health measure for the soldiers whose lack of enough sex was unhealthy for them, so the “reasoning” went; also to keep the soldiers from raping the local women. The US officials did not see these enslaved women as rapable. Can anyone direct me to substantiated info on this?

    Posted by Patricia Willis | July 25, 2007, 5:46 pm
  15. First US drop a nuclear bomb and then rape the Japanese women. What a great country ! Pray that this never happen in US.

    Posted by Pablo | December 4, 2007, 9:00 pm

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