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IST 605: Comfort Women


Henry illustrates how the power of law can shape the way the past is remembered to argue how the Tokyo Trials have been used to confirm or deny atrocities committed during World War II. Focusing specifically on the Tokyo Trial's effects on the memory of comfort women, Henry examines how international law affects the collective memory. The Tokyo Trials have been criticized as unfair but have also been used as a reference point to further understand topics such as that of comfort women. This article is helpful in understanding how the law influences the way that comfort women have been remembered. 


Henry, N. (2013). Memory of an Injustice: The “Comfort Women” and the Legacy of the Tokyo Trial. Asian Studies Review, 37(3), 362–380.

Hosaka reviews Mark Ramseyer's paper, "Contracting for sex in the Pacific War" which has been heavily criticized. This article highlights the fundamental flaws in Ramseyer's arguments based on evidence. Hosaka only points out a a small part of Ramseyer's errors, but has shed light on how information can be horribly misinterpreted. This article demonstrated how people have come to distort the facts of the issues of comfort women, but evidence will eventually tell the truth. 


Hosaka, Y. (2021). Contracting for Sex? “True Story” of the so-called “Comfort Women” during World War II. Journal of East Asia & International Law, 14(1), 161–178.

Jonsson analyzes how the comfort women issue emerged, how successive Japanese and Korean governments dealt with the issue following the end of World War II in 1945, and how the issue is presented at the Women's Human Rights Museum in Seoul and The Women's Active Museum on War and Peace in Tokyo to investigate how the issue can be resolved. Jonsson also discusses how attempts for a solution have been made before and determines that any diplomatic solution would be difficult without an official apology and offer reparations for the comfort women issue. This article is useful in understanding how the Japanese and Koreans have failed to produce a resolution for the comfort women issue. 


Jonsson, G. (2015). Can the Japan-Korea Dispute on "Comfort Women" be Resolved? Korea Observer, 46(3), 489-515.

In this article, Jung provides a unique perspective on the Japanese Military comfort women issue in Germany by examining the issue through German media. Jung chooses to focus on German-speaking societies as Germany is considered an opposite model of historical reconciliation, in East Asia. As this article demonstrates, it is important to understand how others perceive the issue of comfort women and how they reconcile the past. While both Germany and Japan have admitted to their responsibility for their roles in World War II, Japan has not been forgiven by neighboring countries. 


Jung, Y. (2021). Limits of Reflective Memory Culture: The German Media’s Understanding of the Japanese Military Comfort Women Issue, 1990-2019. Korea Journal, 61(1), 72–99. https://doi-

Lee and Crowe explore how différend in the Jean-François Lyotard's sense of the term has made possible historical denialism on the comfort women issue. They then argue how the différend can be exposed and overcome by allowing for the testimonies of comfort women to speak for themselves. Many comfort women feared coming forward because of the societal stigma towards sexual assault. As Lee and Crowe suggest, it is time to stop listening to everyone else's voices and only listen to the testimonies of comfort women before trying to understand the true history of comfort women.


Lee, C. Y., & Crowe, J. (2015). The Deafening Silence of the Korean "Comfort Women": A Response Based on Lyotard and Irigaray. Asian Journal of Law and Society, 2(2), 339-356.

Based on personal interviews, participant observation, and numerous Korean- and Japanese secondary materials, Min argues how Japan's colonization of Korea, the gender hierarchy in imperial Japan, and social class were all tied together, and each played a role in making the lives of comfort women miserable. Japan's colonization of Korea was the main reason for trafficking young Korean women, but the sexual double standards and the vulnerability caused by a women's background shaped a victim's experience. This article is helpful in understanding how these distinct factors contributed to the experiences of comfort women. 


Min, P. G. (2003). Korean “Comfort Women”: The Intersection of Colonial Power, Gender, and Class. Gender & Society, 17(6), 938-957.

In the last two decades, multiple memorial sites have been dedicated to the women forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. One of these monuments, the Column of Strength in San Francisco, California serves as reminder of the women and girls that were sexually enslaved by the Imperial Japanese Army, but also oversimplifies the complex history of comfort women. In this article, Myadar and Davidson argue how the memorial sites dedicated to comfort women have made people more aware of the atrocities committed against thousands of women. While these monuments bring attention to issues, they cannot tell the entire story. This article makes one question how and why such atrocities are remembered. 


Myadar, O., & Davidson, R. A. (2021). Remembering the “comfort women”: geographies of displacement, violence and memory in the Asia-Pacific and beyond. Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography, 28(3), 347–369.

In this article, Ushiyama examines how the Japanese government has responded to the memorial statues dedicated to comfort women. As discussed in this article, Japanese government officials have demanded the removal of comfort women statues in Glendale, California, San Francisco, California, Manila, and Berlin. While some may view these statues dedicated to comfort women as a symbol representing the beginning of recovery, the Japanese government sees them as depicting one side of the issue. This article offers insight into the controversies over the statues of comfort women without making any claims on the atrocities suffered by comfort women. 


Ushiyama, R. (2021). ‘Comfort women must fall’? Japanese governmental responses to ‘comfort women’ statues around the world. Memory Studies, 14(6), 1255-1271.

Verma and Kumar examine the topic of comfort women from different former Japanese Colonies by studying Nora Okja Keller's Comfort Women to the significance of former comfort women's testimonies, discussing how the rise of trauma theory has led to question on why it is remembered, and exploring how traumas like this that haunt someone are unconsciously transmitted to future generations using Anne Whitehead's Trauma Fiction as a source of reference. This article makes one question if understanding the truth is worth making a victim relieve a traumatic experience, why it should be remembered, and the effects it can have on future generations. 


Verma, K., & Kumar, N. (2022). The Corporality of Trauma and Testimony: Nora Okja Keller’s Comfort Woman. Rupkatha Journal on Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities, 14(2), 1–14.