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IST 605: Comfort Women

Books - Available Online

The Japanese Comfort Women and Sexual Slavery during the China and Pacific  Wars: : War, Culture and Society Caroline Norma Bloomsbury Academic

Link: The Japanese Comfort Women and Sexual Slavery During the China and Pacific Wars

Thousands of women and girls were sexually enslaved by the Japanese Imperial Army. While campaigns for justice and reparations have made people realize the extent of the crimes committed against hundreds of thousands of women and girls, not much is discussed about the origins of comfort women. In this book, Norma delves into Japan's history of prostituted women in China during the Pacific Wars. Norma beings by crafting her argument on how military prostitution has become civilian prostitution. in the introduction before discussing how women and girls became scapegoat survivors, the current efforts to seek justice for them, Japan's history of prostitution, how the Okinawan women are often overlooked as victims, and Japanese society today. This book is a useful source to analyze human rights violations and their effects on society today, but Norma fails to distinguish between sex work and sex slavery. 


Norma, C. (2016). The Japanese Comfort Women and Sexual Slavery During the China and Pacific Wars. Bloomsbury Academic. Korean "Comfort Women": Military Brothels, Brutality, and the Redress  Movement (Genocide, Political Violence, Human Rights) eBook : Min, Pyong  Gap: Kindle Store

Link: Korean 'Comfort Women' : Military Brothels, Brutality, and the Redress Movement 

With estimates of typically ranging up to 200,000 comfort women, many of them were unable to survive the ordeal. Those who did survive remained silent until the start of the redress movement encouraged them to come forward with their experiences. As many people deny the existence of comfort women or claim that they were commercial prostitutes, Min analyzes the testimonies of 103 comfort women, twenty-two of which he personally interviewed, to refute these claims. To further support his argument, Min uses statistical evidence. In twelve chapters, Min presents the theoretical and conceptual frameworks of Korean comfort women and the transnational redress movement, delves into the characteristics of comfort women, discusses postwar life of them, and the effects of the redress movement This book is helpful in understanding the long and complicated comfort women issue. 


Min, P. G. (2021). Korean ’Comfort Women’ : Military Brothels, Brutality, and the Redress Movement. Rutgers University Press. Chinese Comfort Women: Testimonies from Imperial Japan's Sex  Slaves (Contemporary Chinese Studies) eBook : Qiu, Peipei: Kindle Store

Link: Chinese Comfort Women : Testimonies From Imperial Japan's Sex Slaves 

Qui, Chen, and Su provide detailed accounts of twelve comfort women station survivors. The book begins by discussing the origins of the term "comfort women" and how it contrasts with the traumatic experiences of the victims. It is broken into three parts with the first exploring Japan's expansion into China and the growth of the comfort women system, the second exploring the narratives of twelve survivors. and the third part discussing how the issue of comfort women has failed to be properly addressed leading to the redress movement. This book presents evidence refuting the claims denying Japanese military involvement in forcing women into comfort stations. While the Japanese may have claimed that comfort stations were designed to reduce sexual assault, it fostered it. 


Qiu, P., Chen, L., & Su, Z. (2013). Chinese Comfort Women : Testimonies From Imperial Japan’s Sex Slaves. UBC Press. 

Comfort Women Activism: Critical Voices from the Perpetrator State, Tai

Link: Comfort Women Activism: Critical Voices From the Perpetrator State 

Tai explores the topic of comfort women activism as a form of feminism. The book is separated into three parts with the first part of the book is useful for a basic understanding of the topic of comfort women, the second part shares activist narratives, and the third part using Ōgoshi Aiko's theory of feminism to argue that comfort women activism is a form of feminism. It shows how female activists have come to understand the comfort women issue and how they keep those understandings alive. This book is helpful in understanding how people in Japan understood the topic of comfort women. However, it has its limitations as its scope is restricted to that of Japan and it does not delve into the complexities of the comfort women movement. While it does tell the stories of some feminist activists, those are only a small part of a much bigger and more complicated story of the comfort women movement. 


Tai, E. (2021). Comfort women activism : critical voices from the perpetrator state. Hong Kong University Press. 

Beyond Victor's Justice? The Tokyo War Crimes Trial Revisited | Brill

Link: Beyond victor’s justice? : the Tokyo War Crimes Trial revisited 

This book is a collection of essays from authors of diverse backgrounds to analyze the Tokyo Trials from various perspectives. These essays provide insight into the Tokyo Trials, the people involved, and some 'forgotten crimes' of the Tokyo Trials. Overall, this book shows how have understood the Tokyo Trials, what lessons future international trials can learn from them, and how the current understanding of 'forgotten crimes' such as comfort women are recognized. 


Tanaka, T., McCormack, T. L. H., & Simpson, G. J. (Eds.). (2011). Beyond victor’s justice? : the Tokyo War Crimes Trial revisited. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.

Stories that Make History: The Experience and Memories of the Japanese  Military >Comfort Girls-Women< by The Research Team of the War, Hardcover |  Barnes & Noble®

Link: Stories that Make History : The Experience and Memories of the Japanese Military ›Comfort Girls-Women‹ 

This book attempts to make the voices, experiences, and memories of comfort women known and available for future generations. Not only did comfort women have their dignity taken away from them, but they have also had to fight to have it restored. For half a century their stories remained untold, but this book examines how the survivors transformed from helpless victims to courageous activists. This book concludes with other works on comfort women which may be useful in further understanding of the topic. 


Women’s Human Rights Center, Son, A., Research Team of the War, Women’s Human Rights Center, Research Team of the War, & Women’s Human Rights Center. (2020). Stories that Make History: The Experience and Memories of the Japanese Military ›Comfort Girls-Women‹ (Research Team of the War & Women’s Human Rights Center, Eds.). De Gruyter.

Additional Books

While these books may not be available online, these are some suggestions on additional books that may be of some interest. 

True Stories of the Korean comfort women: testimonies

Keith Howard (ed): True Stories of the Korean Comfort Women. | London Korean  Links

Contained within this book are nineteen exclusive first-hand testimonies from surviving comfort women forced into sexual slavery. This book pays tribute to what these women and girls have had to endure even as these crimes against humanity are often forgotten due to prejudice and ignorance This book shows how some of the lives of former comfort women were ruined. While some had the chance to move on and attempt to live normally, they would never forget what they had to suffer because of the Imperial Japanese Army. 


Howard, K. (1995). True Stories of the Korean comfort women: testimonies. Cassell. 

Comfort women speak: testimony from sex slaves of the Japanese Military: Includes New United Nations Human Rights Report

Comfort Women Speak: Testimony... by ...

In 1991, at seventy-four years old, Kim Hak-Soon became the first woman in Korea to break the silence on the comfort women issue. While not much is known about the issue as many of the victims perished, her testimony gave others the strength to share theirs. Nineteen of those stories have been carefully transcribed and translated before being presented in this book. This book is an excellent source for learning about what comfort women had to endure. However, the limitation of this book is that translations of these testimonies can lead to loss of understanding the intended meaning. 


Schellstede, S. C., & Yu, S. M. (2000). Comfort women speak: testimony from sex slaves of the Japanese Military: Includes New United Nations Human Rights Report. Holmes & Meier.