‘World has to reflect on comfort women’
With only dozens of “comfort women” alive today, a prominent historian of their plight called for international efforts to preserve the historical documents for future generations.
“A lot of the documents and photos of ‘comfort women’ were ruined by fire or water as the Japanese military tried to destroy the evidence when they were defeated,” said Su Zhiliang, a history professor at Shanghai Normal University, who has spent more than two decades researching the “comfort women” system and campaigning on behalf of the victims.
The Japanese military set up the first “comfort stations” in Shanghai in 1932. By the time of the full-scale invasion in 1937, the military brothels where women were forced into sexual slavery were all over China, from northernmost Heilong jiang to southernmost Hainan Island, said Su during a visit to San Francisco at the invitation of the Comfort Women Justice Coalition in that city.
The “comfort women” system was expanded to Southeast Asia, until the end of World War II in 1945. The Japanese military forced an estimated 400,000 girls and women into prostitution.
Half of them were from China, 140,000 to 160,000 from South Korea and the rest were from Japan and other Asian countries, according to Su.