Representations of gendered violence in Manga: the case of enforced military prostitution



Publication Details

Ropers, E. 2011, 'Representations of gendered violence in Manga: the case of enforced military prostitution', Japanese Studies, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 249-266.


As a key part of contemporary Japanese mass visual culture, manga has increasingly been usedto shape popular perceptions of history. In recent years, there has been a great deal of discussionsurrounding politically conservative and revisionist manga that distort the military¿s actionsduring Japan¿s wars throughout the 1930s and 1940s. In regard to the issue of enforced militaryprostitution, victims, activists, and scholars have found the depiction of so-called `comfortwomen¿ as willing prostitutes or participants to be extremely offensive. Compared to theserevisionist works, there are other artists who look to address and faithfully represent and depictthe military prostitution issue in manga. Unlike their revisionist counterparts, these artistsgrapple with the inherent sensitivities of such an issue and struggle with ways to communicatethe brutality of gendered violence. These works illustrate important similarities and differences inhow artists structure and frame historical narratives in manga. More importantly, the worksraise questions about the impossibility of adequately conveying the experiences of soldiers andvictims during the war. They also serve as a reminder to the diversity of representations incontemporary Japanese discourse.

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