Publication Details

Mackie, V. C. (2013). Feminism and the Nation-State in Japan. Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies, 12 (3), 1-6.

Link to publisher version (URL)

Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies

Additional Publication Information

Major Review


The first Japanese edition of the book appeared at the height of debates about the interpretation of the Asia-Pacific War, debates which were also linked to conflicts about how the past should be represented in school textbooks.2 Much of this controversy revolved around the issue of enforced military prostitution/military sexual slavery.3 In 1991 Kim Hak-Sun (1924–1997) was one of the few women to come out in public in her own name to narrate her experiences in the enforced military prostitution system and demand an apology and compensation from the Japanese government. She was soon joined by survivors from Korea and other countries. Their campaign was supported by historians such as Yoshimi Yoshiaki, who revealed documents from military archives which supported claims of direct military involvement (Yoshimi 1992), the Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery and such groups as the Violence Against Women in War — Network Japan (VAWW-NET Japan). Subsequent years saw acrimonious debates on how the War should be remembered. By the time Beverley Yamamoto’s English translation of Gender and Nationalism appeared in 2004, the survivors’ campaign had culminated in the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery, held in Tokyo in December 2000, with the verdict of the judges in the Tribunal being handed down in December 2001 (on the tribunal, see Kim 2001: 611–620). In the meantime there had been further controversies about the Asian Women’s Fund which operated between 1995 and 2002. This was a private fund set up to provide funds to the survivors, but without official Japanese government involvement.