Gender, Geopolitics and Gaps in the Records: Women Glimpsed in the Military Archives
From the 1930s to the mid-1940s, the Japanese Anny and Navy established military brothels, known by the offensive euphemism 'comfort stations' (ianjo) wherever the troops were stationed. 1 Between 100,000 and 200,000 women of diverse ethnicities and nationalities from across the Asia-Pacific region were enslaved and forced to provide sexual services to the military personnel. Thanks to the research of historians, ethnographers, legal scholars, journalists independent scholars and activists over several decades, there is now extensive knowledge about this system.2 fiom the 1990s some brave survivors of the system have provided testimony of their experiences,3 and a people's tribunal on the issue was held in Tokyo in 2000.' Because of the conditions under which women were coerced into this system, however, for many women there are few traces left in the historical record. Their individual names were not recorded on the records of their transportation; they were often given new 'Japanese' nicknames by the military personnel; and their deaths were unlikely to be recorded.