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Saturday, December 27, 2014

"Comfort Women"

For John, BLUFWar is an occasion to exploit women and leaders need to work against that trend.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

One of the legacies of World War II is the Japanese use of "Comfort Women" in occupied territories. From The Stars and Stripes we have this item:
SEOUL — Every Wednesday, a group of South Koreans gather across the street from the Japanese Embassy in Seoul to voice their displeasure over how Japanese troops treated the so-called South Korean “comfort women” during World War II.

They want the Japanese government to issue an official state apology and provide reparations to those forced into military prostitution.  The protests are rather peaceful, as adults, children, nuns and even some of the women forced into sexual slavery, demand Japan to make amends.

Protest organizers started their weekly protest Jan. 8, 1992, and have held more than 1,000 demonstrations since then.  In 2011 — to mark the 1,000 gathering — organizers erected the Pyeonghwa-bi, Peace Monument, a statue of a teenaged Korean girl sitting on a chair facing the Japanese Embassy. The barefoot girl, with her hands resting in her lap, respresents all Korean comfort women.  The small bird on her left shoulder is said to represent freedom and peace.

The Japanese Government does not wish to acknowledge this issue, much less apologize.  It is a thorn in the side of Korean-Japanese relations.

Now operating in parallel is a situation at least a decade more recent.  From The Stars and Stripes we have Former sex workers who serviced US troops get day in court, by Ashley Rowland and Yoo Kyong Chang

SEOUL, South Korea — Former sex workers who have sued the South Korean government, claiming it encouraged them to prostitute themselves to U.S. troops after the Korean War, have their first court hearing Friday.

The 122 elderly women are asking for more than $1.2 million, an official apology from the government and an investigation into South Korea’s oversight of their work.  The South Korean government and Justice Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn were named in the suit, which alleges that Seoul began encouraging the women to work as prostitutes for U.S. servicemembers in the 1950s, a practice that continued into the 1970s.  A ministry litigation officer declined to comment on the case.

“They were victims of history,” said Kim Mikyoung, one of the attorneys for the women.  She was one of several people who confirmed the contents of the lawsuit, filed June 25. The Seoul Central District Court would not provide a copy to Stars and Stripes, citing rules that bar the general release of such documents.

This is not quite the same situation as the "Comfort Women" for Japanese soldiers, but one can see parallels.  Except in this case the US was not an occupying power and was not forcing women into prostitution.  But, that said, it is likely that, men being men (heck, people being people) arrangements for sex were made by US Service Personnel.
The U.S. military has said it is aware of the case but declined to comment on the women’s claims or the lawsuit.  A statement issued after the suit was filed, said U.S. Forces Korea has zero tolerance for prostitution.
Here is a case where a little bit of humility and compassion could help out.

Regards  —  Cliff

1 comment:

Neal said...

Witness the thriving sex industry just outside the main gates of both Clark AB and Subic Bay NB....not to mention Tu Do in Saigon. This whole subject is a very murky, uncomfortable one for the American ruling class to acknowledge, let alone discuss. This is especially true since outside of stateside bases, the sex industry is nearly as robust as wartime bases. "The Strip" just out the side gate at Keesler is replete with every variation a sexually charged male could want.

And, I do think it goes beyond the traditional meaning of "camp followers."