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Comfort Women of the Japanese Empire: Colonial Rule and the Battle over Memory

Publisher: , expected Aug 2024
Link to online store *

This is an important and controversial book, hitherto available only in Korean, Japanese and Chinese, a book which has been subject to court cases attempting to have some parts of the book deleted. The author reconsiders the issue of the “comfort women”, that is the Korean women who were compelled to provide sexual comfort to Japanese troops during the Asia-Pacific War. She explores the human complexity of the experiences of these women, who despite terrible exploitation, she feels, cannot and should not only be considered only as passive victims. She sets the issue in context, revealing how Korean society played a role, with patriarchy and middlemen being significant factors in the procurement of comfort women, and how alongside the comfort women there were volunteer labour corps of Korean young women supporting the Japanese war effort. She highlights Korea’s colonial status, different from the territories Japan invaded and conquered, discusses how relations between colonisers and colonised in an empire are not straightforward, and argues that people should work to understand more fully the mindset of those at the time, and refrain from forcing values from the present to resolve indignities of the past. Aiming at finding a way to pursue reconciliation while looking more closely at the history, the book provides substantial consideration of key issues to do with empire, memorialization, and censorship, and is an uncomfortable read for those seeking simplistic interpretations and simplistic solutions.

Park Yu-ha is a Professor Emeritus at the College of International Studies, Sejong University, Korea

Table of Contents

  • List of Figures
  • Prologue from Volker Stanzel, former German Ambassador to China and Japan
  • Author’s Preface to the English Translation
  • Translators’ Introduction
  • Author’s Introduction to the Japanese version

Part I: Who were the comfort women? State control of the body, civilian engagement

  1. Forced transport or national mobilization
  2. The erosion of memory at the comfort station
  3. Immediately after defeat – Return of the Korean comfort women

Part 2: “Colony” and the Korean Comfort Women

  1. Korean perceptions of the comfort women
  2. The battle over memory: the South Korean side
  3. Thinking About South Korean support groups
  4. Reading the Korean Constitutional Court ruling
  5. Examining “what the world thinks”

Part 3: The conflict of memory: the collapse of the Cold War order and the comfort women issue

  1. The colonial consciousness that supports the thinking of deniers
  2. Considering Japan’s apology and compensation actions in the 1990s
  3. Expectations placed on the Japanese government once again
  4. Facing the supporters’ potential

Part 4: Beyond the empire and the Cold War

  1. Comfort women and the nation-state
  2. For a new Asia: Seventy years since defeat, seventy years since liberation
  • In place of an afterword: why we must reconsider the comfort women issue
  • Index

Source: publisher’s website

Entry on here.

* Where the book is available from a number of sources, they are prioritised as follows: (1) Amazon UK site, or for the more recent uploads (2) Amazon US site (3) Other sites in US or Europe, including second-hand outlets (4) LTI Korea, where the title is advertised as available from there (5) Onlines stores in Korea. Links to and Amazon UK site contain an affiliate code which, should you make a purchase, gives a small commission to LKL at no additional cost to you.