Digital Museum:The Comfort Women Issue and the Asian Women's Fund
 Japanese Military and Comfort Women >Number of Comfort Stations and Comfort Women

 Number of Comfort Stations and Comfort Women
Comfort Stations spread all over Asia. In a report of the head of Reward Section of the War Ministry dated September 3, 1942, we can read such passage: "Comfort facilities for officers and men were constructed in following way; North China 100, Central China 140, South China 40, South Asia 100, South Sea 10, Sakhalin 10. 400 in total."
According to an article published in the report of the AWF documentation committee, in basin of Yantze River, there were comfort stations in following cities. Shanghai about 10, Hangzhou 4, Zenjiang 8, Changczhou 1, Yanzhou 1, Danyang 1, Nanjing about 20, Wuhu 6, Jiujiang 22, Nanchang 11, Hankou 20, Gedian 2, Huarongzen 2, Yingshan 1, Yichang 2, 125 in total. To this sum we can add one of Suzhou and two of Anqing according to another material. From this, at least, enumeration of comfort stations in cities, we can already estimate that there were almost as many comfort stations as that in the 1942 estimate of the War Ministry.

The same article estimated on the basis of individual sources that there were 30 comfort stations in Philippines, over 50 in Burma, and over 40 in Indonesia, for a total of over 120 in these three countries. In the South Sea area at Rabaul of Solomon Islands there were 6 naval comfort stations and more army comfort stations, in sum 20.

Though in the 1942 estimate of the War Ministry comfort stations in Okinawa were not mentioned, later many comfort stations were constructed. A scholar estimates that there were over 130 comfort stations in Okinawa.
No survey has been done to determine accurately how many women were taken to the comfort stations of the former Japanese military, what proportion of them were from Korea, or how many did not return from the battlefields.

First of all, there are no documents with comprehensive data one could use to determine the total number. There are, however, various opinions on the total number. of comfort women, all based on estimates made by researchers.

Estimates vary, depending on the basic assumption applied and the related methodology selected by the person conducting the research. One method is to take the total number of military personnel stationed overseas during the Pacific War, then postulate how many personnel there would have been per comfort woman. This method includes consideration of the replacement rate for comfort women, since some were brought to replenish the numbers of others being repatriated.

        Estimates of Researchers
Name of Scholar Year of Publication Number of Military Personnel Parameter Replacement Number of comfort women
Ikuhiko Hata 1993 3 million one for fifty soldiers 1.5 90,000
Yoshiaki Yoshimi 1995 3 million one for hundred soldiers 1.5 45,000
one for 30 soldiers 2 200,000
Su Zhiliang 1999 3 million one for 30 soldiers 3.5 360,000
4 410,000
Ikuhiko Hata 1999 2.5 million one for 150 soldiers 1.5 20,000
Yoshiaki Yoshim Jugun Ianfu (The Wartime Comfort Women), Iwanami Shoten, 1995, English translation, Comfort Women: Sexual Slavery in Japanese Military during the World War II, Columbia University Press, 2000
Ikuhiko Hata Showa-shi no Nazo wo Ou (Inside Japan's Showa Years, 1920s to 1980s), Volume 2, Bungeishunju, 1993
----------- Ianfu to Senjo no Sei (The Comfort Women and Sex in War), Shincho-Sha, 1999
Su Zhiliang Ianfu Kenkyu (Research on Comfort Women) (in Chinese), Shanghai Bookstore Publishers, 1999

Obviously, these calculations all depend on both the estimated number of military personnel per comfort woman and the replacement rate. Here, it is worth mentioning this written record: "Brought in a group of comfort women — 1 woman for 100 soldiers." This record from an April 1939 report of the head of the medical squad of the 21st Army in Shanghai, appears in a memo in the Operations Journal of Setsuzo Kinbara, Chief of the Medical Affairs Section in the Medical Affairs Department of the War Ministry.

If we use this ratio of 1 comfort woman per 100 military personnel, and if we estimate that on average a soldier went to a comfort station once a month, we could posit that each comfort woman was visited by five soldiers in one day, with an average 10 days off per month. Since women would sometimes have been unable to work because of sickness, we can accept these estimates as being close to actual numbers.
When discussing the ethnic origin of the women, Kim Il Myon asserts that "80 to 90%" of all comfort women were Korean, for a total of 170,000 to 200,000 Korean comfort women. However, no statistics exist to back up any of these estimates. A careful reading of all available documents shows that many of the women were indeed from Korea, but probably not the overwhelming majority. After all, many of the women were Japanese.

The ethnic proportion of military comfort station personnel who went to China through provinces of Taiwan from November 1938 to December 1939

  Japanese Korean Taiwanese
Taihoku Province 649 207 229
Shinchiku Province 65 86 11
Taichu Province 3 143 27
Takao Province 218 53 117
Tainan Province 3 72 0
Total 938 (49.8%) 561 (40.1%) 384 (20.4%)
The number of Takao Province lacks data of December 1938. That of Tainan Province covers only December 1938, June and November 1939.
Shiryoshusei, Vol. I, pp. 171-210, 219-251, 257-297,301-337, 407-415.

G.J. McDougal, the Special Rapporteur for the UN Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, presented a report to the Sub-Committee on 22 June 1998 entitled Contemporary Forms of Slavery: Systematic Rape, Sexual Slavery and Slavery-like Practices During Armed Conflict. The report has an appendix entitled An Analysis of the Legal Liability of the Government of Japan for 'Comfort Women Stations' established during the Second World War (Full text see). The appendix includes the following passage:

"Between 1932 and the end of the Second World War, the Japanese Government and the Japanese Imperial Army forced over 200,000 women into sexual slavery in rape centers throughout Asia."
"Only about 25 per cent of these women are said to have survived these daily abuses."

These numbers are based on "a 1975 [sic.] statement by Seijuro Arafune, Liberal Democratic Party member of the Japanese Diet, that 145,000 Korean sex slaves died during the Second World War."

During the war, Koreans were told that they were now Japanese. This was to persuade them to place money in deposit accounts. They deposited 110 billion yen, and the money was all lost at the end of the war. Now they are demanding that the money be returned. They say, "Give us back Korea's wealth, the wealth Japanese bureaucrats held on to during 36 years of rule." They say Koreans were drafted by Japan during the war and taken from Korea to work, and those who worked well were used as soldiers, and 576,000 of those soldiers are now dead. There are claims that 142,000 Korean comfort women are dead, killed by the Japanese military's sexual abuses. Now they are demanding pensions for a total of 900,000 victims. At first, 5 billion dollars was claimed as compensation, but the sum has been whittled down and now they say they are willing to settle for 300 million dollars.

During the Korea-Japan Treaty negotiations (up to 1965), representatives of the Republic of Korea stated that 1,032,684 Koreans had been recruited to serve as laborers, soldiers, and personnel attached to the Japanese military, and that 102,603 of these had been injured or had died. At the time, no mention was made of comfort women.

None of Arafune figures have any basis whatsoever. It is most unfortunate that Special Rapporteur McDougal, who held a responsible position working for a United Nations organization, relied on such an untrustworthy source.

Professor Su Jiliang learned of Arafune's speech from the paper written by Kim Il Myon, accepted it, and used the figure of 142,000 Korean comfort women to estimate that there were 200,000 Chinese comfort women, out of the 360,000 to 410,000 he estimated to have existed in total. Regrettably this mistaken conjecture, too, is simply based on Arafune's inflammatory remarks.




Copyright(c) Asian Women's Fund. All rights reserved.