Accountability and redress for Imperial Japan’s wartime “comfort women” have provoked international debate in the past two decades. Yet there has been a dearth of first-hand accounts available in English from the women abducted and enslaved by the Japanese military in Mainland China – the major theatre of the Asia-Pacific War. Chinese Comfort Women features the personal stories of the survivors of this devastating system of sexual enslavement. Offering insight into the conditions of these women’s lives prior to and after the war, it points to the social, cultural, and political environments that prolonged their suffering. Through personal narratives from twelve Chinese “comfort station” survivors, this book reveals the unfathomable atrocities committed against women during the war and correlates the proliferation of “comfort stations” with the progression of Japan’s military offensive. Drawing on investigative reports, local histories, and witness testimony, Chinese Comfort Women puts a human face on China’s war experience and on the injustices suffered by hundreds of thousands of Chinese women. This book will be important reading for students and scholars of war crimes, history, Asian Studies, and Women’s Studies; it will also appeal to legal experts, human rights activists, scholars of oral history, and readers interested in the Second World War.
This book fills a vital gap in our understanding of the abduction and enslavement of “comfort women” by the Japanese military during the Asia-Pacific war, and will be important reading for students and scholars of war crimes, Asian Studies, and Women’s Studies. It will also appeal to legal experts, human rights activists, scholars of oral history, and general readers interested in the Second World War.
- 2014, Winner - Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA) Best Book Award for Non-fiction, Chinese American Librarians Association
This is an important book that signals fundamental shifts in understandings of the Japanese military’s use of ‘comfort women’ in Asia during the Second World War. To date, most discussion of ‘comfort women,’ the English translation of the Japanese euphemism ianfu, has focused on roughly 200,000 Korean and Japanese nationals. This volume sheds light on the suffering of an approximately equal number of Chinese women who were forcibly drafted by the Japanese military and whose experiences were silenced for decades. It is the first English-language monograph to record the memories of Chinese women at the ‘comfort stations’ and it does a fine job of introducing these important findings to international audiences..One of the great strengths of this work is the demonstration that these women’s suffering continued long after the Japanese military was defeated and the war ended...Chinese Comfort Women does an excellent job of linking these women’s lives to forces that darkened much of China’s tortuous twentieth century yet remain far too little understood.
This book is heart-rending and courageous. It gives voice, for the first time in English, to the Chinese women enslaved by the Japanese armies during the invasion and occupation of China. I finished it with a great respect for the victims whose stories are told here and for the historians who have brought them to light.
This work contributes significantly to the literature on ‘comfort women’ and on the question of violence against women in war, generally. The individual histories documented in this book are very moving, particularly because they include discussion, not only of the terrible ordeals undergone by these women during the war, but also of their family backgrounds before the war and of their experiences in later life.
An impressive book, well-written and researched. It provides an excellent analysis of the scope, nature, and prevalence of comfort stations in China and documents the lived experiences of Chinese comfort women. This book expertly knits together a range of invaluable primary sources hitherto only available in Chinese, with secondary documentation in Japanese, Chinese, and English.
Peipei Qiu is a professor of Chinese and Japanese, Louise Boyd Dale and Alfred Lichtenstein Chair in Modern Languages, and the director of the Asian Studies Program at Vassar College. Su Zhiliang is a professor of history, the dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Communication, and the director of the Research Center for Chinese “Comfort Women” at Shanghai Normal University. Chen Lifei is a professor of journalism, the chair of the Department of Publishing and Media Studies, and the deputy director of the Center for Women’s Studies, both at Shanghai Normal University.
Part 1: The War Remembered
1 Japan’s Aggressive War and the Military “Comfort Women” System
2 The Mass Abduction of Chinese Women
3 Different Types of Military “Comfort Stations” in China
4 Crimes Fostered by the “Comfort Women” System
Part 2: The Survivors’ Voices
5 Eastern Coastal Region
6 Warzones in Central and Northern China
7 Southern China Frontlines
Part 3: The Postwar Struggles
8 Wounds That Do Not Heal
9 The Redress Movement
10 Litigation on the Part of Chinese Survivors
11 International Support
Epilogue; Notes; Selected Bibliography; Index
Translating the Occupation
The Japanese Invasion of China, 1931–45
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