2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 30 June 2007
There is no question that Yoshiaki's book is one with a mission and, as such, is flawed: throughout, he maintains a hectoring style, very similar to the way one makes a speech to an audience of committed political activists, rather than how one should write a scholarly book. So, as another reviewer here has already mentioned, it is a "biased" work in every possible way.
Furthermore, while Yoshiaki claims to have consulted a "wealth of documentation and testimony" in order to make his case, he does not distinguish between the critical bits of information, and the accidental. So, we do not know if one document on which he bases an argument is as important as another. Frequently, a report from a low official in a Japanese consulate somewhere in Asia gets the same prominence as an American or British report compiled on the basis of investigations at the end of the Second World War. The author simply jumps from one scrap of evidence to another, leaving the reader with the impression that all have equal value, and that all point in a similar direction. We are never told whether other documents which may exist in the Japanese archives prove the opposite, although we are given the hint - on two occasions - that the high military command in Tokyo enquired about the organisation of the military brothels. This may suggest that either the Japanese government organised the entire affair, or that it merely tolerated a process which started on the ground, without official approval. Either way, the question needs a more thorough examination.
This, in no way, diminishes the horrible tragedy of the so-called "comfort women" or vindicates Japanese nationalists who claim that the episode of enforced prostitution never took place, but merely suggests that Professor Yoshiaki has not completely succeded in making his case.
However, those who wish to know more about this sad event in modern history will still benefit from reading the book. At the very least, it provides a "case for the prosecution", and probably the most sustained case available today. Whether this is enough to come to the conclusion that Japan's war-time government actually organised this vast prostitution ring remains up to the reader to judge.
on 21 June 2014
But there is nothing comfortable about the way these women from all over Asia were used by the Japanese Military during the war, May I also add that it was not just WW2 but in their war against Korea and China before the war of the world ever came about. A cruel and bitter look into the sordid side of a war, especially where women and children are concerned. Brilliant book though the subject doesn't shine one bit.
4 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 15 November 2003
Yoshimi Yoshiaki publicly (in a debate programme on TV, 1997) admitted that he had no evidence that substansiates his argument on the kidnapping and forcing women to serve as "sex-slaves" for the Japanese Army. Still, he published this book in the U.S.A. after his argument was completely debunked in Japan.
He is a shameless anti-Japanese Japanese.
How so? Well, I make my point by translating one vital document that show you completely opposite view of the issue and that Yoshimi cowardly hid from English-speaking readers although he showed a tiny bit of this document to make good-natured people think that there are really some evidences (p42).
This document is titled "Matters Regarding the Recruitment of Women Workers for Military Comfort Stations". Because this is classified, many people may think something fishy contained.
There are not. My abridged translation of the document (quoted from "Comfort Women Documents" edited by Yoshimi himself) is following.
< There have been worrying reports that there are some wicked traders who deceive women saying they had military authorisation to recruit women for their own brothels and, in fact, there are some cases of kidnapping. It is aprehended that, because of those men, people would misunderstand the Army's intentions and the honor of the Japanese Imperial Army is disgraced. From now on, by working with the local police, strictly examine the background of the traders before let him work at a comfort station.>
It was this very document that the left-wing Asahi newspaper reported triumphantly that the hard evidence of the Army's "involvement" to kidnapping women was eventually found.
Yet, there are more contradictory evidences to Yoshimi's augument. One of them was written by the U.S. forces : some Korean comfort women who were working in Birma (the women in the photo in p.76) told the American that they were paid to be recruited, that they lived in relatively "luxurious" lives with quite good money given so they enjoyed shopping in a city and sometimes had a party or sports day with the Japanese soldiers. And that the Army strictly controled the traders not to abuse or exproite the women.
All I showed here is told in the Documents in Yoshimi's book. Maybe he just failed to read those documents he gathered. But what kind of scholar is he then?