キャプションを書いたのはSonja Ernst。最初、解説がかなり「巧み」に慰安婦支援団体側の主張に沿って書かれているので、ドイツ人が書いたものではないだろうと思ったが、Sonja Ernstは南アジアや韓国を専門にするフリージャーナリストで、韓国滞在中には中央日報の英字版にも関わったらしい。
The sad story of the "comfort women"矢嶋の考えは分からないが結果的にプロパガンダの拡散に加担してしまっている
Lee Sudan, now 88 years old, used to be a "comfort woman." An estimated 200,000 other girls and young women were forced to "comfort" Japanese soldiers during Asian-Pacific War. "Comfort" is the cynical euphemism the Japanese used; it was really prostitution into which the women were brutally forced.
Most of the prostitutes were from Korea, like Lee Sudan. She was 17 years old when she was kidnapped and taken to China. Korea had been a Japanese colony since 1910. In 1937 the war between Japan and China broke out and started the Second World War in Asia. Japan's greed for power and brutal Asian expansion cast a dark cloud over the entire continent.
Coping with the past
The Japanese photojournalist Yajima Tsukasa took portraits of "comfort women" in China and Taiwan. He lived in a South Korean home, "The House of Sharing," for the women from 2003 to 2006. There he took care of and photographed survivors like Pak Duri, who had been kidnapped and taken to Taiwan. The harsh beatings from the soldiers took a toll on her hearing and made her nearly deaf.
The Japanese systematically organized forced prostitution; they set up military brothels on the frontlines. The war crimes that happened there were justified with cynical excuses, for example, that the authorities were trying to prevent mass raping from taking place in the occupied territories. Ji Dori was taken to a military brothel in China a few months before the war ended in 1945.
Yajima's grandfather was a soldier in China. He avoided the questions his grandson asked him about the war, so Yajima looked for the answers to his questions later as a photographer. The 39-year-old says he wants to bridge the gap that still exists between Koreans and Japanese.
"I came as a man, a Japanese man no less, and as a photographer to the House of Sharing," said Yajima. "That was not easy for the women in the beginning. But they let me stay." He listened to and helped the women. Slowly but surely he gained their trust and friendship.
Kim Sundeok (left) and Oklyon (right) were sex slaves who survived the torture. Pak was kidnapped by the Japanese military and taken to a military brothel in what is now called Papua New Guinea. The girls and young women there had to be available for the men around the clock. They were raped by up to 40 men each day.
Kim Sundeok（金順徳？） was taken to a military brothel in China at the age of 17. She had fallen for a false recruitment for nurses. The Japanese recruited young Korean women to work in China for a few months to earn a little money. Young women from poor families were looking for means to help their families financially. But their dreams ended with humiliation and violence.
Alone and far from home
Yajima Tsukasa visited Pak Seoun in China. The 93-year-old lives in the north eastern city of Jilin. The Korean woman had been taken to China in 1937 at the age of 20. After Japan's capitulation in August of 1945, the Japanese fled and left the "comfort women" behind. The young women were far away from home, traumatized and penniless.
Pak Seoun stayed in China. She was too embarrassed to go back to her family. She married twice but both marriages ended in divorce. Her husbands had been unable to accept her past.
Suppressing the memories
After 1945 the comfort women did not speak of their hardships. The shame was too overwhelming and governments and societies never asked questions - neither in Japan nor in the previously occupied territories. Lee Okseon (left) also kept quiet. She had been taken to China at the age of 16 and stayed there. She started a family and didn't return to Korea until the year 2000.
The year 1991 was an important year for Lee Okseon and other comfort women. Hak-Soon from Korea was the first to break the silence that year. She told her story on TV, which inspired other women to tell their stories, like Lee Okseon. The 82-year-old presented herself on an international stage and became active in the fight for recognition.
Japan should apologize
Comfort women from all over Asia came together. They all had a similar past and also shared the same feelings of anger toward the Japanese government, which to this day has still not officially apologized. Comfort women and others demonstrate each Wednesday in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul. The 900th demonstration took place at the beginning of 2010.
The clock is ticking
Many of the comfort women remained childless and many fell into poverty. South Korea started offering the victims financial help in the mid-1990s. In China and Indonesia, however, many still live in poverty. The comfort women have started a movement and are demanding compensation from the Japanese government.
Fighting for dignity
Up to 1995, 235 comfort women had come out in South Korea; today there are only 82 left. The clock is ticking for the women, who are now over 80 and 90 years old. They broke the silence nearly 40 years after the atrocities happened to demand recognition and an apology from the Japanese government. Author: Sonja Ernst (sb) Editor: Thomas Baerthlein