Wartime ‘comfort women’ rulings uncovered

Prosecutors have kept documents on court rulings convicting 10 Japanese in 1936 of kidnapping 15 Japanese women to force them to work as “comfort women” at a military brothel in Shanghai, a quarterly journal showed Tuesday.

The existence of documents on a Supreme Court ruling against the 10 people — eight men and two women — has already been confirmed. But those on lower court rulings, which describe the details of the case, had yet to be found.

Ryukoku University professor Etsuro Totsuka found the documents at the Nagasaki District Public Prosecutor’s Office and made them available in the latest issue of the Quarterly Journal on the Study of War Responsibility, published Tuesday by the Center for Research and Documentation on Japan’s War Responsibility.

The case is known as the only one in which convictions were made against people involved in sending comfort women to frontline brothels during wartime.

Japan forced some 200,000 women, mostly from Korea which was then under Japanese rule, into frontline brothels to provide sex for Japanese soldiers, according to historians.

Totsuka said the documents’ existence is evidence that the government’s investigation into the comfort women was incomplete.

The 10 Japanese, none of whom were military personnel, were sentenced to up to 42 months in prison on Feb. 14, 1936. A higher court upheld the ruling that September but reduced the prison terms, according to the documents.

The lower court ruling state that the 15 Japanese women were taken to the brothel in Shanghai from Nagasaki in 1932, even though they were told they would work at diners for Japanese military personnel or at restaurants in Shanghai.