In his May 23 letter, “Use of ‘force’ was the difference,” Paul Gaysford, a former fighter pilot, agrees that “where there is a military, there is sex,” but seems to justify American “comforts” during the Vietnam War by claiming the providers did so “willingly.” He further questions why the Japanese did not use their own citizens as comfort women during the East Asian War.
Gaysford is wrong on both counts, and his comments may provide a reason to believe that Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto is not the most insensitive resident of Japan.
Japanese women did serve as comfort women during the war. They further worked in the network of brothels that Japan found itself “obliged” to set up (duly segregated by race) for the comforts of the U.S.-led Occupation. (My question for the U.S. State Department: Do the women who served in these brothels also qualify as “comfort women”?)
As for the “willingness” of those who serviced “other armies,” I would suggest to Gaysford that relatively few prostitutes provide sex willingly. Most are largely forced into prostitution because of economic necessity; thus it does well to consider what creates their monetary need. In the case of Vietnam, the systematic destruction of that nation by service members of Western militaries just might have had something to do with it.
Perhaps Gaysford should take a trip down to his local DVD rental shop to pick up a copy of “Les Miserables.” It contains a famous song by a “willing” prostitute that nonetheless drives most to tears.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.