As for the March 24, 2007, article “Nakasone claims his ‘ian-jo’ was for R&R“: I’ve seen a book of World War II battleground photographs, one of which showed a building with a sign reading “ian-jo.”

As former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone is reported to have said, the Japanese word “ian” as a dictionary item indeed has a four-way ambiguous meaning of “comfort,” “consolation,” “rest” as well as “recreation.” But when it is used in compound words such as “ian-jo” and “ian-fu,” and within the context of the Imperial Japanese Armed Forces, it takes on a very special meaning with a sex element added.

The word-for-word translation of “ian-jo” can be “comfort station.” But the English compound as an established lexical item does not mean what “ian-jo” means. If Nakasone really meant that the facility he built when he was an officer was solely for recreation, he should have called it “goraku shisetsu/kaikan,” or recreation facility/center, rather than “ian-jo.”

yoshio shimoji

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