Recently I attended a session on the "comfort women" issue at a Kyushu University symposium on war-related heritage in East Asia. I was surprised by the diversity in views among the Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Australian presenters at the session.

An Australian researcher questioned assumptions linking the experience of comfort women exclusively with militaristic violence, arguing that there were continuities between the comfort women system and patriarchal practices of prostitution in countries like Japan and South Korea today.

A Japanese researcher criticized the "model victim" dimension to the sex slavery narrative, and stated that the experiences of women in Japan's wartime military brothel system had been marginalized. During the question-and-answer session one audience member vented her irritation over the supposed anti-Japanese biases of the speakers.