The Final Secret of Japanese war crime -New shocking documents revealed
about wartime sexual slavery in Indonesia.（English）
The June 14 issue of The Washington Post carried a full-page advertisement by 44 Japanese parliamentarians and some other public figures including Ms Y. Sakurai asserting that there was no coerced prostitution attributable to the Japanese Army during the Pacific War. They based this assertion on a series of five historical “facts.”
We shall present here some contemporary documentary evidences which would expose this assertion as nothing but a myth devoid of any substance and a falsification of true, historical facts.
As a case of breakdown in discipline in the Imperial Japanese Army the authors of the advertisement write: “On the island of Semarang [no such island exists: T.K.] … an army unit forcibly rounded up a group of young Dutch women to work at a ‘comfort station.’ The station was shut down under army orders, though, when the incident came to light, and the responsible officers were punished.” This assertion is to be seen against the background of a proposal made to the Japanese Government on March 8 by a group of Japanese parliamentarians headed by N. Nakayama, a group called Parliamentarians for a review of Japan’s future and history education. The group proposes reviewing the statement issued in August 1993 on the question of “comfort women” by Kono, the then chief cabinet secretary. These latter parliamentarians state: “There was only one case known from the island of Java, the so-called Semarang incident. The responsible military leaders were, however, swiftly punished, which only demonstrates that there was no prostitution forced by the Japanese Army.” This assertion is a telling example of falsification of history by revisionist Japanese historians. We shall demonstrate below our position on the basis of documents in our possession obtained from an official Dutch archive. They form part of the documentation pertaining to the above-mentioned Semarang incident, and were presented as evidences to a Dutch military tribunal held in Batavia in 1948.
One of the documents, Nefis16/BN3209, a Japanese translation of which we publish? elsewhere in the current issue of this weekly, is a sworn affidavit by a female Dutch witness and was presented to the Dutch military tribunal in connection with the Semarang incident. The case resulted in a total of eleven guilty verdicts including one capital sentence on the ground offorced prostitution. Prior to the establishment of the War Crimes Investigation Bureau the Dutch military intelligence services were engaged in the gathering of relevant data. In the period immediately following the capitulation of Japan the first priority of the Allied Forces including the Dutch military authorities in Indonesia was the protection of POWs and civilian internees.
The photo presented here was taken by the Dutch military intelligence services after the liberation of the infamous internment camp at Tjideng where starvation and plagues of all descriptions reigned, claiming tens of victims daily. Pain and misery are clearly visible in the expressions of the women and children. One ought to remember that many of these survivors, now in their sixties or over, are still around.
In October 1943, with the worsening military situation the Japanese military administration closed a civilian internment camp in Surabaja, a city of strategic importance. The internees were transferred to a camp in Ambarawa midway between Semarang and Magelang. According to the witness in question, Camp No. 4 there held only 542 women and children. The security duties were in the hands of the local, native police, with only occasional visits by the Japanese. The first such visit took place on February 24 in 1944. The visitors demanded that all women aged between 18 and 28 come forward to be recruited for clerical work. What ensued then is detailed in the affidavit. Fierce protests by mothers notwithstanding, six out of nine unmarried women were forced to part with their mothers and sisters to be taken away.
The leader of the internees testified: “We resigned ourselves to believe the Japanese who reassured us that the women were needed exclusively for clerical work.” This accords with a statement by one of those victims as found in another document (24740/R) submitted to the military tribunal in Batavia held in August 1948. According to this witness the camp leader said: “Please go. You needn’t worry. You’re only moving to another camp.” Only in September 1945, after the liberation of the internees, would the camp leader find out the truth from a letter from one of the mothers who had met their daughters in May 1944.
The illegality of these actions taken by the Japanese military is in no doubt. One even need not mention here that, at the start of the war, Y.Matsuoka, the then Foreign Minister of Japan, had notified the Allied Powers that his Government agreed to the principle of reciprocal application of the Geneva Convention on the treatment of POWs. The Japanese actions in the Dutch East Indies were also in breach of clauses in the then current Japanese criminal law prohibiting abduction in general and abduction with a view to sexual abuse in particular. The Japanese military leaders in the occupied territories appear to have taken the view that their actions were in conformity with these clauses.
Another document in our possession shows that late in February 1944 the same ploy was used to abduct women internees from eight internment camps in the region of Semarang. The Japanese met with fierce resistance, whisking away 36 women from a total of four camps, and at least 24 of them were forced into prostitution. It is well known that Ms Ellen van der Ploeg and Ms. Jan Ruff O’Herne are still voicing, from The Netherlands and Australia respectively, their disgust at the horrific, degrading treatment they were subjected to.
We also possess a detailed document compiled on a then 19-year-old Dutch girl who attempted in vain to commit suicide. At Club Semarang where this woman and colleagues of hers were forced to work the resistance put up by them was so fierce and desperate that the club was closed after having operated only one month. The women were subsequently sent to three other separate brothels. There are not a few additional primary sources recording equally fierce resistance put up by victimized women.
The first document mentioned above refers to a certain colonel who came to a certain internment camp and was hailed by the internees as their saviour. He arrived from Tokyo to inspect camps which had recently been brought under the jurisdiction of the military. He was Colonel K. Odajima from the POW section of the Ministry of the Japanese Army. He was accompanied by Captain S. Yoshida, who had arrived early in the month as the commandant of?the camps in the Semarang area. He had already noticed cases of irregularities. Odajima immediately advised the headquarters in Singapore of the Southern Army and the Ministry of the Army in Tokyo that the brothels should be closed. Before long all the brothels containing women of European descent on the island of Java were closed, and at long last, on May 10, mothers met their devastated daughters.
All this demolishes the assertion quoted earlier and made by the MP Nakayama and others: “… which only demonstrates that there was no prostitution forced by the Japanese Army.” The truth is the other way round. The punishment was meted out precisely because Colonel Odajima had identified cases of forced abduction as breaches of the international law concerned. It proves in no way that there had taken place no forced abduction. To assert otherwise is falsifying of history.
Moreover, after the closure of the brothel, Major General S. Nozaki, the principal of the cadet school, who had planned and executed the criminal act, visited the army headquarters in Jakarta to offer an apology. The Army, however, punished none of the officers responsible. One of the tribunal documents in our possession shows that, during the proceedings, Nozaki and other defendants themselves stated that nobody had been punished.
In March next year Nozaki was promoted as Lieutenant General, and shortly before the end of the war he was conferred an imperial medal of distinction. To say as in the advertisement in The Washington Post that officers were punished is a fabrication of history, an attempt to fool the world opinion. Such a statement should be withdrawn forthwith.
On the homepage of MP Nakayama we read: “In a directive issued by the Japanese Army in 1938 a stern warning is issued concerning immoral agents who, using the name of the Army, go to any length in recruiting comfort women. This clearly demonstrates that the Army was not involved in the matter at all.” This is a reference to the Army directive no. 745 stamped by H. Imamura, occupying then a top position in the Ministry of the Army. The advertisement in The Washington Post has published a photo of this directive.
However, Major K. Okada, who would be executed, dared proudly state in the courtroom, showing no sign of remorse, that he had drawn up rules about the use of brothels and?given each comfort woman a fancy Japanese name. The tribunal concluded that he was responsible for allowing young women to be abducted, making them sign a document written in Japanese, a language incomprehensible to them, forcing them into prostitution, and personally raping them. Thus we have here an instructor for cadet officers acting in the manner of a corrupt recruiting agent.
General H. Imamura, who, heading the 16th Army, had launched an attack against Java, visited after the war the family of Lieutenant Colonel A.Okubo, who hailed from the same city in Japan and had committed hara-kiri in a temple in Sendai, his home town, in order to avoid being?taken to court on suspicion of his involvement in the Semarang incident. Okubo was a superior of Okada and one of the officers who suggested exploiting women in internment camps. In the last will left by Okubo we read that “Nozaki was responsible.” This was also submitted as a documentary evidence in the military tribunal. The above-mentioned directive issued by Imamura, it appears, should actually have been directed to the corrupt leadership of the Japanese Army itself.
[Translated by T. Muraoka, Prof. emer., Leiden University, The Netherlands, from a slightly reworded version of an article recently (June 22) published in a Japanese weekly, Syukan Kinyobi. The author, Taichiro Kajimura, is a freelance Japanese journalist resident in Berlin over thirty years.]
Select documents relating to the Semarang “comfort women” case
Two affidavits summarized
(Compiled in The Hague on 24 June 1946. The witness X was born in 1900, and during the Dutch colonial period she was a public servant in Surabaja. After the occupation by Japan she was seconded to the Red Cross. In October 1943 all women and children who were interned in a camp in Surabaja were transferred to a camp in Ambarawa. She served as the representative of internees in Ambarawa Camp No. 4 under the military administration, and after the civilian internment camps had come under direct military jurisdiction she served as the representative in Camp No. 9.)
… On 26 February, 1944 there appeared in the camp three Japanese, introducing themselves as officers of the Kempeitai (= military police). I and two assistants of mine, Mrs. A and Mrs. B, were handed by them a list of names on which we found eleven women and young girls mentioned. They were to be taken away in order to perform clerical work in the suburbs of Ambarawa, and we were told that they should be ready to depart within half an hour. Thereupon we pointed out that this would be impracticable as most of them had family members in the camp and desired to live with them.
A 19-year-old daughter, the only child of one of the above-mentioned ladies, was among the selected girls. Seeing that our refusal produced no desired effect, we immediately contacted all family members of the girls, and at the same time the entire camp was alerted to this alarming situation and the ladies themselves were earnestly urged to protest this design of the Japanese.
The only result achieved by these efforts was that two of the girls were allowed to stay behind; one had a history of TB and the other had a humped back. In response to our urgent request they conceded that the family of the other girls would be allowed to join them as soon as possible, though they said that this could not happen on the very same day due to the required administrative work. … After a few hours, these girls departed the camp amid our vociferous protestation. I would add here that the selected women, with two exceptions, were not of the type with loose morals. Therefore we resigned ourselves to believe the Japanese, who reassured us that the women were needed exclusively for clerical work. The names of the women who were taken away are …
At the end of March 1944 when the camps came under direct military jurisdiction of the Japanese, a Japanese named C arrived as the commandant of our camp. Immediately on his arrival the family of the removed girls and our committee joined hands, exerting pressure on him so that, as originally promised, they be allowed to join their daughters or the girls be brought back to the camp.
He repeatedly promised to do his best, but forbade us to raise the matter with any Japanese visitor from outside of the camp. This ban infuriated us, and we resolved to grasp the first and best chance to do precisely what he had forbidden us to do.
On one morning in late April 1944 there appeared in the camp a Japanese colonel accompanied by his adjutant. As he had visited the camp before, we concluded that he was from the headquarters in Semarang. As it was early in the morning, C had not yet reported for work. We lost no time in reminding him of our earlier request regarding the young girls. We realized then that he was totally uninformed over the matter. After having been informed by us about the matter he asked us to tell him names and identification numbers, promising us most emphatically that the family would be able to follow their daughters as soon as possible.
On hearing all this from us, C was red with anger. As it turned out later, it had been his intention to consign our mutual agreement in the matter to oblivion. On the morning of 10 May 1944 Mrs. A, already mentioned a couple of times above, was summoned to his office only to return to us after about ten minutes with a bloody nose and swollen eyes. Her ears were also bleeding, a truly painful sight. It was confirmed later that her eardrums had been beaten hard. C yelled at her, “So, you can at last have your way and get out of here, right?” So saying, in the presence of a heiho who was doing duties as a guard in those days, he hit her in the face with his fist repeatedly. This was his way of announcing that the family members would now be allowed to join their daughters or sisters. One hour later thirteen members left the camp for an unknown destination. C insisted on not disclosing the destination, so that they didn’t know where they were heading for. Nor could we obtain afterwards any clarification from the Japanese over this matter… I believe that the aforementioned scandalous deeds by the Japanese warrant an investigation.
24740/R, an affidavit made under oath on 27 August 1948 in Batavia;
Z, resident of Batavia, aged 29, garment designer
About 23 February 1944 I, together with a sister of mine, was interned in Ambarawa Camp No. 4. … Two days later I was contacted by our representative again to be told that I had to get ready to leave the camp within an hour. Beside the camp there was parked a bus with two Japanese. We came out with our luggage, protesting in the face of our representative against our expulsion, whereupon she said to us, “Please go. You needn’t worry. You’re only moving to another camp.”
Thereafter our bus apparently traveled to a building at Kanarilaan. …A large number of women, married and unmarried, had already been brought there. A certain Japanese, who was unknown to me, made a speech in Japanese, though I couldn’t follow it. … By threes and fours we were led into a small room where we were made to sign a document written in Japanese. There stood there a Japanese holding a pistol. When I asked what the document was all about, I only got a grunt in a language incomprehensible to me. … Five out of these women were selected and taken to a large house in Tjandi, which would turn out later to be a brothel called Futabasju (= Futabaso). It was a large building with a fence all round and a smallish entrance. … On 1 March 1944 a Japanese by the name of D came to install two cleansing basins in every bathroom. Another Japanese told us that we were supposed to look after Japanese guests.
I was determined to put up resistance. After a while there showed up a Japanese fellow. Each of us was provided with a room of her own. This Japanese stranger said to me that he was there with an order to violate me. I refused. He then resorted to violence and hit me with a chair. He used a condom. After a long struggle he managed to take my clothes off, but no actual penetration occurred. He was thoroughly exhausted. So was I.
Some time later I was made to serve another Japanese. This time also I got him exhausted after a long struggle, and he couldn’t achieve his aim. C threatened me to send me to a brothel for soldiers only. On 3 or 4 March 1944 there came along a Japanese wearing a long, white suit. He was accompanied by a nurse. In our building there was a room which had been kept locked until then. I thought that that Japanese wearing a white suit was a physician. The door opened. On entering the room I saw it was equipped for an operation. The nurse told me to take my trousers off and lie on the bed, which I did. The Japanese in a white uniform inserted a speculum into my privy parts, which was extremely painful. I screamed and asked him what he was doing. He carried on, however, and pulled out the instrument. Then followed bleeding. The bleeding continued into the following day, making me feel sick. C took me to a hospital where I rested a month.
After this one-month rest I was compelled to serve guests again. I persisted, however, in resisting as before. As a result no real intercourse took place. This meant that the other four colleagues of mine had to suffer more than I, blaming me for not meeting my quota. D in particular seemed to have it the hardest. Our rooms were adjacent, so that I could often overhear her struggling and kicking at the wall. When a Japanese guest would knock and kick at the entrance door, I would yell something in my pseudo-Japanese, pretending that I still had a guest in, a ploy which successfully kept the potential customer at bay. I was mistreated by many Japanese guests. …
Later (at a confrontation at a prison) the witness pointed her finger at one of the seven Japanese suspects who were paraded, stating to me, the interviewing officer, “This is the person who I thought was a physician and who, on 3 or 4 March 1944, caused me severe pain and hemorrhage by applying his speculum. …”
[Translated by T. Muraoka, Prof. emer., Leiden University, The
Netherlands. Explanatory comments are enclosed with brackets.]