Added: September 13, 2014 – Last updated: October 1, 2016


Speaker: Yoshiko Nozaki

Title: The Representation of "Comfort Women" and Politics of History in Contemporary Japan

Subtitle: -

Conference: 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Asian Studies (April 6-9, 2006)

Session: 232: Historicizing Japanese Textbooks

Place: San Francisco, California, United States

Date: April 2006

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century, 21st Century | Asian History: Japanese History | Research: Teaching History / Japanese History Textbook Controversy; Types: Forced Prostitution / "Comfort Women"; Types: Wartime Rape / Asia-Pacific War


Link: -


Speaker: Yoshiko Nozaki, Graduate School of Education, University at Buffalo


»This paper examines the Japanese controversy over the "comfort women" (ianfu) system during Japan’s Asia-Pacific War (1931–1945) and the inclusion of that history in school textbooks. The testimonies given by former comfort women in the 1990s have forever changed the paradigm of historical research on the subject and have become the focus of charged debate among intellectuals of different disciplinary and ideological backgrounds as well as the target of Japanese neonationalist attacks.
The existence of comfort women was ubiquitous knowledge in Japan from the late 1930s, despite censorship applied during the war. In the 1990s, feminist movements inside and outside Japan, and above all the victims who broke silence and gave testimonies, showed the direct role of the Japanese state and military in creating and maintaining a system of forced prostitution and systematic rape of women from colonized and occupied territories. When the voices of victims were reinforced by the research findings of Japanese scholars who unearthed documents proving the role of the Japanese military in maintaining the system, official denials melted away. A charged controversy ensued. By examining the process, through which the challenges to the normative interpretation were posed and the ways they were countered, this article provides a comparative perspective for understanding contemporary controversies over women’s voices, testimony, and history generally.« (Source: Association for Asian Studies website)

Wikipedia: History of Asia: History of Asia: History of Japan / Shōwa period | Prostitution: Forced prostitution / Comfort women | Textbook controversies: Japanese history textbook controversies | Types of rape: War sexual violence | War: Pacific War / Japanese war crimes