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A History of Trauma--The Comfort Women

Aboriginal Comfort Women in the Taiwan Region

Case Analysis Report

Wang Ching-Feng and Chiang Mei-Fen
August 1997

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I. Genesis for the Investigation

Aboriginals, Mr. Teng-shan Cheng et al., case code ab01 approached the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Social Welfare, the Taipei Municipal Gov-ernment, and the Taiwan Provincial Government in January and October 1996 to petition for confirmation of their status as Taiwanese comfort women. This Foun-dation officially entertained the request to investigate and confirm the status of comfort women in the 6th Taiwanese Comfort Women Committee Meeting held in November 1996.

II. Purpose, Method and Content of Investigation

Purpose of Investigation

To understand the history of the conscription of comfort women, to determine the status of cases and to prove that Japanese troops used inhuman measures to for-ce women in its colony to become sexual slaves during WWII, as reference for claiming compensation from the Japanese government.

Method of Investigation

Face-to-face interviews with victims--The contents covered in the investigation include:

  1. Basic information;
  2. Family background;
  3. Conscription history: Occupation before conscription; origin, cause and meth-od of conscription;
  4. "Comfort" history: Place, environment, concerned parties, treatment, job con-tent, psychological status, reasons for release;
  5. Current status: Life, marriage, employment, psychological adaptation and in-terpersonal relationships;
  6. Expectations of petition: Origin of and expectations of petition, expectations towards the Japanese and Chinese governments.

A victim will begin with her personal background by using free statements. During the interview, questions will be asked to ensure a clear and truthful presentation of the victim's experiences. Each interview will be taped and have notes made of it to facilitate analysis of each case. In addition, when the location of the victim's expe-rience is in Taiwan, the victim will requested to lead the investigation team for an on-the-spot inspection to facilitate a further determination of the case.

III. Number of interviewed Victim

The total number of petitioners is 16, 12 of them have been determined as genu-ine comfort women after on-the-spot interviews and are willing to seek compensa-tion (cases code ab01-ab10, ab15, ab16), 1 of them denies being a comfort woman for Japanese troops (case code ab12) and 2 of them rejected the petition (case code ab11, ab13). 1 of them cannot be confirmed as a comfort woman (ab14).

IV. Basic Information

In location distribution, 1 of the victims currently lives in Taipei City, 7 in Hualien County, 7 in Miaoli County and 1 in Kaohsiung County. In age distribution, the youngest is aged 66 (case code ab13), and the oldest 82 (ab04). In origin distribu-tion, victims are from three major aboriginal tribes, 8 from the Tarogo Tribe, 7 from the Taiya Tribe, and 1 from the Bunon Tribe. In education distribution, most victims have received primary school education and engaged in agriculture before being conscripted. They practiced millet, taro, corn and sweet potato cultivation or stay-ed home taking care of their siblings. See details in Table 1.

Table 1.

Case Code Basic Information
Education Age Present Location Origin Family Status before Conscription
ab01 5th Grade 71 Taipei City Tarogo 5 siblings-1 elder brother and 3 younger sisters. Brother was conscripted by the military. Victim helped out with housework when she was 11, she worked with her parents and took care of her 3 younger sisters. They were assigned to grow sweet potatoes and rice by the Japanese police.
ab02 4th Grade 72 Hualien County Tarogo 4th child of the family. Mother died at 14, father remarried. Stepmother had 1 boy and 1 girl. Victim took care of her half brother and sister at home. Helped Japanese baby-sit children at a tobacco plant, and farmed in the field (growing millet, sweet potato, taro and corn).
ab03 4th Grade 74 Hualien County Tarogo 8 siblings. Victim is the youngest, she received nursing training and was assistant to a MD at a government clinic. Her husband was conscripted by the military.
ab04 nil 82 Hualien County Tarogo Oldest among the seven siblings. Married to her husband by arranged marriage at 17. Husband died in jail for stealing chickens. Victim grew millet, sweet potato, and corn and took care of her children after her husband died.
ab05 unknown 67 Hualien County Tarogo Only girl in a family with 3 older brothers. Her brothers were conscripted by the military.
ab06 4th Grade 74 Hualien County Tarogo Oldest child of the family, she was chief of the aboriginal youth group, husband was conscripted by the military.
ab07 5th Grade 67 Hualien County Tarogo Farmer parents who grew millet and rice. Only girl of the family who did odd jobs at the Fushih Village Substation after graduation from primary school.
ab08 Primary School Graduate 68 Miaoli County Taiya Grew millet, rice and taro.
ab09 illiterate 76 Miaoli County Taiya Oldest of seven siblings with three brothers and sisters. Illiterate and grew sweet potato and millet with parents. Married at 17, husband was conscripted by the military. Victim has 1 boy, she worked in Chingchuan after his death.
ab10 Primary School Graduate 70 Miaoli County Taiya Self-sufficient by growing sweet potato and taro.
ab11 literate 67 Miaoli County Taiya Lives with son and daughter-in-law who don't agree with her petition. Little is known about her background.
ab12 4th Grade 73 Miaoli County Taiya 6 siblings, helped parents in the woods after graduating from primary school.
ab13 unknown 66 Miaoli County Taiya Does not want family to know, unwilling to petition.
ab14 Primary School 73 Miaoli County Taiya Denies being a comfort woman, no further information.
ab15 Primary School Education 68 Hualien County Tarogo 4 siblings, 2 elder brothers and 1 younger sister. Father favored brothers who died of sickness after father died. Father was killed in the Wushe Incident (1930). At the time, her mother had been carrying her for 2 months. Victim and her mother grew sweet potato, millet, corn, and taro and hunted in the Chuanyang Tribe, Jenai Hsiang, Nantou County.
ab16 2nd Grade 77 Kaohsiung County Bunon Attended 2nd grade at 8 (education for aborigines was a 4-year system), father was ill when mother died, she left school and grew sweet potato at home. Victim lived with father, uncle and aunt. As a member of the youth group, she was asked to per-form the arduous task of repairing the road. Met her future husband and married him at 16.

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V. Reference for the Determination of Comfort Woman Status

Table 2.

Case Code Status Determination Reference
Yes No
ab01 V   Interviewed the victim on 25 Mar. 1997. On 28 Apr. 1997 she took us to Juisui Hungyeh in Hualien to identify the restaurant and the Japanese troop camp where she and victims of cases ab02 and ab03 worked, the government clinic and the Japanese police substation where victims of ab03 worked. All 3 victims worked at the said restaurant one after another to provide sexual services for Japanese troops. The statements given by them were similar, and statements concerning the location and troops were identical, so we determined that their statements concerning being forced into providing sexual service for Japanese troops during WWII are true.
ab02 V   Interviewed the victim on 28 Mar. 1997. She took us to the present Wenchuan Road Section X in Juiisui Hungyeh, Hualien, which was the location of Japanese troops during WWII. The present address of the restaurant where she and victims in ab01 and ab03 worked is X, Wenchuan Road Section X, there they grew tobacco and worked at a tobacco plant. All three victims provided sexual services for Japanese troops opposite the plant. The statements given by them were similar, and statements concerning the location and troops were identical, so we determined that their statements concerning being forced to provide sexual services for Japanese troops during WWII are true.
ab03 V   The victim and victims in ab01 and ab02 worked one after another at the restaurant run by the Japanese. They were forced to provide sexual services for Japanese troops. The statements given by them were similar, and statements concerning the location and troops were identical, so we determined that their statements about being forced to provide sexual services for Japanese troops during WWII are true.
ab04 V   Individual interviews with victims in case ab05, ab06 and ab07 were held on 28 Mar. 1997. They took us to identify the location where they were forced to provide sexual services for Japanese troops during the WWII on Apr. 28. The statements given by them were similar, and statements concerning the location and troops were identical, so we determined that their statements concerning being forced to provide sexual services for Japanese troops during WWII are true. In addition, Japanese Troops in Taiwan, describes the Banyan Warehouse as the warehouse for Japanese military supplies, which was identical to the location where the victims were forced to provide sexual services.
ab05 V   id. ab04.
ab06 V   id. ab04.
ab07 V   id. ab04.
ab08 V   In the first interview with the victims of case ab08, ab09 and ab10 on 2 Apr. 1997, they mentioned the same Japanese troops and could identify the same scene. Victims of ab08 and ab09 took us to Chingchuan, Wufeng Hsiang in Hsinchu County to identify the location of the Japanese troops, the place they lived and the hot spring where they worked during WWII. In addition, from the reactions in the interview, we observed that the victim of ab08 has not yet walked out of the shadow of the past. On Apr. 25, we took the victim of ab10 to meet that of ab08, as both of them could identify the same location where Japanese troops were stationed. We specially arranged the meeting to see if they knew each other. They said that they met each other in Inowei, but ab08 said they did not live together. The interviews and the identification of the location show that the victims were forced to provide sexual services for Japanese troops during WWII.
ab09 V   id. ab08.
ab10 V   id. ab08.
ab11 V   She was assigned to do the housework for Japanese troops with victims of ab08 and ab09. Less than a month later, she was forced to provide sexual services for Japanese troops. All three victims were roommates. Victim ab08 told her she could claim compensation from Japan; however, her family say that since it was 50 years ago, and since it was not something honorable, they disapprove of her standing up and claiming for compensation. She has given up the claim.
ab12 Deny IN10 and the victim worked together in Inowei, but the victim denies being forced to provide sexual services for Japanese troops.
ab13 Give up Her husband is non-Taiwanese Chinese and she is afraid of his knowing of her past, so she is not cooperating with the investigation. She claims that she has never left Hsiangbi Village, and thus has refused the petition.
ab14   V She was told in Sulu that when she criticized the Japanese, she could get some money. In fact, she never worked for the Japanese troops.
ab15 V   She claimed that she was forced to provide sexual services for the Japanese warehouse troop 12805. The cave where sexual services were provided had guns, food, clothes and other logistical supplies, and the Shapotan Water Purification Plant was nearby. The troop was stationed opposite Shuiyuan Village (across the river). From the map we know that Shapotan is on the opposite side of the village. Japanese Troops in Taiwan points out that Shapotan was an army warehouse and a point of the Hualien branch. We determined that Shapotan was the place where the victim was forced to provide sexual services. According to the statement and the onsite inspection of the location, including the case and the checkpoints of the Japanese troops, we determined that her statement is true.
ab16 V   According to the victim's recounting of the names of the policemen who conscripted her, the code of the troop which requested her to provide sexual services, and the regular medical checkup by the military doctors at the comfort station, and her being held in the station, we determined that her statement concerning being forced to provide sexual services for Japanese troops is true.

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VI. Condition and History of Conscription

The time of conscription and the general conditions of time are closely interrelated. Victims in cases ab1-ab10 and ab15 were conscripted in 1944 and ab16, in 1943. In age distribution, 1 of them was 16, 3 were 17, 2 were 18, 2 were 20, 1 was 21, 2 were 22 and 1 was 31 years old when conscripted. All of them claimed they were conscripted by Japanese policemen, except ab10 who claimed that she was taken away by Japanese soldiers. According to the victims, Japanese policemen con-scripted them to for housekeeping work for the troops. About 2-3 months later, that they were forced to provide sexual services for Japanese troops. Under the severe and strict surveillance of Japanese troops, they could neither refuse nor escape. Details are shown in Table 3. For example, the victim in case ab06 was the chief of the aboriginal youth group in December 19XX. She was quite well known and as the war was causing difficulties at time, officer Honda knew that the victim's family was facing difficulties. He then asked the victim if she was willing to do some housekeeping work at the Banyan Warehouse for a salary. So the victim accepted the offer.

Table 3.(victims who are determined to have been forced to provide sexual servi-ces to Japanese troops during WWII and are willing to continue the petition.)

Case Code Condition and History of Conscription
Age Time Conscripted by Conscripted for
ab01 18 1944 Policemen sweeping floors and buying things for the troops
ab02 20 1944 Policemen washing dishes, serving and sweeping floors for the troops
ab03 21 1944 Policemen doing odd jobs for the troops
ab04 31 1944 Policemen doing laundry and sewing for the troops
ab05 17 1944 Policemen sweeping floors and buying things for the troops
ab06 22 1944 Policemen sewing and tidying clothes for the troops
ab07 17 1944 Policemen war was raging, men went to war, women needed to work for the country and for the troops.
ab08 18 1944 Policemen sweeping floors and buying things for the troops.
ab09 20 1944 Policemen doing laundry, making tea and sewing for the troops.
ab10 17 1944 Japanese Soldiers cooking and doing laundry for the troops.
ab15 16 1944 Policemen sweeping floors, doing laundry, tidying clothes, delivering tea for the troops.
ab16 22 1943 Policemen working for the troops.

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In addition, from the interviews we discovered that 6 of the victims were married when they were conscripted, 5 were single, 1 was engaged. Many of the victims' brothers or husband were conscripted by the military during the WWII, and ac-cording to the mobilization policy of the colonial government, victims were con-scripted by Japanese policemen to provide sexual services for Japanese troops under the guise of doing housekeeping work. Details are shown in Table 4. Victim ab03 entrusted her children to her mother-in-law and ab04 took her son with her to the troop barracks.

Table 4.

Case Code Marital Status Before Conscription Conscripted Family Member/Location
ab01 single elder brother/the Philippines
ab02 single nil
ab03 married husband/South China Sea
ab04 married nil (died before conscription)
ab05 single elder brother/South China Sea
ab06 married husband/South China Sea
ab07 single nil
ab08 single husband/Rabaul, New Guinea
ab09 married husband/New Guinea
ab10 married husband/New Guinea
ab15 engaged husband/Manila, the Philippines; Kaohsiung
ab16 married husband/HK

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VII. Comfort Work Conditions

Victims of case ab01 to 03 are from the same tribe and originally knew each other. They grew up and studied together and were forced to provide sexual services for Japanese troops at the same place-Rueisui Hongyeh in Hualien. Victims of cases ab04 and ab05 knew each other; victims of cases ab06 and ab07 did not know each other. All of them were forced to provide sexual services for Japanese troops at the Banyan Warehouse in Gangmen, Hualien. Victims of cases ab08, ab09, ab10 (ab08 and ab10 knew each other from primary school) were forced to provide sexual services in Chingchuan, Wufeng Hsiang, Hsinchu. The victim of case ab15 was forced to provide sexual services for Japanese troops near Shapotan Warehouse, Sholin Hsiang, Hualien; and the victim of case ab16 was forced to provide sexual services for Japanese troops in Kowloon, Hong Kong.

Follows is a psychological profile of the victims when they discovered that the 'actual work' they were required to perform was not true to the contract terms:

'3-4 months after moving to the campsite, we were requested to provide sexual services. One night after dinner, at about 10:00 p.m., a military police intentionally left two girls outside and took me to another room where 4 soldiers were already waiting. They gang raped me. I was so scared, I was thinking of the military police on guard outside. Beginning that night, I was requested to provide sexual services almost everyday. I had to serve 4-5 Japanese soldiers each night (10:00-12:00 a.m.).' (ab02).

'It was Officer Nalidagunsho who took me to a cave the first time. The other girls did not know this at the time. Later, a Japanese soldier came and put his hand on my shoulder and tried to hold me. I refused and he started to kick my hip. I be-came bruised and he then forced me to take off my clothes, after which he at-tempted to rape me. I tried to resist but it was in vain. I started to limp after I was hurt. Nalidagunsho reduced the number of men I had to service because I was hurt, and the other 5 girls took turns.' (case ab06)

'Victims of ab09, ab10 and I washed clothes, made tea and sewed when we ar-rived. We shared the same room. It was less than a month later when Japanese troops requested us to provide sexual services. We refused. One evening at about 8:00 p.m., chief Kimula and another five Japanese soldiers separated me from the other two girls and took me to another room. There, they gang raped me. When I screamed, they scolded me and slapped me, I could not escape. Every evening we were taken to different places to provide sexual services for Japanese troops. There were about 5-6 Japanese soldiers every evening.' (ab08)

'We could not refuse, the policemen would scold us. Policemen in the past were very bad, we had to do what they said. We had to report to the substation if we left the tribe. Both males and females would be punished by being forced to kneel for a whole day, if they did not report to the substation before leaving the tribe. There was no way to refuse the demands of the troops. Although the troops would not do anything, they would tell the police, then the police would threaten us. The police organized a Tarogo Youth Group. One day I ran away to the mountain (I couldn't stand working for the troops after 5 days). The Japanese policemen sent 5-6 members of the group to find me and take me home. I was punished by being forced to kneel. They placed bamboo behind my feet and threatened me and scolded me. I was so frightened that I dared not escape again.' (case ab01).

From the above descriptions, it is clear that none of the victims knew what would really happen to them. They were conscripted to do housekeeping work for the troop. They never knew they were required to provide sexual services for the troops. Although they did not want to, the absolute and severe control of the Ja-panese policemen frightened them and they dared not resist the military order. Each day a victim would provide sexual services for 1-2 or 5-6 soldiers. There were no medical checkups and 7 of the women became pregnant. Some experi-enced miscarriages and some delivered babies after the war. The victim in case ab02 was pregnant thrice and she lost all the babies, it was when the babies were 2 months old, 2 months old and 4 months old respectively. As victim of case ab03 had received nursing training (midwifery), she taught ab02 how to handle with the situation, ab02 returned to work after a rest for half a month until the Japanese surrendered. Victim of case ab09 discovered she was pregnant for 3 months after she left the troop. Details are shown in Table 5.

Table 5.

Case Code History of Consolation
Place Time Troop (no. of soldiers) Officer (IC of consolation) No. of Service/Day Pregnancy Experience
Yes No
ab1 Rueisui Hongyeh, Hualien County 1944-46 Simaya (500-600) Mazmodo, Captain 3-4 V (1)  
ab2 4-5 V (3)  
ab3 3-4   V
ab4 Banyan Warehouse, Gangmen, Hualien County 1944-46 Soko (over 500) Dr. Iladashow & Lt. Nalidagunsho 1-2 V (1)  
ab5 3-5 V (3)  
ab6 forgot   V
ab7 2-4   V
ab8 Chingchuan, Wufeng Hsiang, Hsinchu County 1944-46 Daki Kimula, Chief; Suzuki, Chief. 5-6 V (1)  
ab9 5-6 V (1)  
ab10 forgot   V
ab15 Shapotan, Sholin, Hualien 1944-45 Oyama (500-600) Nisimula unknown V (2)  
ab16 Kowloon, HK 1943-44 9322 forgot over 10   V

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VIII. Reasons for Release

The Japanese government announced the surrender on 14 August 1945, that is the very reason for the release of the victims; however, most of them were actually re-leased in March 1946, after the Japanese withdrew from Taiwan. 2 of them returned home right after the end of the war, and victim of ab09 was taken away by Japanese without notifying her family, no one knew where she went. Her father began looking for her since the first day she left the tribe, later he learned that she was in Inowei, (now Chingchuan). Her father appealed to the officer of the troop, then she left the troop with her father. Victim of ab11 worked at the troop for nearly a year, she was afraid that her Japanese soldier husband returned home before her, she returned home earlier. Victim of ab16 felt very badly, she returned Taiwan before the end of the war.

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IX. Life and Impact after the Consolation Work

From the victims' statements, we know that though they stayed with the Japane-se troop for about a year, which is just a tiny part of the whole life, what they have experienced has done something irrecoverable to their life regarding the mar-riage, health and metal aspects. Victim of ab01 has to suffer the blame of her fellow people for providing sex service for Japanese troop, she left her hometown and makes a living by washing clothes for other people, and more importantly, she never marries then. Victim of ab07 married 4 times, though, 3 of them ended in divorce, and the very reason of all 3 divorces is her miserable past is discov-ered by her 3 husbands. In health, all comfort women have suffered physical dis-orders at different degree, including hypertension, drowsiness, neuralgia, arthritis, infertility, cervical carcinoma, vision defect, etc. For victim of ab02, as she had 3 miscarriages, she can never be pregnant again. During the first rape, victim of ab06's spine was injured by the Japanese soldiers, and she has thus been suf-fering from thrombosis and paraplegia, she can hardly walk or run. In addition, the concept of chastity is a life-long and moral injury that lasts forever in their mind and families. Victim of ab01 feels sick every time she recalls the miserable past. Victim of ab08 hides her inhuman experience for fear that her family might discover that. You can see tears in her eyes every time she talks about that. Fa-milies of victim of ab11 do not think that is something good and thus disapprove the victim to file the petition. Details are shown in Table 6.

Table 6.

Case Code Items
Health Condition Marital Status Number of Children
Yes No Yes No
ab1 hypertension, drowsiness, neuralgia, arthritis   V V  
ab2 infertility V     V
ab3 easy to get ill, poor health V   V  
ab4 poor health V   V  
ab5   V   V  
ab6 thrombosis, paraplegia, can't walk or run V   V  
ab7 operation for cervical carcinoma, bad appetite V   V  
ab8 cardiac disorders, weak V   V  
ab9 poor health V   V  
ab10 has difficulty in movement V   V  
ab15 vision defect, gynecological disorders V   V  
ab16 sore spine, gonarthritis V   V  

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X. Expectation from Petition

Victim of ab16 made a petition to this Foundation through Mr. Cheng in January 1996. Victims of ab01-ab10, ab15 learned about the message in seminars about Taiwanese comfort women held in Taitung, Hualien, Ilan and Kaohsiung by Mr. Cheng in September 1996, they saw the bravery of ab16, so they stand out, too. Their expectation includes subsidies from our government and damages and apology from the Japanese government.

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XI. Postscript

From the interviews, we learned almost all victims were forced to provide sex service for Japanese troop on Taiwan Island, except ab16 who claimed that she was forced to do so in Kowloon, HK. Despite the interviews, victims also took us to the places where the forced sex service was provided for the determination of the case. There are four places identified by the victims:

(1) Shapotan of Sholin Hsiang in Hualien is located by the Meilun River; Banyan of Gangmen in Hualien is located by the Mukua River; Rueisui Hongyeh in Hualien is located by the Hongyeh River, Chingchuan of Wufeng in Hsinchu is located by the Shangping River, all four places have beautiful scenery.

(2) According to Japanese Troop in Taiwan, the former two places were army supplies warehouses, which is identical to the victims' statements concerning what they saw inside. The latter two places were famous tourist attractions for their hot springs, according to elder locals, Chingchuan was the location of a Japanese military officer club.

Though the victims in this report are never called "comfort women", and they never heard of the name "consolation house", the sex service they were forced to provide by and for the Japanese troop has no difference from a true comfort woman. From this, we can assume that wherever Japanese troops go, female locals must have been conscripted to provide sex service. This Foundation shall apply for subsidies from our government and request apology and damages from the Japanese government on and for the behalf of the victims.

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Reference

  • Hsinchu-Wufeng Government Office (1996). Profile of Hsinchu-Wufeng Government Office, Hsinchu, Taiwan.
  • Liu, F-H (1997) Japanese Troop in Taiwan, National Museum of History, Taipei.

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