News / Asia

Q&A with Peipei Qiu: Chinese Comfort Women

FILE - Wan Aihua (front R) from Shanxi, Lin Yajin (front L) from Hainan, Wei Shaolan (front C) from Guangxi, who said they were forced to become comfort women by the Japanese military during World War II, attend the opening ceremony of the Chinese "Comfor
FILE - Wan Aihua (front R) from Shanxi, Lin Yajin (front L) from Hainan, Wei Shaolan (front C) from Guangxi, who said they were forced to become comfort women by the Japanese military during World War II, attend the opening ceremony of the Chinese "Comfor
Frances Alonzo

During World War II, the Japanese Imperial Army forced women and girls into sexual slavery in China. These "comfort women," as they became known, were victims portrayed as prostitutes in business on the front lines. But the true life of these women and the conditions they lived in were nothing less than horrific.

Peipei Qiu is a professor of Chinese and Japanese at Vassar College. Her research sheds new light on one this traumatic episode. She co-authored the book Chinese Comfort Women: Testimonies from Imperial Japan's Sex Slaves with Su Zhiliang and Chen Lifei, two scholars based in China. She told VOA's Frances Alonzo why this new information is of significant importance today.

Q&A with Peipei Qiu: Chinese Comfort Women
Q&A with Peipei Qiu: Chinese Comfort Womeni
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

QIU: This book is the first book in English to record the experiences of Chinese women who were forced into sexual slavery by Japanese Imperial forces during the Asian Pacific War, which was 1931 to 1945. It gives the historical accounts of 12 comfort station survivors in their own words. And it’s supported by records from archival documents, investigations, reports, local histories, witness testimonies and other findings from the Chinese research. It also offers information of the conditions of the survivors’ lives both before and after the war to help [the] reader understand the social, cultural and political environments that prolonged the suffering of these women.

ALONZO: How is there still sensitivity about what happened at that time?

QIU: After the war, the comfort women’s experience was virtually ignored and survivors were silenced. But from 1990, the Korean and Japanese researchers and feminist scholars started to bring this issue to the world’s attention. Then people started to know that this is one of the least recognized tragedies and war crime. There is a very large number of Chinese victims but their stories remain untold. In the past decades, some Japanese politicians and activists still insist that there’s no evidence showing that this military and the government’s direct involvement in forcing the women into comfort stations. And they’re saying that women who came out to testify, they are actually prostitutes making money at the front lines. They’re also saying that telling the story of the comfort women are to disgrace the honor of Japanese people. That’s why it’s very important to make clear what actually happened to these hundreds of thousand women.

ALONZO: You mentioned some things that surprised you. What was that?  

QIU: The scope of military sexual slavery was much larger than previously known.

ALONZO: Let’s talk numbers. How many people are we talking about? 

QIU: The estimation from researchers based on available information was that between 30,000 or 200,000 women were forced to be sex slaves during the war. The Chinese researcher’s findings indicate the number is about 400,000 women.

ALONZO: What stories did you come across that you felt needed to be told and shared with others?

QIU: There is a survivor named Liu Mianhuan from the Shanxi province. Liu was the only child of her family. Before turning 16, Liu was abducted right in front of her mother’s eyes. When the Japanese soldiers came to her village, she was gang-raped every day and her entire lower body was soon so mutilated that she was festering with sores. And she said the pain was so excruciating to the point that she was unable to stand or sit. When she needed to go to the latrine, she had to crawl on the ground.

In order to rescue her, Liu’s parents sold a flock of sheep which had been the family’s source of livelihood. They presented money to the occupation army and begged them to release their daughter. Perhaps the Japanese troops concluded that Liu was too sick to continue servicing the soldiers. So they took the money and let her parents take her home. But a few months later, the soldiers returned to her home again to look for her. Liu barely escaped the second abduction by hiding in the cellar.

This comfort woman issue is still causing distrust and tension in Asia and around the world.

ALONZO: Why is that? I mean, it’s been decades since it happened. Why such sensitivity, do you think? 

QIU: Because there is no recognition of the war crime. There is deep rooted distrust. So many countries are still seeking sincere apology and they want to see the Japanese government take responsibility to help heal the victims’ wounds in the remaining days of their lives. It is not acceptable to say that the issue belongs to the past. Whatever people say that commemoration victims of atomic bomb or Holocaust is not necessary, is that acceptable? The human sufferings of this kind of magnitude should not and cannot be dismissed. What we choose to recognize and to remember from the past not only affects our present time but also shapes our future then we have hope to achieve peaceful future. That’s where the healing begins.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jerome M. Besson from: Valenciennes-59300, Fr
August 29, 2014 2:58 AM
Those women were most certainly sold by their dirt poor parents to local pimping rings. The IJAF being top dog in the area, no wonder those remoras attached themselves to the big fish.

As an aside, Korea has remained a provider of prostitutes to this day. With any john willing to listen, they will share that nation-shaming truth: since Korean independence, those women as a body have contributed a consequential share of their government's revenue and overall development of the country.

The whole article is a tear-jerker and Peipei Qiu will sooner or later learn -- like Iris Chang most likely did ten years ago -- that she squandered her scholarship at the service of the well-oiled propaganda apparatus the CCP inherited from predecessor KMT of corruption and skullduggery fame.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid