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

Video Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had warned storm could be one of worst in city history More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites 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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid