Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific
Issue 26, August 2011

Review Article

Labour, Capitalism and Ideology in Interwar and Wartime Japan

Erik Ropers

    C. Sarah Soh, The Comfort Women: Sexual Violence and Postcolonial Memory in Korea and Japan Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-226-76776-5 (hbk), $70.00; ISBN 978-0-226-76777-2 (pbk), $25.00; xxviii + 352 pp.

    Ken Kawashima, The Proletarian Gamble: Korean Workers in Interwar Japan Durham: Duke University Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-8223-4399-8 (hbk), $89.95; ISBN 978-0-8223-4417-9 (pbk), $24.95; x + 297 pp.

    Alan Tansman (ed.), The Culture of Japanese Fascism Durham: Duke University Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-8223-4452-0 (hbk), $99.95; ISBN 978-0-8223-4468-1 (pbk), $27.95; xii + 477 pp.

  1. From its official annexation in 1910, Korea became a source of cheap, unskilled labour for an industrialising and modernising Japan. As the war concluded in August 1945, approximately 2.4 million Koreans were living in Japan. Hundreds of thousands of Koreans were forcibly brought to Japan via a program of labour drafts and conscription with a roughly estimated 150,000 destined to become enforced military prostitutes (so-called 'comfort women') during the war. Of course, by the time systematised enforced military prostitution was introduced in 1936, over 780,000 Koreans were residing in Japan.[1] How exactly do we conceive Japanese and Korean workers during this period? These three volumes under review each offer fresh approaches to our understanding this and questions of labour, capitalism and ideology in interwar and wartime Japan.
  2. Academic discourse on Japanese enforced military prostitution is arguably one of the most polarised and ideologically-coloured debates in Japanese studies today.[2] While most researchers have assiduously documented evidence supporting the testimonies of former enforced military prostitutes and their claims for compensation, vocal right-wing revisionist researchers have countered these conclusions at every turn with vehement denials and counterarguments in academia, popular discourse, and the media.[3] Sarah Soh's The Comfort Women: Sexual Violence and Postcolonial Memory in Korea and Japan will undoubtedly draw criticism from both those on the political left and right of the debates. Although critical of the paradigmatic narratives of so-called 'comfort women', Soh does not discount the reality of coercion and violence that many women suffered in their 'recruitment' and day-to-day lives at ianjo (so-called 'comfort stations'). The Comfort Women reveals in stunning detail that the fate of women in colonial Korea was shaped by both Japanese colonialism on the one hand and Korean patriarchy on the other. Written from an anthropological perspective, Soh's book is a particularly welcome contribution to a field that has been dominated by historians, legal professionals and activists.[4] Soh challenges what she terms the 'paradigmatic feminist narrative' of so-called 'comfort women' as only victims of Japanese colonialism and aggression.[5] By and large previous works on the subject, argues Soh, have not been receptive to details in earlier published works that challenge this paradigmatic narrative.[6] Consequently, Soh complicates and expands our understanding of the issue by not only demonstrating the various power dynamics affecting and influencing young women in colonial Korea but she also gives weight to the lives of young women before their coercion into the military prostitution system—unlike other narratives which often are concerned only with the wartime period. The book is divided into two parts: part one focuses broadly on the theoretical underpinnings of her research, a critique of various survivors' testimonies, and the production of historical narratives on this issue. Part two examines public and private memories of enforced military prostitution in Japan and Korea.
  3. By the late 1910s and early 1920s, social and political reforms introduced by the Japanese colonial administration had opened up educational and occupational opportunities for young women in Korea. Increasingly, young women were 'pursuing a place of their own in the evolving public sphere of Korea's industrial revolution and colonial modernity.'[7] Soh convincingly argues that abusive patriarchal power relations drove some young women away from their homes, where they sought to make a life for themselves. Young women like Mun P'il-gi, one of many who Soh interviewed, refused to bow to patriarchal and Confucian social mores. Mun and others often resisted arranged marriages and sought schooling, frequently desiring to forge an educated, modern self.[8] Kim Ok-sil, for instance, worked at a sock factory for three years before moving to a better paying position at a tobacco factory. 'All I wanted was to continue earning wages at the factory job and live with my grandmother,' she reminisced.[9] After her father found out she was attending school he became furious, chastising her and yelling '[t]o what use will a girl put her literacy?'[10] Stories of domestic violence or abusive parents like Kim's father were a common reason for young women fleeing their homes. Further recalling that she 'hated being at home more than dying' and left home in search of a job rather than be married off by her family, Kim was eventually taken by policemen and forced into military prostitution in 1942.[11]
  4. Soh's years of extensive research and interviews have also uncovered the voices of women who have not been included in the Korean Council's publications of testimonies.[12] Some women's narratives were not included, according to Soh, because they did not conform to the prototypical historiography or were supposedly, according to the women who were rejected, 'unconvincing'.[13] One woman, Pak Pok-sun received hate calls and death threats for publicly going against the Korean Council's opposition to the Asia Women's Fund. The Asian Women's Fund was established in 1995 for the purposes of compensating former victims of enforced military prostitution. As it is funded through private donations, many so-called 'comfort women' have rejected these payments and continued to seek compensation directly from the Japanese government. Sŏk Pok-sun also expressed dissatisfaction with the Council's handling of the Asia Women's Fund. Sim Mi-ja too detailed her 'unhappy relationship' with the Council.[14] Soh herself has encountered issues with the Korean Council after her 2006 Critical Asian Studies article, which addressed and reinterpreted nationalist Korean narratives of colonial and post-colonial Korea, was translated into Korean.[15]
  5. Besides the paradigmatic narrative of enforced military prostitution, another recurring issue with research on the so-called 'comfort women' issue is the disciplinary perspectives of works in the field. Although research from historical, legal and/or activist perspectives has been published in English for some time now, Soh's work is the first major study to approach the so-called 'comfort women' issue from an anthropological perspective in terms of 'gendered structural violence' and 'patriarchal colonial capitalism', although Sonia Ryang, an anthropologist, has written on the issue in an article in the Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars and in her book Love in Modern Japan.[16] Her survey of historical literature on the so-called 'comfort women' issue is one of the most comprehensive in English to date, noting a number of works, historical and literary, that have been previously marginalised in Japanese. Given her anthropological focus on the women and their stories however, much of this is a brief descriptive summary of these works and their arguments. Soh's anthropological approach, with its 'person-centred perspective', is different to that which a historian would take (arguably a 'document-informed' or centred perspective), although the concept of 'gendered structural violence' is something closer to gender studies than anthropology.[17] Major scholastic and theoretical debates on the Left, such as the positivist/post-structuralist debates between historian Yoshimi Yoshiaki and sociologist Ueno Chizuko, which would complement Soh's theoretical framework, are only briefly mentioned.[18] Further, the perennial debates over textbooks and war responsibility (sensō sekinin) are only cursorily covered.[19] There could be further engagement with these issues beyond the rather sparse helping Soh offers (two pages for Japanese textbooks and one and a half pages for Korean textbooks) that would have enhanced the chapter on post-war memories and their role in shaping post-war debates on enforced military prostitution.
  6. However, one theoretical approach Soh uses, the idea of 'colonial modernity', sheds new light on the motivations of many young women, particularly how women were persuaded by civilian agents into military prostitution. It also serves as a way to critique one of the major issues in scholarship on so-called 'comfort women'. Prior works have had the tendency to view these women solely as victims of the Japanese military and Japanese colonialism.[20] Soh highlights 'urbanization, industrialization, the broadening reach of capitalism, the intrusion of the state into everyday life, the emergence of a working class, increased occupational specialization, the expansion of public roles for women, and the capitalist commodification of women's sexuality' as transformations partially brought about by a modernising Korean society.[21] By examining the historical circumstances of enforced military prostitution against the increasingly modernising, urbanising and capitalist backdrop of colonial Korea in the early twentieth century, Soh produces an argument that is not often considered in previous English-language studies, which have tended to focus on the interpretation of primary sources, the human rights violations of women and lack of apology or compensation, for example. Moreover, Soh relates these trends to the emergence of a working class, one with public roles and opportunities for women, as well as the (legal) commodification of women's sexuality in colonial Korea.[22]
  7. Ken Kawashima's The Proletarian Gamble: Korean Workers in Interwar Japan is similarly innovative and goes against the grain of previous research on the subject of Korean labourers in Japan. Here it is not the commodification of women's sexuality under scrutiny, but that of colonial Korean male labour power and its exploitation by Japanese corporations. To date, most historiographical works on Korean labour during this period have focused on the factory as a site of control and production. Elyssa Faison's recent book Managing Women: Disciplining Labor in Modern Japan, for example, lucidly explains these ideas.[23] Kawashima effectively illustrates the oft-overlooked site of the day-labour market, as well as government agencies' preoccupation with the so-called 'Korean problem' (Chōsenjin mondai).[24] Whereas enforced military prostitution thrived in part due to the complementary ideologies of 'fascistic paternalism' and 'masculinist sexism' according to Soh, '[t]he commodification of Korean labour power,' writes Kawashima, 'was contingent upon a social and institutional network that created dependencies as the basis for exploitation.'[25] As he demonstrates throughout his work, state apparatuses and state power moulded and controlled the supply and use of labour. Just as significant though, this same supply was controlled by a system of intermediaries, including Korean sub-contractors and organisations. Chapters 1 and 2 present a historical and theoretical basis for the remainder of the work. Chapter 3 explores the exploitation of Koreans in the day labour market. Chapter 4 examines the challenges and insecurities faced in securing housing. Chapters 5 and 6 deal respectively with mechanisms of state power and issues surrounding welfare and unemployment.
  8. The Proletarian Gamble aptly demonstrates the immeasurable value and contributions of Korean day labourers in the construction of public works and infrastructure during the interwar period. Kawashima presents a history of interwar labour that distils a vast archive in Japanese for researchers and scholars. With rapidly expanding rail networks and sewage systems as well as the reconstruction of Tokyo after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, work which was seen as unskilled labour, according to Kawashima-and which became associated specifically with Korean labour-became an absolute necessity.[26] Like the women who worked in the textile factories, or those who ended up in the military brothels, day labourers during the interwar period tended to come from the poorer agrarian regions of southern Korea. These labourers led a tenuous existence in Japan as they combated poverty, racism, and the linguistic gulf between Korea and Japan.
  9. In The Comfort Women, Soh made reference to young women being attracted to educational and economic opportunities in Japan. Similarly, I find it useful to consider how The Proletarian Gamble unconsciously reflects back upon this idea of 'colonial modernity' and the supposed economic opportunity that attracted many Korean labourers migrating to Japan at this time. As Harry Harootunian has noted, capitalism has no 'normal' state, but instead is caught up in a permanent production of excess. The price of capitalism, Harootunian argues, is the 'permanent unevenness [and] permanent imbalance between various sectors of social formations…[s]ome areas must be sacrificed for the development of others, such as the countryside for the city…[or] the colony for the metropole.'[27] Kawashima brings this abstract imbalance to life as he describes the processes by which Koreans, increasingly at the mercy of unbridled capitalism, found work in the Japanese day labour market. As he demonstrates, the tenuous existence of Korean labourers went beyond this daily and never-ending search for work and also encompassed housing insecurity and the struggle between various unions and the Korean welfare organisation Sōaikai.
  10. Harootunian also noted that one sign of modernity in Japan during this period was the co-existence of pre-modern and modern modes of production.[28] Kawashima unravels this puzzle with his analysis of the hamba (work camp). While the regulation of day labourers with the hamba goes back to the Tokugawa Period (1600–1868), Kawashima persuasively argues that the utilisation of hamba to control Korean day-labourers was, in fact, a market mechanism regulated by community organisations. Hamba 'maintained and exploited pre-capitalist social practices within, and as part of, capitalist methods of extracting surplus value through the commodification of labour power.'[29] Further, the hamba functioned as a site of intermediary exploitation based on social hierarchies. Sub-contractors and labour brokers all conducted a systematic skimming of wages (pinhane)—a source of income for contractors and labour brokers that drained the nominal wages of workers — but the source of misery for many labourers.[30] Throughout his work, Kawashima presents case studies on labourers' reactions to this and other forms of commodification and exploitation to support his argument.
  11. Despite a thorough canvassing of labour practices and the general insecurity of life in Japan for Koreans, Kawashima's work is much weaker in regards to women, children, and the family's place in this exploitation of labour. He does not engage with notions of 'gender' or consider the masculinity of Korean male workers. Given his focus on the Korean male worker, he understandably restricts and excludes women who were often employed in the textile industry and factories.[31] However, how families coped with housing insecurity (Chapter 4) or unemployment (Chapter 6) are critical issues given that entire families uprooted from Korea to Japan during this period for work or due to difficulties making ends meet.[32] The lack of Korean language source material may concern some readers looking for Korean perspectives or interpretations about the so-called 'Korean problem' written during the colonial period or more recently by scholars. Also, given the number of testimony collections of Koreans living in Japan during this period, it is somewhat surprising that more voices of individual labourers recalling their life and experiences during the interwar period were not incorporated into the work.[33]
  12. What Soh and Kawashima understandably do not address at length in their works is the increasingly authoritarian and repressive system of governance in Japan. Whether wartime Japan could be defined as fascist or not has long been a topic of debate amongst scholars.[34] The argument by Tansman and his contributors is that to understand a Japanese version fascism we are best served in observing its influence across the cultural sphere instead of comparing political details with generally accepted fascist societies (Italy under Mussolini, for example) to find a common definition of fascism across societies. I find this approach on fascism's diffusion throughout Japanese culture to be useful and informative. Alan Tansman's edited collection of seventeen essays entitled The Culture of Japanese Fascism investigates some of the social, political, and cultural implications of fascist ideology in pre-war and wartime Japan.[35] The collection is primarily concerned with the representation and diffusion of fascist ideology throughout Japanese society. It contains a number of thought-provoking chapters on architecture, film, literature, theory and even the furry friends of fascism: dogs. The contributors effectively illustrate the creeping and seductive nature of fascism into everyday Japanese life across a wide range of topics and disciplines. Fascism, according to Tansman, 'appealed to a timeless culture as an anchor of community' in opposition to the social fragmentation wrought by modernity and the effects of mass consumption and commodification.[36] Citing Slavoj Žižek, Tansman argues that fascism can be understood through an analysis of the cultural sphere. These kinds of analyses enable Japan to be seen as a fascist nation during the interwar and wartime years.[37] Fascism, as a reaction to the crises of capitalism, offered a people a way to unite as a mythological and 'natural' nation.[38] Contributor Kevin M. Doak echoes previous scholars in noting little attention has been given to the representation of fascism in literary texts — a task that is taken up by several authors in Part 4 of the collection.[39] The volume consists of four broad thematic groupings: theories of Japanese fascism, fascism and daily life, exhibiting fascism in film and architecture, and fascist aesthetics in literature. Given the size and scope this volume covers, I will focus on one particularly innovative chapter by Kim Brandt entitled 'The Beauty of Labor: Imagining Factory Girls in Japan's New Order'.[40]
  13. As we see in Brandt's chapter, the ideology of fascism was deployed to increase worker productivity during the war. 'The Beauty of Labor' examines the unrealised project to 'reshape' dormitory life at a textile factory. Brandt describes how discourses of fascism and modernity were deployed via the folk art (mingei) movement's Mingei Association and used to advance social harmony and to control the lives of female dormitory workers.[41] These goals were readily shared by the government, who had similar ideas about managing worker culture.[42] Elsewhere, the mingei movement has been described by scholars as a hybrid and modern product; similarly, Brandt argues that folk art offered 'access to international modernity' to bureaucracies eager to mobilise and inculcate a national identity.[43] Folk art was highly regarded by governmental agencies, who viewed it as quintessentially Japanese. This is evidenced in the publication of trade magazines and the expansion of local folk-art associations during the wartime period until 1944 — a period that saw the amalgamation and collapse of many publications due to wartime shortages.
  14. According to Brandt, the envisioned reshaped dormitory would train young women after work to perform household chores and school them in 'subsidiary industries' (fukugyō) suited for marriage and farm life. However, this paternalistic project was ironically at odds with the dictum of good wives and wise mothers (ryōsai kenbo) that the government was so keen to advance. As Brandt herself notes:

      Female factory workers were a particular node of anxiety in New Order Japan…because of the threat they posed to a social ideology that claimed to value women first and foremost as a means of social and racial reproduction. Women, in short, were to be wives and mothers in the home, not labourers in the factory. Yet female labour was increasingly indispensable to industrial productivity, particularly in the context of total war and the military mobilization of ever growing numbers of men.'[44]

  15. Through the concept of 'daily life culture' (seikatsu bunka), a 'watchword for Japanese fascist policymakers and ideologues', the Mingei Association sought to meld these ideas of managed hyper-productivity with fascist notions of beauty and service to the nation.[45] For these reasons, Brandt's study of the dormitory project and the Association's perceived problem of 'the daily lifestyle of female workers' is fascinating, especially when viewed in relation to other practices of managing bodies and labour that were outlined by Soh and Kawashima.[46]
  16. More generally, while it is clear that the volume's main concern is to 'examine the relationship between culture and fascism in Japan in the decades preceding the end of the Pacific War in 1945,' I cannot help but think that the lack of analyses seeking to extend or analyse the emergence of this 'culture' of fascism in the context of Taiwan or Korea is a striking oversight. While it is important to understand how a culture of fascism developed in Japan, it would seem that any discussion of how such a culture emerged around this time necessitates an engagement that considers its formulation (or at least its subsequent uptake and spread [or lack thereof]) in Japan's colonies. We might ask how, for instance, was this 'culture' of fascism exported to Taiwan and Korea? How was it received in places like Okinawa that, while culturally and linguistically distinctive, were integrated into the Japanese homeland of 'inner Japan' (naichi)? Was fascism's reception in the Japanese naichi any different from its reception in the gaichi (outer lands) of Korea, Taiwan and elsewhere, and if so, why? Or, if we were to follow the previous argument of 'colonial modernity', the fact that Japan was a colonising power is always part of this history.
  17. These three volumes provide refreshing perspectives on a host of issues and their innovative approaches in tackling interwar and wartime labour issues. The strength of Soh's work lies in her ethnographic approach to understand the origins of the so-called 'comfort women' issue. By approaching the issue primarily as a critique of past narratives, her conclusions disrupt what has become the normative international interpretation on the subject. It further publicises a number of previous major works on the subject and hopefully dispels the still widely-held belief that researchers and academics in both Japan and Korea knew little of the issue before the early 1990s. Soh also reinforces the fact that Japanese researchers have been some of the most dedicated and rigorous researchers on the subject since the early 1970s. Combined with previous works on the subject by historians like Yoshimi Yoshiaki or Yuki Tanaka, The Comfort Women sheds new light on some of the complex narratives and themes in both Korean and Japanese scholarship on the issue. It will undoubtedly be standard reading on the subject for years to come.
  18. Ken Kawashima's book too will become standard reading for anyone interested in the under-researched day-labourer market. Framing his discussion primarily with Marxist theory, Kawashima's analysis of Korean workers in interwar Japan builds upon previous works on Korean interwar labour by critically re-examining the archive and narrating a history of the day-labourer market.[47] Kawashima challenges the illusion of a homogenous and united Korean population in Japan by illustrating the infighting and competition from various Korean social and welfare groups in Japan. Although not something that I would consider to be an introductory work on the subject, The Proletarian Gamble would be of interest to readers wishing to know more about the experiences of resident Koreans in Japan during the interwar period.
  19. Finally, although the use of the word 'fascism' in the Japanese context has been hotly debated for many years, particularly in North American research on the subject since the 1980s, Tansman's edited collection makes a strong case for a uniquely Japanese version of 'fascism'. The large number of contributions and wide range of topics across disciplines makes this volume a useful introduction for those beginning to think about Japan's fascist tendencies or those interested in case-examples of fascist ideology in practice.


    [1] Pak Kyŏng-sik, Chōsenjin kyōsei renkō no kiroku, Tokyo: Miraisha, 1965, p. 31.

    [2] The phrase 'comfort women' is a euphemism used to refer to the victims of wartime enforced military prostitution. As one of the authors in this review chooses to use the phrase, I will use the phrase to refer to this systematised enforced military prostitution. My use of the term will be in 'scare quotes' given its problematic nature. Japanese and Korean names follow the traditional order of last name first except in the case of English-language publications.

    [3] Examples of counterarguments (in Japanese) are Nishioka Tsutomu, Yoku wakaru ianfu mondai [The Well-Understood 'Comfort Women' Issue], Tokyo: Sōshisha, 2007; Fujioka Nobukatsu, Jigyakushikan no byōri [An analysis of masochistic historical views in Japan], Tokyo: Bungei Shunjū, 1997; Hata Ikuhiko, 'Maboroshi no "jūgun ianfu" wo netsuzō shita - Kono danwa wa kou naose! [The fabricated illusion of 'comfort women' - revise the Kono Statement like this!]' in Shokun!, vol. 39, no. 5 (2007):138-151.

    [4] For previous major studies on so-called 'comfort women' in English, see Yuki Tanaka, Japan's Comfort Women: Sexual Slavery and Prostitution during World War II and the U.S. Occupation, New York: Routledge, 2001; Yoshimi Yoshiaki, Comfort Women: Sexual Slavery in the Japanese Military During World War II, Suzanne O'Brien, trans., New York: Columbia University Press, 2000; also see the special issue of positions: east asia cultures critique vol. 5, no. 1 (1997). Useful contemporary Japanese works that have not been translated to date include Suzuki Yūko, 'Jūgun ianfu' mondai to seibōryoku [Gendered Violence and the 'Comfort Women' Issue], Tokyo: Miraisha, 1993; Ōnuma Yasuaki and Kishi Mitsutoshi (eds), Ianfu mondai to iu toi: Tōdai zemi de 'ningen to rekishi to shakai' wo kangaeru [The so-called comfort women issue: a seminar at Tokyo University thinking about 'people, history, and society'], Tokyo: Keisō Shobō, 2007; and Kim Pu-ja and Nakano Toshio (eds), Rekishi to sekinin: 'Ianfu' mondai to 1990 nen-dai [History and Responsibility: the 'Comfort Women' Issue Throughout the 1990s], Tokyo: Seikyūsha, 2008.

    [5] For example, refer to the differences between Ueno Chizuko and Kim Pu-ja in Nihon no Sensō Sekinin Shiryō Sentā (ed.), Shinpojiumu: nashonarizumu to 'ianfu' mondai [A Symposium on the Nationalism and the 'Comfort Women' Issue], Tokyo: Aoki Shoten, 1998. Gi-Wook Shin and Michael Robinson have also written on paradigmatic nationalist histories of Korea, many of which were written in response to Japanese narratives justifying the integration of Korea into the Japanese empire. See Gi-Wook Shin and Michael Robinson, 'Introduction: rethinking colonial Korea,' in Colonial Modernity in Korea, ed. Gi-Wook Shin and Michael Robinson, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Asia Center, 1999, pp. 1–18, p. 3.

    [6] While there are many examples, we might consider the case of Japanese so-called 'comfort women' whose stories were a fixture of early research. In recent years, such inquiries have declined and become almost wholly subsumed into more general works on the subject. See Shirota Suzuko, Mariya no sanka [Mariya's Hymn], Tokyo: Nihon Kirisutokyōdan Shuppankyoku, 1971; Hirota Kazuko, Shōgen kiroku jūgun ianfu, kangofu: senjō ni ikita onna no dōkoku [A Compilation of Military Comfort Women and Nurses' Testimonies: Lamentations of Women Who Went to the Front], Tokyo: Shin Jinbutsu Ōraisha, 1975. One of the main collections of testimonies of Korean survivors in English is Keith Howard (ed.), True Stories of the Korean Comfort Women: Testimonies, Young Joo Lee, trans., New York: Cassell, 1995.

    [7] C. Sarah Soh, The Comfort Women: Sexual Violence and Postcolonial Memory in Korea and Japan, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2008, pp. 7–8.

    [8] Soh, The Comfort Women, pp. 82–3.

    [9] Soh, The Comfort Women, p. 89.

    [10] Soh, The Comfort Women, p. 88.

    [11] Soh, The Comfort Women, pp. 88–90.

    [12] The Council's published collections of testimonies include six volumes in Korean edited by the Han'guk Chŏngsindae-munje Taech'aek Hyŏpŭhoe and Chŏngsindae Yŏn'guhoe (see Soh, The Comfort Women, pp. 300–01 for titles). One volume has been published in Japanese translation, edited by the Kankoku Teishintai Mondai Taisaku Kyōgikai Teishintai Kenkyūkai. For its English translation, see Howard, ed., True Stories of Korean Comfort Women.

    [13] Soh does not elaborate on what specifically made these testimonies 'unconvincing', leading me to conclude that they may have presented their stories as either too positive or too nuanced for the Council's political and activist agenda. However, Pak Pok-sun's vocal criticism of the way in which the Korean Council has handled the redress movement and her undying love for her Japanese soldier fiancé likely did not endear her to the Council. See Soh, The Comfort Women, pp. 96–97, 185–6.

    [14] Soh, The Comfort Women, pp. 96–98.

    [15] Soh, The Comfort Women, pp. 245–49; Sarah Soh, 'Aspiring to craft modern gendered selves: "Comfort Women" and Chongsindae in Late Colonial Korea,' in Critical Asian Studies, vol. 36, no. 2 (2004): 175–98.

    [16] 'Gendered structural violence emanates from the economic, political and cultural forces that are embedded in everyday life…[i]t is manifested in the abusive or demeaning exercise of power…[by social actors or groups] against others in situations of hierarchically organized social relations'. Soh, The Comfort Women, pp. xii–xiii. For Ryang's work, see Sonia Ryang, 'Inscribed (men's) bodies, silent (women's) words: rethinking colonial displacement of Koreans in Japan,' in Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, vol. 30, no. 4 (1998): 3–15 and Sonia Ryang, Love in Modern Japan, New York: Routledge, 2006, especially pp. 50–57.

    [17] Soh, The Comfort Women, p. xii.

    [18] A few works by Ueno that constitute this debate over the value and use of testimony have been translated into English. See Chizuko Ueno, 'The politics of memory: nation, individual and self,' in History and Memory, trans. Beverley Yamamoto, vol. 11, no. 2 (1999):129–52 and Chizuko Ueno, Nationalism and Gender, Melbourne: Trans Pacific Press, 2004, pp. 112–31. The debate between Ueno and Yoshimi is generally considered to have begun at a symposium by the Center for Research and Documentation on Japan's War Responsibility (Nihon no sensō sekinin shiryō sentaa) in 1997. See (in Japanese) the panel discussion and responses between Ueno and Yoshimi in Nihon no Sensō Sekinin Shiryō Sentā (ed.), Shinpojiumu, pp. 21–38, 98–142. The entire exchange is lucidly summarised by Ueno Terumasa in his article '"Posuto kōzōshūgi" to rekishigaku: "jūgun ianfu" mondai wo meguru Ueno Chizuko/Yoshimi Yoshiaki no ronsō wo sozai ni ['Post-Structuralism' and the Study of History: Fundamental Questions Concerning the 'Comfort Women' Issue debates between Ueno Chizuko and Yoshimi Yoshiaki],' in Nihonshi Kenkyū, no. 509 (2005): 1–33.

    [19] On the textbook issue and historical revisionism in English, see Gavan McCormack, 'The Japanese movement to "correct" history,' in Censoring History: Citizenship and Memory in Japan, Germany, and the United States, ed. Laura Hein and Mark Selden, Armonk: M.E. Sharpe, 2000, pp. 53–73; Sven Saaler, Politics, Memory, and Public Opinion: The History Textbook Controversy and Japanese Society, München: Iudicium, 2005; Yoshiko Nozaki, War Memory, Nationalism and Education in Postwar Japan, 1945–2007: The Japanese History Textbook Controversy and Ienaga Saburo's Court Challenges, London: Routledge, 2008; in Japanese, refer to Takahashi Tetsuya, Rekishi/shūseishugi [History/Revisionism], Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2001 and Kim and Nakano (eds), Rekishi to sekinin [History and Responsibility].

    [20] Soh, The Comfort Women, pp. xii–xvi, especially p. xv. Also see Tani Barlow, 'Introduction: On "Colonial Modernity",' in Formations of Colonial Modernity in East Asia, ed. Tani E. Barlow, Durham: Duke University Press, 1997, pp. 1–20.

    [21] Soh, The Comfort Women, p. 7.

    [22] Soh, The Comfort Women, pp. 7–8. Also see Fujime Yuki, 'The licensed prostitution system,' in positions vol. 5, no. 1 (1997): 135–70.

    [23] Elyssa Faison, Managing Women: Disciplining Labor in Modern Japan, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007.

    [24] Ken C. Kawashima, The Proletarian Gamble: Korean Workers in Interwar Japan, Durham: Duke University Press, 2009, p. 20.

    [25] Soh, The Comfort Women, pp. 31–32, 37–41; Kawashima, The Proletarian Gamble, p. 15.

    [26] Kawashima, The Proletarian Gamble, p. 73.

    [27] Harry Harootunian, Overcome by Modernity: History, Culture, and Community in Interwar Japan, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000, p. xv.

    [28] Harootunian, Overcome by Modernity, cited in Kawashima, The Proletarian Gamble, p. 75.

    [29] Kawashima, The Proletarian Gamble, p. 75.

    [30] Kawashima, The Proletarian Gamble, pp. 80–91.

    [31] For an analysis of this, see Faison, Managing Women.

    [32] Tonomura Masaru, Zainichi Chōsenjin shakai no rekishiteki kenkyū [Historical Studies on Resident Koreans in Japan and their Society], p. 74, cited in Kawashima, The Proletarian Gamble, pp. 52–53. One notable example of a family uprooting to Japan is that of resident-Korean scholar and activist Pak Kyŏng-sik. See Pak Kyŏng-sik, Zainichi Chōsenjin: watashi no seishun [Resident Korean in Japan: My Youth], Tokyo: San'ichi Shobō, 1981. Again, for perspectives on female labour in Japan during this period see Faison, Managing Women; in Japanese, see Kim Ch'an-jŏng and Pang Sŏn-hŭi's slightly dated yet valuable Kaze no dōkoku: zainichi Chōsenjin jyokō no seikatsu to rekishi [Lamentations of Wind: The History and Living Conditions of Resident Korean Factory Girls in Japan], Tokyo: Tabata Shoten, 1977.

    [33] For example, see Zainihon Daikan Minkoku Seinenkai (ed.), Aboji kikasete ano hi no koto wo: 'wareware no rekishi wo torimodosu undō' hōkokusho [Father, Tell Us About That Day: 'An Exercise in Taking Back our History' Report], Tokyo: Zainihon Daikan Minkoku Seinenkai Chūō Honbu, 1988; more recently, see Oguma Eiji and Kang Sang-jung (eds), Zainichi issei no kioku [Memories of First-Generation Resident Koreans in Japan], Tokyo: Shūeisha, 2008.

    [34] An early and critical reappraisal of fascism in the Japanese context can be found in Gavan McCormack, 'Nineteen-thirties Japan: fascism?' in Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, vol. 14, no. 2 (1982): 20–33.

    [35] Also of interest to readers might be Tansman's new sole-authored book on fascism. See Alan Tansman, The Aesthetics of Japanese Fascism, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009.

    [36] Alan Tansman, 'Introduction: the culture of Japanese fascism,' in The Culture of Japanese Fascism, ed. Alan Tansman, pp. 1–28, p. 4.

    [37] Slavoj Žižek, The Sublime Object of Ideology, London: Verso, 1989, p. 82, cited in Tansman, 'Introduction,' p. 6. For a fascinating analysis of fascism as understood by Japanese citizens through their letters and diaries, see Yoshimi Yoshiaki, Kusa no ne no fashizumu: Nihon minshū no sensō taiken [Grassroots Fascism: the Japanese People's Experience of War], Tokyo: Tokyo Daigaku Shuppankai, 1987.

    [38] Mark Neocleous, Fascism, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997, p. 66; Žižek, The Sublime Object of Ideology, p. 67.

    [39] Kevin M. Doak, 'Fascism seen and unseen: fascism as a problem in cultural representation,' in The Culture of Japanese Fascism, ed. Alan Tansman, pp. 31–55, p. 33.

    [40] Faison addresses the related problem of 'idle youngsters' in factories: see Faison, Managing Women, pp. 27–50.

    [41] The Mingei Association was formed in 1934 by artists and activists who were participating in mingei production, promotion, and distribution. It also coordinated between various mingei groups, shops, and associations.

    [42] Kim Brandt, 'The beauty of labor: imagining factory girls in Japan's New Order,' in The Culture of Japanese Fascism, ed. Alan Tansman, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2009, pp. 115–37, p. 117.

    [43] Brandt, 'The Beauty of Labor,' p. 118. Also see Yūko Kikuchi, Japanese Modernisation and Mingei Theory, London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2004.

    [44] Brandt, 'The Beauty of Labor,' p. 124.

    [45] Brandt, 'The Beauty of Labor,' p. 120.

    [46] Readers with a further interest in the managing of female labourers and discipline around this period should consult Faison, Managing Women.

    [47] Although its focus is broader than Kawashima's, one standard work on the subject of Koreans in interwar Japan is Michael Weiner, The Origins of the Korean Community in Japan, 1910–1923, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1989.

Published with the support of Gender and Cultural Studies, School of Culture, History and Language, College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University.
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