Non-Western Colonization, Orientalism, and the 'Comfort Women: The Collective Memory of Sexual Slavery under the Japanese Imperial Military examines the collective memory of sexual slavery under the Japanese Imperial Military in Japan over the past seventy-five years. Euphemistically known as the "comfort women," tens of thousands of young females were forced into sexual servitude for Japanese soldiers during the Asia-Pacific War. The majority of these women are believed to have been deceitfully or forcibly taken from Korea, a former Japanese colony. The ways in which sexual slavery has been remembered in Japan lies at the root of a long-standing diplomatic conflict between Japan and South Korea and has fueled a "memory war" among Japanese scholars and activists. The author argues that Korean "comfort women" have been exoticized in the collective memory similarly to "Oriental" women's presentations by Western Orientalists. This book is a comprehensive analysis of the memory of sexual slavery in Japan, examining various artifacts produced since the end of the Asia-Pacific War, including nonfiction books, novels, newspaper articles, popular and documentary films, and a commemorative museum. It provides novel insights into a decade old international and domestic controversy.
Ako Inuzuka is associate professor of communication at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 – Introduction: Collective Memories of Sexual Slavery under the Japanese Imperial Military
Chapter 2 – The Memories of Sexual Slavery in Japan from 1945 to the 1960s: Romantic Stories of Forbidden Love
Chapter 3 – The Memories of Sexual Slavery in Japan from the 1970s to 1990: Japanese War Guilt, Victims, and Romanticized Memories
Chapter 4 – The Memories of Sexual Slavery from 1991 to 2015: Nationalist Memories
Chapter 5 – The Memories of Sexual Slavery from 1991 to 2015: Progressive Memories
Chapter 6 – The Memories of Sexual Slavery in Japan from 2015 to the Present: The 2015 Bilateral Agreement and ‘Comfort Women’ Statues
Chapter 7 – Reflections on Memories of Sexual Slavery in Japan and South Korea
"This beautifully written book unpacks the works of memory constructions of ‘comfort women,’ a highly contentious issue in East Asia. Deeply engaged with influential popular texts in Japan over the span of past seven decades, Inuzuka illustrates how one of the harrowing atrocities that occurred during the Asian-Pacific war has been collectively remembered and forgotten in competing public discourses. This book will attract researchers in the fields of Asian studies, history, intercultural communication, and women & gender studies."
“The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting,” so goes one of the most memorable lines in Milan Kundera’s The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. In this searing, extraordinary work, Ako Inuzuka powerfully demonstrates the constitutive role of rhetoric in the construction of Japanese memories of the sexual enslavement of Korean women during World War Two. Inuzuka’s book does more than make a powerful intervention in fields as varied as intellectual history, critical race studies, gender studies, and rhetorical criticism. It’s courageous archaeology of her own experience invites readers into a collective practice of re-membering; that is, of knitting together a new politics of justice, solidarity, and freedom.