December 12, 2017 11:58
Newly found documents add further proof that the imperial Japanese government forced women into sexual slavery on the Chuuk Islands in the South Pacific in World War II.
Prof. Chung Chin-sung of Seoul National University's Human Rights Center said Monday that the documents were discovered in the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. They include combat logs of the U.S. military, the passenger manifest of the Japanese escort ship Ikino and newspaper cuttings.
The Chuuk Islands served as a key naval base for the imperial Japanese Navy during World War II, and Koreans were forced to labor on the island to build military facilities.
According to the combat logs, 3,483 out of the 14,298 people who returned to Japan from the island at the end of the war were Korean. The Koreans who returned to Japan aboard the escort ship Ikino included 26 sex slaves.
The Korean women were taken to Japan in January 1946. A New York Times report on March 2, 1946 said that 27 sex slaves were sent back to Japan.
The research team said the discovery is the first known record of Korean sex slaves being sent to the Chuuk Islands. Researchers said there were 26 Korean sex slaves on the islands and three children, one of whom appears to have been mistaken for a sex slave by the NYT.
The NYT said the women wished to remain in the U.S., but their request was not accepted. They were apparently afraid that they would be thrown overboard by other Koreans aboard the ship after being accused of collaboration with the Japanese.
Researchers found the names, occupations and home addresses of the 26 Korean women and three children in the passenger manifest. But the identity of only one of the women could be confirmed in a photograph taken by Allied troops.
The woman used the Japanese name Hatokawa Fukujun and was Lee Bok-soon, who died in 2008. Her son identified Lee from the photograph, and a closer look at her family register shows the same Japanese name she was forced to adopt under Japanese rule. The address also matches the one listed in the Japanese records.
Fresh documents also corroborate the account of Ha Bok-hyang, another former sex slave who died in 2001. Ha told her harrowing story to a center dedicated to studying the atrocity but died before the process of registering her as a former sex slave was completed.
But now researchers located written testimony from Ha during debriefing in the Philippines that supports her account. They checked the facts and photos in 33 different debriefing papers as well as fingerprints and sent them to Korean police. The matches came back positive, while the address listed in the papers was also identical to Ha’s actual address in Korea.
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