Tyranny against women at the end of the war: Nearly 10 percent of victims and suicides in 1946.
After the war ended in 1945, many Japanese repatriates from Manchuria (now northeastern China) and the Korean Peninsula, landed at the port of Hakata in Fukuoka prefecture. Many of the women were so battered and bruised that it was hard to look away from them. Toshiyuki Nishioka, who was in charge of treating the repatriates, wrote in his book A Brief History of Postwar History (Nishinippon Library Consultants Association),
“Many of the young women refused to go. Many of the young women had their hair cut and their faces, which should have been the very essence of the women’s lives, were deliberately soiled with soot and so forth, and their breasts were covered with a thick cloth to compress them.
What in the world had happened to these women?
Within two weeks after the end of the war, the Soviet Union’s military controlled all areas north of the 38th parallel and the persecution and massacre of the Japanese people by Soviet soldiers and the Korean security forces began. In the Introduction to A History of Postwar History, there is a memoir by Ichiro Ishida, who worked for the relief of the refugees in North Korea.
An elderly North Korean farmer and his wife, with their two young daughters, finally arrived at the Ironfield near the 38th parallel after much hardship. There they saw their Japanese daughters, one after another, raped by Soviet soldiers, and then handed over to Korean security forces for further humiliation and massacre. She felt sorry for her two beloved daughters, who were soon to suffer the same fate, and ordered them to commit suicide by hanging themselves on a pine tree.
In 1946, nearly 10 percent of the women were beaten by Soviet or Korean nationals and became pregnant, or returned to Japan with venereal diseases, and many of them were so pessimistic about their future that they threw themselves off the repatriation ship.
To help these women, the Relief and Rehabilitation Department of the Overseas Koreans Aid Association, a private organization, established a facility called the “Futsukaichi Sanatorium” in Futsukaichi (now Chikushino City), Fukuoka Prefecture, with the cooperation of the Salvage and Relief Bureau of the Ministry of Health and Welfare. At the time, abortion was a crime, but the Ministry of Health and Welfare tacitly approved of abortion operations for “women who were pregnant by rape” as an extra-legal measure.
The chief medical officer of the Two Days City Sanatorium, Masaru Hashizume, wrote in his report of June 10, 1946: “In order to classify illegal pregnancies by area, there were 24 cases of illegal pregnancies in North Korea, 14 cases in South Korea, 4 cases in Manchuria, and 3 cases in North China, in that order.
The largest number of illegal pregnancies were classified by area: 24 from North Korea, 14 from South Korea, 4 from Manchuria, 3 from North China, and 28 from the Korean people, 8 from the Soviet Union, 6 from the Chinese people, 3 from the American people, and 1 each from Taiwanese and Okinawan peoples.
The overwhelming majority of those who assaulted Japanese women were North and South Koreans. It is precisely this historical fact that Korean President needs to face up to.
The assault and massacre by the security forces cannot be dismissed as a matter of North Korea’s story. Article 3 of the Constitution of the Republic of Korea stipulates that “The territory of the Republic of Korea is the Korean Peninsula and its annexed islands,” and North Korea is also South Korea’s territory.
About the author
Kunitoshi Matsuki was born in Kumamoto Prefecture in 1950. Immediately afterwards, he was assigned to Korea, and was stationed at the Seoul office from 1980 to 1984. After serving as Deputy General Manager of the Secretarial Office and Deputy General Manager of the Machinery Department, he left the company in 2000 and established Matsuki Shoji Co. He is a long-time researcher on Korean issues, and is the secretary-general of the National Movement for the Truth about Comfort Women. He is the author of The Truth About Japan-Korea Annexation Saved Korea and Thus Falsified Korea’s Thousand-Year-Old Resentment.