A Korean who worked as an employee of the Japanese military during World War II testified that the Japanese government controlled Korean sex slaves in many countries including Southeast Asia.
The testimony contradicts Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s claim that Korean women who provided sex to Japanese troops during the war were victims of sexual trafficking.
The Association for the Pacific War Victims, a Seoul-based private organization seeking compensation from Japan, released video footage Monday of the late Song Bok-seop, a Korean who was an employee of the Japanese military.
In the footage recorded in 1992, he said he traveled to Indonesia and Singapore where he worked as a guard at a prisoners of war camp and managed goods supplied to the military.
Song disclosed a list of 61 Korean women who he claimed were all sex slaves. He said he drew up the list while working for a group of Koreans in Sumatra after Japan was defeated.
“In Sumatra and Singapore, Korean sex slaves were everywhere,” he said. “Those in Palembang stayed at two brothels, named Myeongwolgwan 1 and Myeongwolgwan 2.”
He said Japanese soldiers paid 50 jeon, a monetary unit at that time, to have sex with the women.
Song also said the brothels were managed by Koreans, who were granted security by the Japanese military in exchange for managing the women.
After Japan’s surrender in August 1945, Song stayed in Indonesia and worked as an inspector in the autonomous Korean community before being captured by the Allied Forces in February of 1946.
A couple of months later, he was tried in a British court in Singapore and charged with committing crimes against humanity but was eventually acquitted.
The association released the footage on the eve the 22nd anniversary of the Kono Statement, which acknowledged Japan’s direct role in orchestrating enslavement.
“We have always filmed victims when they testified. We earlier planned to keep the videos private, but decided to disclose the footage because of what’s happening in Japan,” one of the association’s members said.
At least 200,000 women were conscripted by the Japanese military to provide sex for its troops, with the majority being Koreans. Their plight was revealed in the 1990s as one of the victims criticized the Japanese government. Calls for the current Japanese government to apologize have gained international support. Yet, Japan continues to deny its role in orchestrating the enslavement.
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