2019-10-31

SEOUL - From 1932 through 1945, the Japanese Imperial Army and Navy exploited a system of forced prostitution in all occupied territories in China, South East Asia and the Pacific Ocean, enslaving women and girls of many ethnicities as so-called ‘ comfort women'. These war crime victims represent 34 sovereign countries and city-states plus autonomous territories.*

Investigative reporters Griselda Molemans and Hee Seok Park discovered evidence that a substantial part of the victims’ earnings in fenced-off army and navy brothels was deposited into Bank of Taiwan and Yokohama Specie Bank branch accounts. The accumulated money helped to finance the ongoing warfare. In other words: the thousands of ‘comfort women’ were exploited to advance Japan’s war efforts.

Japanese war bond, partially financed by ‘comfort women’s earnings
Japanese war bond, partially financed by ‘comfort women’s earnings (Collection: Australian War Memorial)

 

The Bank of Taiwan and the MUFG Bank (the legal successor of the Yokohama Specie Bank) declined to respond to questions, but need to give transparency about the ‘brothel deposits’ by the Japanese Imperial Army and Navy. Among the countries that appropriated these earnings when the banks’ branches were liquidated after the war are the USA, Australia, China, Great Britain, France, Portugal and The Netherlands. This outstanding debt to the ‘comfort women’ still has to be settled. 

Finally, the Japanese Imperial family has to provide transparency on the stocks it owned in both the Yokohama Specie Bank and the Bank of Taiwan: The family members personally benefited from the great wealth of both banks, where the earnings of victims of Japanese forced prostitution were deposited.

*The 34 sovereign countries and city-states plus autonomous territories are:

ASIA: Brunei, Cambodia, China including Hainan, East Timor, French Polynesia, Hong Kong, India incl. the Andaman and Nicobar islands, Indonesia, Kiribati, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nauru, North Korea, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam

EU: England, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain

OTHER: Australia, USA including Guam 
 

Photo (right): Javanese ‘comfort women’, liberated in the island of Timor, are transported back to Java, accompanied by Japanese soldiers (Collection: Australian War Memorial)
 

Griselda Molemans

Griselda Molemans holds MA’s in Art History and  Classical Archaeology from Vrije University in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. 

Hee Seok Park

Hee Seok Park is an investigative reporter for The Monthly Chosun, Korea’s leading investigating news media. 

Supported
Grant of €13,000 was allocated on 25/03/2019.
ID
MT/2019/062

Help us support in-depth and independent journalism.

We rely on your support to continue the work that we do. Make a gift of any amount today.

Donate!