This assessment will investigate the question: To what extent did Imperial Japan’s ownership of Korean military comfort women violate conventions on international humanitarian law? The years 1907-1921, and 1930-1948 will be the focus of this investigation, allowing for analysis on the treatment of Korean comfort women, the establishment of conventions, as well as tribunals discussing such treatment.
The first source undergoing in-depth evaluation will be “True Stories of the Korean Comfort Women”, a collection of testimonies edited by Keith Howard, published in English in 1995. The source’s origin is valuable due to its qualifications. Although the book is a secondary source, it qualifies as a collection of primary sources. Evaluation of such sources is valuable, as it gives insight into the treatment of these women, therefore aiding in answering the research question. Furthermore, the year of publication, 1995, indicates the author was able to collect testimonials emerging throughout the decades preceding publication, therefore giving space for legitimate inspection of a larger array of recollections. Moreover, legal analysis given in the book adds to value, as this investigation explores the treatment of comfort women under a framework established by international law and conventions. Limitations, however, do prevail. The comfort women interviewed for the collection were well-aware of the public nature of their testimonies, therefore potentially impacting the truthfulness and thorough nature of their testimonies.
The purpose of Howard’s collection is to publicize the experiences of Korean comfort women, and to promote discussion of such topics under public forum. Howard also attempts to highlight the role of Koreans as being a majority of the comfort women acquired by Japan. This aspect is valuable, for it allows correlations to be established alongside decisions made by the Japanese government, as well as the International Military Tribunal for the Far East.
The second source undergoing in-depth evaluation is Yoshimi Yoshiaki’s “Comfort Women”, published in 1995 by Columbia University Press. The source’s origin is valuable due to its academic provenance. The author is a professor of Japanese modern history at Chuo University in Tokyo, and alongside the aforementioned book, done significant research on Japan’s war crimes. Therefore, the author’s work provides well-researched and knowledgeable insight into this investigation. Moreover, as in the first source, the date of publication adds to the value of the source. Yoshimi benefits from hindsight and provides in-depth analysis of government documents, reports by intergovernmental organizations and army documents. The source, however, is limited as the author hasn’t attained scholarly education in legal analysis, affecting the nature in which Yoshimi’s legal interpretations can be analyzed.
The purpose of Yoshimi’s book is to discuss multiple aspects of Japan’s practice of sexual slavery, such as the Military Comfort Stations, the rounding up of women, and the living conditions they endured. This is valuable for it discusses the issue from multiple aspects, and makes scholarly judgements regarding the treatment of comfort women.