During a visit to South Korea, Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa apologizes for forcing Korean women into sexual slavery during World War II, January 17, 1992.
Comfort Women were women and girls forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army in occupied territories before and during World War II. The name “comfort women” is a translation of the Japanese ianfu a euphemism for “prostitute(s)”. Estimates vary as to how many women were involved, with numbers ranging from as low as 20,000 (by Japanese historian Ikuhiko Hata) to as high as 360,000 to 410,000 (by a Chinese scholar); the exact numbers are still being researched and debated. Many of the women were from occupied countries, including Korea, China, and the Philippines, although women from Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan (then a Japanese dependency), Indonesia (then the Dutch East Indies), East Timor (then Portuguese Timor), and other Japanese-occupied territories were used for military “comfort stations”. Stations were located in Japan, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, then Malaya, Thailand, Burma, New Guinea, Hong Kong, Macau, and French Indochina. A smaller number of women of European origin from the Netherlands and Australia were also involved.
According to testimonies, young women from countries under Imperial Japanese rule were abducted from their homes. In many cases, women were also lured with promises of work in factories or restaurants; once recruited, the women were incarcerated in comfort stations both in their nation and abroad.