Friday, January 11, 2013



                                Hata Ikuhiko
                    Professor Emeritus, Nihon University

Revival of the comfort women circus

The March 6 and 7, 2007 editions of Akahata (Red Flag), the JCP (Japanese Communist Party) house organ, included several articles under the screaming headline “The World Condemns Prime Minister Abe’s Statement on Comfort Women.” Among them were “Admit the Truth: Chinese Foreign Minister Demands ‘Appropriate Action,’” “New York Times Editorial Exposes Japan’s Misrepresentation of the Facts,” and “Six Korean Newspapers Carry Editorials Critical of Japan.” Accompanying them was JCP Secretariat Head Ichida Tadayoshi’s denunciation of Prime Minister Abe entitled “Coercion Proven.”

In anticipation of Mr. Abe’s visit to the U.S. in late April, members of the U.S. House of Representatives have submitted a resolution (H. Res. 121) censuring Japan in connection with the comfort women. Given the current political climate, that legislation is likely to pass.

Since mid-February, there has been a frenzy of newspaper coverage of the issue, both in Japan and overseas. We singled out Akahata, the most abundant source, but other leading domestic newspapers are not far behind.

The Yomiuri and Sankei newspapers have not devoted a great deal of space to the comfort women. However, on March 8, the Mainichi Shimbun published an editorial entitled “Kono Statement Must Stand.” On March 6, Asahi Shimbun ran an editorial entitled “Refrain from Comments That Invite Misunderstandings,” whose content was similar to that of the Mainichi piece. But another editorial in the March 10 edition of the Asahi Shimbun actually echoed North Korean national broadcasts, implying that the alleged sexual enslavement of women by the Japanese and the abduction of Japanese nationals by North Koreans essentially cancel each other out: “Japan has been trying to win international support to its criticism of North Korea’s abductions of Japanese citizens as a serious human rights violation. But Japan’s appeal cannot arouse the sympathy of the international community if it closes its eyes to its own human rights abuses.”

Nevertheless, the Mainichi seems to be hoping that the H. Res. 121 will be rejected. However, the newspaper did little more than offer a rather lukewarm comment to the effect that the Japanese have been issuing apologies over the years in connection with the comfort women, and that the government should offer a thorough explanation of its position. Perhaps the newspaper’s staff is incapable of generating ideas that would serve to prevent the passage of the resolution. At this rate, we are reverting to the days of the ABCD (American, British, Chinese, Dutch) Encirclement against Japan prior to the outbreak of war in 1941 between Japan and the U.S.
The U.S. House of Representatives has no legally binding authority over Japan. Therefore, here at home some believe the best way to deal with such charges is to ignore them, while others are in favor of issuing apology upon apology. But because the issue has escalated so dramatically, neither of these tactics is likely to be effective. I would like to propose a strategy that promises expeditious results. But first, an analysis of the situation at home and abroad will be necessary.

The comfort women issue is a political problem raised by forces (both domestic and foreign) with multiple, diverse agendas. If we were to describe it in Clausewitz’s terms, we would call it the “continuation of politics by other means.” For that very reason, the absence of bloodshed notwithstanding, the facts have been shoved aside. Instead, what we have is political power games that employ just about every known devious tactic, from cajoling and coercion to deception and trickery.

The comfort women issue is like a volcano. Serious eruptions occurred between 1991 and mid-1993. They seemed to subside after the Kono Statement (1993) and an infusion of “atonement money” by the Asian Women’s Fund. But the dormant volcano spewed magma once again in 2000, when the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal, which pronounced Emperor Showa guilty, took place; and in 2005, a year marked by the mud-slinging contest between media giants NHK and Asahi Shimbun over the content of a television program covering the tribunal. The eruptions have continued intermittently since then.

The most recent one was H. Res. 121. The volcanic fumes began rising in California and Washington, D.C. several years ago. In fact, H. Res. 121 is the fifth (some say eighth) of its kind to see the light of day. All such resolutions had been rejected, but the one submitted in April 2006 (introduced by Rep. Lane Evans of Illinois) even passed the Committee on International Relations. However, Congress adjourned before it ever got to a plenary session. Rumor has it that lobbyists hired by the Japanese Embassy, alarmed when the resolution passed the House Committee on International Relations, deserve credit for the resolution’s fate.

Rep. Mike Honda (a third-generation Japanese American), took up the cause after Rep. Evans retired. Honda submitted another resolution with essentially the same content to the House Committee on Foreign Relations on January 31, 2007. On February 15, the House Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment held a hearing at which three former comfort women were present.

The Japanese Embassy must have smelled danger in Rep. Honda’s enthusiasm. In a letter to the House of Representatives, Ambassador Kato Ryozo voiced his objections to the resolution. The letter states that Prime Minister Abe has affirmed that the Japanese government will stand by the Kono Statement, and asks congresspersons to acknowledge the numerous apologies made by Japan’s prime ministers. Given its humble tone, which made it seem more like an entreaty than a protest, it had little effect. The ranks of supporters of the resolution swelled from an initial six congresspersons to 25 in late February, 42 (32 Democrats, 10 Republicans) in mid-March, and 77 as of April 3.

Some of the additional support can be attributed to the midterm election that took place last autumn, which resulted in the assignment of Democrat liberals and human rights activists as heads of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and its subcommittees. It is entirely possible that the resolution will pass this time. What sort of person is Mike Honda, its chief standard-bearer? What are his objectives? Due to his abrupt entrance onto the stage, I knew very little about him. I decided to embark on an Internet search. It seems that many others had the same idea, judging from the number of discussions I encountered among people wondering, “Who is Honda?”

What really stands out is the incongruity of it all: Why is this Japanese-American congressman spearheading an anti-Japanese campaign? Some of the explanations (really conjectures) broached in cyberspace are: “He’s just pretending to be Japanese American,” “I think he’s of Korean descent,” “He’s an ethnic Chinese from Vietnam” and “He’s a shadowy figure of unknown origin.” But I kept searching, confident that in a nation that more than any other champions the disclosure of information, there could be no congressman without a background. I found Honda’s own website, which tells us that he is indeed Japanese American. Biographical information and career history are provided in a section entitled “About Mike.”

Who is Mike Honda?

Honda was born in June 1941 in Walnut Grove, near San Francisco, California. His parents ran a grocery store there. When war broke out between Japan and the United States six months later, the family was shipped off to an internment camp in Colorado. His family returned to California in 1953, becoming strawberry sharecroppers in San Jose. Mike graduated from a local high school and San Jose State University, where he began preparations for a teaching career, earning a master’s degree in Education in 1974. He interrupted his undergraduate studies to serve in the Peace Corps for two years in El Salvador. Honda’s career in education included service as a school principal and school board member. In 1996, he was elected to the California State Assembly, where he was instrumental in getting the Hayden Act passed in 1999.

The Hayden Act is a California state law that enables anyone to sue a Japanese corporation doing business in the U.S. for “war crimes.” It is an evil law, whose passage resulted in litigation seeking -120 trillion (US $1 trillion) in damages. Legal battles were fought all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled the Hayden Act unconstitutional. The war crimes cited included the torture of prisoners of war, the alleged Nanking Massacre, and the enslavement of the comfort women. For Honda, elected to the House of Representatives in 2000, H. Res. 121 may very well represent goals that he has been yearning to achieve for some time.

Mike Honda may also have been influenced by the situation in his electoral district (the 15th congressional district of California), which embraces Silicon Valley and its hub, San Jose. Many of its residents are of Hispanic, Chinese, Korean or Vietnamese extraction. It has the highest concentration of Asians of any congressional district in the U.S. (29%).

Here it’s important to consider the anti-Japanese psychology of Japanese Americans. An American scholar of European descent once asked me the following question: “Every Asian American gets angry when the nation of his forebears is insulted. Except for the Japanese Americans. They don’t seem to mind at all; they even get involved in anti-Japanese activities. Why?”

I was at a loss for an answer, and simply dodged the question, saying, “There are plenty of Japanese in Japan who participate in such activities.” But some scholars have noted that recently the Japanese-American identity is disappearing, swallowed up by the broader “Asian-American” category. And perhaps it is that category of voters that provides Rep. Honda with his support base.

Since Honda is a politician, a good many of his utterances are, of course, words he thinks people want to hear. For instance, on his website he mentions that the attainment of justice will be beneficial to Japan; that while the Asian community in California is growing, memories of the war are an obstacle to a true sense of unity within it; and that to foster a peaceful international community, his generation must achieve a reconciliation that resolves the problems of the past. But the message these words convey is that Honda is in fact bashing Japan to get his Asian-American voter base united behind him.

And his actions have not gone without notice, judging from the following citation from Chosun Ilbo (Korean Daily News), one of South Korea’s leading dailies: “Extremely popular in China, [Honda] and his activities have won the support and cooperation of many Korean residents of the U.S.”

One of the chief supporters of H. Res. 121, who has worked with Rep. Honda to move it forward is a Korean woman named Soh Ok-cha. Dr. Soh, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Washington Coalition for Comfort Women Issues, gave her support to 15 former comfort women who instituted suit in the Washington, D.C. District Court.

An examination of the records of the aforementioned February 15 hearing reveals that though the testimony of the three former comfort women may have been the highlight, Soh may have turned in the best performance of the day (her closing oration). It is my guess that she was the author of the resolution text (see below), given its content.

      H. Res. 121

      Whereas the “comfort women” system of forced military prostitution by the Government of Japan, considered unprecedented in its cruelty and magnitude, included gang rape, forced abortions, humiliation, and sexual violence resulting in mutilation, death, or eventual suicide in one of the largest cases of human trafficking in the 20th century;

      Whereas some new textbooks used in Japanese schools seek to downplay the “comfort women” tragedy and other Japanese war crimes during World War II;

      Whereas Japanese public and private officials have recently expressed a desire to dilute or rescind the 1993 statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono on the “comfort women”, which expressed the Government’s sincere apologies and remorse for their ordeal;


      Now, therefore, be it

      Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the Government of Japan
      (1) should formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Force’s coercion of young women into sexual slavery, known to the world as “comfort women”, during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II;

      (2) should have this official apology given as a public statement presented by the Prime Minister of Japan in his official capacity;

      (3) should clearly and publicly refute any claims that the sexual enslavement and trafficking of the “comfort women” for the Japanese Imperial Armed Forces never occurred; and

      (4) should educate current and future generations about this horrible crime while following the recommendations of the international community with respect to the “comfort women”.

Reading the text of the resolution, I felt the same nauseating sensation that comes over me whenever I hear state-owned North Korean television announcers snarl invective at Japan. Perhaps (2) is innuendo directed toward the Japanese Embassy because of its emphasis on apologies offered by past prime ministers. In any case, the authors of the resolution insist that the apology be “presented by the Prime Minister of Japan in his official capacity.” However, even if such an apology were forthcoming, we can only expect such demands to escalate. Witness comments made by Eni Faleomavaega (delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives from American Samoa) to the effect that previous apologies made by the government of Japan are “not enough” and “the emperor could now go one step further and offer a more forceful apology for all crimes committed in his family’s name” in an editorial in the Los Angeles Times.

The language in (3) implies that the Japanese government is in the same revisionist category as the Holocaust deniers, and suggests that Japan follow the German example (in Germany it is legally possible to punish Holocaust deniers). Apparently those who wish to dilute the Kono Statement would also be punishable.

(4) seems to allude to the complaint about Japanese textbooks in the Preamble, and might be interpreted as meaning that mention of the comfort women in textbooks should be mandatory.

Lee Yong-soo’s “disappearance”

In any case, the demands stated in H. Res. 121 make it the epitome of foreign interference in another nation’s domestic affairs. The aforementioned Rep. Faleomavaega (Democrat), chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment, told Akahata reporter Kamazuka (with reference to Prime Minister Abe’s having said that there is no evidence proving that the comfort women were coerced into prostitution by Japanese authorities) that he had read the Kono Statement carefully. He wondered whether Mr. Abe distrusted the research done by the Japanese government, which became the basis of the statement. Faleomavaega added that the meaning of the resolution could be found in the testimony of the former comfort women at the February 15 hearing.

It would seem, then, that the Kono Statement and the testimony of the former comfort women at the hearing form the basis of H. Res. 121. Leaving the problems posed by the former aside for the moment, let us analyze the latter.

According to House records, the hearing took place on February 15, 2007 in Room 2172 of the Rayburn House Office Building, under the auspices of the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment. The theme was “Protecting the Human Rights of Comfort Women.”

First came greetings from the Subcommittee chair, followed by Panel I, a speech by Rep. Honda. Panel II consisted of the testimony of former comfort women Lee Yong-soo, Kim Koon-ja and Jan Ruff O’Herne (a woman of Dutch extraction, now residing in Australia). Panel III consisted of statements from Mindy Kotler, director of Asia Policy Point, and Soh Ok-cha.

According to her statement, Ms. O’Herne was taken forcibly from a Japanese internment camp in Semarang, Java in 1944 by Japanese soldiers to a “comfort station.” Two months later, she was freed when the brothel came to the attention of a high-ranking officer, who shut it down. In connection with this incident, 11 persons were tried after the war ended in a Dutch military court, and sentences were handed down (one person was executed). Therefore, legally at least, it was settled more than 60 years ago. Moreover, the very fact that the brothel in question was closed as soon as its existence came to light is proof that Japanese military authorities did not tolerate such unlawful behavior.

The other two witnesses are Korean women. Here we will focus on the testimony of Lee Yong-soo, who lives in Seoul at Nanum House, a home for former comfort women. Ms. Lee has visited Japan several times to tell her story. Here are some excerpts from her testimony at the hearing.

      I was born in 1928 in the Korean city of Taegu.  My family was poor and nine of us lived in a single, small house: my parents, my grandmother, my five brothers, and myself. I only had one year of formal education and spent most of my childhood caring for my younger brothers and doing household chores so my father and mother could work outside our home to support the family.

      At the age of 13, I also began working in a factory and tried to return to school, but the heavy burden of work prevented me from focusing on my studies.
      In the autumn of 1944, when I was 16 years old, my friend, Kim Punsun, and I were collecting shellfish at the riverside when we noticed an elderly man and a Japanese man looking down at us form the hillside. The older man pointed at us with his finger, and the Japanese man started to walk towards us. The older man disappeared, and the Japanese beckoned to us to follow him. I was scared and ran away, not caring about what happened to my friend. A few days later, Punsun knocked on my window early in the morning, and whispered to me to follow her quietly. I tip-toed out of the house after her. I lift [sic] without telling my mother. I was wearing a dark skirt, a long cotton blouse buttoned up at the front and slippers on my feet. I followed my friend until we met the same man who had tried to approach us on the riverbank. He looked as if he was in his late thirties and he wore a sort of People’s Army uniform with a combat cap. Altogether, there were five girls with him, including myself. [Italics supplied.]


The young women are then taken by train to Dalian via Pyongyang. Lee Yong-soo weeps and begs her captors to let her go home, but they refuse.

      We boarded a ship [at Dalian] and were told that a convoy of eleven boats would be sailing together. They were big ships. We were taken into the last one ... New Year’s Day 1945 was spent on board. The ships stopped in Shanghai, and some of the sailors landed for a short break on shore.

Her ship is hit by a bomb, but manages to keep going. Amid the chaos that ensues, Lee Yong-soo is raped by a Japanese soldier. This is her first sexual experience. The ship does not sink as many had feared it would, and eventually arrives in Taiwan.

      The man who had accompanied us from Taegu turned out to be the proprietor of the comfort station we were taken to [in Sinzhu]. We called him Oyaji.

The proprietor (who has a Japanese wife) often beats Lee Yong-soo, who is given the name Toshiko. She services four or five men a day, and eventually contracts a venereal disease. A suicide pilot (and client) befriends her.

      He gave me his photo and the toiletries he had been using. He had come to me twice before and said he had got venereal disease from me. He said he would take the disease to his grave as my present to him.
The war ends and Lee returns to Korea with three other young women. She can never bring herself to tell her parents where she has been or what she has been doing.

      I worked in a drinking house which also sold fishballs, and I ran a small shop on the beach in Ulsan. For some time I ran a small market stall selling string. Then I worked as a saleswoman for an insurance company.

Since Lee Yong-soo was brought to the hearing to testify, I was certain I was going to be reading a tale of relentless suffering. I was amazed to discover that her story is not one of unmitigated sorrow. But my genuine reaction was: this is a melodrama of the sort that a television network would pounce upon. Her testimony and that of the other former comfort women call to mind other heartwarming stories, which are not uncommon, like Nomugi Pass, a film about the trials and tribulations of a poor young girl working in a silk factory in the early 20th century (with a happy ending).

Former comfort woman Mun Ok-chu (now deceased) published her vicissitude-filled story. Active in Burma, she was known for her cleverness, sunny disposition and solicitude. She was immensely popular among the Japanese soldiers, from the rank-and-file soldiers to generals. In less than three years, she managed to save up ¥26,000, and sent¥5,000 home to her family. At that time, the average salary of a Japanese Army sergeant was ¥30 per month.

How about the other woman, Kim Koon-ja? According to her testimony, her foster father (a Korean police officer) told her to go out and earn some money at the age of 16. Kim met a Korean man who told her he had a good job for her. She was then taken away in a freight car. Ms. Kim was either deceived by a broker or told to go with him by the foster father (perhaps sold to him to pay off a loan). What is noteworthy is that no Japanese was involved in Kim’s case.

Since there is no evidence of kidnapping by a government authority, we must assume that the young women were deceived by Koreans - their compatriots. The fact that no Japanese living on the Korean peninsula had sufficient command of the Korean language to deceive a Korean woman lends even more credence to this assumption.

I have read dozens of testimonies of former comfort women. Most of them are quite similar to those offered by Lee Yong-soo and Kim Koon-ja. However, perhaps because their support groups have emended the testimonies, one often encounters several different versions of the same woman’s story. Someone may have realized that it would be inadvisable to have discrepancies in the portions of testimonies related to the circumstances of the kidnappings. For whatever reason, the subjects of sentences in descriptions of kidnappings in the section of the report issued by the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal entitled “Biographies of Participating Victims”(2000) have been removed. But there are several versions of the circumstances of Lee Yong-soo’s kidnapping (see Table 1).

I will leave discrepancies in the name of the man who kidnapped her, the clothes he was wearing, and her age at the time aside for now. We must still determine whether she left her home voluntarily ((1) and (6)), or was kidnapped. In any case, she was deceived. If I were asked which of these diametrically opposite circumstances is closer to the truth, I would be inclined to answer that she left home voluntarily. The circumstances in (6) are substantially the same as those in (1) (testimony given shortly after Lee began telling her story), with the exception that the reference to the red dress and leather shoes is missing.

There are two reasons for my conviction that Lee said she was kidnapped to make her story more appealing to support groups and the media: (1) there are too many inconsistencies, and (2) the stories she tells only six days after a hearing at the Upper House of Japan’s Diet, and again two weeks later at the FCCJ, are diametrically opposite on that point.

Was she coerced into adjusting her testimony? It is more likely that when she met with members of Japan’s Upper House who are attempting to pass legislation relating to the comfort women (Fukushima Mizuho, Okazaki Tomiko, Tsuchiya Koken, Madoka Yoriko and others), she changed her story so they wouldn’t lose face.

This former comfort woman seems to believe that the Japanese government denies the very existence of comfort women and comfort stations. Therefore, she perceives their mission to be serving as a living witness, and doesn’t much care whether her omission of her captors’ names or tales of being raped on a sinking ship make her accounts less credible.

There are apparently 114 surviving comfort women in South Korea alone. Therefore, I find it impossible to understand why Rep. Honda and the other congresspersons attempting to pass H. Res. 121 have chosen women who do not fit into the category of “sex slaves” to testify at their hearing. Moreover, by choosing these women, they court the risk of objections from those who claim the comfort stations were no different from the brothels established for the U.S. military during the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Preconceived notions resembling religious fervor are terrifying. The number of people who believe that Lee and Kim were kidnapped is probably astronomical. Even J. Thomas Schieffer, U.S. ambassador to Japan, referred to them as “credible witnesses” in a New York Times article.

Learning from Susan Brownmiller

Let us now turn our attention to sexual activity in battle zones where forces other than Japanese troops fought. For details, I refer readers to my book The Comfort Women and Sex in the Battle Zone. Here I will focus on the sexual behavior of American military personnel during the U.S. occupation of Japan, and during the Korean and Vietnam wars.

There is no dearth of reference material describing the American military’s use of Japanese women as comfort women during the Occupation: Gifts from the Vanquished by Masayo Duus, Comfort Stations of the Occupation Forces by Inoue Setsuko, and police records kept by every prefecture in Japan, to name just a few sources. Suffice it to say that the RAA (Recreation and Amusement Association), under whose auspices prostitution facilities intended to protect young women from good families from rape were established, was organized (by the Home Ministry) only three days after the Pacific War ended. The association’s Japanese name, which translates as “Special Comfort Facility Association,” is less euphemistic.

The first RAA brothel opened on August 27, 1945 in Komachien, Omori, Tokyo. More than 1,000 Japanese women responded to advertisements in Asahi Shimbun and other newspapers that read as follows: “Urgent notice: Seeking special female workers, good pay; clothing, food and housing provided; salary advances possible.” At first the women were required to service a minimum of 15 to a maximum of 60 American GIs per day. But when applications reached a peak (70,000 women), quotas were reduced. The women considered most successful rose to “only” status, meaning that they serviced only one GI.

The RAA brothels notwithstanding, rapes of Japanese women by American troops were interminable. But Japanese newspapers, forbidden to print anything about crimes committed by GIs, vented their frustration with descriptions like “the perpetrator was a tall man.”

When the Korean War broke out in 1950, the bulk of the troops stationed in Japan were mobilized to the Korean peninsula. Three years later, there was a ceasefire. But ever since then, American troops have been stationed in South Korea, and the South Korean government has been obliging them with prostitutes who congregate near American bases. The women are compelled to undergo medical checks and must carry a card that states they are free of venereal disease. Some of the American commanders in chief have curbed prostitution, but in at least one case, a mutual aid society (an union-like organization formed by the prostitutes) went on strike, forcing the U.S. military to back down.

According to South Korean government reports, there were 330,000 prostitutes in that nation in 2002. Income from prostitution totaled US $20 billion, or 4.1% of GDP. The contribution of the U.S. military to this still flourishing “industry” has certainly not been a trivial one.

The South Korean military has its own prostitutes, of course. Women’s studies scholar Kim Ki-ok presented a report at an international symposium held at Ritsumeikan University (Kyoto) in February 2002. According to Yamashita Eiai, a member of the university’s faculty, Kim’s report had a considerable impact on Japanese feminists involved with the comfort women problem.

In 1996, Kim tracked down houses of prostitution operated by the South Korean military. However, she did not disclose her discovery at that time, fearing exploitation by Japanese rightists. Her report states that according to History of the Korean War behind the Front Line, compiled by South Korean Army Headquarters in 1956, military units were provided with stationary brothels that housed special prostitutes, who were referred to as “Type 5 supplies.” Until March 1954, 89 comfort women worked in four of these brothels, servicing 245,160 soldiers per year.

Other Koreans have written exposés of South Korea. Yi Myong-suk pointed out that Korean soldiers, who were so fearless during the Vietnam War, earned an unenviable reputation in Vietnam as murderers of Vietnamese civilians and procurers of women. South Korea has yet to atone for its sins in Vietnam. Dealing with the 5,000-30,000 (depending on which report one reads) half-Korean, half-Vietnamese children left behind by its soldiers, has reportedly been a major headache for the South Korean government.

But the major players in the Vietnam War were the American troops. Sexual services offered by Vietnamese women were immensely popular in Saigon (today Ho Chi Minh City). Only the rare American account of the war or U.S. newspaper article offers anything but superficial coverage of this topic.

Fortunately for us, in her book Against Our Will, Susan Brownmiller describes what she learned in an interview with journalist Peter Arnett (winner of a Pulitzer Prize) about a brothel used by the 1st Division, 3rd Brigade, stationed in Lai Khe, Vietnam.

By 1966, official military brothels had been established within each division’s camp. Each one was a two-building “recreation area” where 60 Vietnamese women lived and worked. The prostitutes decorated their cubicles with nude photographs from Playboy magazine and had silicone injected into their breasts to make the American soldiers feel more at home. Sex in the brothels was “quick, straight and routine.” The women serviced eight to 10 men per day at 500 piastres (about US $2.00) a trick. They received 200 piastres, the remainder going into the proprietors’ coffers.

The women were recruited by province chiefs. Some of the money found its way to the mayor of Lai Khe. This system made it possible for the Americans to receive sex services at what they called “Disneylands” without dirtying their hands in the business aspect of the enterprise. Brigade commanders supervised the brothels; both Army Chief of Staff Gen. William C. Westmoreland and the Pentagon gave tacit approval to them.

The prostitutes underwent weekly medical examinations by Army medics. Signs hung in front of the brothels claiming they were safe, but according to 1969 statistics, 200 of every 1,000 soldiers contracted venereal disease.

The information in Against Our Will is important because its descriptions of the brothels in Vietnam mirror those patronized by Japanese soldiers. Therefore, reading it is more likely to convince the American congresspersons that they are wrong better than anything I could write. However, the women who serviced Japanese military personnel were better paid (by more than 50%). And silicone injections were not available to them. Toward the end of the Vietnam War, there were 300,000-500,000 prostitutes, according to Cynthia Enloe.

It occurred to me that having compared the various sources, it might be useful to distribute a few pages from Brownmiller’s book to the supporters of H. Res. 121. Then we can question Mike Honda and his colleagues about the wisdom of their resolution and ask them to withdraw it. Or we could have them replace “the Japanese government” with the “Japanese and U.S. governments.”

Yes, I’m aware that my plan doesn’t stand much chance of success. But this is not about success or failure. I will be happy if it serves only to break postwar Japanese of the habit, acquired over decades, of apologizing or shrugging when criticized, and instills in them the nerve to issue a rejoinder to an unjust accusation.

Revising the Kono Statement

Efforts made to combat Honda and his cronies will provide little more than symptomatic relief. For the long term, we will need to retract or revise the Kono statement. Movements to do just that have been active since soon after the statement was issued. Recently, the Subcommittee on the Comfort Women Problem of the Diet Representatives’ Association for the Consideration of Japan’s Future and History Education (chairman, Nakayama Nariaki), a group of conservative LDP (Liberal Democratic Party) legislators, began reexamining the Kono Statement at the request of the Prime Minister’s Office. By March 1 they had formulated a plan. But there was so much contention between the proactive and passive factions in the committee that its members were able to do no more than promise Prime Minister Abe on March 8 that they would continue their research and analysis.

A promise is a promise. However, committee members have not been given access to records of interviews with 16 former comfort women conducted by a government investigative team (appointed by the Cabinet Councillors’ Office on External Affairs). We can certainly empathize with the anger of one member, who commented that “they sent us up to the second floor, then took the ladder away.”

But judging from Mr. Abe’s vacillation, observed from the very moment he took office, the subcommittee may have been given an impossible assignment. Suppose we review what the prime minister and his aides have said about the Kono Statement: On October 5, 2006, at a Lower House Budget Committee meeting, Abe said the following to Kan Naoto, acting president of the Democratic Party of Japan: “The government, and I include myself, stands by [the Kono Statement]. (...) This will not change during my administration.” When Kan pressed Abe, asking him, “In 1997, didn’t you respond to a question by saying you were having second thoughts about the Kono Statement?” Abe replied, “the debate has shifted from whether there was coercion in the strict sense (we don’t believe there was) to whether there was coercion in the broader sense.” Most of the newspapers didn’t print this part of Abe’s reply, perhaps because it was unclear, carrying only the first part about standing by the statement.

On October 27, at a meeting of the Diet Foreign Affairs Committee, Shimomura Hakubun (deputy chief Cabinet secretary) reiterated the gist of Abe’s comments, adding, “The Kono Statement was issued in accordance with a Cabinet decision.” The prime minister confirmed this, making it clear that amending the statement would not be a simple matter. The Kono Statement was not, in fact, backed by a Cabinet decision. However, the belief that it was and the weight of Kono’s position (speaker of the Lower House) may have caused Abe to waver.

The debate heated up once again when H. Res. 121 came to the fore in mid-February of this year. At a Budget Committee meeting on February 19, Rep. Inada Tomomi (LDP) asked whether the administration intended to retract the Kono Statement. Shiozaki Yasuhisa, chief Cabinet secretary, responded, “the government’s position is that we will stand by the Kono Statement.”

The prime minister did not mention standing by the Kono Statement at a press conference on March 1. What he did say was that “there is no evidence to prove there was coercion,” and that further discussions should be premised on a change in the definition of “coercion” from the narrow sense to the broad sense.

The reaction from the New York Times, the Washington Post and most other leading American newspapers was swift. Their March 2 editions reported that Abe had categorically rejected the Kono Statement, and labeled him an ultranationalist and revisionist. Sankei Shimbun’s analysis of the situation was: “[The prime minister] is worried about the Kono Statement’s being used as an excuse for an anti-Japanese campaign. He seems to feel that work on revising the statement should begin.” Therefore, it is not surprising that the foreign press misunderstood Abe. Apparently, his obfuscation strategy is coming back to haunt him.

Perhaps the prime minister panicked in the face of the harsh international reaction. But in any case, when questioned in the Diet on March 6, he said, “Basically, we will stand by the Kono Statement.” But perhaps because he was attempting to clarify the difference between “coercion in the strict sense” and “coercion in the broad sense,” he cited examples: “Coercion in the strict sense means that Japanese military authorities broke into their homes and took them away. Coercion in the broad sense means that brokers (middlemen) deceived or sometimes threatened the women.” His attempt to clarify backfired.

I myself was not sure what Mr. Abe really meant to say, but I was afraid that his remarks would invite misunderstanding or perversion. And sure enough, a look at the resulting commentary in the press told me that my fears had been realized.

Mainichi Shimbun came out with the following: “By setting distinctions between two meanings of coercion (the strict sense and the broad sense) as the word is used to refer to the comfort women, [the prime minister] has opted for a strategy of maintaining consistency between his recent remarks and those made in the past. However, the nuances of his speech were lost on the foreign press. By being vague, he created the impression that he was denying any connection between Japanese military personnel and the comfort women.”

And in a Newsweek article, MIT Prof. Richard J. Samuels wrote that Prime Minister Abe’s handling of the comfort women problem seems incomprehensible to Americans. If the Japanese believe that the Kono Statement is based on a mistaken perception of history, why don’t they officially retract it? They cannot expect Americans to understand when the Japanese government attempts to explain the strict sense and the broader sense of the word “coercion.”

Since they know that whatever they say will come under attack, why do our government officials resort to abstruse semantics? Wouldn’t a better media strategy be to simply say that no Japanese authorities ever coerced women into prostitution? Most ironic is the fact that Abe’s semantic dichotomy has made bedfellows of Kono Yohei (whom Mike Honda described as having “issued an encouraging statement regarding Japan’s comfort women,” and Asahi Shimbun praised for his gracious attitude) and Yoshimi Yoshiaki (a Chuo University professor whose claim to fame is having dropped a bombshell in 1991, claiming that the military had been involved in recruiting comfort women).

By way of explanation, according to Asahi Shimbun, in a 1997 interview, Kono Yohei said there were no documents showing the government took measures to recruit the women with violence. But it was clear there were numerous cases of coercion [here in the broader sense], defined as their being recruited against their will. It is safe to assume that Kono had already completed his own revision of the statement.

Yoshimi started out as a supporter of the recruitment-by-coercion theory. However, by the mid-1990s, he had made the transition to the coercion-in-the-broader-sense argument, declaring that the comfort women’s freedom was restricted in the brothels.

If one gives any thought to the coercion-in-the-broader-sense argument, one comes to the realization that it is totally futile. Suppose we categorize young women whose parents sold them to brokers as victims of coercion. Aren’t professional baseball players who are paid advances and then traded to another team whether they like it or not also victims of coercion?

To avoid muddying the waters further, I will now proceed to present my suggestions for the modification of the Kono Statement. I will limit myself to altering, from a pragmatic perspective, the portion that involves coercion in the strict sense. Other portions of the statement need revision as well, but I will not address them at this time.

Here is that portion of the statement that I wish to revise as it stands now.

      The then Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of the comfort stations and the transfer of comfort women. The recruitment of the comfort women was conducted mainly by private recruiters who acted in response to the request of the military. The Government study has revealed that in many cases they were recruited against their own will, through coaxing, coercion, etc., and that, at times, administrative/military personnel directly took part in the recruitments. [Italics supplied.]

First, I would excise who acted in response to the request of the military. Then I would change coercion to intimidation. Finally, I would replace directly took part in the recruitments with failed to exercise proper control over the recruitments. I wish to excise who acted in response to the request of the military because the relationship between the military and the brokers should be construed not as one-way, but reciprocal, like all business relationships.

Take the newspaper advertisements reproduced as per attached Figure 1, for instance. We can be sure that the recruiters in both cases were private individuals or businesses, and that the place of employment referred to was military comfort stations. But we cannot assume that the advertisements were placed in response to the request of the military. Even if they were, it is highly unlikely that the military would have covered salary advances. One could speculate that salary advances were sales pitches invented by the brokers, but speculation is, after all, pointless.

What surprised me is that such advertisements even appeared in the Keijo Nippo, a newspaper on a par with the Washington Post, and the largest Korean daily during that era. Once they did, however, the advertisers probably needed to do little more but sit and wait, since many young women must have been tempted by wages three times the starting salaries commanded by graduates of Keijo Imperial University. And what better evidence is there for the case against coercion than these advertisements, which prove that there was no need to resort to risky tactics like kidnapping?

My reason for changing coercion to intimidation is this: brokers (recruiters) may have told the young women they were obligated to go with them because their parents had received advance payment, which they would have to work off. In that case, intimidation is the appropriate word.

The phrase directly took part in the recruitments is, of course, at the crux of the debate on the comfort women problem. Countless scholars and journalists spent more than a decade frantically searching for evidence that military authorities were indeed directly involved in the procurement of comfort women. They did not find a shred of proof that would justify the admission that military authorities directly took part in the recruitments. Therefore, we should state, and assertively so, that Japanese military authorities were not directly involved in the procurement of comfort women. But since I anticipate vehement protests against the removal of this phrase, I have suggested replacing it with neglected to exercise proper control over the recruitments. An appropriate analogy would be blaming the police for not preventing every single crime.

On March 16 and 17, Japan’s dailies reported that the government would stand by the Kono Statement, but that the Statement would not be reclassified as a Cabinet decision. They cited a Cabinet statement delivered on March 16: “The government found no evidence in documents examined prior to the issuance of the [Kono] Statement that proves there was coercive recruitment by any military or government authority.”

I am presuming that this is the Japanese government’s final position statement on the comfort women issue. Unfortunately, it is rife with the usual circumlocutions, and therefore unlikely to put this issue to rest. Perhaps the administration has decided that nothing can be done to stop H. Res. 121, and is simply attempting to delay its passage until after Prime Minister Abe’s visit to the U.S. in late April.

In any case, what needs to be done, and without delay, is the following: Disseminate all convincing data concerning basic facts that have been misrepresented or misunderstood. Need I add that said data should be translated into English?

Foreign historians and legal scholars have an abysmally poor grasp of the facts relating to the comfort women issue. For instance, George Washington University Professor Dinah L. Shelton, wrote the following in the Los Angeles Times: “[M]ost historians estimate the number [of comfort women] at between 100,000 and 200,000. Most were Korean and Chinese, though they also included other Asians and Europeans from Japanese-occupied areas. Many were kidnapped and raped, others were tricked or defrauded; some were sold by their families.”

I would revise Shelton’s error-riddled pronouncements as follows: “There were at most 20,000 comfort women. None of them was forcibly recruited. Forty percent of them were from Japan, the most heavily represented nation. Many were sold to brokers by their parents. Some responded willingly to brokers’ offers; others were deceived.” I would add that, on the average, living conditions in the comfort stations were practically identical to those in brothels set up for American troops during the Vietnam War.

In closing, I encourage human rights activists in Japan and all over the world to invest their energy in the eradication of contemporary sex crimes. According to the China Daily, over a six-month period, more than 110,000 victims of kidnapping or human trafficking (most of them forced into prostitution) were rescued in China alone.


On April 3, 2007, the U.S. Congressional Research Service published a 23-page memorandum entitled “Japanese Military’s ‘Comfort Women’ System.” The author is Larry Niksch, who writes on p. 21 that “[t]he military may not have directly carried out the majority of recruitment, especially in Korea.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Modern-Day Comfort Women: The U.S. Military, Transnational Crime, and the Trafficking of Women 1 Donna M. Hughes, Katherine Y. Chon, and Derek P. Ellerman Donna M. Hughes is a Professor and holds the Eleanor M. and Oscar M. Carlson Endowed Chair in Women’s Studies at the University of Rhode Island. She has completed research on the trafficking of women from Russia and Ukraine, and trafficking in women into the United States. She has done extensive research on the use of new information technologies for the trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation. She is the editor of the international volume Making the Harm Visible: The Global Sexual Exploitation of Women and Children, Speaking Out and Providing Services. Katherine Y. Chon is co-founder and co-executive director of Polaris Project, a Washington, DC based non-profit organization combating trafficking of women and children. She has a background in cross-cultural education theory, social science research, and experimental design and analysis. She has worked with research projects at the Institute for Elementary and Secondary Education, Brown University, and Butler and Miriam Hospitals in Providence, RI investigating family violence and child abuse, adolescent suicide, and issues in curriculum development. She has a Sc.B. in Psychology from Brown University. Derek P. Ellerman is co-founder and co-executive director of Polaris Project, a Washington, DC based non-profit organization combating trafficking of women and children. Most recently, he served as Executive Director of the Center for Police and Community, working on issues of police reform in Rhode Island. He has also served as President of the Rhode Island Committee for Non-Violence Initiatives. In addition to his non-profit experie nce, Derek is an established freelance web-designer and 3D modeler. He has a Sc.B. in Cognitive Neuroscience from Brown University. Modern-Day Comfort Women: The U.S. Military, Transnational Crime, and the Trafficking of Women 2 Introduction The U.S. military bases in Republic of Korea (commonly known as South Korea) form an international hub for trafficking of women for prostitution and related forms of sexual exploitation. The trafficking of women is a lucrative moneymaker for transnational organized crime networks, ranking third, behind drugs and arms, in criminal earnings. The traffickers recruit and transport women to meet the demand largely created by U.S. military personnel and civilian men in South Korea and the United States. In some cases, the U.S. servicemen themselves are traffickers working with Asian organized crime networks. This paper will examine three types of trafficking that are connected to US military bases in South Korea: Domestic trafficking of Korean women to clubs around the military bases in South Korea, transnational trafficking of women to clubs around military bases in South Korea, and the transnational trafficking of women from South Korea to massage parlors in the United States. Although, the three types of trafficking will be discussed separately, in reality, they sometimes overlap. For example, in one case a Korean woman was the victim of multiple acts of trafficking: She was abducted at age 14 from her village in South Korea, and was repeatedly raped and exploited by soldiers of the South Korean army. An American soldier brought her to the U.S. through a sham marriage, where she was then trafficked within the U.S. on a massage parlor circuit (Gallagher, 1995). Methods Terms and Definitions For the purpose of this paper, the definition of “trafficking” is based on the U.S. Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000. “Sex trafficking means the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act.” A commercial sex act is defined as “any sex act on account of which anything of value is given to or received by any person.” For criminal charges to be brought against perpetrators, their activities must meet the criteria of “severe form of trafficking in persons,” which is “sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age.” Coercion is defined as: Modern-Day Comfort Women: The U.S. Military, Transnational Crime, and the Trafficking of Women 3 “(A) threats of serious harm to or phys ical restraint against any person; (B) any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause a person to believe that failure to perform an act would result in serious harm to or physical restraint against any person; or (C) the abuse or threatened abuse of the legal process.” “Transnational trafficking” is used to mean sex trafficking of women that involves the crossing of an international border. “Domestic trafficking” is used to mean sex trafficking within the borders of a country in recognition that the tactic s used by procurers and pimps are the same when women are recruited and transported within the same country. Often, as in the case of massage parlors, the women are used on regional and national circuits, which should be recognized as a form of domestic trafficking. In discussing the sites of prostitution in the U.S., the term “massage parlor” is used, although the establishments are also known by other euphemisms such as “spas,” modeling studios,” and “hostess bars.” Sources of Data Prior to the initiation of this research, no studies on the trafficking of women to Korea had been conducted or completed.1 Similarly, there were no research studies on the trafficking of women from Korea, or trafficking of Korean women that involved U.S. servicemen. There have been several studies on the use of Korean women for prostitution by U.S. servicemen, but the focus was not on trafficking. Korean and other Asian nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have documented the transnational and domestic trafficking of women associated with U.S. military personnel, but they were not research reports. Because of the lack of previous research, the paper relied on NGO reports and media stories from the U.S., South Korea, and the Philippines. For this research report, the authors conducted 36 interviews using open-ended questions with social service providers, activist organizations, law enforcement officials, reporters, and a researcher in the U.S. and South Korea. The interviews included 19 law enforcement officials, 10 social service providers and/or activist organizations, 6 reporters, and 1 researcher. All interviews were conducted by telephone in August, September, and October 2002. U.S. Military in Republic of Korea and Violence Against Women The United States has had troops in South Korea for almost six decades, starting in 1945 following World War II.2 Today, there are 100 U.S. military bases throughout South Korea with 37,000 troops. From the 1950s to 1970s, the United States Forces in Korea (USFK) and the Republic of Korea cooperatively agreed to set up “rest and relaxation” centers for U.S. troops. The purpose was to provide entertainment and improve the morale of the troops. The kijichon (military camp towns) around the U.S. military bases that resulted from this policy are closed to South Korea citizens and allow only U.S. troops and those who provide services to enter. Although prostitution is officially 1 While the research for this paper was underway, the International Organization for Migration released its report “Women Tra fficked for U.S. Military Bases – IOM Report,” September 3, 2002. 2 For a detailed account of U.S. and Korean relations and their tacit accommodation of U.S. servicemen with women for sex, see Katherine H. S. Moon. Sex Among Allies: Military Prostitution in the U.S.-Korea Relations. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997. 4 illegal in South Korea, the sex industry around the U.S. military bases thrives with an estimated 20,000 women in the kijichon (Kim, 1997). Most of the clubs or bars in the kijichon have rooms upstairs for prostitution (Moon, 1997; McMichael, 2002a). The abuse and exploitation of Korean women for “rest and relaxation” by soldiers preceded the arrival of U.S. troops. The Japanese army used Korean women for sexual slavery during World War II (Howard, 1995; Hicks, 1995). At the time, the women were euphemistically referred to as “comfort women,” and although that term is no longer used, a number of Asian women’s nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) characterize the ongoing trafficking and sexual exploitation of Korean and Philippine women by U.S. military troops as a continuation of the same practice. In fact, several sources say that some of the original “comfort women” used by the Japanese army were in turn used by U.S. troops following the defeat of Japan (Kim, 1997). The experiences of the women are similar; except now, the U.S. troops refer to them by other euphemistic and derogatory terms, such as “guest relations officer,” “bar girls,” “hostesses,” “entertainers,” and “juicy girls” (Kim, 1997; Donato, 2002; Demick, 2002). During the almost six decades that U.S. troops have been stationed in South Korea they have committed many crimes in the Korean communities (Ahn, n.d.). One group gathered crime reports and found that from 1945 to 1999, servicemen committed over 10,000 crimes (National Campaign for the Eradication of Crimes by U.S. Troops in South Korea, 1999). In 1992, the brutal rape and murder of Yoon Keum Yi, a prostit ute, by a U.S. serviceman, generated public outrage about crimes committed by U.S. troops (Kim, 1997; Kirk, Cornell & Okazawa-Rey, 2000). More recent crimes include the stabbing murder of Si-Sun Li near a U.S. military base in 1998 and the beating death of a 31 year old bar waitress by two American soldiers in 2000. In both cases, the men said they got angry because the women refused to have sex with them (Associated Press, 1998; Associated Press, 2000). The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), a security treaty, between the U.S. and Republic of Korea makes it difficult for Koreans to take legal action against U.S. troops, even when they have committed crimes (Moon, 1997). Created during the Cold War era, the U.S. was able to “negotiate separate and often unequal security treaties with each of its Asian allies,” providing few favorable provisions for countries like the Republic of Korea (Cornwell and Wells, 1999). While the Republic of Korea has some legal jurisdiction over crimes committed by U.S. troops, a clause in SOFA’s article 22 states that South Korea must give “sympathetic consideration” for any request made by the U.S. to waive its rights unless the case is considered of “particular importance” (Moon, 1997; “Activists intensify SOFA,” 2002). According to the National Campaign for the Eradication of Crime by U.S. Troops in Korea, the U.S. military is responsible for disciplining their troops, but frequently, when crimes are committed, the men are just moved to another post (Kirk & Okazawa-Rey; n.d.). In 1999, only 3.6 percent of all crimes committed by U.S. servicemen were brought to trial by the South Korean government (Young Koreans United, 2000). In the climate of tolerance for crimes committed by U.S. troops, prostitution and trafficking for prostitution are among the most tolerated. Domestic Trafficking of Korean Women for U.S. Military Personnel According to one estimate, over one million Korean women have been used in prostitution by U.S. troops since the end of World War II (Moon, 1997). One man, formerly stationed at the Osan Air Base described the contemporary kijichon locale and prostitution in the following way: 5 Outside the front gate of our air base is a town called song-tan. There is a strip of bars along this street…about 25 bars. Men go to these bars to see the ‘juicy girls.” …when a man see a girl that he likes, he calls her over, or sometimes one of the old ladies that work at the bar just bring a girl to the man. He then buys her a ‘juicy’ (a small glass of juice or alcohol) for about $10. sometimes they just talk, or sometimes he gropes her, but many times the talk negotiate a ‘barfine’ … money paid to the owner of the bar so that the girl can go out for the evening ‘bar hopping,’ or to a hotel to have sex” (Anonymous, email, May 2001). Korean girls and women become vulnerable to recruiters after they have been abandoned by families or run away from home because of abuse. They usually have limited job skills and few options for work. They are domestically trafficked from various regions of South Korea for kijichon prostitution outside U.S. bases. Korean women are recruited into prostitution by employment agencies that play a central role in domestic trafficking (Yu, n.d.). Young women who run away from home are often searched for by employment agencies. When the girl or woman is found, the cost to trace her is charged to her as a debt that she then has to repay (Yu, n.d.). Also, Korean women enter prostitution as a way to pay off credit card debt without knowing the conditions and violence they will face. According to one agency, “We hear many cases of those who started out making quick money to pay off credit card debts but ended up in situations they didn’t know existed” (Go, IOM-Seoul, personal communication, September, 2002). Once Korean women are in prostitution, they quickly accumulate more debt. Pimps manipulate the women into incurring debts, so that they will not be able to leave. Women are charged for rent, food, furniture, clothes, and medical expenses; so often, the longer the woman is in prostitution, the larger is her debt. One former bar woman said her debt accrued for 25 years while she was being used in the kijichon. Over this period of time, she had to pay for 25 abortions because she said she could not “bring another life in to this world if he/she has a life like mine” (Kirk, 1995). According to the representative of United Voice for the Eradication of Prostitution in Korea (Hansori): “Every day a woman has to pay her pimp the money from three customers. If she fails to pay, it is added to her debt. A woman is sold from one place to another every one to two months, and the agency fee that the employer pays the employment agency is added to her debt. [One woman] started with no debts, but at the end of eight years in prostitution, her debt increased to over 20 million won (over US$20,000) (Yu, n.d.). The pervasive tactic for recruiting and coercing Korean women into prostitution is through the creation and manipulation of debts. These debts are then used to control the women and keep them in prostitution, often for years. Transnational Trafficking of Women to South Korea In the last decade, the economic conditions have improved for South Korea, offering women more opportunities than in the past. Consequently, foreign women are increasingly replacing the Korean women in prostitution around the U.S. bases. Women from the Philippines, the Russian Federation, Bolivia, Peru, Mongolia, China, Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan have been trafficked into South Korea (Jhoty, 2001; McMichael, 2002a; Lhagvasuren, 2001). According to the International Organization for Migration in Seoul, 5,000 women have been trafficked into South Korea, mostly Russians and Filipinas, who are replacing the Koreans (Capdevila, 2002a; Go, IOM-Seoul, personal communication, September 2002). For 6 example, in one kijichon area with 40 clubs, of the 301 women in prostitution, 107 were Korean, 149 were Philippine, and 45 were Russian (Union of Women’s Social Organizations, n.d.). For decades, Filipina women have been used in prostitution by U.S. troops around the large military bases in the Philippines, but those bases closed in the 1990s. The closing of the U.S. military bases, as well as the Asian economic crisis led to high unemployment, especially among women in the Philippines where only 46.8 percent of women are employed compared to 85.7 percent of men (Enriquez, n.d.). The Philippine government supports and facilitates the overseas employment of Filipinos because it helps solve their unemployment problem, and the workers abroad send home money to support families, helping to alleviate poverty (Enriquez, n.d.). Because the Philippines is a source of unskilled workers for South Korea, there are a number of agencies and schemes that recruit and facilitate the travel and work of Filipinos in South Korea (Enriquez, n.d.). Traffickers work within this system. Recruiters who work for foreign employers travel around the countryside offering poor young women opportunities for work abroad, often giving parents advance payments on their daughters’ wages (Cruz, 2002). As thousands of Filipinas go abroad expecting to find work, many are now in circumstances of sexual exploitation by US troops in South Korea similar to those they were in when the U.S. military bases were in the Philippines. The presence of Filipinas around the U.S. bases in South Korea was noted as early as 1987, but in recent years, the numbers have been increasing (Enriquez, n.d.). In 1994, there were approximately 250 Filipinas in prostitution around the U.S. military bases in South Korea. By 1997, the number increased to 1,365, and by 2002, the number rose to 3,000 (Donato, 2002). Traffickers target particular communities for recruiting women for prostitution abroad, such as those displaced in Central Luzon due to the eruption of the Mt. Pinatubo volcano and closure of the U.S. bases (Enriquez, n.d.). The women are mostly young, with high school or less education, coming from the rural areas and from poor families (Enriquez, n.d.). Many Filipinas are recruited by agencies that require the women to pay placement fees to secure good jobs for them (Donato, 2002). Instead of the jobs promised, the women are met at the airport and taken to bars or clubs around U.S. military bases (Donato, 2002). In other cases, many Filipina women arrive in South Korea on E-6 entertainer visas and or false documents (Go, IOM-Seoul, personal communication, September, 2002). They are recruited as Overseas Performing Artists (OPA), for which they are required to prove they have ente rtainer skills before they are granted authorized entry into other countries to work in the entertainment industry (“Filipino Women Hired,” 2002). There are indications that the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), which supervises the training and testing centers that determine if the women sent abroad are qualified as performing artists, is involved in bribery and deception with the issuance of E-6 visas (Cruz, 2002). Recruiters either bribe the authorities at the testing centers or send in skilled doubles to perform in order to get the needed certification for the woman to be able to go abroad on an entertainer visa (Cruz, 2002). When the woman arrives at the destination abroad, she is in the country legally as an entertainer with heavy debts owed to her employer, but with no true artistic skills. She is then forced into prostitution. According to the Korean Immigration Bureau of the Ministry of Justice, the number of people entering South Korea on E-6 entertainment visas has climbed steadily: 2,150 in 1998, 4,486 in 1999, and 7,044 in 2000 (Jhoty, 2001). According to one report, the Korea Special Tourism Association, an association made up of 189 club owners near the kijichon areas, was the chief contractor for holders of the E-6 visas (Capdevila, 2002b). The Association began lobbying the government to bring in 7 foreign women to work in the nightclubs in 1996. The president of the Association claimed that their organization plays an important role in preventing GI harassment of Korean women and in strengthening U.S.-South Korea relations: “If it hadn’t been for us, there would be sexual violations, maybe rapes. We are contributing to United States and Korean relations in our own way, and nobody appreciates it” (Demick, 2002). This claim is the same one used by the Japanese during World War II: Providing “comfort women” to the Japanese troops would prevent them from raping or harassing the local women. Many women overstay the E-6 visas or work illegally on 90-day visitor’s visas, known as C-3 visas (Jhoty, 2001). According to a spokesperson at the Ministry for Gender Equality, more women are trafficked through C-3 visas than E-6 visas. For example, in 2001, 1,500 Filipina and 3,518 Russian women entered on E-6 visas, while 6,675 Filipinas and 11,633 Russian entered on C-3 visas (Sung, 2001). A Ministry spokesperson said it is difficult to locate the holders of the C-3 visas after the visas expire because they are issued without strict passport inspection (Sung, 2001). If the women escape from the traffickers or pimps, they are considered illegal immigrants, sent to immigrant detention centers, and deported (Jhoty, 2001). The collapse of the Soviet Union has created conditions in which tens of thousands of women from former Soviet countries are going abroad looking for work (Hughes, Forthcoming). Many of the Russian women held professional jobs at home before going to South Korea with false passports (Capdevila, 2002b). Between January 2000 and March 2001, approximately 6,000 Russian women entered Korea through Busan port and Gimpo airport (Jhoty, 2001). In 2000, 3,064 Russians entered South Korea on E-6 visas, 2,927 of them women (Jhoty, 2001). Less is known about the Russian or Russian-speaking women who are used in prostitution around the bases. The lack of information is due to fewer NGOs collecting information and documenting the women’s experiences. Russian officials have repeatedly refused to comment on the situation (Jhoty). According to an IOM-Seoul representative, there are more Russian women in prostitution in South Korea than Philippine women, but there are more Filipinas in kijichon prostitution because they speak English, which is in demand around the U.S. bases (Go, IOM-Seoul, personal communication, September, 2002). Organized crime groups have taken advantage of the economic difficulties faced by women. In January 2000, a network involving Russian organized crime and Koreans was broken up in Seoul. The Russian group supplied the women and received $1000 per month for each woman they supplied. The Koreans operated a job placement agency, through which they had trafficked over 50 Russian women into South Korea during the previous year (“10 arrested,” 2000). There is evidence that although the Philippines and countries of the former Soviet Union are geographically, linguistically, and culturally distant, the same traffickers are at work in the recruitment and enslavement of women. Several years ago, Kim Kyong-Su was investigated by the Yong-San District police for “importing 1,093 foreign women, from the Philippines and Russia, to work as entertainers near the U.S. military camp.” He was suspected of being paid recruiting fees by 234 club-bar owners to provide women for their use. He and two accomplices were charged with illegal recruitment and forging documents (Enriquez, n.d.). After women arrive in South Korea, some are forced into prostitution right away; others are worn down by pressure and inability to pay their debts unless they engage in prostitution. In the beginning, the women are only required to sit with men and push drinks, but they make no money. They soon discover that the only way to make money and pay their debts is through prostitution (McMichael, 2002a). 8 Recent investigations found that the women “are all indentured servants, modern-day sexual slaves. … These Filipino girls say they’re locked in the bar every night” (Merriman, 2002). Another investigative report found that every woman interviewed inside and outside the clubs, with the exception of some in Seoul, said they were trafficked (McMichael, 2002a). The journal of a 22-yearold Filipina detailed how she and other trafficking victims were locked in their rooms, had their passports and travel documents confiscated, threatened with violence, prohibited to make phone calls, and were given less than $10 a week for food (Demick, 2002). In some housing for the women, video cameras are mounted over the doors to monitor their movement. Women are usually allotted only a short period of freedom, such as a half hour per day (McMichael, 2002a). One reporter found that the women were “[s]ometimes packed into one room with six or more women, they often survive on little more than ramyeon (noodles) and are forced to work, even when ill” (Jhoty, 2001). These detainment conditions led to five foreign women dying in a fire in a Gunsan brothel in 2000. In early 2002, a similar fire broke out in a Gunsan pub, and 12 women died because they were prevented from escaping by barred exits (Lee, 2002). According to a member of the U.S. Air Force who was stationed at Osan Air Base: “[M]ost have a contract for one year. They supposedly get paid $300-$350 per month. but their wages are held by their owners for 3 to 4 months to pay for the airline ticket and other expenses. they usually work from 7 p.m. to 1 or 2 a.m. 7 days a week. they are usually confined to their quarters from 2 a.m. to noon the next day. this is to make sure the girl is not prostituting herself without the owner getting his cut. because of the long nights that these girls put in, they often turn to shabu (that is the name for the drug speed here in the orient) to keep themselves awake and looking happy” (Anonymous, email, May 2001). In an exposé, TV reporter Merriman filmed U.S. military police patrolling and protectin g the bars and brothels where U.S. servicemen use trafficked women for prostitution. The military officers acknowledge on camera that they know the women are trafficked, but that it was their job to protect the bars and brothels to ensure the safety of US servicemen (Merriman, 2002). One soldier stationed at Camp Casey remarked, “You know something is wrong when the girls are asking you to buy them bread. They can’t leave the clubs. They barely feed them” (Demick, 2002). A different report documented the good relations between the bar owners, pimps, and military police (McMichael, 2002a). U.S. soldiers said that the club-bar owners buy the women at auctions and must earn large sums of money before they are given their passports and freedom (Merriman, 2002). When the women come to the attention of the Korean government, the most usual response is deportation. The Korean government defends their treatment of women as illegal aliens, not as victims, because they allegedly voluntarily engage in prostitution and make money (Jhoty, 2001). In 2001, in an international assessment of countries’ efforts to combat trafficking, the U.S. State Department ranked South Korea on tier 3 (the lowest rating) because South Korea did not comply with minimum standards and had made no efforts to comply. The Trafficking in Persons Report stated that Korea was a country of origin and transit for trafficked persons. Teresa Oh from the Korean NGO Saewoomtuh criticized the report because it failed to recognize that South Korea was also a destination country for trafficked women and children (Jhoty, 2001). Other Korean NGOs demanded that the “U.S. share the blame for Korea’s problem of prostitution and human trafficking,” referring to the significant role the U.S. military plays in creating the demand for trafficked women (Kim, n.d.). 9 Trafficking Korean Women to the United States Asian and Asian-American organized crime networks operate transnationally within and between South Korea and the U.S. One of their activities is operating massage parlors throughout the U.S. that use Korean women for prostitution. The trafficking networks use some of the same methods migrant smugglers use to get women into the U.S., including: uninspected entry, meaning the women are smuggled in to the U.S. across the borders with Mexico or Canada without passing through immigration control points, the use of counterfeit documents, and entry on student or tourist visas. Another route that is routinely used by traffickers involves marriage to U.S. military personnel. In some cases, traffickers pay servicemen to bring Korean women into the U.S. through sham marriages. In other cases, traffickers and pimps target Korean women who are abandoned or divorced by U.S. military personnel. Korean-American gangs that are known to be involved in prostitution are the Korean Fuk Ching, the Green Dragons, the Korean Killers and Korean Power. The gangs also engage in international drug trafficking, extortion, home invasions of Korean immigrants, and gambling (McGarvey, 2002). Law enforcement officials describe the nationwide network of massage parlors as having a “layered business structure” (Doucette, 2002a), and “hierarchy” (Sergeant Jim Lalone, Waterford Township Police, Michigan, personal communication, August 30, 2002). One law enforcement officer described one network that was headquartered in Houston with links to Seoul: The mamasans in the massage parlors [in the network around the country] send the money to Houston and Dallas, and they send it back to Korea. … Someone is running these rings. They are routing the women. … Someone is keeping track. …There is a hierarchy” (Sergeant Jim Lalone, Waterford Township Police, Michigan, personal communication, August 30, 2002). An indication of a well-organized network is the efficiency and quickness with which massage parlors reopen after a raid. Usually, the massage parlors reopen within days or weeks of a police raid (New York law enforcement officer, personal communication, September 2002; Michael Mendez, Vice Unit, Dallas Police Department, Texas, September 5, 2002; Doucette, 2002b). In some cases, if the climate becomes too hostile, the pimps move to another location before reopening. U.S. Military Personnel as Traffickers A high proportion of the Korean women used in the massage parlors in the U.S. were originally married to U.S. servicemen. According to one INS agent, “I don’t recall ever having interviewed a Korean prostitute in this country that was not in the country as a result of being married to an American serviceman” (Goldman, 2002). A social service provider in New York City stated that the majority of women from massage parlors that she sees were previously married to U.S. military servicemen (Rainbow Center, personal communication, October 17, 2002). For women in prostitution around the military bases in South Korea, it is difficult to escape the stigmatization of society. Their only hope of getting out of prostitution and emigrating to the U.S. is to marry a US serviceman (Moon, 1997, p. 4). Even the trafficked women from the Philippines say their dream is to marry an American man who will buy their freedom (Merriman, 2002). In some cases, U.S. men pay off the women’s debt to the pimp to free them (Kim, 1997). In one case, a U.S. serviceman helped a trafficked woman escape by contacting a known anti-trafficking activist in Seoul (McMichael, 2002b). 10 In the 1980s, Army statisticians reported that the decade produced 25,000 marriages between Korean women and U.S. soldiers, at a rate of about 3,500 a year (Henican, 1989). Although many of these marriages may start off with good intention, 80 percent of marriages between Korean women and U.S. servicemen end in divorce (Moon, 1997, p.35). The women may have poor job or language skills, and are often victims of domestic violence or abandoned by their American husbands (Rainbow Center, personal communication, October 17, 2002). Isolated from both Korean and American communities, they have few options but to return to prostitution (Kim, 1997; Raymond, Hughes & Gomez, 2001). Traffickers or pimps often target women who were married or recently divorced from U.S. servicemen with attractive job offers. Korean women owners or recruiters for massage parlors are familiar with cultural practices and family obligations that could be used to pressure women into earning money. For example, the madams look for Korean women who were formerly married to U.S. servicemen and are trying to survive economically on three to four part-time jobs. She tells them they can make more money working part-time in the massage parlor. According to a former law enforcement officer who worked on prostitution and massage parlor cases for ten years: “There were Korean women who were predators, recruiting other women into the business… They knew where to push the buttons” (Former New York law enforcement officer, personal communication, October 15, 2002). In some cases, the marriages between Korean women and U.S. servicemen were never intended to be legitimate; they were a way to bring the women into the U.S. The woman may have cooperated in a sham marriage in order to get into the U.S. in the hope of finding a better life. In other cases, her new husband served as a trafficker, working with an Asian crime network in deceiving the woman. Victims often say that their “husbands” sold them to massage parlors after their arrival in the United States (Unidentified woman, Fox On The Record, 2002; Kim, 1997). According to a former law enforcement official in New York City, women may be coerced into the sham marriages by Korean/Korean-American gangs to repay a debt (Former New York law enforcement officer, personal communication, October 15, 2002). Korean-American gangs obtain young women for prostitution through connections to organized crime groups in South Korea, and use sham marriages to American military servicemen to get the women into the US; they are then turned over to the Korean-American gangs that run massage parlors. Some of the young women may have been abducted from villages in South Korea and forced into sham marriages (McGarvey, 2002). After gathering information from numerous massage parlor raids around the country, law enforcement officials name “sham marriages” with “GIs” as one of the primary methods that traffickers use to get women into the U.S. (Doucette, 2002c). In Houston, police who issued licenses to work in “sexually oriented businesses” identified two general groups of Korean women in the area massage parlors. The women in one group speak no English and need an interpreter to assist them with the application. These women have Korean family names on their passports, but the passports are not stamped as they should be if they passed through official immigration control points when leaving Korea or entering the U.S. There is another group of Korean women who can speak more English and have American last names, indicating that they have been married to an American man (Sergeant Tim Cox, Vice Division, Houston Police Department, personal communication, September 12, 2002). According to a police officer who was involved in raids on Korean massage parlors in the Midwest, the network that operates in his area is run by a Korean organized crime network based in Seoul, and 11 relies on U.S. military personnel to bring Korean women into the U.S. The women are usually young and attractive: Some are as young as 18, most are in their early 20s, but a few are in their 50s: “The men are paid by the Korean mob that is based in Seoul. They are paid $1500 to marry the Korean woman. In San Francisco, the divorce is already arranged as soon as he gets her into the country. Then he gets another $1500. …Black military personnel are involved. ...Don’t know why that is, but 90 percent of the men are black. A few whites guys, and never a Hispanic man”(Sergeant Jim Lalone, Waterford Township Police, Michigan, personal communication, August 30, 2002). According to Police Chief William Dwyer who was involved in closing Korean massage parlors in Farmington Hills, Michigan in the mid-1980s: “We learned servicemen had married some of the defendants in the case and brought them over here for a certain amount of money -$5,000 to $10,000. … It was a slavery thing. They divorced once they were here and [the women] went to work for a Korean crime cartel who had them actually living inside these places” (Martindale, 2000). According to a representative of the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division, “soldiers are seldom punished even when sham marriages are suspected” (Henican, 1989). Other police sources indicate that this pattern continued through the 1990s (Gillerman & Goodrich, 1997). In 1993, police obtained specific information on a member of the U.S. Navy who delivered a Korean woman to a massage parlor in Oakland County, Michigan. One of the women, who had just been delivered to the brothel two weeks before the raid, was willing to talk to the police and tell them that her “husband” had taken her to the brothel, then left her there. According to the Oakland County prosecutor: “She was his wife, officially. He was paid to bring her here. He was in town less than 24 hours. He then left for Norfolk, Virginia” (Prosecutor, Oakland County, Michigan, personal communication, August 30, 2002). Marriage certificates to American men enable women to obtain additional pieces of identification, which makes it more difficult to detect the activity of the traffickers. According to one officer involved in the raid of a club with Korean women in Rhode Island: “They were Korean women, with Americanized names. We checked on their legal status with INS – and they all cleared. … they had IDs, driver’s licenses… What happens is they would marry American servicemen and then get divorced” (Raymond, Hughes & Gomez, 2001). Transnational trafficking networks have several ways to get women into the US for use in massage parlors, one of which is to use US military personnel. According to one law enforcement officer, “The military is the key! I’ve never seen it any other way” (Sergeant Jim Lalone, Waterford Township Police, Michigan, personal communication, August 30, 2002). Different transnational crime groups may use different methods, which probably change over time as other opportunities for supplying women arise, but at least some of them make heavy use of U.S. military personnel as couriers, making them traffickers by law. Massage Parlor Circuits Crime groups usually manage a string of massage parlors around the country. Sometimes Korean women who were formerly prostitutes own the individual massage parlors (Former New York law enforcement officer, personal communication, October 15, 2002). Women are rotated from place to 12 place, in order to supply “fresh faces” for the men (Merriman, 2002). According to one police officer, “They women are there just a short time and then move on to the next location… They move from one big city to the next” (Michael Mendez, Vice Unit, Dallas Police Department, personal communication, September 5, 2002). In keeping with their close association with U.S. military personnel, many massage parlors with Korean women are located around military bases in the U.S. For example, there is a heavy concentration of Korean massage parlors in Waldorf, Maryland, close to the large military populations of Andrews Air Force Base, Bolling Air Force Base, Naval Research Center, and the Pentagon (Polaris Proje ct, 2002). One network of Korean massage parlors has a circuit around the Midwest and southeast. The string of massage parlors runs across the southern seaboard, up the eastern seaboard and across the Midwest. According to a law enforcement officer who has been involved in raiding a number of the massage parlors in Michigan: They start the women off in Houston and Dallas. Then they take them east along the southern seaboard. Then they go onto Florida, Georgia, from there, to Ohio, Michigan. We have 3 to 4 towns they are in here: Grand Rapids, Flint, Waterford, and Saginaw. They move them around in vehicles; they never fly. The women spend one month in each place, then onto the next. They want fresh faces. (Sergeant Jim Lalone, Waterford Township Police, Michigan, personal communication, August 30, 2002). What happens to women in the massage parlors was described as “horrible, unbelievably terrible” by an NGO representative (Frank Barnaba, Paul and Lisa Program, personal communication, September 5, 2002). Throughout the country, sources report that women live under similar conditions in most locations. The women have few possessions and live in the massage parlors, usually sleeping on the floor (Merriman, 2002). According to one law enforcement official who was involved in several raids: “When we raided the spa, we found that the women’s sleeping quarters upstairs … This apartment … was not furnished at all…there were blankets and sleeping bags all over the pace. Almost like a communal type living. Next to the sleeping bag, was a cosmetic bag, handbag. The women slept there, made a small space for themselves next to their sleeping bags…. I think they get moved on a lot. So this is temporary living situation. How they were living was definitely made for ease of mobility. If they closed overnight, they could just pack up and throw everything into a van and just go” (Raymond, Hughes & Gomez, 2001). The women seldom leave the premises and are required to work all the time. “They don’t have access to a vehicle. We’ve never seen cars parked in the vicinity to indicate that these women are independent to drive out when they please. We’ve also never observed these women ever venture outside of the premises. I believe that the managers feed, clothe them as they see fit. If they do go out, it is probably an organized outing in the company van. … These women were not just walking out the door” (Raymond, Hughes & Gomez, 2001). Women are required to work to pay off debts. Even daily expenses for travel and living expenses, referred to as papkap or “rice money,” are added to the women’s debt. In one case in Royal Oak, Michigan, the prosecutor said that in Korea the women’s family members were living under threat or she was being used to pay off a family debt (Charles Semchena, Royal Oak, Michigan Attorney’s Office, personal communication, September 4, 2002). In another case in Rhode Island, the women had to work 16 to 18 hours per day to repay their $10,000 debt for travel to the U.S. A police officer 13 noted that one of the women had cigarette burns on her arm. The club owner provided housing and food for the women, but did not pay them. Any money they made came from tips, which required the women to engage in prostitution (Rockoff, 1998). Women in the massage parlors are subjected to high rates of violence. In one case in Washington, D.C., a man killed a woman by stabbing her 23 times in the face, neck, chest, arms, and hands (U.S. Attorney’s Office, July 17, 2001). A researcher who has done studies on massage parlors in connection to AIDS commented on the level of violence and coercion the women are subjected to: “I’m aware that many of these women are abused by clients and by their employers. They are required to have sex with several men on a daily basis, and are indebted to their employers. Some are required to pay off debts. Some are under contract for their work, and must work a certain amount of time and [earn] money to meet the requirements of their contract” (Tooru Nemoto, Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of California -San Francisco, personal communication, October 11, 2002). The crime networks have many ways of preventing the women from leaving. The women believe that if they can make enough money to pay their debt, they will be able to leave and look for other opportunities. This keeps them compliant. According to an officer in the Houston Vice Division, “They save their money to pay their debt. Then just about the time their debt is paid, someone breaks into the massage parlor and steals their money.” The women are told they have to continue working to pay their debt (Sergeant Tim Cox, Vice Division, Houston Police Department, personal communication, September 12, 2002). In other situations, drugs were used to control the women. A former law enforcement officer commented: “The prevalence of crack and cocaine was a device that a lot of madams used to create some level of obligation. Girls would get addicted to the stuff. Even if there was no original debt going into the situation, debt was incurred by purchasing narcotics. It would be done informally, while they were waiting for customers. They did it because others did it” (Former New York law enforcement officer, personal communication, October 15, 2002). A woman who provides assistance for women from massage parlors in New York City said that many of women had been physically and verbally abused and have problems with substance abuse (Rainbow Center, personal communication, October 17, 2002). Official Corruption and Trafficking of Women There is widespread official complicity and corruption in the trafficking of women for prostitution. Traditionally, organized crime groups strive to corrupt officials in order to conduct their activities. Transnational trafficking of women is dependent on crossing borders and obtaining the necessary travel and identity documents, so involvement of corrupt officials, who take bribes or assist in providing authentic documents, is crucial to successful operations. Because prostitution is often viewed as a “victimless crime,” polic e and other officials are more willing to cooperate with the pimps and traffickers. In South Korea, police are often complicit in the control of the women by returning escaping women to the bar owners (McMichael, 2002a). Teresa Oh, a social worker who assists women in prostitution reported that, “If a Russian or Filipina girl runs away, and the club owner calls the police, the police 14 will go get her-and she will be abused when she’s brought back” (McMichael, 2002a). Senior Superintendent Kim Kang-ja, Director of the Women and Juvenile Division of the Korean National Police Agency, cites widespread corruption or tolerance of prostitution in clubs around the U.S. bases. She said that “almost all” of the South Korean police and officials responsible for enforcing prostitution laws accept bribes (McMichael, 2002a). She added that if the South Korean law banning consorting with prostitutes was tightly enforced “almost all U.S. soldiers would be arrested. Korean police should arrest them, or hand them to the American officers. But it’s not actually taking place. Nobody is controlling them” (McMichael, 2002a). In the U.S., a nationwide investigation into Asian American organized crime exposed how corrupt police officers protect and assist the operation of Korean prostitution rings. Presently, as part of a nation-wide crackdown on Asian-American organized crime involving Korean massage parlors, a Sunnyvale, California police officer stands accused of accepting gifts, cash, and sex in exchange for police information and protection for two Korean “hostess bars.” In addition, he helped the owners of the club track down women who escaped before paying their debt. On one occasion, he traveled with the owner of the club to Hawaii to threaten a woman with jail or deportation if she did not pay the owner money (Stites, Cronk, & Pittman, 2002). Several law enforcement officials who were interviewed noted suspicious patterns in the identity documents that the Korean women in the massage parlors had when a raid took place. One officer noticed that although the women had what appeared to be authentic passports, they were not stamped which would be required if the women had passed through immigration control (Sergeant Tim Cox, Vice Division, Houston Police Department, personal communication, September 12, 2002).Another official noted that most of the women had driver’s licenses issued for the same place (Prosecutor, Oakland County, Michigan, personal communication, August 30, 2002). These irregularities or suspicious patterns seem to indicate that corrupt officials may be involved in assisting the traffickers or massage parlor crime groups in getting identity documents for the women. U.S. Military and Government Response to Trafficking of Women U.S. Military, Government, and Federal Law Enforcement Response When confronted with evidence of U.S. troops using women for prostitution and women being trafficked for prostitution in South Korea, the Department of Defense has two standard responses. The first is to say that engaging in prostit ution is a violation of US Military Code of Conduct, thereby stating that they have an official policy against it and that men who engage in prostitution are in violation of the rules. The Department of Defense’s second response is to say it is prevented from taking action against in South Korean civilian criminal activity because it would violate South Korea’s sovereignty (McMichael, 2002a). According to a man formerly stationed at the Osan Air Base, South Korea: “I also believe that the Korean government and the United States Forces Korea (USFK) knows what is going on and does very little to stop it. The USFK has the military authority to make these places "off-limits" but doesn't unless they find out that prostitution is going on in an establishment. Then they usually make that establishment "off-limits" for a while then it gets taken off their list of "off-limit establishments" and there back in business again. Prostitution is prohibited to military personnel by the military uniform code of justice but it goes on” (Anonymous, email, May 2001). 15 The U.S. State Department is on record saying that U.S. soldiers should not engage in prostitution. Nancy Ely-Raphel, former head of the Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons said, “There’s a zerotolerance policy on the part of our military toward prostitution and towards frequenting brothels. So the military can do a lot about it” (McMichael, 2002c). Yet, in a report released by Saewoomtuh, a South Korean NGO providing services to military base prostitutes, eighty-four percent of male U.S. military personnel admitted to being with a prostitute (Kim, 2000). In the spring and summer 2002, exposés on the exploitation of trafficked women around U.S. military bases in South Korea were aired by several news agencies. The reports showed that military police were aware of the activities and patrolled the bars. In response, a number of U.S. Congressmen wrote a letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld requesting an investigation. Army Secretary Thomas E. White responded that military police “do not regulate, protect, or support Korean businesses or enterprises in any way” (McMichael, 2002a). Further investigation is underway, and there may be Congressional hearings on this topic in the future. The trafficking of Korean women for prostitution in the U.S. is not a new phenomenon, and in the past has received periodic federal attention. In 1986, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations reported on U.S. servicemen’s involvement in bringing Korean women into the U.S. for use in massage parlor prostitution circuits. They identified a pattern of Asian/Asian-American organized crime groups using sham marriages to get women into the U.S. According to Dan Rinzel, the chief Republican counsel to the subcommittee nearly all the women entered the U.S. “by visas obtained through fraudulent marriages to American GIs stationed in Korea” (Yeager, 1994). In summer 2002, a crackdown by federal agents on Asian organized crime in the U.S. revealed both the scope of the massage parlor networks and the progress that needs to be made by U.S. authorities in effectively countering trafficking. Eighty-seven warrants were served in California, Michigan, Kentucky, Nevada, Tennessee, Connecticut, Ohio, North Carolina, Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Virginia (Associated Press, 2002a). The investigation was initiated five years before when one of the massage parlor operators tried to bribe public officials, including a judge (Associated Press, 2002b). This series of cases was investigated from the framework of organized crime, which focused on the crimes of money laundering and bribery, not trafficking in women. Initial comments by FBI and local police that appeared in newspaper stories indicated these women were in classic trafficking conditions: the women were recruited in South Korea and provided visas by brokers; if visas could not be arranged, the women were flown into Mexico and smuggled across the border; the women were brought to the U.S. under false pretenses; the women were obligated to repay debts for travel and living expenses by engaging in prostitution; and the women lived in the massage parlors and were only allowed to leave for short periods of time (Mickle & Palmer, 2002; Associated Press, 2002a; Associated Press, 2002b). While initial investigations by the FBI did not find any evidence of trafficking, screening for trafficking may have failed due to intimidation of the victims by organized crime groups, cultural barriers in communication, and lack of follow-up by law enforcement. One FBI official involved with the case believes that trafficking was probably present, and cited lack of prioritization by the FBI as the reason why the screening may have failed and no follow-up was planned (FBI agent, Michigan, personal communication, August 10, 2002). Calls to newspaper reporters in the towns where arrests were made indicated that just days after the raids and arrests, the massage parlors were open again (Ken Palmer, reporter, Flint Journal, personal communication, August 7, 2002). 16 Local Law Enforcement Response Although a few smaller municipalities have worked vigorously to close massage parlors because of their unpopularity in the community, in larger cities, there is little enforcement of laws concerning massage parlors or the establishments reopen within a few days of a raid (Michael Mendez, Vice Unit, Dallas Police Department, personal communication, September 5, 2002). Reasons given for lack of enforcement range from massage parlors being a lower priority than other types of prostitution or organized crime, lack of personnel and resources due to decrease in size of vice units, and legal challenges to ordinances regulating massage parlors (Sergeant Jim Lalone, Waterford Township Police, Michigan, personal communication, August 30, 2002; Keith Haight, Vice Unit, Los Angeles Police Department, personal communication, September 5, 2002; Sergeant Tim Cox, Vice Division, Houston Police Department, personal communication, September 12, 2002). Law enforcement personnel in the United States are generally unaware that Korean women in massage parlors are potential victims of trafficking. The women are usually treated as criminals, as in Flushing, New York, where the women were arrested or in Providence, Rhode Island, where one victim with cigarette burns was arrested and deported. Many police recognize the slavery-like conditions under which the women work, but are unaware of the concept of trafficking in persons as a human rights violation and the legal status of a trafficking victim. Women’s possession of U.S. drivers’ licenses or other documents makes victimization harder to recognize. Prosecution of the victims further victimizes the women, and shields the traffickers from being held accountable under US anti-trafficking law. Conclusion The U.S. military bases in South Korea form a hub for the transnational trafficking of women from the Asia -Pacific and Eurasia to South Korea and the United States. Over the past six decades, U.S. troops have used an estimated million Korean women in prostitution. During the 1990s, increasing numbers of women from the Asia -Pacific and Eurasia, particularly the Philippines and Russia, were trafficked into bars and brothels around the military bases in South Korea. From South Korea, women are trafficked, frequently by U.S. servicemen, to the United States where they are used in prostitution on massage parlor circuits. Asian, Russian, and Korean-American organized crime groups cooperate with each other to run the trafficking networks. The number of different groups or gangs that are involved, how they are interlinked, or cooperate is unknown. They exist to make money by supplying women to meet the demand for prostitution by U.S. military personnel in South Korea and men in the United States. A significant number of Korean women in massage parlors in the U.S. are former wives of U.S. servicemen. Some of the marriages are legitimate, but after being abandoned or divorced, Korean women are vulnerable to being recruited for the massage parlor circuit. In other cases, the marriage was a sham arranged by organized crime networks as a method to get Korean women into the U.S. The widespread tolerance of prostitution in bars around the U.S. bases in South Korea and the massage parlors around the U.S. has fueled the demand for women, resulting in increased trafficking of women. In South Korea, if there are too many negative incidents relating to prostitution in the bars, they are listed as off-limits to the troops for a certain period of time; later the ban is lifted. In the U.S., a few smaller communities have permanently closed massage parlors, but in most large cities, there is little investigation or effective enforcement of laws. Most of the massage parlors reopen within days of police raids. 17 In both South Korea and the United States, some members of the military, police, and social service agencies recognize the abusive, exploitive, and often slavery-like conditions under which the women live. Yet, the women are still usually treated as criminals, instead of victims. In South Korea, the foreign women are deported. In the U.S., with a few exceptions, most police raids on massage parlors focus on arresting the women. The findings of this research indicate that much more education is needed for military personnel, federal and local law enforcement personnel, and social service providers on the trafficking of women for prostitution. In the interviews that were done for this paper, few of those interviewed in the U.S. were aware of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act that was passed by Congress in 2000, or the implications of the new abolitionist definitions of sex trafficking. Changes in U.S. local law enforcement practices are needed because priorities for enforcement of laws against massage parlors are set at the local level. A nation-wide paradigm shift is needed in how prostitution in massage parlors is viewed and handled. Police officers need to recognize that the women are most likely victims of transnational and domestic trafficking. They should be offered services instead of being arrested as criminals. Much more research in needed on the transnational and domestic trafficking of women to South Korea and from South Korea to the U.S. From the interviews conducted and media stories and NGOs reports reviewed, there appear to be a variety of methods that traffickers and pimps use. In this paper, these different methods have been described, with a focus on the involvement of U.S. servicemen, but much more in-depth research is needed to fully characterize and quantify the different modes of operation. It is not known if different organized crime networks use methods specific to their groups, or if different methods reflect changes in modes of operation over time. It is not known if different methods of trafficking are unique to certain geographical regions. More service providers are needed to assist the women used in the bars in South Korea and the massage parlors in the U.S. While the Philippine Embassy has created strong outreach efforts and local NGOs in South Korea are increasingly providing services to women involved in military prostitution, there are fewer such provisions for Russian women who are involved in sex trafficking. In the U.S., the infrastructure and trained personnel for coordinated outreach to trafficking victims within massage parlors currently do not exist. Additionally, the lack of a strong social support system within the Korean American community (due to the stigma associated with prostitution) and within the greater community (due to language barriers) adds to the ease of targeting trafficking victims. On a more positive note, a new awareness is growing. In the Republic of Korea, a coalition of women’s organizations (Korea Women’s Associations United – KWAU) has recently created a committee working to draft a bill to strengthen anti-trafficking initiatives to be presented before the National Assembly (KWAU, 2002; Cho, Y.S., personal communication, 2003). Furthermore, increasingly strained political relationships between the U.S. and Republic of Korea suggest an opportunity for constructive changes in the SOFA. The acquittal of U.S. servicemen who allegedly ran over two school girls with their tank led to massive public outrage against crimes committed by the U.S. military. Combined with recent nuclear threats from North Korea, the U.S. government agreed to set up a task force to revise the current SOFA conditions, including ways to strengthen South Korea’s right to investigate crimes committed by U.S. soldiers (Korea Now staff, 2002). Also, in the U.S., the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act is providing new tools and definitions to fight the trafficking of women. The annual Trafficking in Persons report with its ranking of countries’ compliance to minimum standards for combating trafficking is putting countries 18 on notice that they are failing in their response to fight the trafficking of women. In 2001, South Korea was ranked on tier 3, the lowest. As a result, the government began to take steps to bring itself into compliance, resulting in its rank being raised to tier 2 in 2002. More media stories and research are exposing the traffickers and the harm to victims. Media exposés in South Korea have generated investigations by the U.S. Congress. The combination of these pressures is creating an increase in arrests of traffickers in South Korea (“Prosecution combats brothels,” 2002). 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