S-Space Graduate School of International Studies (국제대학원) Institute for Japanese Studies(일본연구소) Seoul Journal of Japanese Studies (SJJS) Seoul Journal of Japanese Studies vol.7 no.1(2021)
Examining the Significance of the Movements to Document Minority Histories and “Comfort Women” for the Japanese Military in Okinawa
- Lim, Kyounghwa
- Issue Date
- Seoul Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol.7 No.1, pp. 167-196
- Pae Pong-gi; Okinawa; “comfort women” for the Japanese military; factfinding mission for the forcible recruitment of Koreans; movement to document firsthand experiences of the Battle of Okinawa; mutual reference
- In 1975 the first testimony from a “comfort woman” survivor came to light in Okinawa. This article focuses on the social context that enabled Pae Pong-gi, a surviving “comfort woman” and victim of the Japanese military in Okinawa, to provide this testimony. A fact-finding investigation regarding the forcible taking of Koreans to Okinawa commenced in 1972 following the reversion of Okinawa to Japan. Relatedly, the movement to document firsthand experiences of the Battle of Okinawa had been underway since the late 1960s. Through this movement, Okinawa residents began to resist existing official accounts of the war, which adhered to the perspectives of the military and the state. These two concerns coalesced through the 1972 Korea-Japan Joint Fact-Finding Mission to uncover the truth about the forcible recruitment of Koreans relative to the Battle of Okinawa. Building on the achievements of the movement to document experiences of the Battle of Okinawa, this organization successfully recovered and documented Okinawans’ forgotten memories of the Korean “military laborers” and “comfort women.” This effort by ordinary Okinawans to expose the horrors of the state’s wartime actions led to sympathy for the fact-finding activities regarding the forcible recruitment of Koreans. Furthermore, by coming to perceive Koreans as another victim of the Battle of Okinawa, Okinawans were able to relativize their own victimization and begin to document the history of their own responsibilities during the war. This qualitative transformation in the movement to record the experiences of the Battle of Okinawa provided the social context in which Pae Pong-gi revealed her testimony.