Donate Menu

The Comfort Women Controversy - Lessons from Taiwan

April 15, 2018
Volume 16 | Issue 8 | Number 5
Article ID 5137


Taiwan was surrendered to Imperial Japan by China’s Qing dynasty in 1895, fifteen years prior to Japan’s annexation of Korea. Like Korea, Taiwan’s women and girls were subsequently conscripted into Japan’s military “comfort women” (ianfu) system. The author notes significant differences between the treatment of the women in the two colonies and in the remembrance of the comfort woman systems. In Korea, dozens of comfort women statues and memorials commemorate the system’s victims 1 while not one such statue exists in Taiwan. In December 2016, eighteen years after Korea opened its first of two comfort women museums, the Ama (Grandmother) Museum was opened in Taipei. While the museum in Taipei chronicles the Taiwanese comfort women’s plight, its message represents more than an indictment of Japan or a pursuit of redress for the system’s victims. The museum and its sponsors find ways to apply the lessons of this tragedy to the ongoing challenges of human trafficking and domestic violence.

The Taiwanese Comfort Women System—Recruitment and Operations

In February 1992, Ms. Itoh Hideko, a Japanese Diet member, released three telegrams that had been uncovered in the Japan Defense Agency archives. The telegrams confirm that on March 12, 1942 Japan’s military commander in Taiwan requested the Imperial Army command in Tokyo to provide shipping permits to allow fifty comfort women to travel from Taiwan to Borneo. These women were conscripted “at the behest of the Southern Region Headquarters.”2 The documentation provided by Itoh confirmed “beyond doubt that during World War II, Taiwanese women were sent to the frontlines as sexual slaves for the Japanese Military.”3

Following this revelation, Academia Sinica, Taiwan’s principal academic and scientific research center was charged to assist in gathering documentation about the comfort women inside Taiwan. Unfortunately, most documents had been destroyed prior to Japan’s surrender of Taiwan.4 Dr. Chu Te-lan, Research Fellow of Academia Sinica’s Research Center for Humanities and Social Science, oversaw and interviewed most of the Taiwanese who came forward and identified themselves as Imperial Army comfort women. The women shared their traumatic experiences with her. They provided descriptions of the system and its mode of operation.

Dr. Chu Te-lan in interview with author. Photo by Thomas Ward.

Based on Chu’s interviews as well as other research, it was determined that approximately 1,000 to 2,000 Taiwanese women joined the comfort women system, far less than the many tens of thousands of Korean women who entered the system. Dr. Chu estimates the total number of Taiwanese women conscripted at 1,000.5 The Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation, the key driver in the creation of the Ama (“grandmother” in Taiwan’s Hokkien Language, the same as “Halmeoni” in Korean) Museum, sets the number at around 2,0006 and explains its count as follows:

Based on interviews of victims, estimates of fellow comfort women on the transporting ship, memories of Taiwanese soldiers drafted into the Japanese armed forces, and declassified documents, Taiwanese victims of sexual slavery under the Japanese military numbered 2,000 or more.7

Taiwan’s victims, like many from Korea, were initially reticent about identifying themselves in public: “veiled behind black drapes, they accused the Japanese government, reclaiming their dignity, seeking an apology and reparations.”8

Taiwanese comfort women came from two distinct populations: aboriginal Taiwanese and women of Han Chinese origin. Out of the 59 Taiwanese women who came forward, 12 were aboriginals. The aboriginal women served Japanese military personnel deployed in the mountainous region of Taiwan. With one exception, they did not travel overseas.”9 Japan had enacted its wartime General National Mobilization Law for all of its citizens, including Taiwanese and Koreans, and this law was cited as the rationale for calling the aboriginal women to serve.10 The Japanese military first recruited these women to do housecleaning and laundry for the soldiers. While the women started with these tasks, they were soon coerced into providing sex for soldiers in the camps. According to Tanaka, they were initiated to this new role through gang-rape and from that point they were forced to serve as comfort women in their evening hours. Tanaka maintains that such practices became especially prevalent in 1944, one year prior to the end of the war.11 The recruitment and coercion methods used for aboriginal women more closely resembled those used against women in the Philippines12, China13 and the Dutch East Indies14 than those employed for most Korean and Han Chinese comfort women, which frequently held out promises of career training and respectable jobs.

In Taiwan, women of Han Chinese origin represented the principal target group of the Imperial Army. With few exceptions, these women came from low income families. Their parents typically worked as farmers, fishermen, laborers, or street vendors.15 For financial reasons, a number of these young women felt family pressure to join the Japanese war effort. In some cases, they were even sold into military service by their families.16 Some young women volunteered to join national mobilization efforts on their own because of their sense of filial duty to provide financial support to their impoverished families:

Based on historical documents, Taiwanese military “comfort women” were recruited by go-betweens or local officials. Such go-betweens might be male or female, from Taiwan, Japan or Korea. They used the excuse of recruiting for overseas nurses, cafeteria staff, or lot-drawing at local offices.17

Yoshiaki notes that in the case of Taiwan, more than half of the young women “rounded up” were minors.” Between the ages of 14 and 3018, when conscripted, Taiwanese women and girls rarely anticipated the fate that awaited them. Only three women interviewed by Chu affirmed that they understood and they had been directly sold by their families to local Taiwanese brothels and, from those brothels, were then dispatched overseas.19 Yoshimi cites the case of the 1st Infantry Regiment of Japan’s Taiwan army, deployed in Guangdong Province, which dispatched the wife of the operator of its comfort station to Taiwan. She forced six girls, five of whom were under-aged to return with her to Guangdong. Two of the girls were only fourteen.20 Yoshimi argues that, in the case of Taiwan, the Japanese cabinet was directly implicated in the establishment and implementation of the comfort station system. Japan’s Minister of Overseas Affairs, known as the Home Minister after 1942, was clearly authorized “to exercise the emperor’s command authority” in Taiwan, which meant that “the buck stopped” with him. No documentation exists to establish that the Home Minister had such pervasive, direct oversight in the case of Korea.”21

In Korea, most new recruits went immediately to overseas Japanese military installations;22 however, that was not necessarily the case for Taiwan. By 1940 Taiwan had set up brothels throughout the island to service Japanese males. Once the Pacific War began, those brothels were converted into comfort stations. Taiwanese comfort women often first disappeared into Taiwan’s extant domestic network of comfort stations and from there they were discreetly dispatched to other venues.23

Although Chu Te-lan found almost no written records of the comfort woman system in Taiwan,24 she determined through her interviews that Taiwanese women served either in official military-controlled comfort stations or in brothels that had a civilian façade but, were, in fact, military-controlled. In their transit to overseas comfort stations,25 Taiwanese women traveled under the surveillance of Japanese military or sometimes civilians.26 In some cases, however, Taiwanese rather than Japanese intermediaries27 accompanied them during their transit.

Taiwan’s comfort women system was concentrated in the southern part of the Island.28 Taiwanese women were shipped overseas from Taiwan’s southern port of Kaohsiung.29 Taiwanese comfort women were dispatched to China’s Hainan Island, the Philippines, the Chinese mainland, the Dutch East Indies, and Burma.30 Taiwanese comfort women were also dispatched to Singapore, Okinawa and Timor.31 One Taiwanese comfort women traveled as far as Andaman Island, India.32

Conflicting views exist on the kinds of clientele that the Taiwanese comfort women served. Korean woman serviced the regular non-commissioned soldiers. Japanese women exclusively served Japan’s military officers’33 however, military officers also had sexual relations with Korean women, particularly with the youngest and most innocent women.34 According to some Japanese soldiers, the Taiwanese women primarily serviced Japanese civilians,35 a less volatile clientele than those entering or returning from life-threatening combat. Taiwanese women speak of having sexual relations on a daily basis with twenty3637 rather than with thirty men, the number regularly cited for Korean comfort women38 and even some Japanese comfort women.39 However, Chu Te-lan disputes the view that the Taiwanese primarily served Japanese civilians. She maintains that Taiwanese comfort women interacted with the same clientele as the Koreans and enjoyed no special status or treatment.40

Taiwanese Memories

Only two of Taiwan’s comfort women remain alive. However, many were able to share their experience before dying. One Taiwanese comfort women described how she was unexpectedly confronted on the first day at her overseas destination by the harsh reprimands of a Japanese matron who coolly ordered the new arrivals: “once you are here, you’d better listen and do what I say.” The new Taiwanese arrival was so traumatized that on three occasions she attempted to take her life “by drinking antiseptic.” 41 Another Taiwanese woman describes the three brutal years that she endured with the Japanese military:

I was forced to receive over twenty soldiers every day, soldiers during the day and officers at night. Some Japanese soldiers were drunk and beat us. Filled with grief and hate, I cried every night. I contracted malaria in Indonesia, had appendicitis, and my right eye was blinded by shrapnel. My abdomen was injured, my womb removed. It was a living hell.”42

Another Taiwanese comfort woman lamented, I used to be a clean girl but I was trashed by the Japanese.” Filled with guilt, she started to visit a temple seeking “mercy from the Goddess of Mercy.” Emphatic that she was “forced” and clear that the guilt resides with those who took advantage of her, she nevertheless sought forgiveness: “I repent, eat vegetarian food, recite sutras, listen to sermons, and volunteer at the temple,” which allowed her to feel “better afterwards.”43

Taiwanese comfort women in transport. Still from "A Secret Buried for 50 Years – A Story of Taiwanese 'Comfort Women,' " a documentary film distributed by TWRF.

When the woman, who tried to kill herself three times by drinking alcohol returned home after the war, her uncle admonished her, “our family can’t have whores.” When she finally married, she was unable to bear children, and her mother-in-law forced her to divorce her husband. Following her divorce, she made her living by selling coconuts, adding that she often drank “alone, cup after cup, to forget about my pain.”44

Dr. Chu’s interviews also included the 12 Taiwanese aboriginal women who had been conscripted into the comfort women system. One of them named Nobuko was only fourteen when she and four other young girls were recruited to do chores at one of the Japanese military camps in the aboriginal region. A Japanese police officer named Tsubaki summoned them to one of the military barracks in the aboriginal region. The girls were originally paid until one day, a military officer informed them that the terms of engagement had changed. She and the other four girls were told to offer their bodies for the pleasure of the 500 soldiers of the Imperial Army. In July 1945, she became pregnant but soon after suffered a miscarriage. She only ended her time at the camp when the war ended.

Chu also cites the tragic case of an aboriginal woman who went by the name of Masako. Masako was asked to come to Hong Kong where her husband, an aboriginal and a Japanese loyalist, was charged with the oversight of a Japanese military arsenal. On her arrival in Hong Kong, she was dispatched to a military camp in Kowloon. Masako performed chores and was also forced to serve as a sex worker. She worked 13 hours a day and was only sent back to Taiwan because she became pregnant.45

Reasons behind Taiwan’s More Reticent Criticism of Japan

One distinguishing factor between Taiwan’s and Korea’s response to the comfort women issue stems from the vast difference in the estimated numbers of Taiwanese versus Korean women who were conscripted into the system. Taiwan speaks of approximately 2,000 while Koreans, by some estimates, comprised 80% or more of the estimated 50,000 to 200,000 total number of Japanese military comfort women.46

Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation (TWRF) and the Ama Museum

In 1992 following the uncovering of the telegrams confirming that Taiwanese women numbered among the victims of Japan’s comfort women system, Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan established a Taiwanese Comfort Women Investigation Committee. The committee’s deliberations led to the designation of the Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation (TWRF), an existing local NGO, as the “focal point for efforts to solve the comfort women issue in Taiwan.” The committee assigned it responsibility to “1. identify former comfort women; 2. handle information on individuals; and 3. act as an agent in transmitting to them government subsidies for their living expenses.”47

Unlike its Korean counterpart, the Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan (the Korean Council), TWRF maintains a broader institutional mandate than the comfort women issue. Prior to being chosen by the Taiwan legislative Yuan to oversee comfort women matters in Taiwan, TWRF, which was founded in 1987, had focused on addressing childhood prostitution and assisting juvenile victims of human trafficking. When it assumed this new responsibility in 1992, TWRF made the decision to continue its work on human trafficking and domestic violence and framed the lessons of the comfort women in a way that would inform its work in other areas. TWRF currently defines its foci as follows:

TWRF is divided into four mission groups to address the issues concerning victims of human trafficking, Japanese Military Sexual Slaves (sometimes knows [sic] as comfort women-women forced to prostitution by the Japanese military during WWII), and human trafficking (women smuggled to Taiwan to work in the sex industry), victims of domestic violence, and children who witness domestic violence.48

Services that TWRF provides to victims of trafficking and domestic violence include a hotline for victims as well as legal support, resettlement assistance, medical aid, education, and career counseling.49

Through a documentary history of Taiwan’s comfort women that TWRF released in 2005 entitled Silent Scars: History of Sexual Slavery by the Japanese Military—A Pictorial Book (2005)50, TWRF strongly criticized Japan at that time for failing to accept responsibility for the comfort women system:

When will Japan bear its responsibility as Germany had done? We demand that Japan, forever flaunting the image of a civilized nation, honestly accept its responsibility and act expeditiously to win back trust and respect from the international community.51

In 1995, when Japan’s Asian Women’s Fund (AWF) announced a ¥2 million (approximately US$18,000) “atonement” payment to every surviving comfort women, TWRF joined the Korean Council in opposing the fund. AWF, while presented as privately funded, was a Japanese government-supported initiative to address the wrongs committed under the comfort women system. It was an attempt to avoid official acceptance of responsibility for Japan’s wartime criminal behavior. The Fund, nevertheless, constituted a quasi-official acknowledgement of Japan’s culpability, given the appointment of former Japanese Prime Minister Murayama Tomiichi as its president,52 and the creation of a digital museum that chronicled the system’s history and its crimes.53 However, because neither the admission of responsibility nor the proposed payments were from official government sources, TWRF opposed acceptance of the AWF package and reported that “not a single Taiwanese victim accepted the ‘compensation’ from the Asian Women’s Fund.” Asian Women’s Fund records nevertheless confirm that some Taiwanese women did accept the AWF funding,54 as did some Koreans.55 For its part, the Taiwan government, like Korea, provided support to surviving comfort women who did not accept AWF funding. The Taiwanese government offered a payment equivalent to AWF’s to each surviving Taiwanese comfort woman.56 It also provides a monthly subsidy of NT$15,000 (approximately US$550) to each survivor of whom only two now remain.57 Taiwan’s leadership described these funds as an “advance” to the women, anticipating that they would eventually be returned by the Japanese government once a final settlement was reached.58 Private Taiwanese sources also provided additional support to the victims.59

Immediately after the December 28, 2015 settlement between the governments of Korea and Japan, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou called upon Japan to provide relief to Taiwan’s comfort women through a similar official apology and compensation package; however, Japan did not offer an official response to Ma,60 whose KMT party suffered a landslide defeat in local government elections in December 2014 and, a second trouncing in the January 2016 legislative and presidential elections.

TWRF Today and the Ama Museum

Today TWRF has new, younger leadership who recognize that efforts to memorialize and seek justice for Taiwan’s comfort women require more finesse than frontal assaults on Japan. TWRF’s young Executive Director Kang Shu-hua holds a Masters in Social Work from Columbia University. In an October 2016 meeting that Academia Sinica’s Institute of Modern History Resident Senior Scholar Dr. Shiu Wen-tang and I met with TWRF Executive Director Kang and members of her staff.61 She explained to us that the comfort women issue in Taiwan remains politically sensitive. When we inquired about whether TWRF might set up a comfort women statue near its new Ama Museum, one TWRF staff member confided that overseas groups had offered to fund such a statue but that TWRF had declined to accept. TWRF representatives expressed concern that the erection of such a statue would provoke a backlash, including the possible defacing of the statue by pro-Japan Taiwanese groups.62 In October 2015, reflecting the prevalent mood towards Japan, KMT party leader and then incumbent President of Taiwan, Ma Ying-jeou, called upon citizens of Taiwan to first remember the good that Japan had done for Taiwan “while not forgetting the bad.”63 TWRF obviously does not forget “the bad.”

Kang Shu-hua, Executive Director of Taipei's Women Rescue Foundation (TWRF). Photo by Zhang Yongtai, VOAChinese.

TWRF committed itself to establishing a site to commemorate Taiwan’s comfort women as early as 2004.64 The organization needed to address many obstacles to get to December 2016 when the museum finally opened. The Museum consists of two main exhibition halls. The first hall displays photos and images that convey information about the comfort station system that Japan created, exposing its depravity and the “trauma faced by survivors” until today.65 In the second hall, the survivors are “cast not as the powerless victims of a monumental atrocity” but as leading figures in “protest marches” and in “initiating legal proceedings in Japan.”66 Kang explains: “These victims want their reputation and dignity to be restored. That can only arise from the Japanese government adopting a truly reflective attitude on this topic.”67

Entry Way to Ama Museum in Taipei. Photo by Taiwan Focus.

The TWRF website depicts the full lives of the comfort women, both their suffering and their triumphs. It includes their participation in a variety of cultural activities involving art, drama therapy68, and dance.69 TWRF provided such activities, Kang observed, to help the former comfort women to gain the confidence to “stand up for themselves and find their voice.” 70 The women’s initial reservations in speaking out have dissipated due to the support that they found in each other and in TWRF. Kang compares Taiwan’s comfort women and the victims of sexual and domestic violence that TWRF works to support: “A lot of people are just like these Ama in that they don’t want society to know what happened to them.” She explains that “through the courage and strength” shown by the Ama, TWRF “can encourage others to speak up.”71 Dr. Peng Jen-yu of Academia Sinica notes that TWRF’s programs and activities enabled Taiwan’s surviving comfort women to transition and progress from victim, to survivor, to witness.72

The Ama Museum’s exhibits “humanize the survivors and draw attention to their lifetime of resilience.”73 Kang feels that “this is one way in which our museum is different from other comfort women museums.”74 The post-1992 resilience of Taiwan’s comfort women offers hope for “today’s victims of domestic abuse and the victims of human trafficking as well as women who suffer other human rights violations.”75

The Ama Museum invites visitors to reflect on what the comfort women have “to do with their lives and the world we are living in today.”76 That invitation to reflect could have applications for supporters of the comfort women cause beyond Taiwan.

TWRF Executive Director Kang Shu-hua accompanies Chen Lien-hua, one of Taiwan's comfort system survivors, in a tour of the Ama Museum. Photo by Taiwan Focus.

Although TWRF appears to have done better than its Korean and Japanese counterparts in applying the lessons of the past to ongoing misogynistic attitudes and practices, Taipei’s Ama Museum faces serious financial problems. Two months before the museum’s opening, TWRF announced that it was still US$317,158 short of the $615,00077 needed for the first year of operations.78 TWRF has long recognized that the Ama Museum’s funding challenges will likely remain a “heavy burden.”79 Especially in Taiwan’s current political climate, criticisms of measures taken by Japan during the colonial period are often viewed as an expression of “political affinity toward or allegiance with mainland China,’ which does not sit well with most Taiwanese due to the PRC’s insistence “that Taiwan is part of China and must be formally reunified with the mainland someday.”80Alexander Huang, a strategic studies professor at Tamkang University in Taipei, observes that most Taiwanese pay little attention to the comfort women issue. According to Huang, "some people probably consider that it would irritate the Taiwan-Japan relationship."81 Recognizing the politics surrounding this issue, one of the key Ama supporters in Taiwan confided to me that she did not attend the museum’s ribbon cutting ceremony, not wishing to be used by either the KMT or the DPP.82

The current Taiwanese government under President Tsai Ing-wen and TWRF leadership can, nevertheless, both be expected to navigate the comfort women issue with deference to Japan. As Ralph Jennings explained in an article in the Los Angeles Times in March 2016, “Taiwan's more amiable and complex relationship with Japan sets it apart from neighbors such as mainland China and South Korea, where hostility toward Tokyo still runs high seven decades after the war ended.” He adds that in Taiwan “there is little palpable resentment among the island's 23 million residents toward their former colonizer.” 83

Indeed, the Ama Museum’s ongoing financial challenges may represent a metaphor of the trials that Taiwan faces in its search for moral support and sympathetic ties with wavering allies in the Pacific. Statements of support for Taiwan by Japan’s Prime Minister Abe, including his April 2013 decision to support the sharing of fishing rights with Taiwan around the disputed Senkaku Islands84 and his deliberate reference to Taiwan in his April 2015 speech to a Joint Session of the United States Congress,85 afford Taiwan a needed morale boost and political leverage. While a critical mass of Taiwanese still harbor grievances towards Japan because of the colonial past, the vast majority of Taiwanese have chosen not to prioritize those sentiments.86

Related Articles

Shirana Masakazu an Ando Kyoko, “The Comfort Women were Prostitutes”: Repercussions of remarks by the Japanese Consul General in Atlanta

Alexis Dudden, Korean Americans Enter the Historical Memory Wars on Behalf of the Comfort Women

Hiro Saito, The History Problem: The Politics of War Commemoration in East Asia

Yang Chin Ja, Are You Listening to the Voices of the Victims? My Critique of Park Yuha’s Comfort Women of the Empire

Kitahara Minori and Kim Puja, The Flawed Japan-ROK Attempt to Resolve the Controversy Over Wartime Sexual Slavery and the Case of Park Yuha

Maeda Akira, The South Korean Controversy Over the Comfort Women, Justice and Academic Freedom: The Case of Park Yuha

Gavan McCormack, Striving for “Normalization” – Korea-Japan Civic Cooperation and the Attempt to Resolve the “Comfort Women” problem

Katharine McGregor, Transnational and Japanese Activism on Behalf of Indonesian and Dutch Victims of Enforced Military Prostitution During World War II

Tessa Morris-Suzuki, You Don't Want to Know About the Girls? The “Comfort Women”, the Japanese Military and Allied Forces in the Asia-Pacific War

Tessa Morris-Suzuki, Addressing Japan’s “Comfort Women” Issue From an Academic Standpoint

Okano Yayo, Toward Resolution of the Comfort Women Issue—The 1000th Wednesday Protest in Seoul and Japanese Intransigence

Jonson N.Porteux, Reactive Nationalism and its Effect on South Korea’s Public Policy and Foreign Affairs

Jordan Sand, A Year of Memory Politics in East Asia: Looking Back on the “Open Letter in Support of Historians in Japan”

Totsuka Etsuro, Proposals for Japan and the ROK to Resolve the “Comfort Women” Issue: Creating trust and peace in light of international law

Wada Haruki, The Comfort Women, the Asian Women’s Fund and the Digital Museum



Choe Sang-hun, “’Comfort Woman’ Statue reinstated near Japan Consulate in South Korea,” New York Times, December 30, 2016, accessed December 30, 2016.


Graceia Lai, Hui-lng Wu, Ju-fen Yu, Trans. Shing-mei Ma, Silent Scars: History of Sexual Slavery by the Japanese Military—A Pictorial Book, (Taipei: Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation, 2005), 74.

3 Ibid., 73-74.

Chu Te-lan 朱徳蘭, ”Taiwan (Ianfu) Mondai” 台湾「慰安婦」問題 [The Question of “Comfort Women” in Taiwan], Rekishigaku Kenkyu歴史学研究 No. 849 (2009,: 20-31.

5 Interview with Dr. Chu Te-lan on October 18, 2016.
6 In the October 24 interview that Dr. Shiu Wen-tang and I conducted with Ms. Kang, she advanced the number 2,000.
7 Ibid., 73-74.
8 Ibid., 78.
9 Graceia Lai, 66.

Women made to become Comfort Women—Taiwan,” Digital Museum—The Comfort Women Issue and the Asian Women’s Fund, accessed August 10, 2017.


Yuki Tanaka, Japan’s Comfort Women: Sexual Slavery and Prostitution during World War II and the US Occupation, (New York; Routledge, 2010), 44.


Maria Rosa Henson, Comfort Woman—A Filipina’s Story of Prostitution and Slavery under the Japanese Military, (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1999), 35-36.

13 Peipei Qiu, Chinese Comfort Women, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), xiii.

Statement of Jan Ruff O’herne, US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment Hearing on Protecting the Human Rights of “Comfort Women,” February 15, 2007, accessed June 4, 2016. See here.

15 Graceia Lai, 76.

Ralph Jennings, “Taiwan's complex relationship with Japan affects recognition of 'comfort women,” Los Angeles Times, March 30, 2016, accessed March 31, 2016.

17 Graceia Lai, 76.
18 Ibid., 74.

Chu Te-lan, 朱徳蘭, ”Taiwan (Ianfu) Mondai” 台湾「慰安婦」問題 [The Question of “Comfort Women” in Taiwan], Rekishigaku Kenkyu歴史学研究No.849 (2009): 20-31


Yoshimi Yoshiaki, Comfort Women—Sexual Slavery in the Japanese Military during World War II, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995, 65.

21 Ibid.
22 Ed. Keith Howard, True Stories of the Korean Comfort Women, (London: Cassell, 1995), 32-192.

Chu Te-lan, 朱徳蘭, ”Taiwan (Ianfu) Mondai” 台湾「慰安婦」問題 [The Question of “Comfort Women” in Taiwan], Rekishigaku Kenkyu歴史学研究No.849 (2009): 20-31

24 Ibid.
25 Ibid.
26 Graceia Lai, 87,
27 Ibid.

Chu Te-lan 朱徳蘭, ”Taiwan (Ianfu) Mondai” 台湾「慰安婦」問題 [The Question of “Comfort Women” in Taiwan], Rekishigaku Kenkyu歴史学研究No.849 (2009): 20-31

29 Graceia Lai, 87, 169.

Women made to become Comfort Women—Taiwan,” Digital Museum—The Comfort Women Issue and the Asian Women’s Fund, accessed August 10, 2017.


Yoshimi Yoshiaki, Comfort Women—Sexual Slavery in the Japanese Military during World War II, 117.

32 Graceia Lai, 169.
33 Yuki Tanaka, 31.
34 Ibid., 51.
35 Ed. Keith Howard, True Stories of the Korean Comfort Women, (London: Cassell, 1995), 17.
36 Graceia Lai, 87.

Ralph Jennings, “Taiwan's complex relationship with Japan affects recognition of 'comfort women,” Los Angeles Times, March 30, 2016, accessed March 31, 2016.


See, for example, Radhika Sanghani, “The horrific story of Korea's 'comfort women' - forced to be sex slaves during World War Two,” Daily Telegraph, December 29, 2015, accessed January 22, 2017.


Morita Seiya trans. Caroline Norma, “Overcoming Double Erasure: Japanese Comfort Women, Nationalism and Human Trafficking", Asia Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, Vol. 15, Issue 21, No. 3, accessed November 25, 2017.

40 Chu Te-lan interview of October 18, 2016.
41 Ibid., 169.
42 Graceia Lai, 87.
43 Ibid., 89.
44 Ibid., 169.

朱德蘭(2005). "太平洋戰爭與臺灣原住民“慰安婦”(1941-1945)。近代中國,(volume 163), 53-70, accessed November 1, 2016.


Military Sexual Slavery During World War II: The "Comfort Women," Columbia Law School, Center for Korean Legal Studies, accessed January 21, 2018.


Projects by Country or Region-Taiwan,” Digital Museum—The Comfort Women Issue and the Asian Women’s Fund, accessed August 10, 2017.


About TWRF,” Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation, accessed June 17, 2017.

49 Ibid.
50 Graceia Lai, 193.
51 Ibid., 29.

Closing of the Asian Women’s Fund,” Digital Museum—The Comfort Women Issue and the Asian Women’s Fund, accessed August 10, 2017.


Wada Haruki translated and introduced by Gavan McCormack, “The Comfort Women, the Asian Women’s Fund and the Digital Museum,” Asia Pacific Journal, Volume 6, Issue 2, February 1, 2008.


Projects by Country or Region-Taiwan,” Digital Museum—The Comfort Women Issue and the Asian Women’s Fund, accessed August 10, 2017.


Projects by Country or Region-Korea,” Digital Museum—The Comfort Women Issue and the Asian Women’s Fund, accessed August 10, 2017.

56 Graceia Lai, 102.
57 Ibid., 102.

Comfort Women tell Japan to extend Compensation,” BBC News, December 29, 2015, accessed August 1, 2016. 

59 Graceia Lai, 102.

Mark Rivett Carnac, “Taiwan urges Japan to apologize for 'Comfort Women'” after South Korean Deal, Time, December 29, 2015, accessed July 30, 2016.

61 October 24 meeting with Ms. Shu-hua Kang in the TWRF offices.
62 Ibid.

Taiwan President says should remember good things Japan did,” Reuters, October 25, 2017, accessed April 15, 2017.


[Press Release] “Opening Ceremony—Royal Family Peace and Women’s Human Rights Museum,” Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation, December 12, 2016, accessed on August 14, 2017.


Keith Menconi, “Lives of Resilience: Re-Imagining Taiwan’s Comfort Women,” The News Lens, April 21, 2017, accessed July 30, 2017.

66 Ibid.
67 Ibid.

Hung, Su-chen, Liuh, Shiu-ya, Huang, Tsung Chain, “Exploring Emotional Trauma Recovery Process of the Former Taiwanese Comfort Women in a Drama Therapy Group,” (Taiwan, unpublished, 2009).


Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation, see here and here. Accessed August 14, 2017.


Keith Menconi, see here.

71 Ibid.

Jen-Yu Peng, "Private Trauma in Public – Using Testimony Narrative of Taiwanese 'Comfort Woman' to be a Scene of Healing," Cultural Studies Journal, no.14 (2012).

73 Ibid.
74 Ibid.
75 Interview with Kang Shu-hua, October 24, 2016.
76 Ibid.

Ralph Jennings, “Taiwan's complex relationship with Japan affects recognition of 'comfort women,” Los Angeles Times, March 30, 2016, accessed March 31, 2016.


Nation’s ‘Comfort Women’ Museum in Need of Funds,” Taipei Times, October 21, 2016, accessed October 22, 2016. 

79 Ibid.

Ralph Jennings, “Taiwan's complex relationship with Japan affects recognition of 'comfort women.” Los Angeles Times, March 30, 2016.

81 Ibid.
82 Anonymous, Interview of October 18, 2018.

Ralph Jennings, “Taiwan's complex relationship with Japan affects recognition of 'comfort women,'” Los Angeles Times, March 30, 2016, accessed March 31, 2016.


Yabuki Susumu and Mark Selden, "The Origins of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Dispute between China, Taiwan and Japan," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 2, No. 3, January 13, 2014.


Shinzo Abe, “’Towards an Alliance of Hope’—Address to a Joint Meeting of the U.S. Congress,” April 29, 2015, accessed November 10, 2016.


Michal Thim and Misato Masuoka, “The Odd Couple: Japan & Taiwan’s Unlikely Friendship.”

Thomas J. Ward

Thomas J. Ward is Dean of the University of Bridgeport’s College of Public and International Affairs. A former Fulbright scholar, Ward has also been a Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs Fellow as well as a visiting scholar in the People’s Republic of China. In 2016 Ward was a visiting research scholar at Academia Sinica in Taipei where he researched Taiwanese perspectives on the comfort women issue. In 2016 with his colleague William Lay he co-authored “The Comfort Women Controversy: Not Over Yet,” which appeared in East Asia. They are currently completing a book that expands on this topic. Jonathan Stupple assisted in the editing of the text. Dr. Ward would like to express his sincere appreciation to Alexis Dudden for the guidance and feedback that she provided in the development of this article. Ward can be reached at