<House of Sharing>Our Position on Harvard Professor John Mark Ramseyer’s Remarks Concerning the “Comfort Women”

 

February 8, 2021

For Immediate Release


 

Our Position on Harvard Professor John Mark Ramseyer’s Remarks Concerning the “Comfort Women”

 

 


1. Recently, a Harvard professor named John Mark Ramseyer described the “Comfort Women” as “prostitutes.” He argued that an official contract was signed between the brothel owners and the women, making the latter licensed prostitutes. He also claimed that there were very few women who were coerced into “sexual slavery,” so the responsibility regarding the issue of the “Comfort Women” does not fall to the Japanese military and the Japanese government, but falls to the Korean brokers and the brothel owners.

 


 

2. The United Nations published two reports, the Radhika Coomaraswamy Report (1996) and the Gay McDougall Report (1998) recognizing victims of the forced mobilization and sexual slavery system operated by the Japanese imperialist military. In those reports, the UN recommendations are as follows:

-      First, Japan should recognize the “Comfort Women” system was a violation of international law and take legal responsibility accordingly.

-      Second, Japan should pay compensation to the victims of Japanese military sexual slavery individually, in accordance with the principles presented by the reports.

-      Third, Japan should disclose documents and materials regarding the comfort stations and the system.

-      Fourth, Japan should apologize publicly and in writing to the victims individually.

-      Fifth, Japan should raise awareness of these historical facts through school education reformation.

-      Finally, Japan should identify and prosecute the perpetrators involved in the recruitment of women and the institutionalization of comfort stations.

 

 

3. Professor Ramseyer is sponsored by Mitsubishi, a war criminal company that co-mobilized the Korean forced laborers during the Japanese occupation of Korea. He was awarded the Order of Commander of Japan by the Japanese government in 2018. These two facts prove

 

 

that Professor Ramseyer embraces strong pro-Japan, right-wing tendencies. Quoting Professor Ramseyer’s research thesis, the Sankei, a Japanese right-wing nationalist newspaper, is spreading the idea that the “Comfort Women” were not sex slaves, but licensed prostitutes under the official prostitution licensing system at the time.

 

 

4. Professor Ramseyer’s theory stating that the licensed prostitution system spread from Japan to the Korean Peninsula and even to the battlefield is highly questionable and illogical. He is ignoring other meaningful historical materials which can prove various historical facts recognized by the international community. In the meantime, he is writing papers using evidence that only supports the Japanese government's position. The fact that Professor Ramseyer’s arguments ignore the shared and recognized opinions of the international community, including that of the United Nations, and the fact he has never studied the history of “Comfort Women,” make his argument unconvincing.

 

 

5. Harvard and other U.S. college students are issuing statements criticizing Professor Ramseyer's claims. House of Sharing and the Museum of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan Military support the students’ actions of conscience. We express our wish to keep working with them to spread the issue of “Comfort Women” internationally and build a consensus. Once again, we express our respect and solidarity with the students' conscientious actions. Thank you.

 

House of Sharing & the Museum of Sexual Slavery by the Japanese Military

KIM Daewol, WON Jongseon, HEO Jeong-ah, YAJIMA Tsukasa, JEON Soonnam,

 JO Seonghyeon, LEE Woogyeong, RYU Eungyeong, GO Yeji