While Japanese military sexual slavery spanned much of East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific, scholarship on this issue has long been compartmentalized along national lines, holding back the development of a trans-Asian perspective that illuminates the connections between oppression and victimhood across national boundaries. This transnational and interdisciplinary panel brings together four presentations that examine the complex meanings and legacies of Japanese military sexual slavery negotiated across Asia. In doing so, this panel introduces new methodologies, concepts, and theories from countries that have been marginalized within studies on Japanese military sexual slavery.
This panel begins with Eika Tai’s analysis of the debate on historical consciousness related to Japanese military sexual slavery that emerged in Japan’s public discourse since the 1990s, proposing a new approach to understanding survivors’ historical memories. Next, focusing on archival findings on the recruitment of Vietnamese "comfort women" in French Indochina, Royce Novak proposes a methodology for future scholars who wish to delve into this unresearched topic. Huei-yao Yao’s comparison of military brothels operated by the Japanese and the Kuomintang, which reveals the continuity from World War II to the Cold War in terms of militant masculinity. Lastly, Lin Li investigates Chinese museums dedicated to Japanese military sexual slavery to understand how the experience of war and trauma is reformulated for public audiences through the lens of gender and sexuality. Together, these four presentations bring new perspectives into the relationship between wartime sexual violence, historical memory, and (trans)national politics.
Paper Presenter: Huei-yao Yao – National Taiwan Normal University
Paper Presenter: Royce Novak – University of Wisconsin-Madison
Paper Presenter: Lin Li – Clayman Institute for Gender Research, Stanford University
Paper Presenter: Eika Tai – North Carolina State University