UNITED STATES OFFICE OF WAR INFORMATION
Psychological Warfare Team
Attached to U.S.Army Forces India-Burma Theator
of War Interrogation
Report No. 49. Place interrogated : Ledo Stookade
Date Interrogated : Aug. 20 - Sept. 10, 1944
Date of Report : October 1, 1944
By : T/3 Alex Yorichi
Prisoners : 20 Korean Comfort Girls
Date of Capture : August 10, 1944
Date of Arrival : August 15, 1994
This report is based on the information obtained from the interrogation
of twenty Korean "comfort girls" and two Japanese civilians captured
around the tenth of August, 1944 in the mopping up operations after the
fall of Myitkyin a in Burma.
The report shows how the Japanese recruited these Korean "comfort
girls", the conditions under which they lived and worked, their
relations with and reaction to to the Japanese soldier, and their
understanding of the military situation.
A "comfort girl" is nothing more than a prostitute or "professional
camp follower" attached to the Japanese Army for the benefit of the
soldiers. The word "comfort girl" is peculiar to the Japanese. Other
reports show the "comfort girls" have been found wherever it was
necessary for the Japanese Army to fight. This report however deals
only with the Korean "comfort girls" recruited by the Japanese and
attached to their Army in Burma. The Japanese are reported to have
shipped some 703 of these girls to Burma in 1942.
Early in May of 1942 Japanese agents arrived in Korea for the purpose
of enlisting Korean girls for "comfort service" in newly conquered
Japanese territories in Southeast Asia. The nature of this "service"
was not specified but it was assumed to be work connected with visiting
the wounded in hospitals, rolling bandages, and generally making the
soldiers happy. The inducement used by these agents was plenty of
money, an opportunity to pay off the family debts, easy work, and the
prospect of a new life in a new land, Singapore. On the basis of these
false representaions many girls enlisted for overseas duty and were
rewared with an advance of a few hundred yen.
The majority of the girls were ignorant and uneducated, although a few
had been connected with "oldest profession on earth" before. The
contract they signed bound them to Army regulations and to war for the
"house master " for a period of from six monthes to a year depending on
the family debt for which they were advanced ...
Approximatedly 800 of these girls were recruited in this manner and
they landed with their Japanese "house master " at Rangoon around
August 20th, 1942. They came in groups of from eight to twenty-two.
From here they were distributed to various parts of Burma, usually to
fair sized towns near Japanese Army camps.
Eventually four of these units reached the Myitkyina. They were, Kyoei,
Kinsui, Bakushinro, and Momoya. The Kyoei house was called the
"Maruyama Club", but was changed when the girls reached Myitkyina as
Col.Maruyama, commander of the garrison at Myitkyina, objected to the
similarity to his name.
The interrogations show the average Korean "comfort girl" to be about
twenty five years old, uneducated, childish, and selfish. She is not
pretty either by Japanese of Caucasian standards. She is inclined to be
egotistical and likes to talk about herself. Her attitude in front of
strangers is quiet and demure, but she "knows the wiles of a woman."
She claims to dislike her "profession" and would rather not talk either
about it or her family. Because of the kind treatment she received as a
prisoner from American soldiers at Myitkyina and Ledo, she feels that
they are more emotional than Japanese soldiers. She is afraid of
Chinese and Indian troops.
LIVING AND WORKING CONDITIONS;
In Myitkyina the girls were usually quartered in a large two story
house(usually a school building) with a separate room for each girl.
There each girl lived, slept, and transacted business. In Myitkina
their food was prepared by and purchased from the "house master" as
they received no regular ration from the Japanese Army. They lived in
near-luxury in Burma in comparison to other places. This was especially
true of their second year in Burma. They lived well because their food
and material was not heavily rationed and they had plenty of money with
which to purchase desired articles. They were able to buy cloth, shoes,
cigarettes, and cosmotics to supplement the many gifts given to them by
soldiers who had received "comfort bags" from home.
While in Burma they amused themselves by participating in sports events
with both officers and men, and attended picnics, entertainments, and
social dinners. They had a phono-graph and in the towns they were
allowed to go shopping.
The conditions under which they transacted business were regulated by
the Army, and in congested areas regulations were strictly enforced.
The Army found it necessary in congested areas to install a system of
prices, priorities, and schedules for the various units operating in a
particular areas. According to interregations the average system was as
1. Soldiers 10 AM to 5 PM 1.50 yen 20 to 30 minutes
2. NGOs 5 PM to 9 PM 3.00 yen 30 to 40 minutes
3. Officers 9 PM to 12 PM 5.00 yen 30 to 40 minutes
These were average prices in Central Burma. Officers were allowed to
stay overnight for twenty yen. In Myitkyina Col. Maruyama slashed the
prices to almost one-half of the average price.
The soldiers often complained about congestion in the houses. In many
situasions they were not served and had to leave as the army was very
strict about overstaying . In order to overcome this problem the Army
set aside certain days for certain units. Usually two men from the unit
for the day were stationed at the house to identify soldiers. A roving
MP was also on hand to keep order. Following is the schedule used by
the "Kyoei" house for the various units of the 18th Division while at
Sunday ----- 18th Div. Hdqs. Staff
Monday ----- Cavalry
Thuesday ----- Engineers
Wednesday ----- Day off and weekly physical exam.
Thursday ----- Medios
Friday ----- Mountain artillery
Saturday ----- Transport
Officers were allowed to come seven nights a week. The girls complained
that even with the schedule congestion was so great that they could not
care for all guests, thus causing ill feeling among many of the
Soldiers would come to the house, pay the price and get tickets of
cardboard about two inches square with the prior on the left side and
the name of the house on the other side. Each soldier's identity or
rank was then established after which he "took his turn in line". The
girls were allowed the prerogative of refusing a customer. This was
often done if the person were too drunk.
PAY AND LIVING CONDITIONS;
The "house master" received fifty to sixty per cent of the girls' gross
earnigs depending on how much of a de bt each girl had incurred when
she signed her contract. This moant that in an average month a girl
would gross about fifteen hundred yen. She turned over seven hundred
and fifty to the "master". Many "masters" made life very difficult for
the girls by charging them high prices for food and other articles.
In the latter part of 1943 the Army issued orders that certain girls
who had paid their debt could return home. Some of the girls were thus
allowed to return to Korea.
The interrogations further show that the health of these gilrs was
good. They were well supplied with all types of contraceptives, and
often soldiers would bring their own which had been supplied by the
army. They were well trained in looking after both themselves and
customers in the matter of hycine. A regular Japanese Army doctor
visited the houses once a week and any girl found diseased was given
treatment, secluded, and eventually sent to a hospital. This same
procedure was carried on within the ranks of the Army itself, but it is
interesting to note that a soldier did not lose pay during the period
he was confined.
REACTIONS TO JAPANESE SOLDIERS;
In their relations with the Japanese officers and men only two names of
any consequence came out of interrogations. They were those of Col.
Maruyama, commander of the garrison at Myitkyina. and Maj.Gen.Mizukami,
who brought in reinforcements. The two were exact opposites. The former
was hard, selfish and repulsive with no consideration for his men; the
latter a good, kind man and a fine soldier, with the utmost
consideration for those who worked under him. The Colonel was a
constant habitue of the houses while the General was never known to
have visited them. With the fall of Myitkyina, Col. Maruyama supposedly
desorted while Gen. Mizukami committed sucide because he could not
evacuate the men.
The average Japanese soldier is embarrassed about being seen in a
"comfort house" acoording to one of the girls who said, "when the place
is packed he is apt to be ashamed if he has to wait in line for his
turn". However there were numerous instances of proposals of marriage
and in certain cases marriages actually took place.
All the girls agreed that the worst officers and men who came to see
them were those who were drunk and leaving for the front the following
day. But all likewise agreed that even though very drunk the Japanese
soldier never discussed military matters or secrets with them. Though
the girls might start the conversation about some military matter the
officer or enlisted man would not talk, but would in fact "scold us for
discussing such un-lady like subjects. Even Col.Maru yama when drunk
would never discuss such matters."
The soldiers would often express how much they enjoyed receiving
magazines, letters and newspapers from home. They also mentioned the
receipt of "comfort bags" filled with canned goods, magazines, soap,
handkerchiefs, toothbrush, miniature doll, lipstick, and wooden
clothes. The lipstick and cloths were feminin and the girls couldn't
understand why the people at home were sending such articles. They
speculated that the sender could only have had themselves or the
"In the initial attack on Myitleyna and the airstrip about two hundred
Japanese died in battle, leaving about two hundred to defend the town.
Ammunition was very low.
"Col.Maruyama dispersed his men. During the following days the enemy
were shooting haphazardly everywhere. It was a waste since they didn't
seem to aim at any particular thing. The Japanese soldiers on the other
hand had orders to fire one shot at a time and only when they were sure
of a hit."
Before the enemy attacked on the west airstrip, soldiers stationed
around Myitkyina were dispatched elsewhere, to stom the Allied attack
in the North and West. About four hundred men were left behind, largely
from the 114th Regiment. Evid ently Col.Maruyama did not expect the
town to be attacked. Later Maj.Gen.Mizukami of the 56th Division
brought in reinfo rcements of more than two regiments but these were
unable to hold the town.
It was the concensus among the girls that Allied bombings were intense
and frightening and because of them they spent most of their last days
in foxholes. One or two even carried on work there. The comfort houses
were bombed and several of the girls were wounded and killed.
RETREAT AND CAPTURE;
The story of the retreat and final capture of the "comfort girls" is
somewhat vague and confused in their own minds. From various reports it
appears that the following occurred: on the night of July 31st a party
of sixty three people including the "comfort girls" of three
houses(Bakushinro was merged with Kinsui), families, and helpers,
started across the Irrawaddy River in small boats. They eventually
landed somewhere near Waingmaw, They stayed there until August 4th, but
never entered Waingmaw. From there they followed in the path of a group
of soldiers until August 7th when there was a skirmish with the enemy
and the party split up. The girls were ordered to follow the soldiers
after three hour interval. They did this only to find themselves on the
bank of a river with no sign of the soldiers or any mea ns of crossing.
They remained in a nearby house until August 10th when they were
captured by Kaahin soldiers led by an English officer. They were taken
to Myitleyina and then to the Ledo stockado where the interrogation
which form the basis of this report took place.
None of the girls appeared to have heard the loudspeaker used at
Myitkyina but very did overhear the soldiers mention a "radio broadcast"
They asked that leaflets telling of the capture of the "comfort girls"
should not be used for it would endanger the lives of other girls if
the Army knew of their capture. They did think it would be a good idea
to utilise the fact of their capture in any droppings planned for