Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Why does Jan Ruff O'Herne have to be a comfort woman (2) --Dutch war tribunal in Semarang, Indonesia

This is the second post regarding BBC4 program published here and its audio here. The audio contains the voice of Jan Ruff O’Herne, the Dutch-Australian woman, probably a victim of Semarang incident.

O'Herne is not a typical comfort woman because her story can be backed up by records of Semarang Incident and BC class Dutch war tribunal in Batavia, Java.

A war crime of Japanese military men is recorded in Java, Indonesia: they forced some female Dutch internees into prostitution. In November 1943, Japan completed the internment of Dutch colonialists in Indonesia that had been ruled by the Dutch for three hundred years. The Indonesian and the Eurasian (mixed Dutch-Indonesians) were not subject to this internment. The 16th military division that supervised Java permitted the establishment of military brothels on the condition that women should not be coerced and they should sign a consent form. Which probably were not obeyed by some military officials. In February 1944, Dutch women were rounded up and put into brothels, which were closed two months later (three months according to O'Herne and Ploeg) by the order of the headquarter of 16th military division. (Hata ibid pp216-221) In 1947 Dutch military tribunal sentenced Major Okada Yoshiharu to death, 6 military officers to 2 to 15 years in prison, and 4 civilians who operated the brothels to 7 to 20 years. One civilian governor Mitsuhashi Hiroshi was acquitted. Colonel Ikeda Shozo, who was sentenced to 15 years, became insane, and Colonel Okubo killed himself (Hata ibid p219). This Batavia tribunal ruling states that 25 out of 35 were forced prostitutes. 1994 Dutch report describes at least 65 out of 200~300 were victims of forced prostitution (Hata ibid p218).

If O'Herne's story is correct, she is most likely a victim of Semarang incident. There are two women publicly known to be such victims from the former Dutch colony: one is O'Herne, the other is Elly Corry van der Ploeg, both of whom were participants of VAWW-net organized Women's Tribunal 2000 , a kangaroo trial that convicted already deceased Emperor Hirohito. O'Herne made her experience public in 1992 (Hata ibid, p217). Since the stories of both corroborate well with the record of Batavia tribunal, and manuscripts of Major Okada who claimed that the women in "officer's club" were now lying and testifying against him (Hata ibid, p220), it is safe to say their stories are based on real facts.


Anonymous said...

BACKGROUND OF 'COMFORT WOMEN' ISSUE / No hard evidence of coercion in recruitment of comfort women

BACKGROUND OF 'COMFORT WOMEN' ISSUE / Comfort station originated in govt-regulated 'civilian prostitution'

BACKGROUND OF 'COMFORT WOMEN' ISSUE / Kono's statement on 'comfort women' created misunderstanding

buvery said...


Thank you for taking your time.
I know all these three, and probably you could have guessed that if you read other posts of mine.

What is YOUR opinion, reading the articles? Do you agree or disagree with them? Do you agree what I write or not? Do you have something new to tell us? That is what I would like to know.

buvery said...

I forgot to add that inclusion of O'Herne has a different meaning in framing "comfort women issue." It is a re-definition of the issue, and she is there precisely for that reason. That is what I am going to propose.

Matt said...

O'Herne is supposed to be their silver bullet, proof that the Japanese army did use women as sex slaves. However, the truth of what happened reveals that the Japanese army did not support that, so O'Hernes experience actually proves the opposite. The O'Herne story is actually incredibly important in interpreting what happens when the army finds out that a woman had been forced.

buvery said...

Hi matt.
Are you from occidentalism?

The point is Abe's way of presentation, "no evidence of coercion," contradicts the story of O'Herne. There were only three women in the testimony of US congress. It is unbelievable that Abe's supporters ignore her presence.