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Toward a future of peace and non-violence

The 10th Special Exhibition: Military Does Not Protect Women: Okinawa, Japan’s Military Comfort Stations and Sexual Violence by the US Military

[ June 23, 2012 – June 30, 2013 ]

“Is it really possible to live in peace next to a military committed to exercising violence that trains night and day in ways to kill people?
This is the fundamental question posed by a woman in Okinawa who has been the victim of sexual violence by American soldiers.

As the Asia-Pacific War drew to a close, the lives of countless inhabitants were sacrificed in a 3-month land battle on Okinawa, which Japan viewed as a “barrier” protecting the mainland. Japanese troops deployed to Okinawa built comfort stations wherever they were stationed, over 145 in all, and turned women from Okinawa, Korea, Taiwan and the Japanese mainland into “comfort women.” After Japan’s defeat, rapes by US soldiers followed. Today, more than 40 years since the return of Okinawa to Japan, there is no end to the on-going incidents of sexual violence. The struggle of women continues.

The military deprived women of their lives and deprived the islands of peace. This exhibition conveys the reality of military as a repressive state apparatus of violence, focusing on the sexual violence of the Japanese military until 1945 and of the long-standing US military in Okinawa. It questions the responsibility of Japan for keeping Okinawa as militarized islands during and after the war.

Main Contents of the Exhibition:

  • Okinawan History—from the Ryukyu Kingdom to assimilation policy under Japan rule
  • Deployment of Japanese troops to Okinawa and the establishment of comfort stations
  • A map of comfort stations throughout Okinawa
  • The true face of the Okinawan War: civilian suffering, mobilization of school children and ‘mass suicides’
  • Women who were in the Headquarters Shelter of Japan’s 32nd Army
  • Women from Okinawa, Kyushu and Korea who were made ‘comfort women’
  • Comfort stations on the islands of Tokashiki, Zamami and Miyako
  • The American Occupation and sexual violence
  • Women taking action against military sexual violence of the present and past