Child of the Other: Wartime Sexual Violence and the Japanese Repatriation Support Policies after the Second World War

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 12:30 PM
Room: 315
Oral Presentation
Meyu YAMAMOTO , Department of Sociology, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
In the end of and just after the Second World War, mass rape by Soviet troops against Japanese women took place in Manchuria and Korean Peninsula. Many pregnancies and venereal disease were uncovered upon arrival of groups of repatriates to Japan, and hundreds of abortions were carried out inside or near the harbors between 1946 and 1947 as part of an official support. Parliamentary papers and related documents indicate that identification of unborn babies to Russian perpetrators encouraged the Japanese medical doctors and relief workers to implement the abortion. Illustrating the experiences of Japanese women in the post-war period, this paper aims to examine how the ‘child of the Other’ or children born / unborn as a result of wartime sexual violence have been excluded from their peers, community, and the states.
Previous studies on children born from wartime sexual violence have revealed that they frequently suffer discrimination from mother’s communities. One of the examples of this is that they are often attributed pejorative names. Regarding the case of rape committed by German soldiers against French women during the First World War, the children were called ‘child of the barbarian’. In other conflicts such as East Timor, the children born to Timorese women were called ‘children of the enemy’, in Rwanda, ‘children of bad memories’ (Seto 2013).
Close observation of the case studies above and the case of Japanese victims indicates that the children are unwelcomed due to identification not with their mothers but with their ‘enemy’ fathers. This paper suggests that investigation on children should be addressed from feminist and humanitarian perspectives as well.