Event Recap: Miki Dezaki's "Shusenjo: The Main Battleground of the 'Comfort Women' Issue"

Submitted by Kirk L. Van Scoyoc on

Documentary filmmaker Miki Dezaki screened his 2018 debut work "Shusenjo: The Main Battlefield of the 'Comfort Women' Issue" to 40 members of the university community on February 15, 2023. This event explored the fraught discourse and contemporary representations of the “comfort women,” a euphemism for the sex slaves of the Japanese empire. The film tackles head on the most contentious dispute between Japan and Korea allowing viewers to follow the documentarian as he seeks answers to fiercely debated questions such as "Were the 'comfort women' sex slaves or prostitutes?" "Were they volunteers or coercively recruited?" "Were there 200,000 'comfort women'?" And, "why does the issue persist after Japan has previously apologized?"

Miki Dezaki event 2/15/2023

During the lengthy Q&A session, moderated by Asian L&L Professor Davinder Bhowmik, Miki Dezaki began by updating the audience on interviewees featured in the film, the status of the lawsuits filed against him for the film, and his production of a 12-minute YouTube addendum on the subject of apology. He then responded generously to audience questions about the 1993 Kono Statement,  the 2015 Japan-Korea "Comfort Women" Agreement, historical revisionism, racism, "comfort women" statues, and the nature of testimony. In response to a thoughtful student question on how best to use the film to educate survivors who might not know about the Japanese or Korean cultural contexts, Miki emphasized that while the film's subject matter is rooted in gendered violence that took place during the Asia-Pacific War, today we can construe this violence as a clear violation of human rights.