Directed by Miki Dezaki • Documentary • 2019 • 120 minutes
One of the most heated issues in Japan and Asia today is over something that occurred 80 years ago: the Japanese Imperial Army's sexual enslavement of an estimated tens of thousands of Korean women and others in military brothels during World War II. Many nationalist Japanese conservatives, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (with the surprising support of Western media influencers), believe the women were willing prostitutes, not 'sex slaves', and that the estimated number is far smaller than are claimed. But contemporary historians, activists and – most significantly – the surviving victims and their families, believe otherwise; the denial of their suffering so long ago has created an entirely new trauma.
Director Miki Dezaki, a second-generation Japanese American who learned about comfort women from his Japanese immigrant parents, questions why accounts in the Western media have often sided with the Nationalists. With a keen eye for detail and precision, he interviews historians, advocates and lawyers who discuss the evidence: historical documents related to the Japanese military's direct role in managing the brothels, and harrowing testimonies by former comfort women. Shusenjo: Comfort Women and Japan's War on History is a deep dive into this impassioned subject – bringing to light the hidden intentions of the supporters and detractors of comfort women.
"This is a must-see film.t..I am seriously worried about the safety of this courageous director. That's how much he cut into the core of the problem, and that's how much Japan has become a dangerous country." —Kazuhiro Soda, Peabody Award-winning Filmmaker