The Fallacy of Contract in Sexual Slavery: A Response to Ramseyer's "Contracting for Sex in the Pacific War"

31 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2021 Last revised: 30 Apr 2021

See all articles by Yong-Shik Lee

Yong-Shik Lee

The Law and Development Institute; Georgia State University - College of Law

Natsu Taylor Saito

Georgia State University College of Law

Jonathan Todres

Georgia State University College of Law

Date Written: February 22, 2021

Abstract

Over seven decades have passed since the end of the Second World War, but the trauma from the cruelest war in human history continues today, perpetuated by denial of responsibility for the war crimes committed and unjust attempts to rewrite history at the expense of dignity, life, and justice for the victims of the most serious human rights violations. The latest such attempt is a troubling recharacterization of the sexual slavery enforced by Japan during the Second World War as a legitimate contractual arrangement. A recent paper authored by J. Mark Ramseyer, entitled “Contracting for Sex in the Pacific War,” mischaracterizes forced sexual slavery as a contractual process by which the victims freely participated in prostitution in return for a substantial reward, denying the responsibility of the Japanese government and its military for the atrocious human rights violations committed. The argument of that paper is flawed and disregards a breath of evidence, including numerous testimonies of survivors, and the findings of scholars, NGOs, and intergovernmental organizations, including the United Nations Human Rights Commission, that the victims were coerced, deceived, or otherwise manipulated into sexual servitude with the direct or indirect involvement of the Japanese government or the military, as admitted by Japan in the 1993 Kono Statement. This article discusses the critical flaws in the arguments advanced by the paper, the traumatic impact of such arguments on survivors of these war crimes, and the broader implications of these (and other similar) justifications for sexual exploitation.

Keywords: Sexual Slavery, Second World War, Japanese War Crimes, Human Rights, Kono Statement, Human Trafficking

Suggested Citation

Lee, Y.S. and Saito, Natsu Taylor and Todres, Jonathan, The Fallacy of Contract in Sexual Slavery: A Response to Ramseyer's "Contracting for Sex in the Pacific War" (February 22, 2021). Michigan Journal of International Law, Vol. 42, No. 2, 2021, Georgia State University College of Law, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2021-07, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3791187 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3791187

Y.S. Lee (Contact Author)

The Law and Development Institute ( email )

United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.lawanddevelopment.net

Georgia State University - College of Law ( email )

Natsu Taylor Saito

Georgia State University College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 4037
Atlanta, GA 30302-4037
United States

Jonathan Todres

Georgia State University College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 4037
Atlanta, GA 30302-4037
United States

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