Japanese-occupied Singapore (1942-1945) was a dark period in Singapore’s history. Food shortages and brutal treatments by the Kempeitai (Japanese military police) were just some of the terrible things locals experienced during the three and a half years of Japanese Occupation.
Which brings us to another uncomfortable topic—comfort women. It’s a topic you don’t see in local school history books or even talked about.
Credit: Candy Treft/Unsplash
Comfort women were women and girls who were forced to provide sexual services, often in brothels or “comfort stations”, to Imperial Japanese army troops during World War II.
It’s a contentious issue between Japan and South Korea, even up to today.
What about Singapore? Why have the voices of Singapore women who worked in the sex industry for the Japanese military during wartime Singapore been missing from history? Were there Singapore women working as comfort women?
At the webinar Battle for Singapore 2021: The Comfort Women of Singapore in History and Memory to be held on Mar 6, speaker Keven Blackburn attempts to answer these questions. Blackburn is an associate professor of history at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He teaches and researches the history and memory of the Japanese Occupation of Southeast Asia.
The talk will uncover the missing voices of the comfort women of Japanese-occupied Singapore and explains why Singapore comfort women have not come forward with their testimonies as comfort women in other societies in Asia have done so since the 1990s.
Battle for Singapore 2021: The Comfort Women of Singapore in History and Memory organised by the National Heritage Board will be held on Mar 6, 10.30am via Zoom. Registration and more details can be found here. The Zoom link will be sent to registrants prior to the talk.