Call for Papers for Special Issue Responding to Ramseyer's Article on "Comfort Women"

Call for Papers: Special issue in the Journal of International Women’s Studies(JIWS): Critical Evaluations of J. Mark Ramseyer’s Arguments for “Comfort Women” as Prostitutes with Labor Contracts

The “Comfort Women” Issue and the Redress Movement for the Victims

Arguably, the most brutal crime committed by the Japanese military during the Asia-Pacific War (1931-1945) was the forced mobilization of 50,000 to 200,000 Asian women to military brothels to sexually serve Japanese soldiers. The redress movement for victims of the Japanese “comfort women” system started in the late 1980s. The movement helped many Korean “comfort women” to come forward to tell what had happened to them at Japanese military brothels. The testimonies of Korean “comfort women” and the discoveries of historical documents have accelerated the redress movement. 

International human rights organizations, including UN Human Rights Commission and Tokyo International Women's War Crimes Tribunal on Japanese Military Sexual Slavery, and many scholars have interpreted the “comfort women” system organized by the Japanese military during the Asia-Pacific War (1931-1945) as a perfect form of sexual slavery. But the Japanese government, along with many Japanese historical-revisionist organizations, have refused to accept it as sexual slavery. In reaction to the internal and international pressure to resolve the “comfort women” issue honorably, many Japanese citizens have tried to revise the history of the “comfort women” system, claiming that it was not different from the public prostitution system. The Japanese government has not taken various measures recommended by international human rights organizations to resolve the issue.

J. Mark Ramseyer’s Attempt to Defend Historical Revisionists’ Effort to Distort History

On the contrary, the Japanese government has spent a great amount of money each year in resisting the redress movement in the United States to conceal the crime since the early 2010s. J. Mark Ramseyer, a professor of law at Harvard University who grew up in Japan with his Christian missionary father, and an endowed professor of Mitsubishi Company, published an unacceptable article in International Review of Law and Economics in December 2020. In his article, he claimed that Japanese and Korean “comfort women” voluntarily participated in Japanese military brothels under labor contracts.  

In 2021, several scholars sent critiques of Ramseyer's shoddy article and asked the journal to publish these papers and retract Ramseyer's article. They also asked the journal to reveal information about how his article was accepted by the journal. The journal has been reviewing the case for more than a year, but has not taken any measures yet.

In January 2022, Ramseyer, who reviewed the submitted critiques, published a 65-page response in the Harvard John M. Olin Discussion Paper Series.  In his paper, he pretended to have successfully defended his 2020 article from the scholars’ critiques. But he made many unsubstantiated and indefensible arguments with no scientific evidence. Japanese historical revisionists working in the United States have sent messages to scholars, claiming that Ramseyer successfully defended his 2020 article in his 2022 paper. 


A Special Issue to Critically Evaluate Ramseyer’s Indefensible Arguments

           The online, open access Journal of International Women’s Studies seeks papers to effectively show how Ramseyer’s arguments are empirically unsubstantiated and logically indefensible. We seek submissions by scholars that critically evaluate his 2020 article and his 2022 paper.

Dr. Pyong Gap Min, Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Queens College and Graduate Center of CUNY and Director of the Research Center for Korean community will serve as the organizer and editor of the special issue. The special issue will include approximately eight articles by “comfort women” scholars. In addition to critical articles, the special issue will include a book review section in which several recently published books focusing on the “comfort women” issue and the redress movement for the victims of Japanese military sexual slavery will be reviewed. Once the issue is published, the Journal of International Women’s Studies (JIWS) will seek a book publisher to republish a print volume.

Please send abstracts either of your proposed paper (500 words), or a book review proposal abstract of 250 words, to Dr. Pyong Gap Min atpyongmin18@gmail.com by March 31, 2022. For further questions, please contact Dr. Min or Executive Editor of the JIWS, Dr. Diana J. Fox at d1fox@bridgew.edu.  Full papers and book reviews will be solicited based on evaluation of the abstracts, by April 15, with completed submissions due by June 30th, 2022. Anticipated publication date is September, 2022.


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