Re-examination of the Massacre on Banka Island:

A Case of Japanese Military Violence against Women


This is the English version of my Zoom lecture notes for seminar organised by the Hiroshima Network for the Solution of Japan’s Military ‘Comfort Women’ Issue, which was conducted on May 15, 2021. Georgina Banks and Judy Campbell – the kin of victims of the Japanese atrocities on Banka Island – also spoke at this seminar. Their speeches are available at the following site: http://yjtanaka.blogspot.com/2021/09/speeches-of-georgina-banks-and-judy.html





Lecture Notes (15 May 2021)

Yuki Tanaka


(1) Historical Background of Japanese Military Occupation of Banka Island


At around 2:00 a.m. on December 8 (Japanese time) 1941 advance troops of the 25th Army of the Japanese Imperial Forces led by Lieutenant General Yamashita Tomoyuki landed on the beaches of Kota Bharu in British Malaya and on the southeast coast of Thailand at Pattani and Songkhla. From there they proceeded toward their final destination, Singapore. At 3:25 a.m. (7:55 a.m. on December 7 Hawaii time), the U.S. forces at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii were hit by a stunning surprise attack by the first wave of Japanese torpedo bombers, dispatched from six aircraft carriers of the First Air Fleet of the Japanese Imperial Navy commanded by Vice Admiral Nagumo Chuichi. Following this attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese forces invaded Hong Kong and the Philippines.

  On the Malay Peninsula, troops of the 25th Army entered Kuala Lumpur on January 11, and by the end of January they had captured Johor Bahru on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. However, due to the strong opposition of the British Commonwealth Forces (BCOF) backed by Chinese volunteer corps, it took the Japanese until February 15 to capture Singapore and rename it Shōnan-tō. About 80,000 troops of the BCOF (specifically British, British Indian, and Australian forces) in Singapore and a further 50,000 troops in Malaya became prisoners of war (POWs).

  The 16th Army commanded by Lieutenant General Imamura Hitoshi invaded the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), where oil resources were a vital attraction for the Japanese. Between December 16, 1941 and February 10, 1942, the Japanese captured all the important strategic points on the island of Borneo. On February 14 Japanese paratroopers landed at Palembang on the south Sumatra coast where Royal Dutch Shell had refineries, and then the main force of invading Japanese troops quickly occupied the entire island of Sumatra.

On February 20 the Japanese seized the island of Timor. West Timor was Dutch colony, and East Timor was a colony of a neutral nation, Portugal. By occupying the three islands of Borneo, Sumatra, and Timor, the 16th Army was planning to send forces to Java from three different directions. Attempting to impede this Japanese move, the Allied forces sent a Dutch–British–Australian–American joint fleet into battle against the Japanese navy force in the Java Sea on February 27. But the Allied joint fleet was completely destroyed by the Japanese off the coast of Batavia on March 1. On the same day, Japan’s 16th Army landed on Java, and on March 9, the Dutch forces offered unconditional surrender to the Japanese. In Java alone, about 83,000 Allied (Dutch, Australian, British and American) troops became POWs.

  The Japanese had never anticipated capturing such a large number of Allied POWs, and therefore did not have enough food, medicines or supplies for them. In addition, they had never expected having to deal with a large number of the Allied civilians living in many parts of Southeast Asia, which were then colonies of the Allied nations, in particular Britain and Holland. Such complete unpreparedness on the part of the Japanese for dealing with POWs and civilians was one of the factors that contributed to the high POW death toll at the hands of the Japanese during this war.

 At around 1:00 p.m. on February 15 local time, the 1st Battalion (consisting of two companies) together with a ship engineer corps of the 229th Infantry Regiment of the 38th Division landed at Muntok, the largest town of Banka Island (11,910 square kilometers in area) which lies east of Sumatra, separated by the Banka Strait. Because no enemy forces were stationed there, the Japanese forces occupied the entire island without any fighting. In mid-December 1941, the 229th Infantry Regiment was part of the Japanese forces that invaded Hong Kong. Having seized Hong Kong, this regiment was sent to southern Sumatra via French Indochina (presently Vietnam) in February 1942. Their task was to occupy south Sumatra including Palembang, around which Dutch oil refineries were located. The 1st Battalion led by Captain Orita Masaru was, however, separated for the purpose of occupying Banka Island. According to the investigation conducted by the British forces after the war, it is almost certain that it was the troops of this Orita Battalion who gang raped British and Chinese nurses as well as Chinese volunteers at the emergency hospital set up at Stanley College in Hong Kong throughout the night of December 25, 1941.[1]   




(2) Sequence of Events up to the Landing at Banka Island of the Australian Army Nurses


When the Japanese forces invaded the Malay Peninsula in December 1941, 15,000 Australian soldiers of the 8th Division of the Australian military forces were stationed there, mainly in the role of defending the southwest coastal area between Johore Bahru and Malacca. At the same time, there were 140 Australian military nurses in this region who were divided into three groups working for the 2/10th Australian General Hospital in Malacca, the 2/4th Casualty Clearing Section in Kluang, and the 2/13th Australian General Hospital in Tamping. Because of the rapid advance of the Japanese forces, all the nurses, together with hospital materials and patients, were evacuated to Singapore on January 10, 1942, and divided into two groups. One group was moved into St. Patrick’s School on the southeast coast of Singapore; the other was moved to Oldham Hall, a school in the northern suburbs of Singapore city. The two schools were converted into hospitals as an emergency measure. Six hundred beds were brought into St. Patrick’s and 1,200 beds to Oldham. The nurses were divided between these two emergency hospitals. Between December 8, when the Japanese invasion began, and February 15, the day Singapore fell, 1,789 Australian soldiers died on the battlefield and 1,306 were nonfatally injured. As a result, the nurses were fully occupied.[2]

   When the New Year came, the nurses were in the dangerous situation of having to tend to injured soldiers throughout daily air raids. Therefore, on January 20, the senior Australian medical officer, Colonel Alfred Durham, requested that the Australian forces withdraw all military nurses from Singapore. However, probably because of the large number of injured soldiers, the order for all nurses to evacuate Singapore was not issued until just before the city fell. On February 11, four days before the fall, the first group of Australian nurses left Singapore for Australia on a refrigerated cargo ship, the Empire Star. The Empire Star managed to evade Japanese air attack and reached Australia via Batavia. However, 14 of the 15 other ships of various sizes and types which left Singapore on the same day carrying a large number of evacuees (mainly women and children), were attacked and sunk by the Japanese forces. The following day, the remaining 65 nurses departed on a small cargo ship of 1,669 tons, the Vyner Brooke.[3]

   In fact, many British and Australian civilians living in and around Singapore were not evacuated until as late as February 11 to 14 because of mismanagement on the part of British and Australian authorities. Even in early February, neither the British nor Australian governments issued evacuation orders to their citizens because of their policy that the evacuation of public workers, nurses and other non-combatants would break down morale of the BCOF. This was despite repeated requests telegraphed from the people in Singapore to London and Canberra. Indeed, this lack of governmental consideration for the safety of their civilians delayed the evacuation, which eventually threw the people into confusion at the harbor. Suddenly, in the last 48 hours between February 11 and 13, 50 or 60 various sizes of cargo ship were hastily gathered at the harbor, and many people crowded on board any ship available. By February 14, all of these ships hurriedly left Singapore, but because of the chaos at the wharf, many ships left without making passenger lists. Among those passengers were many citizens of the families of British and Australian merchants, traders, industrialists and the like living in British Malaya and Singapore.[4]

  Most of these ships sailed down south along the seacoast of Sumatra, then trying to pass through Banka Strait and to reach Australia via Java Island. However, about 40 of these ships were attacked and sunk by Japanese bomber planes, navy ships or submarines near Banka Island. As a result, between 4,000 and 5,000 passengers were presumed to be dead. It is said that many dead bodies washed up on the shore of Banka Island. The Japanese forces left the dead bodies on the beaches and did not bury them. Eventually about 1,000 people survived and managed to swim to the beaches of Banka Island.[5]

   Indeed, the Vyner Brook departed too late because the nurses had to take shelter frequently from air attacks on their way to the wharf and were late in arriving. When they reached the wharf, they were put aboard the small ship (which already held 300 civilian passengers). The overcrowding meant that many women and children were forced to camp on the deck. Because it was dangerous to travel in daylight, the ship departed Singapore at 8:00 p.m. and sailed throughout the night, anchoring early each morning near a small island and thus avoiding detection. However, even during the night, progress was impeded by the need to avoid Japanese naval searchlights. On the morning of February 14, while the ship was anchored near tiny Tojon Island, Japanese planes flew within sight several times. Assuming the ship had been detected, the captain of the Vyner Brooke decided it would be wise to sail at full speed toward Banka Island rather than wait to be attacked.

The ship departed Tojon Island at 10:00 a.m. but was bombed by nine Japanese planes just after 1:00 p.m. and sank about 40 minutes later. There were six lifeboats on board with a combined capacity for 140 people, but only two were serviceable. The rest had been destroyed by the bombing. Therefore most of the passengers were forced to take to the water and save themselves by whatever means they could. The ship went down between Sumatra and Banka Island at a spot relatively near Banka Island (approximately 16 kilometers away) but in the treacherous northern opening to the Banka Strait. As a result, many people drowned, including 12 of the 65 Australian nurses. One group of women floated all day in the sea and were eventually rescued by a Japanese landing boat. But most of the passengers had to swim to shore, and some floated for three or four days until they reached Banka.[6]


On the night of February 14, the two lifeboats landed on Radjik beach. Aboard were 22 Australian nurses and about 30 civilian passengers (most of them women and children), some of whom were injured. A group of the nurses went to a village nearby and asked for help, but the villagers, afraid of punishment by the Japanese forces, refused. Because the whole island was occupied by the Japanese, the villagers suggested the women should surrender.

That night, the women observed ships under attack by the Japanese in Banka Strait and built a signal fire to help survivors find their way to shore. Approximately two hours later, about 20 British soldiers landed in a lifeboat and joined the group. Some of these soldiers were injured, and it was necessary to treat them as soon as possible. Early the following morning (February 16) they considered their situation and concluded that, because it was virtually impossible to escape from the island because of the number of children and injured, they should surrender. To this end, one of the crew of the Vyner Brooke set out to walk to Muntok, the island’s center, and inform the Japanese forces of their intention. Not long after the crew member had left, Matron Drummond suggested that the civilian women and children start walking toward Muntok while the nurses stay with the injured soldiers. So a group of civilians, led by a Chinese doctor, departed, leaving behind the British soldiers, 10 of whom were on stretchers, and the Australian nurses. At about 10:00 a.m., the crew member who had walked to Muntok returned with a troop of 15 Japanese soldiers led by an officer. The nurses and the British soldiers were no doubt relieved to see them, as they anticipated that medical treatment, food, and water would be provided.[7]


(3) The Massacre of the British Soldiers and Australian Nurses


The details of what followed have been gathered from the account given by Vivian Bullwinkel (the sole survivor of the 22 nurses) and official documents produced by the Australian Army after the war. It is clear that the Japanese soldiers separated men from women and abled from the disabled, further dividing the able men into two groups. The crew member who had brought the Japanese soldiers from Muntok complained to the Japanese officer that they should be treated fairly as POWs, but he was completely ignored. One group of British soldiers was taken behind the cliff—about 100 meters away from the beach and out of sight of the remaining prisoners. They were apparently bayoneted. About 10 minutes later, these Japanese soldiers returned and took another group of men to the same place. This time, the nurses heard a few gunshots that were the result of two or three British soldiers’ attempts to escape. After the second group was bayoneted, the Japanese returned to the nurses. Vivian Bullwinkel gave the following account:


They came back and we knew what had happened ... they came back wiping their bayonets. We realized what was going to happen. I can remember one of the girls saying, “Two things that I hate most, the sea and the Japs, and I’ve got them both.” We were all sitting down and we were ordered up, and then told to march into the sea. Which we did. As we got to about waist level they started machine-gunning from behind. I was hit just at the side of the back. The bullet came through, but I wasn’t aware of it at the time. I thought that once you were shot you’d had it. What with the force of the bullet and the waves I was knocked over into the water. And in doing so, I swallowed a lot of water. I became violently ill, and as I stood I realized I was very much alive. Next thing I thought, they will see me heaving. So I tried to stop and I just lay there. I wouldn’t know how long. When I did venture to sit up, there was nothing. All my colleagues had been swept away and there were no Japs on the beach. There was nothing. Just me. I got up, crossed the beach, and went into the jungle.[8]


Bullwinkel was the only nurse to survive this massacre. Afterwards, the injured British on the stretchers were also bayoneted. One soldier, Private Kingsley, miraculously survived, although he was severely wounded. As Bullwinkel made her way up the beach, she failed to notice he was still alive. A few days later the two, both hiding in the jungle, eventually met up. Bullwinkel collected abandoned water canteens from the beach, made a bed for Kingsley from life jackets also left there, and bound his original wound and that made by the bayonet with coconut fibers. Her own wound was less serious and healed as time passed. Bullwinkel and Kingsley hid in the jungle for about 10 days but realized they could not stay hidden indefinitely. They decided to contact the Japanese forces again, hoping they would not be killed. They went out to the road and were picked up by a Japanese naval officer and a soldier in a car, and this time they were safely taken to the detention camp in Muntok. Bullwinkel hid her injury with canteens and Kingsley wore a less damaged shirt taken from a dead comrade so they would not be suspected of having survived the massacre on the beach. Both Bullwinkel and Kingsley were very careful not to talk about the incident, even to fellow prisoners in the detention camp, because they believed they would be in danger if the Japanese discovered they had witnessed the massacre. Therefore, very few people among the POWs knew of this incident during the war.[9]

In my book, Hidden Horrors: Japanese War Crimes in World War II published in 1996 (the Japanese edition was published in 1993), I suggested the possibility that the nurses had been raped by the Japanese before being massacred. Although I had no conclusive evidence, I implied this possibility in the following manner, having examined various relevant documents available at the Australian War Memorial and the Australian National Archives:  


The second possible answer is that the Japanese soldiers separated men and women because from the beginning they intended to rape and kill the women after they had massacred the men. Is it possible that Bullwinkel, in her account, glossed over the fact that the women had been raped, in order to protect her dead colleagues from the shame of being known as victims of rape? It seems, from the various documents associated with the investigation of this incident, that such an interpretation is not impossible.[10]


As previously mentioned, it was the 1st Battalion (Orita Unit) of the 229th Infantry Regiment that invaded and occupied Banka Island. Undoubtedly, therefore, those who committed the massacre on Radjik beach were the troops from Orita Unit. (The exact total number of Orita Unit is unknown, but a battalion usually consisted of between 500 and 1,000 combatants.) It is unlikely that the officer who led 15 Japanese soldiers to Radjik beach was Orita himself. Immediately after the war, the Australian military tried to find the perpetrators through a thorough investigation of Japanese activities on Banka Island at that time. For this aim, the Australian military requested that the war crimes committee of the Allied forces in Tokyo locate Orita. It was discovered that he had been in Manchuria when the war ended and had become a POW of the Soviet Union and was still in a Siberian prison camp. Quite separately, the British forces were investigating the massacre of nurses in Hong Kong by Japanese soldiers and found that the same battalion, under the command of Lieutenant Orita, had participated in the invasion of Hong Kong before heading to Banka Island. British forces were also trying to locate him, believing he was one of the perpetrators of the atrocity.

   Lieutenant Orita. was released and returned to Japan in June 1948, but he was arrested by the representative of the Australian forces in Tokyo and detained in Sugamo prison. However, on September 13, before the interrogation had begun, he committed suicide by slashing a blood vessel in his neck with a glass-cutting tool he had smuggled into his cell from the prisoners’ workshop. Because of his death and because most of the soldiers of the 229th Infantry Regiment had died in the Battle of Guadalcanal during the war, the Australian forces were unable to build a sufficient case around the incident and did not prosecute anyone over it. However, according to the data provided by the 229th Infantry Regiment Veterans Association, it seems that some troops of that regiment were sent to New Britain Island and survived there until the end of the war. It requires further investigation, therefore, in order to find out if all the soldiers who committed the massacre on Radjik beach, were indeed killed in the Battle of Guadalcanal.[11]        


(4) Review of Argument on the Issue of the Rape of the Australian Nurses on Banka Island


In April 2019, the book Angels of Mercy: Far West Far East by Lynette Silver was published.[12] The book mainly focuses on the activities of two different Australian nurses in the 1930s and ’40s Yet, in the last 15 pages of this book, the author discusses the possibility of the rape of 22 nurses on Radjik beach before being massacred, and the sexual exploitation of other Australian nurses captured on Banka Island as the so-called “comfort women” (military sex slaves) by the Japanese forces. It seems that the author is an amateur historian and therefore does not provide detailed and precise information on various archival and other sources she uses. In addition, she makes use of many anecdotal stories without providing concrete evidence to support them. (In fact, she does not provide any footnotes on sources of information at all throughout the book.) Therefore, the information provided in this book needs to be regarded with care. Nonetheless, some of the stories are quite helpful for re-examining the fate of the Australian nurses on Banka Island.

   In this book, Silver criticizes my writing, saying that without being unaware of “various male eyewitnesses,” I claimed the possibility that the nurses on Radjik beach were raped.[13] Although she uses the term “various,” she cites only two “eyewitness” accounts in her book. One of them is a statement made by Stoker Lloyd, who was one of three English men who escaped into the seawater just before the second group of men were massacred by the Japanese on Radjik beach. It seems that two other men were shot and died in the seawater. Hiding behind the rocks for a few days, Lloyd walked back along the beach “to see if any of the others had survived.” He stated that “all the male bodies had been piled on top of one another in one big heap. Then I went to further along and found the bodies of the Australian nurses and other women. They lay at intervals of a few yards – in different positions and in various stages of undress. They had been shot and then bayoneted.” Lloyd eventually walked to Muntok and gave himself up to the Japanese, concealing that he was a survivor of the massacre on Radjik beach.                    

  Silver provides no information concerning the source of this statement of Lloyd. It was actually cited by Sir John Smyth in his book, The Will to Live: The Story of Dame Margot Turner D.B.E., R.C.C. (Ulverscroft, 1986).[14] Sir John Smyth served as Commander of 17th Indian Infantry Division during the war. Although Lloyd’s statement strongly implies the possibility of the rape of the Australian nurses by the Japanese, it cannot be called an “eyewitness” account of the incident. Strictly speaking, it is circumstantial evidence.

  The other “eyewitness” account Silver introduces in her book is a statement made by a Japanese soldier by the name of Tanemura Kiyoshi (or Hiyoshi), a member of Orita Unit. Silver explains that Tanemura’s statement was among a large number of private documents produced by James Godwin. Godwin was a New Zealander, who was a POW of the Japanese during the war, and became a Japanese war crimes investigator of the Australian Army in Tokyo after the war. After Godwin passed away in 1995, these private documents were given to an Australian writer, James MacKay. Silver wrote the following passages in her book relying on MacKay’s book, although yet again she failed to mention the title of MacKay’s book, Betrayal of High Places (Lane Publisher, 1996).[15]   

When MacKay’s book was published, it included an “unofficial” account of Tanemura’s interrogation, conducted by Godwin … 

Tanemura, who had not fully recovered from a malaria attack, claimed that he had obtained permission from Sergeant Furakawa (believed to be Sergeant Fukagawa Shintaro) to rest in the shade of some trees. As he lay there, he heard screams and was told that some officers and NCOs were “pleasuring themselves” (raping) the nurses and that it would soon be the platoon’s turn. Claiming that he took no part in the proceedings, he went on to say that he had heard that nurses were herded down to the beach and ostensibly forced to bathe, whereupon a machine-gun had opened fire. … but there is one detail mentioned by Tanemura that seems to be rather odd—his assertion that “pleasuring” took place in the house of a nearby village. As the nearest village, Mendjelang, was about four kilometers away, it has been suggested that this account, if true, could refer to another group of men and nurses.[16]     


Indeed, Tanemura’s statement cannot be treated as that of an “eyewitness” either. Yet, Silver claims that “a villager, interviewed in 2018, stated that there were huts near the beach, used by village people when tending their gardens,” implying that one of those huts might have been used as a place of criminal conduct. However, it seems implausible that 22 nurses were cast into a small hut and raped. Even if it was true, it should still be treated as circumstantial evidence, for Tanemura did not really see the acts of sexual violence that his fellow soldiers were supposed to have committed.

However, Silver’s reference to Barbara Angel’s close examination of the uniform that Bullwinkel was wearing at the time the nurses were machine-gunned is indeed worth being seriously considered. Although, here again, Silver failed to name the title of the book written by Barbara Angel, it is A Woman’s War: The Exceptional Life Wilma Oram Young AM (New Holland Publishers, 2003).[17] Considering the bullet holes made in Bullwinkel’s uniform, according to Barbara Angel, the bullet would have entered her body “just below the left kidney, and would have then passed through the stomach cavity.” The exit hole was “almost in the center of the bodice.” In other words, she would have been seriously injured and could not have survived without receiving proper medical treatment immediately.

 This is clear to any visitor to the Australian War Memorial (AWM), because her uniform is now one of the permanent exhibits in the AWM. Yet, Bullwinkel claimed that her wound on the left side of her waist was less serious and healed quickly. Angel also noticed that two of seven buttons of the uniform were missing. This indicates that Bullwinkel’s uniform “bodice was ripped open so forcefully that the buttons were torn off and lost,” and she “had entered the water with her bodice undone and open to the waist.” In other words, the condition of Bullwinkel’s uniform is a convincing piece of circumstantial evidence to support the plausibility that the nurses including Bullwinkel were raped before being forced to walk into the water.[18]     




  The most convincing circumstantial evidence that has so far become available is a press report written by Tess Lawrence. That report: “Vivian Bullwinkel, the Bangka Island massacre and the guilt of the survivor” was published in Independent Australia (February 19, 2017), 17 years after the death of Bullwinkel. Lawrence conducted a number of interviews with Bullwinkel over many years, and based on one of those interviews, Lawrence wrote as follows:              


She [Bullwinkel] told me in confidence about two things she was keeping secret for the time being—but said there would be a time when she would speak publicly about both.

The first matter was that she confirmed the ill-kept secret that most “of us”—meaning she and the women who had been gunned down—had been “violated” by the Japanese soldiers beforehand.

The second matter related to this violation and it more than irked her. It caused her great mental and emotional anguish and distress.

She wanted to put this in her statement before the war crimes tribunal but was ordered not to by the Australian Government.

This is yet another outrageous example of the merging of political and military expediency concerning rape as a weapon of war and rape as the recreational right of militia, sanctioned by nation states and warmongers.

Japan’s longstanding denials and reluctance to concede the wholesale rape of prisoners of war and even the existence of so-called “comfort women” has, in fact, been further nurtured through the decades by the reluctance of countries, including Australia, to back up calls for justice and to hold Japan’s Government to account.[19]


Returning to Australia in September 1945, Bullwinkel reported to the Australian Army authorities and explained her ordeals as a POW including the incident of rape and massacre on Banka Island. Yet, her statement concerning the rape on Radjik beach was deleted from the official report, and she was instructed by her senior officers not to say anything about the rape issue. In 1946, she was summoned to the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal to testify to the massacre on Banka Island. However, as she was ordered, she did not mention anything about the rape issue at all in the court room.[20]   


Vivian Bullwinkel at the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal


(5) The Gap Between the Bereaved Families and the Australian War Memorial (AWM) Concerning the Official Acknowledgment of Rape


When Silver’s book, published in 2019, was widely reported by the media, the issue of the rape of the nurses on Radjik beach suddenly became hot news in Australia. Consequently, many members of the bereaved families were shocked by the news. Although their initial reaction to that unpleasant revelation had been that “it was out of respect for the people who didn’t want to know their [relatives] have been raped,”[21] they now realized that stories they had been told might have been sanitized for eight decades, and that the truth should be finally known. It seems that many relatives are now requesting the AWM to officially acknowledge the historical fact by changing the way in which the AWM documents the event on its website and in its gallery. However, according to the AWM Director, Matt Anderson, the AWM “does not currently have records that provide a clear picture of what took place.” Accordingly, the official account of the Banka Island massacre remains as it is—the nurses were forced to march into the sea and were killed, being machine-gunned from behind; yet they were not sexually assaulted.

  Why is the AWM reluctant to admit even the feasibility of the rape of the Australian nurses, if not the indisputable historical fact? A number of reasons can be assumed including “protection of the honor of the victims,” but the most persuasive motive seems to be preservation of the patriotic myth that the military nurses are pure and caring women with strong loyalty to their nation, devoting themselves to attending the sick and wounded soldiers in the front line. In other words, in order to preserve this attractive myth, an abominable historical fact such as “gang rape” should not be officially admitted. For men, in particular military leaders, politicians and bureaucrats, it is regarded a wise policy to defend and conserve this sacred and nationalistic myth. It should be noted that the past and present directors of the AWM are all male—being retired high-ranking military officers, or politicians, or bureaucrats.               

For men in general, the power over female members of their own nation or racial group by the enemy force is emblematic of invasion of their nation or group by the foreign enemy. Therefore, sexual exploitation of women of an invaded nation by the conquering force affects the psyche of a people, in particular men, of that nation; it becomes de-masculinized, feminized and subjugated. In order to avoid such humiliation, all women of their nation must be “pure and innocent” and could not be victims of rape. In other words, the bodies of women of their own racial group should not be penetrated by foreigners—an act symbolizing the invasion and deprivation of the motherland.[22]

The AWM’s reaction to the new revelation of the rape of the Austrian nurses on Banka Island seems to be deeply rooted in such nationalistic and male chauvinistic ideas.    

  A similar phenomenon can be found in the Japanese attitude toward the issue of sexual exploitation of Japanese women by the invading Russian forces in the final stage of the Asia-Pacific War. On August 9, 1945, five days before the official surrender of Japan, a staggering 1.5 million Soviet troops began advancing toward a five-thousand-kilometer partition between the southern border of the Mongolian People’s Republic and the Soviet border at Sakhalin, through many miles of coastal areas. Japan’s Kwantung Army in Manchukuo deserted all the front lines, and consequently, all of a sudden, Manchukuo collapsed. Under the bombardment of Soviet forces, women, children and old people who were left behind frantically ran around from place to place. Many became victims of atrocities committed by Soviet soldiers —looting, violence, sexual assault and killing. Eventually 176,000 of 1.55 million Japanese residents in Manchukuo died. In order to protect themselves against Russian military violence, many Japanese farming villages “voluntarily” provided young women as “comfort women” to Russian troops.

Until recently, this tragic historical fact has been long excluded from Japan’s official history of the war. It was in 2017 that one of the very few living victims was finally allowed to publicly testify in the Memorial Museum for Agricultural Emigrants to Manchuria in Nagano Prefecture in Japan. The statement acknowledging this sexual exploitation was clearly engraved on the cenotaph for the victims in Manchukuo erected in the town of Shirakawa in Gifu Prefecture, Japan.[23]    


(6) Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence Committed Against the Australian Nurses in Detention Camps


Thirty-two Australian Army nurses who reached various beaches of Banka Island, were moved into the detention camp set up in the middle of the town of Muntok. Here, there were many civilian women and children who had also managed to survive the Japanese bombing and get to the island. From then, they had to endure living in the harsh conditions of the camp for three and a half years until the end of August 1945. Food rations were extremely meager, basically small amounts of rice and vegetables provided two times a day, at noon and 4:00 p.m. Hardly any medicine was available, and the living conditions of the houses made of bamboo and palm leaves were unhealthy and unsanitary. It was not surprising, therefore, that many detainees suffered from various sickness caused by malnutrition on top of tropical diseases such as malaria and dysentery.   

  They were initially detained in Muntok for about one month. In the middle of March 1942, however, they were moved to the former Dutch settlement of Bukit Besar, a suburb of Palembang in southern Sumatra, and then to a different camp which had been a slum area in Palembang. There they were held for two and a half years until September 1944, when they were moved back to Muntok and detained until March 1945. Then they were taken to Belau Camp on a remote mountainside in southern Sumatra, to a place called Loebok Linggau, far away from any major town, and detained there until the end of the war. Four nurses died during the second internment in Muntok, and four more nurses died at Belau Camp, all from various illnesses caused by malnutrition or tropical diseases. One of those nurses, Pearl Mittelheuser, died on August 18, 1945, three days after the Japanese surrender. Eventually 24 of 32 nurses survived the three-and-a-half-year ordeal.[24]          

One of the nurses who returned to Australia and was hospitalized after the war

One of the serious problems that nurses constantly confronted apart from food shortage was sexual harassment committed by the Japanese soldiers. The nurses had difficulty protecting their privacy because the camp houses were poorly made of bamboo and palm leaves. The most degrading experience for the women was using the toilet facilities, which consisted of nothing but a concrete pit in the open, around which Japanese guards would suddenly appear and stare and laugh at the women. At night the Japanese guards wandered around the camp and prevented sleep by bashing the women’s legs with their torches. Because of the danger of being raped by the guards, they had to take turns to be awake during the night to warn their inmates in case the guards intruded into the houses. Throughout their long detention period, they were always being treated as sexual objects.[25]

Shortly after they were moved to Bukit Besar near Palembang, the Japanese tried to recruit some nurses as “comfort women” working at the Japanese officers’ club, in other words, the “comfort station” for the officers. Yet, according to the testimonies given by some surviving nurses after the war, they managed to refuse the repeated and persistent demands of the Japanese. At the time I was writing the book Hidden Horrors in the mid-1990s, there were hardly any other information sources on this issue. Accordingly, I wrote that none of the nurses became “comfort women” for the Japanese officers, although I was skeptical about the nurses’ testimonies at that time.[26]     

  However, according to Ian Shaw who wrote the book On Radji Beach: The Story of the Australian Nurses after the Fall of Singapore (Macmillan Australia, 2012), four women who were relatively senior among the nurses “volunteered” to become “comfort women” in order to protect younger nurses. The source of this information was one of the 24 surviving nurses, who was in hospital with terminal breast cancer in the mid-1990s. Neither her name nor the location of the hospital is revealed in the book. According to Shaw, a postgraduate student had been conducting interviews with this former nurse to write her thesis. One day, the woman said to this postgraduate student that she wanted to tell the truth about what had happened at the Japanese officers’ club in Palembang while she was still alive.

The following is what she told the postgraduate student. Shortly after the opening of the officers’ club, the Japanese camp commandant had called for the two senior nurses and told them:

No rations would be issued to either of the Australian houses until they had supplied four hostesses to the club. When the Australians mentioned the Dutch Red Cross, his response was to laugh and to ask them precisely what the Red Cross was in a position to do. If there were a Dutch Red Cross, the commandant observed, they were now a very long way away and besides, compared to the Imperial Japanese Army, exactly what kind of power did the Red Cross wield? The choice they had was a simple one, he continued: provide the hostesses or starve to death.

Back at one of the Australians’ houses, a meeting of all the nurses was held. The Japanese demand was explained to them and the meeting was thrown open to suggestions and discussion. No one present doubted that the Japanese were perfectly capable of acts of cruelty—Radji beach was too recent—and the senior nurses were convinced that the Japanese commandant was serious and would carry out the threats he had delivered if his demands were not met. There was a lot of discussion and a decision was eventually taken: the Australian nurses would provide four hostesses for the club, knowing those hostesses would be required to provide sexual services for the Japanese officers. However, the nurses provided would not be the young women already identified by the Japanese but four volunteer nurses, older women who said they were prepared to work at the club because they knew their profession was their life, and they would probably never marry or raise a family.

A Bible was produced and all nurses present swore an oath upon it. No one would ever reveal the names of the four nurses who volunteered to become comfort women to save their sisters from that fate. This decision was conveyed to the Japanese and for several weeks, four Australian nurses worked as hostesses at the officers’ club.[27]


According to Ellen Hannah, one of the senior nurses, the Japanese camp commandant had threatened: “If you don’t [supply four nurses], I will take every child out of the camp and I will starve them until you do.” In 1981, in an interview conducted by Australian author Amy McGrath, Hannah confessed that she was one of the four who “volunteered,” but she claimed that she and the other three nurses somehow managed to escape becoming “comfort women.” Clearly Hannah’s statement does not tally with the abovementioned statement by the dying former nurse that “for several weeks, four Australian nurses worked as hostesses at the officers’ club.”[28]


(7) War, Rape, and Patriarchy


It is clear from the preceding accounts that mass rape, and rape by enforced prostitution, were practiced by forces of many nations and were not unique to the Japanese forces of the Asia-Pacific War. Although it is necessary for Japanese to critically examine the conduct of the Japanese military during World War II—especially given the huge scale of the “comfort women” operation and the massive number of women who suffered as a result of it—it is also necessary to examine the widespread occurrence of rape in wartime and the general features of this phenomenon.

Why do soldiers rape? Further, why does mass rape routinely occur in large-scale military campaigns? Serious analysis of the phenomenon of military mass rape is rare, yet there is ample documentary evidence of it, both from World War II and from conflicts that have occurred since. In the early stages of the Vietnam War, while the Algerians were battling for independence, the French Army brought Algerian women into the battle zone and forced them to work as prostitutes.[29] U.S. forces in Vietnam also established military brothels inside a number of their camps.[30] Yet this did not prevent the rape of large numbers of Vietnamese women, most hideously in incidents such as the My Lai massacre.[31] In the Balkans conflict in 1993, Serbian soldiers used mass rape as a terror tactic in their campaign of “ethnic cleansing.” It is estimated that between 30,000 and 50,000 Muslim women were raped and many of them subsequently murdered in this war.[32]

It is perfectly understandable that soldiers should want to have sex, if only as a temporary escape from the horrors they encounter daily. That such a respite is positive is reflected in the following comment by a Vietnam veteran:


A man and a woman holding each other tight for one moment, finding in sex some escape from the terrible reality of the war. The intensity that war brings to sex, the “let us love now because there may be no tomorrow,” is based on death. No matter what our weapons on the battlefield, love is finally our only weapon against death. Sex is the weapon of life, the shooting sperms sent like an army of guerrillas to penetrate the egg’s defences—the only victory that really matters. Sex is a grappling hook that pulls you out, ends your isolation, makes you one with life again.[33]


However, it must be remembered that consensual sex and rape are dramatically different undertakings (even if the boundary is blurred in some people’s accounts of their actions), and it would be very wide of the mark to account for an act of rape as a distorted outlet for an individual’s sex drive. Wartime rape is a collective act on a number of levels. As another returned soldier from Vietnam put it, “They only do it when there are a lot of guys around. You know, it makes them feel good. They show each other what they can do—‘I can do it,’ you know. They won’t do it by themselves.”[34]

Indeed, the majority of rapes in war are gang rapes. They serve as a sharing of the spoils of war and a strengthening of the exclusively male bonds among soldiers. Fierce combat forms strong and intimate links among soldiers, and gang rape is both a by-product of this and a means by which such bonds are maintained in noncombat situations. There is also strong psychological pressure on soldiers to be brave and to be prepared for immediate physical combat, and this is especially so in the presence of other soldiers. The need to dominate the “other,” the enemy, is imperative in battle with other men. In a noncombat situation women readily become the “other” and the target of the desire for domination by groups of tightly bonded men. The violation of the bodies of women becomes the means by which such a sense of domination is affirmed and reaffirmed. In an extreme situation such as war, in which the killing of the enemy is regarded as an act worthy of praise, the moral basis for the condemnation of crimes such as rape falls away, and the moral codes adhered to by soldiers in peacetime lose their validity.[35]

The internal power relations of armies work on a strict class system, and enlisted soldiers are always subject to the orders of officers. This creates a contradiction whereby soldiers whose principal task is to dominate and subjugate the enemy must subordinate themselves to the unquestionable authority of their officers. This contradiction is intensified in the battlefield where, for the individual soldier, the imperative to dominate the enemy is literally a matter of life or death, and the need for the officer class to dominate and have unquestioned authority over groups of soldiers becomes strategically vital. Such a contradiction creates both a high degree of tension and a context in which violence is the standard way to release tension. Consequently the rape of women perceived as the “enemy” or “belonging to the enemy” becomes a frequently used form of release—a reprehensible behavior, escaping the disciplinary matrix, that is really the underbelly of the disciplinary system. Incidents in which women are raped in front of their families—especially in front of their fathers, husbands, or brothers—are common because the violence enacted on the women also serves to humiliate enemy men and to reinforce their subjection to the occupying force. The more absolute the relation of domination between officers and enlisted men within an army, the more heightened is the contradiction between their relations to the subjugated enemy and their situation within their own force. Consequently their behavior toward the enemy—soldiers, male civilians, and women—becomes more violent. This is one explanation for the comparatively large number of rapes committed by the Japanese and German armies in World War II.

Rape in war has a number of different effects. During periods of heavy fighting, it serves to perpetuate and intensify the aggressiveness of soldiers. After victory or in noncombat periods, it serves to maintain the sense of dominance and victory and is often viewed by soldiers as the legitimate spoils of war. The Japanese army is not the only force to have used or condoned rape as a device for maintaining the group aggressiveness of soldiers. In the Falklands War of 1982, British soldiers being transported to the war zone by ship were shown violent pornographic films as a way of stimulating their aggressiveness prior to battle. As seen in the Bosnian conflict, rape can be employed on the front line as one of a range of strategies. War and rape are fundamentally related. It is foolish to imagine that the provision of large numbers of involuntary prostitutes (which is itself a form of rape) could prevent the mass or gang rape that is a general feature of modern war.

Moreover, soldiers in battle cannot avoid a further—and irresolvable—contradiction. War is usually presented as an exclusively male activity, a masculine bonding ritual, an activity in which women have no place.[36] Yet this is a fantasy of war. The reality is that war and battles frequently occur in areas occupied by civilians and that women are usually present as civilians near the front line. War is presented as an activity that demands physical strength and toughness and is seen as an occasion for the celebration of these attributes as exclusively masculine virtues. Therefore the very existence of military forces is regarded as a living symbol of masculine dominance over the “weaker” sex. In such a patriarchal ideology, it is strongly believed that a woman’s place is on the home front and not in battle. This ideology demands that women be absent from battle, but its maintenance also requires that such dominance be repeatedly reinforced, especially when women are in fact present in the male domain of the battlefield, either as implicated civilians or as military nurses. Therefore women must be both present and absent at the same time. War as a masculine activity is a continuing attempt to resolve such a contradiction, and yet its very existence is founded on this contradiction. The final recourse in the face of such a contradiction is to eliminate women altogether—hence the frequency with which women are massacred after being raped.

Historically, military nurses have been major victims of such violence, not only because they are in close proximity to the front line but also because their military status—signified most graphically by their presence in uniform—marks them as boundary-crossers: women who are partially but not fully integrated into a male activity. This contradiction becomes particularly apparent and acute in noncombat periods or in periods after a military victory. This may explain the massacre of the nurses on Banka Island, which can be seen as an attempt by Japanese soldiers to resolve the contradiction of being brought face to face with women in uniform. It may also be the case that nurses were regarded by the victors as spoils of war, much more than would be the case with civilian women. Nurses may have been regarded as women who had belonged to the army of their nationality but who now belonged to the victors—hence the assumption on the part of the Japanese officers that such women would be easily persuaded to become prostitutes. This can also explain the attitude of the British officer in Singapore who expressed the view that nurses would be better off being shot by soldiers of their own nationality if the only alternative was to fall into the hands of the Japanese.

Nowadays nurses are not the only women in uniform. The armed forces of many countries recruit women into all branches of the military and claim they are the equals of their male comrades. One might think that this development would undermine the kind of male society I have described and consequently would work against those social forces that produce wartime rapists. That may indeed be the case. But strongly in evidence is a backlash from many military men against what they perceive as an invasion of their domain by women. Many men want to maintain all-male workplaces, and they often respond to the “threat” of women being present by sexual harassment of those women. This seems to be a particularly common phenomenon in the military, and the kinds of sexual harassment that occur seem to be more extreme than in other workplaces. There have been many rape cases reported in the armed forces of a number of countries in recent times.[37]

War is an inherently patriarchal activity, and rape is the most extreme expression of the patriarchal drive toward dominance of the “other.” In peacetime, such tendencies are held in check by the rule of law and internalized moral codes. In war, the rule of law is often absent, internalized moral codes disintegrate, and these normal checks on such activities are largely replaced by incentives. Rape is unique to human beings; it does not form part of animal behavior. Despite the fact that it is often characterized as an “animal” activity, rape is profoundly cultural and patriarchal. As Virginia Woolf indicated in her treatise Three Guineas (1938), war is not just a military problem but is a problem created by a male-dominated society, and therefore war is closely related to other traditionally male activities such as law and organized religion.[38] To prevent war requires first destroying the male-dominated culture that creates war and then creating a new culture that ensures real equality between men and women. The same could be said of rape in war.

The 11 (male) judges at the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal who heard the cases of mass rapes by Japanese soldiers probably never thought that the crimes they were investigating were closely related to their own status in the preeminently patriarchal world of the law. Just as Freud failed to see male sexuality as a weapon against women,[39] the judges of the tribunal failed to see these crimes committed by Japanese forces as a general characteristic of patriarchy.


(8) Sexual Violence During the Armed Conflicts and the #MeToo Movement


It is said that the “Me Too” movement against sexual abuse and sexual harassment was initiated by an African American, Tarana Burke, in 2006 in the U.S. But from 2017, it suddenly became a strong social movement through social networking services in the U.S. and in many nations of the world, using the recognizable signature #MeToo. Thanks to this worldwide social movement, many women victims became able to openly raise their voices against sexual violence. This movement can be seen as a kind of cultural revolution which is now rapidly breaking and changing the male-dominated patriarchal culture.        

  The civil movement demanding justice for the victims of Japan’s military sex slavery (the so-called “comfort women” system which operated during the Asia-Pacific War) is indeed an early model for the #MeToo movement, which began in 1991, 15 years before Tarana Burke took her action. This is because the movement began when one of the Korean victims, Kim Hak-sun (1924–1997) sought an official apology and compensation from the Japanese government on August 14, 1991. Indeed, Kim was the first person who came out, revealing that she was a victim. Her action persuaded many other victims not only in Korea but also from many parts of the Asia-Pacific region such as China, the Philippines, Indonesia, East Timor, and Australia to come forward to join her action.[40]  

 Jun Ruff O’Herne (1923–2019), who migrated to Australia in 1960, was one of many Dutch women victims in the Dutch East Indies, what is now Indonesia. She was also inspired by the actions of Kim Hak-sun and a few other Korean victims who followed Kim, and decided to speak out in 1992. Her two daughters and granddaughter strongly supported her tenacious struggle for the plight of the comfort women and for the protection of women in war until her death in 2019.[41]

  In Japan, Matsui Yayori (1934–2002), journalist and feminist activist, set up a civil group called “Japan Network on War and Military Violence Against Women” in 1998 in order to support many former comfort women who came out from various parts of the Asia-Pacific. In 2000, she organized a people’s tribunal called “the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery” in Tokyo to condemn Japan’s wartime criminal conducts committed against numerous women and demanded the Japanese government to offer official apologies and proper compensations.[42]

Similarly, victims of sexual violence are able to raise their voices when they have the popular support of the #MeToo movement. Japan’s civil movement of supporting the victims of Japan’s military sexual slavery clearly verifies this fact. At the same time this movement has considerably improved Japanese women’s awareness (and to some extent men’s awareness) of sexual violence, not only military violence but also sexual violence in peacetime including domestic violence. In this sense, this ongoing movement additionally has a dimension of social and cultural reformation.         

  Sadly, Vivian Bullwinkel did not have supporters to assist and encourage her to reveal herself as a victim of military sexual violence. This fact is still closely related to the present situation of causing friction between some surviving families and the AWM. Yet, the recent sudden popular resurge of attention to this historical rape issue is undoubtedly interrelated with the current rapid upsurge of the #MeToo movement in Australia, in particular continuing revelations of sexual harassment in the world of legal professions and politicians. It seems almost certain, partly because of this strong popular movement, that relatives of the victims of the rape and massacre on Banka Island strongly feel that they must voice their intention to seek justice on behalf of the nurses.        

  However, it is exactly because of this dimension of social and cultural reformation assumed by the movement to support victims of Japan’s military sexual slavery, that many Japanese men, in particular conservative politicians, have long regarded and still deem the movement to be an influential and defiant challenger of their patriarchal culture. The political campaign of “comfort women-bashing”—labeling the victims as “prostitutes” and “liars”—has been vigorously promoted in Japan by jingoistic politicians such as former prime minister Abe Shinzō for the last few decades, manipulating media reports and smearing images of the victims and their supporters. It can be said that such odious actions are nothing but clear evidence of how desperately they feel that they must protect and maintain Japan’s traditional patriarchal culture.

Considering the current situation in which the number of surviving victims of Japan’s military sexual slavery is rapidly diminishing, we need to develop new strategies for pursuing Japan’s responsibility not only for the victims of the military sexual slavery but for all the victims of sexual violence committed by Japanese troops during the war, closely collaborating with the #MeToo movement. In other words, we need to expand the #MeToo movement into one that engages not only in current problems but also in historical issues, demanding justice for all the victims including those in the past. This is because, as Theodor Adorno said, “Above all, enlightenment about what has happened must work against a forgetfulness that all too easily turns up together with the justification of what has been forgotten.”  


[1] Regarding the movement of the Orita Unit to Banka Island, see Japan Center for Asian Historical Records Collections: C14110652500.c1228300003.nansei-malayjava-1611-01.pdf.  Concerning the information on sexual violence committed by the Orita Unit in Hong Kong, see Australian National Archives (ANA) Collection, MP741/1, 336/1/1976, “Report Prepared by the British Land Forces, Hong Kong”; ANA Collection Ref No.1876A prepared by HQ Land Forces, Hong Kong; Catherine Kenny, Captives: Australian Army Nurses in Japanese Prison Camps (University of Queensland Press, 1989), p.21.

[2] Hank Nelson, Prisoners of War: Australians under Nippon (Australian Broadcasting

Corporation, 1985), p.71.

[3] ANA Collection, MP742/1, 336/1/1976-152, and MP742/1, 336/1/1976.

[4] ‘The Ships: the Palembang and Muntok Internees of World War 2’ on the website of the Muntok Memorial Peace Museum < https://muntokpeacemuseum.org/?page_id=27 >

[5] Ibid.

[6] ANA Collection, MP742/1, 336/1/1976 (Testimony of Major W.A. Tebutt); Nelson, op. cit., p.74.

[7] International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE) (Tokyo, 1946), p.13, pp.454–457 (Testimony of Vivian Bullwinkel).

[8] Interview with Vivian Bullwinkel in Survival, Tape 3 (Social History Unit, Australian Broadcasting Corporation); and Nelson, op. cit., pp.74–75.

[9] H. Nelson, op. cit., p.76.

[10] Yuki Tanaka, Hidden Horrors: Japanese War Crimes in World War II (Second edition, Rowman & Littlefield, 2018) p.97.

[11] ANA Collection, MP742/1, 336/1/1976, No.570 Memo prepared by Australian Mission in Japan.

[12] Lynette Silver, Angels of Mercy: Far West Far East (Sally Milner Publishing, 2019).

[13] Ibid., pp.352-353.

[14] John Smyth, The Will to Live: The Story of Dame Margot Turner D.B.E., R.C.C. (Ulverscroft, 1986) pp.59–60.

[15] James MacKay, Betrayal of High Places (Lane Publisher, 1996).

[16] L. Silver, op. cit., pp.355–356.

[17] Barbara Angel, A Woman’s War: The Exceptional Life Wilma Oram Young AM (New Holland Publishers, 2003).

[18] L. Silver, op. cit., pp.360–362.

[19] Tess Lawrence, ‘Vivian Bullwinkel, the Bangka Island massacre and the guilt of the survivor’ published in Independent Australia (19 February 2017). < https://independentaustralia.net/article-display/vivian-bullwinkel-the-bangka-island-massacre-and-the-guilt-of-the-survivor,10040 >

[20] Ibid.; IMTFE, p.13, pp.454–457 (Testimony of Vivian Bullwinkel).

[21] Canberra Times, ‘What Vivian Bullwinkel wanted: Calls to change official WWII Bangka massacre account’ April 26, 2021.

<https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/7220425/what-vivian-bullwinkel-wanted-calls-to-change-official-wwii-bangka-massacre-account/ >

[22] Yuki Tanaka, Japan’s Comfort Women: Sexual Slavery and Prostitution during World War II and the US Occupation (Routledge, 2002) p.180.

[23] Sawachi Hisae, 14 sai: Manshu Kaitaku Mura kara no Kikan (Shuei-sha, Tokyo 2015); Sato Masaru, ‘I Learned about the Wretchedness of War: Women Settlers’ ‘Sexual Entertainment’ of Soviet Red Army Troops in Postwar Manchuria’ in Asia-Pacific Journal/Japan Focus, Vol. 15, Issue 18, No.3 (September 2017) < https://apjjf.org/2017/18/Masaru.html >; Hirai Miho, ‘Soren Hei no “Sei-settai” o Meijirareta Otome-tachi: 70 nen-go no Kokuhaku’ in Gendai Bisinesu, July 7, 2019.

[24] Interview with Vivian Bullwinkel in Survival, Tape 3; C. Kenny, op. cit., p.65; ‘The Australian Army Nursing Sisters: the Palembang and Muntok Internees of World War 2’ on the website of the Muntok Memorial Peace Museum <https://muntokpeacemuseum.org/?page_id=1054 >

[25] ANA Collection, Statement made by VX39347 Sister James, N. and others.

[26] Yuki Tanaka, Hidden Horrors, pp.98–101. Concerning the life of women and children of the Allied nations including Australian nurses detained in the Japanese camps in Muntok and Sumatra, the feature film Paradise Road, produced in 1997, vividly shows how they tried to avoid the sexual harassment and physical abuse by the Japanese, and how they survived starvation and mental problems through their mutual support and communal spirit.

[27] Ian Shaw, Radji Beach: The Story of the Australian Nurses after the Fall of Singapore (Macmillan Australia, 2012), Kindle version 4420-4440.

[28] Interview with Capt. Mavis Hannah, Interviewed by Rr. Amy McGrath, 13 July 1981 for the Oral History Program of the National Library of Australia, Tape No.TRC 1087/1.

[29] Bernard Fall, Street Without Joy (Schocken, 1972) pp.132–134

[30] Susan Brownmiller, Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape (Secker and Warburg, 1975), pp.94–95.

[31] For details of rape and massacre in My Lai, see Michael Bilton and Kevin Sim, Four Hours in My Lai: A War Crime and Its Aftermath (Viking, 1992), especially Chapter 4.

[32] For details of rape in Bosnia-Herzegovina War, see Beverly Allen, Rape Warfare: The Hidden Genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia (University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1996); Alexander Stiglmayer ed., Mass Rape: The War against Women in Bosnia-Herzegovina (University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 1994).

[33] W. Broyles Jr., “Why Men Love War,” in Walter Capps (ed.), The Vietnam Reader (Routledge, 1991), p.79.

[34] S. Brownmiller, op. cit., p.107.

[35] Ibid., p.32.

[36] Cynthia Enloe, Does Khaki Become You? The Militarization of Women’s Lives (Pluto Press, 1983) p.15.

[37] A number of cases of rape and sexual harassment within the military have been reported in Australia. In the U.S., too, there have been reports of this phenomenon, which increased noticeably during and after the Gulf War. For example, at a U.S. Navy convention held at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas in September 1991 which celebrated the Gulf War victory, 90 sexual assaults were reported. The victims in 83 cases were women, either female officers or wives who accompanied their husbands to the convention. About five percent of 4,000 participants were female naval officers. Some male officers wore T-shirts with “Women Are Property” printed on the back and “He-Man Women Haters’ Club” printed on the front. For details of sexual harassment at this convention, see Tailhook Report: The Official Inquiry into the Events of Tailhook 1991 (St. Martin’s Press, 1993).

[38] Virginia Woolf, “A Room of One’s Own” and “Three Guineas” (Oxford University Press, 1992), pp.151–414.

[39] S. Brownmiller, op. cit.,p.11.

[40] Yuki Tanaka, ‘In Memory of Jan Ruff-O’Hern’ in Asia-Pacific Journal/Japan Focus, Vol. 17, Issue 19, No.1 (October 2017) < https://apjjf.org/2019/19/Tanaka.html >

[41] Ibid.

[42] For details of the “Women's International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery,” see Women's International War Crimes Tribunal Archives at < https://archives.wam-peace.org/wt/en/ >