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An Associated Press review of historical documents and records — some never before translated into English — shows American authorities permitted the official brothel system to operate despite internal reports that women were being coerced into prostitution.
Tens of thousands of women were employed to provide cheap sex to U. Douglas MacArthur shut the brothels down. The documents show the brothels were rushed into operation as American forces poured into Japan beginning in August The Ibaraki police immediately set to work. The only suitable facility was a dormitory for single police officers, which they quickly converted into a brothel. Bedding from the navy was brought in, along with 20 comfort women.
The brothel opened for business Sept. But they were paid highly, and they gradually came to accept their work peacefully. Police officials and Tokyo businessmen established a network of brothels under the auspices of the Recreation and Amusement Association, which operated with government funds. On Aug. He said American MPs were barely able to keep the troops under control. Though arranged and supervised by the police and civilian government, the system mirrored the comfort stations established by the Japanese military abroad during the war.
Kaburagi wrote that occupation GIs paid upfront and were given tickets and condoms. Each woman serviced from 15 to 60 clients a day. Kaburagi said the sudden demand forced brothel operators to advertise for women who were not licensed prostitutes. Natsue Takita, a year-old Komachien worker whose relatives had been killed in the war, responded to an ad seeking an office worker.
She was told the only positions available were for comfort women and was persuaded to accept the offer. By the end of , about , U. At its peak, Kaburagi wrote, the RAA employed 70, prostitutes to serve them. Although there are suspicions, there is not clear evidence non-Japanese comfort women were imported to Japan as part of the program.