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Film Screening: “Shusenjo: The Main Battleground of the Comfort Women”

Followed by moderated Q&A Session with filmmaker Miki Dezaki


“The “comfort women” issue is perhaps Japan’s most contentious present-day diplomatic quandary.  Inside Japan, the issue is dividing the country across clear ideological lines. Supporters and detractors of “comfort women” are caught in a relentless battle over empirical evidence, the validity of oral testimony, the number of victims, the meaning of sexual slavery, and the definition of coercive recruitment. Credibility, legitimacy and influence serve as the rallying cry for all those involved in the battle. In addition, this largely domestic battleground has been shifted to the international arena, commanding the participation of various state and non-state actors and institutions from all over the world.  This film delves deep into the most contentious debates and uncovers the hidden intentions of the supporters and detractors of comfort women. Most importantly it finds answers to some of the biggest questions for Japanese and Koreans: Were comfort women prostitutes or sex slaves? Were they coercively recruited? And, does Japan have a legal responsibility to apologize to the former comfort women?”

This controversial project should be of interest for students and scholars of historical memory, public history, imperialism, and gender and sexuality as well as the broader histories of China, Korea, and Japan. Following the screening, Garrett Washington, Department of History will moderate a Question and Answer session with Mr. Dezaki. In order to most efficiently use our time, questions for the director will be accepted up until the end of the film at from anyone who will be in attendance. Please include your name and question so that Mr. Dezaki will be able to respond to you directly after the film.  

Location and Accessibility

Integrative Learning Center is located in the central part of the UMass Amherst campus, nearby the UMass Parking Garage (1 Campus Center Way, $1.75/hr). More information: bus schedulecampus map with the venues and nearby parking indicated
This venue is wheelchair accessible. Click here for campus access information. If you need directions or additional assistance to plan your visit, or to request specific accommodations, please contact the History Department's communications assistant, Ragini Jha at  
Sponsored by the UMass Amherst History Department, East Asian Languages and Cultures Program, Journalism Department, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and the Five College Japan Lecture Series.