支那事変地における慰安所設置のため内地において従業婦等を募集するに当たり、ことさらに軍部了解等の名義を利用し、軍の威信を傷つけかつ一般市民の誤解を招く恐れあるもの、あるいは従軍記者、慰問者等を介して不統制に募集し社会問題を惹起する恐れのあるもの、あるいは募集に任ずる者の人選適切を欠き、募集の方法、誘拐に類し警察当局に検挙取り調べを受けるものある等注意を要するもの少ながらざるに、ついては将来これらの募集などにあたっては派遣軍において統制しこれに任ずる人物の選定を周到適切にしその実施にあたっては関係地方の憲兵および警察当局との連携を密にし、軍の威信保持並びに社会問題上遺漏なきよう配慮するよう通牒す。 陸支密第７４５号 昭和十三年三月四日
(pp. 33 – 34)
英訳など１：Behind The Comfort Women Controversy: How Lies Became Truth より
I will quote from the document as published in Asahi Shimbun. It appears in a collection of documents exchanged between the Ministry of the Army and units assigned to China and entitled “China Area Army Journal: Secret.”
04 March 1938
We advise Expeditionary Army personnel to exercise extreme caution in the recruiting of female workers to avoid harm to the prestige of the military and the emergence of social problems. Be aware that unscrupulous brokers may say they are acting on behalf of the military, thus causing the military to lose prestige or generating misunderstandings among the local population. They may also cause social problems by violating regulations and recruiting through war correspondents or visitors. Some of the recruiters cannot be trusted; they lack the judgment required of recruiters, and must be watched carefully, as they have previously been arrested or interrogated by the police for using improper recruiting methods akin to kidnapping. Select recruiters with care and keep control over them. Maintain close contact with the military police and local police authorities.17*1
This document does not prove that the military forced women to serve as prostitutes. Asahi Shimbun reported that this document and two others attest to military involvement. But they simply state that the brothels were established to improve military discipline, as rapes committed by Japanese soldiers in war zones would be used as anti-Japanese political propaganda.
Following a logical thought process, we have: the military were concerned about inciting adverse public sentiment in war zones. There was already a fledgling independence movement in colonial Korea. The military wouldn’t have dared angering the local population by coercing women to become prostitutes. Therefore, the document found by Prof. Yoshimi does not prove that the comfort women were coerced. On the contrary, it proves that they were not coerced.
We do, however, possess important official documentation concerning key aspects of the comfort women program. Once document prepared by the Ministry of War is an instruction entitled "Matters related to the recruitment of female and other employees for military comfort stations," which was issued on March 4, 1938 to the Chiefs of Staff of the North China Area Army and Central China Area Army. It states:
In recruiting female and other employees from Japan for the establishment of comfort stations in the place where The China Incident occurred, some deliberately make an illicit claim that they have permissions from the military authorities, thus damaging the Army's reputation and causing misunderstanding among the general population. Some others are causing social problems by trying to recruit [women] illegally through the mediation of war correspondents, visiting entertainers and the like. Due to the selection of unsuitable recruiting agents, some have been arrested and investigated by the police because of their [dubious] methods of recruitment and kidnapping. Thus, great care is necessary in selecting suitable agents. In future, when recruiting those [women], each Army must tighten control [of the selection procedure] by carefully selecting appropriate agents. In actual recruitment, each Army must work in closer cooperation with local Kempeitai or police authorities, thus maintaining the Army's dignity and avoiding social problems. The above is issued as a letter of proxy. 37*2
This letter was drafted by the staff of the Military Administration Bureau and issued under the name of Colonel Fushibuchi Senichi. It was approved by the Vice-Minister of War, Umezu Yoshijiro. It is important to note that this instruction was issued as "a letter of proxy," which means that it was also approved by the Ministry of War, Sugiyama Hajime. In other words, top army leaders in the Ministry of War closely monitored the procurement of women in Japan by the North China Area Army and the Central China Area Army. This was intended to control the use of "agents" of questionable character in order to prevent explosive abuses, while sanctioning the basic comfort women system. While apprehensive about the methods of procurement, they made no attempt to stop their armies from operating comfort stations.
On the contrary, the following document endorses the fact that the Ministry of War promoted the comfort women scheme as an effective method to maintain military discipline and prevent VD. The document called "Measures fro enhancing military discipline based upon experiences in the China Incident" was distributed as "educational material" to all army units from the Ministry of War on September 19, 1940. It states in part:
[Since the Sino-Japanese war started], despite brilliant achievements in war, our soldiers have committed various crimes such as looting, rape, arson, murder of prisoners, and the like which are contrary to the essence of the principles of the Imperial army. It is therefore regrettable that such conduct has created a sense of aversion both within and outside Japan, thus making it difficult to attain the object of our holy war … Having observed the circumstances in which crimes and misconduct were committed, it is recognized that many of them occurred immediately after combat activities…In the battle zone, it is necessary to make efforts to create a good environment, to pay considerable attention to the facilities for amenities, and to ease and control rough and low feelings from the troops … In particular, the psychological effects that the soldiers receive at comfort stations are most immediate and profound, and therefore it is believed that the enhancement of troop morale, maintenance of discipline, and prevention of crimes and VD are dependent on successful supervision of these [comfort stations].38*3