A group of 1,129 professors and researchers across the world studying Japan’s wartime sexual slavery issued a statement criticizing Harvard Law School Japanese legal studies professor J. Mark Ramseyer, who recently claimed that that “comfort women” were not sex slaves, but prostitutes.
Titled “Feminist Open Letter on Ramseyer,” the statement claimed on Wednesday that they are concerned that such a line of argument can be used to justify violence against women and the perpetuation of systems of sexual slavery and exploitation.
“When Japanese military records demonstrated the Japanese military’s supervision of private recruiters and direct involvement in the mobilization of women, the Japanese government partially recognized its involvement with the Kono Statement in 1993. Professor Ramseyer’s argument also normalizes sexual exploitation of women’s bodies by using the historical existence of sex trafficking for “licensed prostitution” as a justification for the Japanese military sexual slavery system.”
Harvard University claimed that Ramseyer’s paper falls under “academic freedom.” The Voluntary Agency Network of Korea (VANK) asked Harvard President Lawrence Bacow to withdraw the paper, but Harvard answered that “academic freedom that we are all entitled to includes the freedom to express controversial views.”