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Comfort women were women and girls forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army before and during World War II.[2][3][4] The name "comfort women" is a translation of the Japanese euphemism ianfu (慰安婦) and the similar Korean term wianbu (위안부).[5][6] Ianfu is a euphemism for shōfu (娼婦) whose meaning is "prostitute(s)".[7]

Estimates vary as to how many women were involved, with numbers ranging from as low as 20,000 [8] to as high as 360,000 to 410,000, in Chinese sources;[9] the exact numbers are still being researched and debated.[10] Many of the women were from occupied countries, including Korea, China, and the Philippines,[11] although women from Burma,Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan (then a Japanese dependency), Indonesia (then the Dutch East Indies), East Timor (then Portuguese Timor),[12][13] and other Japanese-occupied territories were used for military "comfort stations". Stations were located in Japan, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, then Malaya, Thailand, Burma, New Guinea, Hong Kong, Macau, and French Indochina.[14] A smaller number of women of European origin from the Netherlands and Australia were also involved.

According to testimony, young women from countries in Imperial Japanese custody were abducted from their homes. In many cases, women were also lured with promises of work in factories or restaurants; once recruited, the women were incarcerated in comfort stations in foreign lands.[15]

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