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Senior to present ´comfort women´ research at national Asian studies symposium


 Marisa Imazu ´10

Marisa Imazu ´10

When East Asian Studies and economics double major Marisa Imazu ´10 turned in a paper to Japanese Professor Sayumi Takahashi for her "Transnational Asia and the Post-Exotic" class, she thought her work was done. But after Takahashi read the paper, she encouraged Imazu to go further - and take her research some 600 miles to Marietta, Ohio. Takahashi was so impressed by Imazu´s research paper, "Comfort Women: Exoticism and the Downfall of Young Korean Women," that she urged her to apply to present at Marietta College´s Undergraduate Asian Studies Symposium, a three-day conference where undergraduates from across the nation come together to share Asian Studies research. "Marisa really came into her own as a scholar this past semester," Takahashi said. "Her project turned out to be something of a revelation for seasoned scholars, including my colleague at Wesleyan who reviewed Marisa´s work." In April, Imazu will travel to Marietta to present her research on the history of "comfort women" -- women forced into prostitution by the Japanese military during World War II. The majority of comfort women were from Korea, and Imazu´s extensive research looks at the various factors that led these women into sexual slavery. Prior to the 20th century, Imazu says, Confucianism created a patriarchal society in Korea, where women did not have many opportunities. That, she says, began to change at the beginning of the 20th century. "Korea started having relations with the West, so Korean women were exposed to Western ideas, such as pursuing an education and entering the labor force," Imazu said, adding that many of the women were eager for self-improvement and were tricked into becoming prostitutes when Japanese comfort station recruiters promised them academic and job opportunities. By Laura Marenghi ´12

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