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Australian military and civilian prisoners saw the brothels, and a few of those Australians observed them over a long period.Japanese who served in Rabaul have left reminiscences about the brothels and one Korean woman has testified that she worked in Rabaul.
Their experiences are not used to provide evidence on the recurring debates about whether the comfort women were coerced or free and whether they were recruited, shipped and employed by private contractors rather than the Japanese military or government.Above-ground nuclear testing was a major public attraction during the late 1950s, and hotels capitalized on the craze by hosting nuclear bomb watch parties, which usually included the dubbing of a chorus girl as Miss Atomic Bomb.Merlin was the last and most famous of the Miss Atomic Bomb girls.Here, prominent Australian historian of the Pacific, Hank Nelson, delves into the archival and memoir literature to reconstruct an astonishing story: the logistically massive Japanese state effort to transport, organize, supervise, and supply some 2,000 women in sexual service stations for its occupying forces, an operation that began almost from the day in 1942 when Rabaul, on New Britain Island at the remotest New Guinea fringe of the Japanese empire, fell into their hands.The Rabaul evidence amply documents the central role of the Japanese military in establishing, managing, and creating regulations to govern the comfort stations, which were established in Rabaul within weeks of its capture by Japanese forces in early 1942.Some 1,500 civilian observers, news people, ground soldiers and paratroopers in the air witnessed the blast.
(AP Photo) Observers watch an atomic nuclear blast in this March 23, 1955 photo.
Yet evidence from many points of the old Japanese empire keeps coming to light to contradict him.
The Rabaul story is one of the least-known episodes in this sorry story.
This is a story that illuminates more than the nature of the comfort women phenomenon in the Pacific, one involving Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese and Japanese women.
It also offers important insight into racial hierarchies involving Australians, Japanese and New Guineans, and class (rank) hierarchies within the Japanese military.
While most of the atomic pin-ups were hand-picked showgirls and not contest-winners, as is sometimes assumed from their titles, in the spring of 1953 Paula Harris, winner of the Miss North Las Vegas beauty contest, was nicknamed “Miss A-Bomb” to tie in with the Chamber of Commerce’s campaign promoting Las Vegas as “The Atomic City” and rode on a themed float.