Distributor:  Icarus Films
Length:  54 minutes
Date:  1989
Genre:  Expository
Language:  Not available / English subtitles
Grade level: 10-12, College, Adult
Color/BW:  Color
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Senso Daughters

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Investigates the Japanese army's mistreatment of New Guinean women and 'comfort girls.'

Senso Daughters

During World War II, 140,000 Japanese troops may have died in Papua New Guinea. Only 11,000 returned to Japan. Considered the 'Forgotten War,' neither the war nor its veterans received public recognition in Japan.

But SENSO DAUGHTERS (DAUGHTERS OF WAR) investigates another unacknowledged tragedy of that campaign: the army's mistreatment of New Guinean women and 'comfort girls,' military prostitutes conscripted believing they would clean and cook. Since women, excepting nurses, had no official military status, 90,000 comfort girls were shipped to battle sites as 'military commodities,' without names or identities, without records to be traced by.

As the women testify, even as Japanese who were there make startling denials, SENSO DAUGHTERS provoked considerable controversy in Japan because Sekiguchi, a Japanese, not only exposes a shameful episode in her nation's past, but indicts the culture which fostered it.

' * * * * [4 out of 4 stars]! Highly Recommended!'-Video Rating Guide for Libraries

'SENSO DAUGHTERS reveals a shameful chapter in Japan's military history, and Sekiguchi has risked considerable disapproval in her country by producing such a powerful indictment. Documentary at its best: stark, honest and uncensored.'-Anne Markowski, New Directions for Women

'A tour de-force of investigative journalism, a frightening meditation on amnesia and history and a personal historiography in the best tradition of Shoah. In the face of incontrovertible evidence, Japanese soldiers and nurses alike continue to pretend ignorance of the real conditions inside the brothels.'-Cineaste

'Chilling! [The film] attains its most subtle brilliance precisely by allowing the New Guineans to speak for themselves.'-David Desser, Education About Asia

'Unforgettable! Never sensational or offensive; instead... [the film] uses interviews in which a common human desire for dignity can be seen. Through the contrasting images and voices of the Japanese and Melanesians, these memories become the stuff of history.'-David D. Buck, Editor, Journal of Asian Studies

'Excellent! Sekiguchi is undaunted by official evasion and lies, and the (willfully) incomplete memories or outright denials of Japanese veterans. She raises troubling questions about Japan's imperial legacy, the relationship between memory and history, between sexual and cultural colonialism and the role of women.'-The Guardian


** Best of Category, 1991 San Francisco Film Festival
** Best Documentary, 1990 Melbourne Film Festival
** Best Documentary, 1990 International Short Film Competition
** Best Documentary, 1989 Japanese Catholic Cinema Club


Main credits

Sekiguchi, Noriko (film producer)
Sekiguchi, Noriko (film director)
Diai, Josephine (on-screen participant)
Goto, Yusaku (on-screen participant)
As̄o, Tetsuo (on-screen participant)

Other credits

Director of photography, Chris Owen; editors, Les McLaren, Masato Koike, Chicko Shimizu; music, Hitosh Komuro, Blasius To Una.

Distributor credits

A Film by Noriko Sekiguchi

Docuseek2 subjects

Southeast Asia
Human Rights
Women's Studies
World War II

Distributor subjects

East Asia
Human Rights
Southeast Asia
Women's Studies
World War II


Japan; Papua New Guinea; World War II; comfort girls; "Senso Daughters"; Icarus Films

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