Yoshiaki Yoshimi (吉見 義明 Yoshimi Yoshiaki?, born 1946) is a professor of Japanese modern history at Chuo University in Tokyo, Japan. Yoshimi is a founding member of the Center for Research and Documentation on Japan's War Responsibility.
Yoshimi has done major work on the study of war crimes perpetrated by the Imperial Japanese Army and the Imperial Japanese Navy during the first part of the Shōwa period. He has published his research on the use of chemical weapons by the Army, ordered by Emperor Shōwa himself.
Yoshimi is mostly noted for his work regarding the comfort women. He found the first documentary evidence in the Defense Agency Library of Tokyo that the Imperial Japanese Army established and ran "comfort stations". One of these was a notice written on 4 March 1938 by the adjutants to the Chiefs of Staff of the North China Army and Central China Expeditionary Army titled "Concerning the Recruitment of Women for Military Comfort Stations". The gist of the document is as below:
"Many agents should have required special attention. Some of them accentuated the name of the armies as much as they might hurt the credibility of the armies and cause misunderstanding among the public, others recruited women without control through war correspondents or entertainers, and others selected the wrong agents who took a kidnapping approach to recruit women so that the polices arrested them. In the future, the armies in the field should control recruiting and select the agencies circumspectly and properly, and should build up a closer connection with the local polices and the local military polices in the implementation of recruiting. Take special care not to have problems which have the potential to damage the armies' credibility or are not acceptable to social standards."
The publication of these documents led to admission statements by the Chiefs of the Cabinet: Secretary Koichi Kato on 12 January 1993 and Yōhei Kōno on 4 August 1993. The Kono statement in particular has been important in the comfort women issue.
In July 2004, Yoshimi and historian Yuki Tanaka announced the discovery of the documents in National Archives of Australia that demonstrated that cyanide gas was tested on Australian and Dutch prisoners in November 1944 on the Kai Islands.
On 17 April 2007, Yoshimi and fellow historian Hirofumi Hayashi held a press conference and announced the discovery of documents in the archives of the Tokyo Tribunal that demonstrate that Tokkeitai members coerced or otherwise forced women from Indonesia, Indochina, and China into sexual slavery.
Although Yoshimi has previously made statements in which he conceded "there is no physical evidence to support the forced draft of comfort women by the military in the colonies (Taiwan & Korea)", he has unequivocally stated that what documentation he has unearthed makes it clear that "there was coercion of those women into sexual slavery and it is the Japanese authorities who decided to set up wartime brothels".
- Dokugasusen to Nihongun, Iwanami Shoten, 2004, ISBN 4-00-024128-1
- Comfort women, Sexual slavery in the Japanese Military during World War II, Columbia University Press, 2002, ISBN 0231120338
- Yoshimi and Seiya Matsuno, Dokugasusen Kankei Shiryō II (Materials on poison gas Warfare), Kaisetsu, Hōkan 2, Jūgonen sensô gokuhi shiryōshū, Funi Shuppankan, 1997
- Yoshimi and Kentarō Awaya, Dokugasusen Kankei Shiryō, Jūgonen sensō gokuhi shiryōshū, 18, Fuji Shuppan, 1989
- The original document can be found under reference code "C04120263400" on Japan Center for Asian Historical Records - National Archives of Japan
- Japan tested chemical weapons on Aussie POW, Japan Times, 27-07-2004
- Historians find new proofs on sex slaves, Washington Post, 17-04-2007
- "1997-01-03 朝まで生テレビ(Asamade Nama Terebi)". 1997-01-03. Retrieved 2012-08-09.
- Yoshiaki Yoshimi (1995). 従軍慰安婦(Comfort Women). Iwanami Shoten. ISBN 978-4004303848.
- "'Comfort women' historian alarmed". 2007-03-12. Retrieved 2013-11-28.
- Interview, 30 March 2007 with the International Herald Tribune, published in the New York Times
- In Japan, a Historian Stands by Proof of Wartime Sex Slavery, The New York Times, March 31, 2007
- Interview of 12 March 2007 about the declarations of Shinzō Abe on comfort women
- Comfort women' historian alarmed, China Daily, 2007-03-12
- Center for Research and Documentation on Japan's War Responsibility (JWRC)