Operations for Military Brothel / Comfort Station

A military brothel is a brothel set up by the military for soldiers. Nowadays, military brothels are less common due to respect for women’s rights, however many countries used to own them until World War II.

In this article, will be explained which countries were setting up military brothels, and in what ways?

In addition, if you want to know more about the definition of military brothels, please refer to the explanation here.

Military brothels set up by many countries during World War II.

What human rights are lost in war?

During World War II, there were military brothels all over the world. This is because many of the countries that participated in the war allowed them.

Even in countries that ostensibly did not approve of military brothels, most of them tacitly approved of the prostitution of their soldiers.

As a result, it was not uncommon for civilian brothels to essentially become military used.

Countries that established military brothels during the World War II:

Military brothels in the U.S. :

Publicly set up military brothels. The use of brothels is practically tacitly approved, or something similar to military brothels exists.
Germany, France, Japan, Australia The United States of America, England

Military brothels in the U.S.

Here is a brief history of military brothel operations in the major countries that have fought wars in the modern era. First, the United States.

The US military banned prostitution from the early 1900s. However, that was in the preface.

In reality, prostitution among generals was tacitly approved, mainly in overseas deployment sites, and the involvement of the military in STD testing for local prostitutes has been confirmed.


In 1854, Consul Townsend Harris went to Japan and requested the Edo Shogunate (the Japanese government at that time) to establish a brothel for sailors. As a result, a brothel called Minatozaki Yukaku was established in what is now Yokohama.

Although the Japanese side prepared the brothel, it can be said that it was a military brothel run by the U.S. military, considering that it was requested by Consul Harris and the users were American sailors.

Also, during the Civil War, Union troops occupying Nashville, Tennessee, used local prostitutes. It is believed to have been a substantial military brothel, as it conducted STD testing and required prostitutes to register.

Early 1900s

occupation of the Philippines

In 1898, the U.S. Army defeated the Spanish Army in the Spanish-American War.

The same year, the U.S. Army defeated the Spanish in the Spanish-American War, and after the occupation of the Philippines, many soldiers used brothels. As a result, venereal disease spread among the soldiers, and the U.S. military tested the prostitutes for venereal disease.

In other words, while the U.S. military ostensibly acted as if it was not involved in prostitution, in reality it was involved in STD testing and other activities. (In fact, the U.S. military was aware of the fact that brothels were almost exclusively for military use. (In fact, the U.S. military had limited the number of places where prostitution could take place.)

It is said that this kind of prostitution continued until the U.S. military temporarily withdrew from the Philippines in the 1990s.

Mid to late 1900s

In 1941, the U.S. military decreed in Circular 170 that contact between soldiers and prostitutes was prohibited under any circumstances, but even after that, prostitution did not stop, and the military tacitly approved of prostitution by officers.

For example, after World War II, comfort stations were set up in various parts of Japan for the U.S. occupation forces, and the U.S. military used them. In the Korean War, it is said that more than one million Korean women had served American soldiers by the 1980s. (In 1962, more than 20,000 women were registered as comfort women for American soldiers in Korea.)

(In 1962, more than 20,000 people were registered as comfort women for American soldiers in Korea.) Furthermore, at the end of the Vietnam War, 300,000 to 500,000 Vietnamese were prepared as comfort women, and there were unauthorized military brothels all over the country. (The U.S. military tacitly approved of this.)

British military brothels

British military brothels

In Britain, prostitution and the use of brothels by soldiers is taboo.

However, it is known that the British military officially set up military brothels based on the memoirs left by soldiers.

During World War I

During World War I

During World War I, when British troops went to France, they were allowed to use brothels for their officers.

Brothels for ordinary soldiers were called “Red Lamps” and were mostly local private brothels.

On the other hand, brothels for officers were called “blue lamps” and some of them were set up by the military.

During World War II

During the Second World War, Britain did not establish military brothels.

Instead, it tacitly allowed its soldiers to use private brothels in the places where they were deployed. It is said that after the Japanese troops withdrew, they sometimes used the remaining
military brothels without permission.

Reference:”Human Rights Watch

Military brothels in Germany

Military brothels in Germany

It was in 1904 that the Germans first set up military brothels. It is said that at first they used French prostitutes, but later brought in Polish and Ukrainian schoolgirls to work in the military brothels.

During World War I

During World War I, the Germans already had many military brothels, which were managed or directly operated by the military.
According to the women’s work diaries, which included room numbers, start and end times, etc., the women were dealing with about 25 to 30 people a day.

During World War II

During World War II

It is known that there were about 500 military brothels in the German army during World War II.

In addition, there were 13 brothels exclusively for prisoners held in forced labor camps, serving German and Polish prisoners with privileges.
Reference:”Human Rights Watch

Military brothels in France

France was one of the first countries in Europe to establish military brothels.

Already in the 1800s, military brothels were in operation in overseas colonies.

The French military brothels are called “mobile comfort stations” (BMC) and are thought to have been established in Algeria or Morocco in 1830.

When World War I began, venereal disease became a serious problem within the French military.

Twenty to thirty percent of all French men, including civilians, were infected with syphilis. Believing that the main cause was sex in the colonies, the French government opened military brothels in France to stop the spread of STDs.

Since World War II

During World War II

The French military operated military brothels during World War II as well as during the Indochina and Algerian wars, and it is said that many of the women were from North Africa.

These military brothels were in operation until 1995. (The last one was in Kourou, French Guiana.)
Reference:”Human Rights Watch

Military brothel in Russia (Soviet Union)

Military brothel in Russia

The Russian military had been planning to introduce military brothels since the First World War.

In fact, they acquired several German comfort stations and silently allowed Cossack soldiers to use them. After that, civilian brothels were established all over the front lines, serving soldiers as their customers, and the introduction of military brothels became more and more of a reality…

The introduction of military brothels became more and more realistic, but it was not realized because the civil war broke out before the Russian army officially established military brothels.

In addition, during World War II, the Soviet army did not set up military brothels, but this led to large-scale rape incidents in Berlin and Manchuria during the invasion.
Reference:”Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Japanese Military Brothels

Japanese Military Brothels

In the 1930s, the Japanese military decided that brothels were necessary to reduce the risk of venereal disease. There was no shortage of prostitutes, but many of the prostitutes who followed the army on their own were suffering from STDs. Diseases debilitate an army, so in order to maintain a healthy army, it was necessary to have brothels that required the use of condoms, used disinfectant every time a prostitute met a customer, and had prostitutes undergo weekly medical checkups.

Therefore, the Japanese military designated brothels that met these requirements as “comfort stations.

The brothels were run by civilians, and in order to hire prostitutes, the brothels had the same contracts as licensed prostitutes in Japan at the time.
Working in the front line comfort stations was dangerous work, and for this kind of work, prostitutes demanded and received very high remuneration. These women worked for a short period of time, usually two years. By the end of the war, these women had repaid their advances and gone home.

In many cases, the managers were not only Japanese, but also Chinese, Koreans, and other locals.

After the war, the Allied forces took advantage of the situation.
Reference:”Professor Ramseyer

Military brothels were in operation in many countries

This article introduced the major countries that operated military brothels and their history.

There were two types of military brothels: those in which the military was actively involved and operated, and those in which civilian brothels essentially became military brothels and were tacitly approved by the military.

For women who worked voluntarily, the military brothels were a valuable source of income, but it is also true that there were women who were forced to work.

Under any circumstances, disregard for human rights should not be tolerated, and we can only hope that it will not be repeated in the future.

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