Monday, April 13, 2015

Comfort Women Panel

For the past week, many faculty and students at Central Washington University have been concerned over the planned screenings of the ultra-rightist Japanese film, “Scottsboro Girls”, directed by rightist activist Junjiro Taniyama, scheduled for Tuesday, April 28 and Wednesday, April 29. The film, in keeping with a great deal of recent far rightist  discourse in Japan, seeks to deny the historical truth that the Japanese Imperial military sponsored a system of sexual slavery (the euphemistically termed “Comfort Women” system) in brothels and encampments across the Asia-Pacific region during World War II.  The filmmaker is scheduled to speak at both screenings on campus.

The film screenings are not sponsored by any department or unit at Central; rather they are taking place at the behest of an individual faculty member, a Japanese language instructor.

ADDENDUM: There has been a great deal of discussion back and forth about whether or not an academic unit at CWU is "sponsoring" the screenings of Scottsboro Girls. Our understanding is that while no department considers itself to be a "sponsor," the faculty member in question scheduled the screening venues through her home department and that scheduling arrangement continues. The semantic distinctions between "sponsoring" and "scheduling" are a matter of continued discussion.

The film’s on line previews:

and the announcement of the screening:

suggest that the film is an appallingly shoddy, sexist and racist piece of propaganda, without any serious scholarly content.  It repeats many of the standard talking points of far rightist Japanese activists denying official complicity in the "Comfort Women" system during the war period.

For those who read Japanese, the letter of invitation by the Japanese language lecturer and the response by the director, are at:

Their correspondence refers to the possibility that Korean (or Korea-associated) faculty might interfere with the screening.  (This appear to be a thinly veiled attack on our colleague, the political scientist Dr. Bang-Soon Yoon, who has published extensively on wartime sexual slavery and  "Comfort Women," and who some years ago brought a surviving witness to speak on campus. )The film preview makes absurd, unfounded allegations against serious scholars of the "Comfort Women" issue, such as Katharine Moon.

The timing of the screenings would appear planned to coincide with the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his address on April 29 a the joint meeting of Congress.  (Addendum: Thanks to a comment poster below for noting that April 28 is the 114th birthday of the Showa Emperor, Hirohito.) Abe has of course been notable for his denial of Japanese state complicity in wartime human rights atrocities, including state-sponsorship of the sexual slavery or “Comfort Women” system.

All of this is consistent with what appears to be a general campaign waged by Japanese rightists, in conjunction with reported efforts by the Japanese Foreign Ministry, to pressure US and Japanese academics from engaging in critical research and publishing on the "Comfort Women" or wartime sexual slavery issue. See an important letter by prominent US Japan historians on this crisis:

And see the rebuttal points to the major ultra-rightist  nationalist claims on the "Comfort Women" issue.

In this context, my colleague the historian Chong Eun Ahn and I, in consultation with many scholars here and elsewhere, have organized an academic symposium on the "Comfort Women"issue and related struggles over historical memory in Japan and the Pacific, to take place on Tuesday, April 28 at 7:00 pm in the SURC ballroom.  We’re calling the gathering, “Sexual Slavery in the Wartime Japanese Empire: The Historical Record and the Politics of Memory: A Panel of Concerned Scholars.” Panelists are
  • Dr. Bang-Soon Yoon (Political Science)
  • Chong Eun Ahn (History)
  • Dr. Anne Cubilié  (Douglas Honors College)
  • Dr.  Yukiko Shigeto (Foreign Languages and Literatures, Whitman College)
  • Dr.  Davinder Bhowmik  (Asian Languages and Literature, University of Washington)
  • Dr. Justin Jesty (Asian Languages and Literature, University of Washington)
  • Dr. Mark Auslander (Anthropology and Museum Studies)
  • Moderator: Dr. Stacey Robertson (Dean, College of Arts and Humanities)
We are especially grateful to Yuki, Davinder, and Justin for coming in from other campuses to speak on this important panel. Before the panel,  at 6:00 pm, we'll gather in the SURC pit as students read aloud first person testimony by persons euphemistically termed "Comfort Women" (this event is being organized by our colleague Jay Ball in Theater.)

Details at:

Some of our colleagues initially suggested it would be better not to dignify this poisonous film with a scholarly response, but on reflection, it seems to us that not to organize a counter-point would be, in a sense, to be complicit with the screening.  I’m especially mindful, overseeing a Museum Studies program that teaches our students how to tackle with difficult dialogues about history, belonging and memory, that we have a special pedagogic responsibility to model effective and thoughtful academic responses to these kinds of traumatic fault-lines.

It has been a painful process for so many of us--realizing that our campus is in a sense under assault from those who would seek to repress these horrific chapters in collective terror and injustice; these efforts do strike many of us as akin to Holocaust denial.  It is also distressing to see the cynical way that the language of “academic freedom” is used to defend discourse that really is tantamount to un-scholarly hate speech.  For a scholar of African American Studies it is especially galling to see the cynical appropriation of the "Scottsboro Boys" case in entitling the film (quite ludicrously) "Scottsboro Girls," evidently implying that the Japanese military has been falsely accused of mass rape during wartime.

 At the same time, it has been heartening to experience so much support from conscientious colleagues and students here, and around the world, who have been helping us think about how best to respond to this dreadful film in a way that turns this assault on historical truth into a "teachable moment."

ADDENDUM: While I appreciate the intensity of interest this matter has generated, especially from conservative bloggers, it does now strike me as counter-productive to continue comments for this post, especially since a couple of commentators out there are posting ad hominen attacks on individuals (deleted) or posting rather generic, well rehearsed  pieces, reproduced from other sources, on the broader Comfort Women issue.  So comments are closed for this specific post.


  1. The joint "meeting" of Congress (correct term) will be held on Hirohito's birthday. Nice touch all around.

  2. As many of you know there has been a reactionary movement toward the public viewing of the film by Japanese social commentator Yujiro Taniyama. It addresses the social and political questions arising from the increasingly politicized and often misunderstood history and changing perspectives of the Comfort Women, specifically the Korean women in that program. Here in the United States, I have noticed that there is frequently not only misunderstanding of the issue, but an emotional rather than academic or rational based look. The issue is also being seen by many as polarizing of the Asian American community and creating disunity. There have been many responses to this issue in Asia, but seemingly only one viewpoint promoted here in the US, and I believe that Central students and the university community deserve to view all sides of the issue. Social commentators and researchers have valid narratives to add to the social and political discourse and I am aware of many other non-academic based films and multimedia projects that have been shown in Central without the reactionary movement that this one has drawn.

    For academic works on the Comfort Women I would like to direct the faculty of Central Washington to Professor Yuha Park of Sejong University in Korea. Professor Park is the leading researcher on the Comfort Women issue and her work was subsequently censored by the Right Wing Park government of Korea, who notified her that unless she changed her research findings to those supported by the government, the book would not be allowed to be printed or disseminated in South Korea. Professor Park is one of the few Korean academics to be allowed direct access to the Comfort Women, in addition to Professor Emeritus Ahn Byong Jik of Seoul University. Both professors have published findings that demonstrate an alternate narrative than one that is being presented in the US, and inexplicably being left out of American interpretations and research of this issue. The Denialists are clearly in this case those that attempt to silence the academic voices of South Korean and Japanese scholars.

    The frustration felt by many Japanese citizens at their loss of being heard in the US media and social discourse has created works such as Yujiro Taniyama's that attempt to break through the normally segregated discourse in the US on this issue and bring a more complete narrative to the issue.

    Unlike the uninformed attempt by some members of the faculty at Central Washington to characterize this as a right vs. left wing issue and inexplicably make a false equation to events in Germany, the Comfort Women issue is more involved and complex than many Americans are aware of, and in order to understand it and make judgements, all sides must be taken into consideration. Even in South Korea, the academic voices are being silenced for political reasons; I sincerely hope that is not being attempted at Central Washington.

    I invite everyone to attend the discussion panel, view the film, and then discuss the issues with the documentary director. I'm sure that when provided the facts, many will see that the recent characterizations and attempts at false contextualizing in recent emails are not accurate.

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  4. 200,000 young women, sexual slave?

    Why didn't Korean resist?
    Why was the family looking?  
    Why were men of community looking?

    300,000 youths in those days Korea, to volunteer
    for empire japan military service

    Korean governor and mayor in those days. 80% of the councilor
    and the policeman are Korean.
    What were they doing?

    I oppose propaganda by objective material and rational thought.

  5. Mariko, I'm concerned this last post is taking the important work of Park Yu-ha out of context. To be sure, there were complex lines of complicity during the war, and there was ethically problematic activity by some local people in Korea, the Philipppines, and other sites under Japanese military control from which sex slaves were obtained. (In a comparable sense, there were complicit local persons in the vast Atlantic slave system, but that doesn't mean that the ultimate ethical responsibility for the crimes of the slave trade can be dodged by Euro-American white networks of power and privilege). And yes, there has been unfortunate censorship in Korea on these issues. But Dr. Park and similar scholars who have questioned the simplistic popular consensus in Korea (that 200,000 women were kidnapped, etc) have not denied that there was, ultimately, a state-sanctioned and organized system of sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese military. The parallels to Germany do in fact seem worth pondering, and have been explored by many important scholars. Today, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, we should reflect on why the vast majority of Germans have seriously grappled with the legacies of the Holocaust, while many in Japan continue to find it difficult to acknowledge the legacies of Japanese wartime atrocities in Asia and the Pacific.

  6. The embarrassing thing for us Japanese ,recently, some Japanese Nationalist say, hang Korean,shot dead Korean in the street of Central Tokyo.

    And They say that Japanese army forced prostitution only few Netherlands women prisoners but not Korean.

    ★Netherlands government official report

    Forced Prostitution Dutch East Indies by the Japanese army

    Dwangprostitutie Nederlands-Indië

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  10. This notion that everyone's view is of equal stature is ludicrous, and become all the more legible when revisionists quickly say things like "[American academics make] an emotional rather than academic or rational based look. The issue is also being seen by many as polarizing of the Asian American community and creating disunity." I think the enslavement of Koreans might have something to do with the polarization of the "Asian American Community," and that enslavement is a fact that is well documented regardless of debates regarding Comfort Women's agency, mobility, etc. (Asia is also a very big place to have a "community" in another place). Those who take the position that all opinions matter should perhaps read Hannah Arendt's essay on "Truth and Politics," where she argues: "Facts inform opinions and opinions, inspired by different interests and passions, can differ widely and still be legitimate as long as they respect factual truth. Freedom of opinion is a farce unless factual information is guaranteed, and the facts themselves are not in dispute."

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  12. I am the right wing, but waiting sale of the DVD of UNBROKEN in Japan. (I expected the exhibition in Japan of the movie.) We must watch "The movie" to evaluate it. Be objective.

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  15. Why we seem to be talking at cross purposes about Comfort women ,trafficking problem
    Simple to say Mariko san and her companions think
    most of the responsibility is to the Korean community, gills ,their parents and local Korean middleman.
    Innocent Japanese soldiers were only Accidental customer.
    I guess they do not know about what is human trafficking and slavery.
    So They do not think even the title of the movie “SCOTTSBORO GIRLS “is insulting the civil rights movement and Asian and African and all American citizens.

  16. Dr. Auslander,

    Thank you for your perspectives.

    To begin; I will quote the Isreali Ambassador the Honorable Eli Cohen, who was asked about the comparison on this issue specifically and has independently looked into the Comfort Women issue:
    "The Holocaust was a catastrophe without parallel anywhere in the world. ...the use of the word "Holocaust" in connection with any other nation is preposterous. Even more preposterous are attempts to equate military prostitutes with the Holocaust. Japan has never committed any act even remotely resembling the Holocaust." Interview by Ohtaka Miki on March 24, 2014. I think you would agree that we shouldn't try to equate racial genocide with licensed prostitution, even if abuses occurred. On this day of Remembrance, I think we should remember the Shoah itself, not attempt to denigrate it by comparison with events that are non equivalent.

    Professor Yuha Park is but one of many censored voices in Korea, and those that are kept silenced by omission and language barriers elsewhere. Her research bears more weight in my opinion than say the work of Yoshimi Yoshiaki of Japan, as her findings are based off direct access and study to the Comfort Women at the Nanum House as well as supports the findings of other researchers with similar access such as Professor Emeritus Ahn Byong Jik. Both of whom disagree with the "sex slaves" characterization as it is being presented to the American public, and apparently now the academic community.

    For an English review from the left leaning Asahi Shimbun, I would submit this:

    Keep in mind that Asahi Shimbun is the paper you have put in the links as Japan Focus group David McNeil defending from attacks by Abe, and this piece is from them. It shows that the narrative in English is often overlooked.

    The US has similar complex narratives with its African American, Puerto Rican, Samoan, Guamanian, and other soldiers in the US Army as the loyalties to the metro pole state are complex ones based upon feelings of inclusion in society as a whole, vs wartime patriotism and participation. Korea's narratives have been shaped by the far right policies of many of its previous Presidents starting with Syngman Rhee.

    As you mentioned it is very complex as highlighted by the works of Mason, Lee, Hotta, Caprio, Muller, Fujitani and many others in English. Yet this context is removed in the press releases and sadly it seems, now in the academic setting here at Central Washington.

    The other part that is being overlooked is the socio-economic conditions of the time, in that prostitution was accepted practice in Asia, and that European colonialism was responsible for a majority of the "guilt" associated due to the Christian morality imposed upon many nations. Korea, Japan, and Thailand were not colonized by Europeans, and while the Christian missionary presence in Korea was very strong until the war with the West, the overall impact upon morality was not as great as in other Western colonized nations. The imparting of modern Western morality on this system is, in my belief, not the correct process for historical understanding.

    1. Ms. Okada,
      I am very confused by many of the statements posted on this blog and the misguided attempts to lay blame on other individuals for acts of violence that are widely accepted as truth. The International Criminal Courts Tribunal hosted by the United Nations found Comfort Women to be a truth, an act of sexual slavery and therefore a violation of human rights and dignity. How can a court decision represented by 193 nations be wrong against 1 shamed country that cannot admit wrong doings and allow victims to heal?

      Second, I understand that you are not a historian which may be part of the major problems of these posts, so I would like to clarify the term "holocaust". This is a term often used for the Jewish prosecution, however it means "a mass slaughter of people", often correlated to genocide. Holocausts have occurred throughout the 20th century. You stated that, ""The Holocaust was a catastrophe without parallel anywhere in the world. ...the use of the word "Holocaust" in connection with any other nation is preposterous. Even more preposterous are attempts to equate military prostitutes with the Holocaust. Japan has never committed any act even remotely resembling the Holocaust." This is completely wrong. Other holocausts include the Armenian genocide, Cambodia genocide, and the Rape of Nanking. Another event that is widely denied by Japanese embarrassed about the mass slaughter and rape of individuals. There is lots of information available on the many genocides that have occurred in the 20th century.

      During war time many nations act in ways that they later regret. Comfort women history is not about who is right or wrong, but allowing these women and peacefully move forward and be recognized for the events that horrifically changed their lives. I feel as though these posts constantly try to a point a finger where no one is looking. The U.S. has recognized that Comfort Women were not properly documented and recognized in the war trials following WWII. The only person arguing about their state's dignity is you?

      Finally this statement: "Unlike the uninformed attempt by some members of the faculty at Central Washington to characterize this as a right vs. left wing issue," has shocked me. I feel that CWU staff promotes and helps one another and their students in an environment that has allowed opinions, such as this one, to continue.
      CWU Asia Pacific Studies student

    2. Mr/Ms "Unknown",

      Please go back and read the post. The Israeli Ambassador Eli Cohen made the statements you have issues with, and he is very familiar both with the Holocaust and with the Comfort Women issue. Considering you post as "Unknown" I will have to consider his background and knowledge of the issue above yours. But to be clear, their is Genocide, which can be politically, ethnically, or otherwise motivated and conducted by various means, but the holocaust, again from Ambassador Cohen, was the systematic identification, isolation, and eradication of an entire people based upon race, and utilizing all means at its disposal (state, scientific, academic, civilian, military, and police) to attempt it. This makes it unique among genocides and what the Day of Remembrance is for. So with all do respect to your opinion that it is wrong, I will stand by the Ambassadors comments and support them.

      If you are referring to the self named International Courts that presented a showcase trial in Tokyo in 2000, that even NHK refused to air because it was patently NOT hosted by the United Nations as you claim. For clarification, it was a self assembled group of advocates that met to hold a mock trial in Tokyo for publicity. Rules of evidence, jurisdiction, etc were not part of it. There are many such "trials" held often around the world by groups wishing to bring publicity, but they are not legal trials, and no one considers them as such. I think you are confusing the show trials with the International Military Tribunal Far East (IMTFE) that was held after the war. I am glad you brought that up. The IMTFE did look at evidence including the Comfort Women, and did not find any criminal wrongdoing of the system itself under the understanding of international law at the time. The UN and US forces of occupation in Japan continued to use the Comfort Women system, and the government of South Korea re-instated the Comfort Women system from 1950 until recently. In fact, 122 Comfort Women are suing the government of South Korea in an actual court trial (not show) for allegations against American, UN, and South Korean government and soldiers.

      The other item of misinformation below is the part about the US Government recognizing that the Comfort Women were not well documented during the IMTFE. That is also false, the only item the US government has conducted was a non-binding resolution 121, which is again non-binding and falls in line with the other House Resolutions such as National Pet Week, Craft Beer Recognition Month, National Pi Day, etc. The Non Binding is simply a version of a "letter to the editor" and only 10 House members were on the floor when it was voted on in 2007. There is no judicial process in a non binding resolution. So I am not sure what part of the US government you are talking about when you claim "The U.S. has recognized that Comfort Women were not properly documented and recognized in the war trials following WWII".

      Thank you for commenting and highlighting the misinformation that many in the US have on this issue. Its always good to get these items out for the community to see in an open debate."

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  17. Also, taking the modern political context away from the issue creates the very "skewing" of the narrative as you believe Professor Park did. The political context is very clear for those studying the issue and having access to information in primary languages like Korean and Japanese. 1. The Japanese have even above Germany apologized and compensated to those nations affected by the war. There are 21 apologies by various members of the Japanese government on this in addition to payments covered by the 1965 treaty and additional payments set up that were designed to bypass the legal restrictions of that 1965 treaty with South Korea.

    The issue is that despite these and an increasing rapprochement with South Korea in the 1990s culturally and socially as well as politically, the extremist and intolerant sections of South Korea and Japan seemed intent to do just what has happened: Continually state false claims like the one you have presented *(Japan has not apologized or atoned unlike Germany) and that is the process which both alienated and began to develop a culture of distrust and confusion in Japan. Then when Americans and others who do not understand the issue and take one side intrude into the dialogue and process at the Korean request, it creates more resentment. That is the final process that led to the film by the Social Commentator Yujiro Taniyama, and that is the emotion and situation that needs to be understood by the Americans.

    Japan for 70 years followed, even against her own peoples political will, the wants of the United States from the Washington Defense Treaty to economic agreements that are harmful to our poor and middle class farmers and fishermen. Yet we did them. The US action of publicly making statements many people in Japan believe are uninformed and in some cases perceived as a violation of the social contract and intentionally inflammatory creates a wide gap in our relationships with both Korea, who under the far right Park administration continues to support her extremist base in organizations such as the Chon Dae Hyop which among other issues, promotes the Comfort Women, yet fails to address its own record. The US does not address the current issues of human sex trafficking in nearly the same intensity. That much is obvious to many Japanese and open minded Americans.

    And the terms Sex Slavery are not ones that Professor Park nor Professor Emeritus Ahn have used. They admit, as have the Japanese scholars on the subject, that abuses of the system have occurred (similar to rape on college campuses) but that it was not the system itself that was designed as such, in fact if you look at the rules that were made for the soldiers to follow, it stated that all women must be over 18 or 19, have a volunteer statement, and could refuse a soldier for any reason, even if they were drunk. Again, it may seem culturally strange for Americans but perhaps a comparative study of the legal brothels in Nevada or the American use of sanctioned comfort houses during the same time period would show that parallels, and the Sex Slave label seen as not applicable. I would hope that your panel would have had voices from the other side, and still invite you to include all sides in this debate, as outside of the US press, it is very much a debatable issue.

    Its the non inclusion of voices and perspectives that creates the response like you have noted the film seems to display. That is the purpose of showing it here, despite its "non academic" foundation.

    1. Ms. Okada,
      "Then when Americans and others who do not understand the issue and take one side intrude into the dialogue and process at the Korean request, it creates more resentment." You have now stated yourself that this does not belong on campus.

    2. Quite the contrary, I am hoping for INFORMED discussion. My intent is to present information. Note it is when the uninformed intrude into the dialogue. Thank you again."

  18. Reference :
    ★Digital Museum: The Comfort Women Issue and The Asian Women's Fund
    The Asian Women's Fund was a fund set up by the Japanese government in 1994 to distribute compensation to comfort women in South Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan, the Netherlands, and Indonesia.

    Each survivor was provided with a signed apology from the prime minister, stating "As Prime Minister of Japan, I thus extend anew my most sincere apologies and remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences and suffered incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women."The fund was dissolved on March 31, 2007.

    ★Official Report of Department of Social Welfare and Development(DSWD)
    Republic of the Philippines

    An Evaluative Research in the Implementation
    of the Assistance to Lolas in Crisis Situation (ALCS)Project (1997-2000)」

  19. Reference
    Letter from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to the former comfort women

    The Year of 2001

    Dear Madam,

    On the occasion that the Asian Women's Fund, in cooperation with the Government and the people of Japan, offers atonement from the Japanese people to the former wartime comfort women, I wish to express my feelings as well.

    The issue of comfort women, with an involvement of the Japanese military authorities at that time, was a grave affront to the honor and dignity of large numbers of women.

    As Prime Minister of Japan, I thus extend anew my most sincere apologies and remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences and suffered incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.

    We must not evade the weight of the past, nor should we evade our responsibilities for the future.

    I believe that our country, painfully aware of its moral responsibilities, with feelings of apology and remorse, should face up squarely to its past history and accurately convey it to future generations.

    Furthermore, Japan also should take an active part in dealing with violence and other forms of injustice to the honor and dignity of women.

    Finally, I pray from the bottom of my heart that each of you will find peace for the rest of your lives.

    Respectfully yours,

    Junichiro Koizumi
    Prime Minister of Japan

  20. Reference Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
    Statement by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama
    on the occasion of the establishment of the "Asian Women's Fund"

    July 1995

    I would like to share with you my sentiments on the occasion of the establishment of the "Asian Women's Fund."

    This year marks the 50th anniversary of the end of the War, an event that caused many people, both in Japan and abroad, great suffering and sorrow. During these past 50 years we have worked hard to cultivate, step by step, friendly relations with our neighbouring Asian countries and others. However, the scars of war still run deep in these countries to this day.

    The problem of the so-called wartime comfort women is one such scar, which, with the involvement of the Japanese military forces of the time, seriously stained the honor and dignity of many women. This is entirely inexcusable. I offer my profound apology to all those who, as wartime comfort women, suffered emotional and physical wounds that can never be closed.

    Established on this occasion and involving the cooperation of the Government and citizens of Japan, the "Asian Women's Fund" is an expression of atonement on the part of the Japanese people toward these women and supports medical, welfare, and other projects. As articulated in the proponents' Appeal, the Government will do its utmost to ensure that the goals of the Fund are achieved.

    Furthermore, to ensure that this situation is never again repeated, the Government of Japan will collate historical documents concerning the former wartime comfort women, to serve as a lesson of history.

    Turning from yesterday to today, we still see many women suffering violence and inhuman treatment in many parts of the world. The "Asian Women's Fund," as I understand it, will take steps to address these problems facing women today. The Government of Japan intends to play an active role in this regard.

    I am convinced that a sincere effort on the part of Japan to implement these measures will further strengthen the true relationships of trust we share with our neighbours in Asia and other nations around the world.

    The Government of Japan intends to cooperate, to the greatest extent possible, with the "Asian Women's Fund," in order that its aims are achieved. I call on each and every Japanese citizen, asking for your understanding and cooperation.

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  22. Reference Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
    Recent Policy of the Government of Japan on the Issue known as "Comfort Women"
    October 14, 2014
    What is the policy of the Japanese Government on the issue known as "Wartime Comfort Women"?

     The Government of Japan conducted a thorough fact-finding study on the issue known as "comfort women" since December 1991 and announced its results in July 1992 and in August 1993. Public documents found as a result of such study are now open to the public at the Cabinet Secretariat. On the occasion of the announcement of the findings in 1993, then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono released a statement and expressed in it sincere apologies and remorse, recognizing this issue was, with the involvement of the military authorities of the day, a grave affront to the honor and dignity of a large number of women. The Government of Japan has since expressed its sincere apologies and remorse to the former "comfort women" on many occasions.

     Recognizing that the issue known as "comfort women" was a grave affront to the honor and dignity of a large number of women, the Government of Japan, together with the people of Japan, seriously discussed what could be done for expressing their sincere apologies and remorse to the former "comfort women." As a result, the Asian Women's Fund (AWF) was established on July 19, 1995 in order to extend atonement from Japanese people to the former "comfort women." Having decided to provide necessary assistance for the AWF by a Cabinet decision in August 1995, the Government of Japan, with a view to fulfilling its moral responsibility, had been providing all possible assistance for the AWF, including bearing the total operational costs of the AWF, assisting its fund-raising and providing the necessary funds to implement its activities (approximately 4.8 billion yen from the AWF's founding through fiscal year of 2005), in order for the AWF to attain its goals. The AWF disbanded in March 2007 with the termination of the project in Indonesia.

    NISHIOKA Tsutomu
    Professor, Tokyo Christian University
    Deputy Chairman, National Council for
    the Rescue of Japanese Abducted by North Korea

    1. A quick google search of this source shows that:

      "He (NISHIOKA Tsutomu) was accused of a defamation on January 9, 2015 by a former Asahi Shimbun reporter Takashi Uemura who wrote articles on the "comfort women" issue in 1991"

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    4. Here is something about Asahi Shimbun by their editorial on March 5, 2015

      EDITORIAL / Asahi Shimbun makes long-overdue corrections over ‘comfort women’

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    1. Analysis of 19 testimonies

      I read all 19 testimonies with great care, checking each one for details about how the women were transported to their destinations. I acquired 26 additional testimonies with names to them. I obtained five collections of testimonies and studied them. With the exception of the interviews conducted by Prof. Ahn’s group, all were verbatim transcripts of testimonies of former comfort women; they had never been analyzed or checked.

      Among them, Testimonies of Military Comfort Women and Female Volunteer Corps Members, edited by Ito Takashi, contains the following disclaimer (in the afterword): “The testimonies contained in this book may not be 100% accurate. (...) When we asked a woman the same question after some time had passed, she sometimes gave us a different answer, or an answer that differed from those given by other individuals.”

      In that case, let us ask how many of the 19 reliable testimonies in the collection issued by Prof. Ahn’s group claimed they were victims of official coercion. The answer: four.

      One woman said she had been transported to Toyama Prefecture; another cited a brothel in Pusan (South Korea). These claims lack credibility, since neither of these two locations was a battle zone, and both already had pleasure quarters. There was no need for the military to transport comfort women there.

      The other two, already described, were given by Kim Hak-sun and Moon Ok-ju.

      Kim Hak-sun told Prof. Ahn’s group that she had been abducted, but her statement was unreliable because she had not mentioned her abduction in the lawsuit complaint. Moon is the woman who accumulated more than -26,000 working in a brothel in Burma. In the complaint prepared by Takagi Ken’ichi, like Kim Hak-sun, Moon said she was deceived by a Korean and taken to a brothel in Burma. When Prof. Ahn’s group interviewed her, she said that several years before she went to Burma, she had been captured by Japanese military police and transported against her will to a brothel in Manchuria. This part of her story is suspicious, given its absence from the lawsuit complaint and the lack of a logical reason for said absence.

      These circumstances reduce the number of women abducted by Japanese authorities to zero.

      Freelance writer Morikawa Machiko interviewed Moon Ok-ju over a period of more than two years. Morikawa checked facts as much as she could, referring to the literature on the subject, and even visiting Burma. Then she wrote Moon Ok-ju: I Was a Comfort Woman in a Shield Division on the Burma Front. Like Kim Hak-sun, Moon was sold to a kisaeng house due to poverty.

      Ms. Morikawa’s research also shows that Moon Ok-ju’s account of her life in Burma agrees for the most part with division records. But it was not possible to confirm her story about being abducted by a military policeman and transported to Manchuria. Her statement to the effect that five Korean women who worked at the brothel in Manchuria had also worked with her in Manchuria strains disbelief.

      Later on, a few more comfort women offered their testimonies. For instance, in February 2007, a woman named Lee Yong-soo testified at a hearing at the U.S. House of Representatives. Lee’s account differs each time she tells it, and certainly doesn’t present a strong case for official coercion.

      Even today, Prof. Ahn continues to speak out courageously on the comfort women issue. On a South Korean television program, he said: “Some former comfort women have stated that they were recruited by force. However, there is not one objective source in South Korea or Japan that supports their claims.” Also, “There are red-light districts in South Korea, where many comfort women work. I suggest conducting research to learn why this phenomenon occurs. I can tell you that it is not the result of coercion.”Prof. Ahn has been criticized for such statements, but steadfastly refuses to alter them.

      NISHIOKA Tsutomu
      Professor, Tokyo Christian University
      Deputy Chairman, National Council for
      the Rescue of Japanese Abducted by North Korea

  25. The Comfort Women Controversy
    :Sex Slaves or Prostitutes

  26. Demythologization of the myth of the Comfort Women: Introduction

  27. Reference  The Japan Times OPINION
    Japan’s prickly revisionists
    BY HUGH CORTAZZI APR 14, 2015 
    *Hugh Cortazzi served as Britain’s ambassador to Japan from 1980-1984.

    Japan’s right-wing politicians who react badly to foreign criticism are often insensitive to the feelings of foreign people whom they seem to despise. They seem to regard any foreigner who does not praise every aspect of Japan and points out that there were dark moments in Japanese history as a “Japan basher” and, accordingly, an enemy of Japan. This attitude is harmful to Japan’s national interests and reputation.

    I was shocked to read in a recent issue of the journal of the Foreign Correspondents Club in Tokyo a farewell article by the correspondent of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which I know from my service in Germany as a highly respectable serious journal that would never report sensational stories and always checks its facts.

    When the correspondent wrote an article critical of the Abe administration’s historical revisionism, the Japanese Consul General in Frankfurt, presumably acting on instructions from Tokyo, called on the paper’s senior foreign policy editor to complain about the article.

    The Japanese Consul General refused to produce any facts to counter the arguments in the correspondent’s article and then apparently went on to insult the correspondent and the paper by suggesting that money was “involved,” and that the reporter had to write pro Chinese propaganda to get a visa for China. These remarks were not only unjustified but inept.

    Sadly this is not an isolated case. The Japanese Consul General in New York in January requested McGraw-Hill, a reputable U.S. educational publisher, to delete paragraphs in a book produced by two U.S. scholars about “comfort women.” The publishers rejected the request and told the Japanese official that the scholars concerned had properly confirmed the facts.

    It is probably impossible now to say for certain how many “comfort women” were forced to serve members of the Imperial Japanese armed forces, but there is overwhelming evidence that this obnoxious practice was widespread. Koreans were not the only women forced into prostitution.

  28. “Camptown Prostitutes” sue Korean Government for Compensation"
    *The following is a translation of an article that appeared in Korean daily Kyunghyang Shinmun on June 25, 2014.

  29. Truth about Japan Correcting distorted information about Japan

  30. "Comfort Women Problem" Was a Fiction Made by the Asahi Shimbun

  31. Comfort Women by Kent Gilbert

  32. Asahi retracts article about Yoshida testimony that reported ‘workers withdrew against order’ (September 11, 2014)

  33. I apologize to our readers and other people concerned By TADAKAZU KIMURA/ President of The Asahi Shimbun (September 12, 2014)

  34. Yoshida 'comfort women' testimony reported by Asahi caused global misunderstanding - September 11, 2014(Mainichi Japan)

  35. [WSJ] Claims South Korea Provided Sex Slaves for U.S. Troops Go to Court
    (April 16, 2014)

  36. S. Korean 'comfort women' for US military sue state for forced prostitution
    (June 29, 2014)

  37. Summary of Professor Park Yuha's Book "Comfort Women of the Empire"
    (October 26, 2015)

  38. The U.S. military’s long, uncomfortable history with prostitution gets new attention
    (October 31, 2014 - The Washington Post)

  39. U.S. General Cracks Down on South Korean ‘Juicy Bars’ Linked to Human Trafficking
    (October 31, 2014 - TIME)

  40. USFK: Troops cannot pay for the companionship of 'juicy girls'
    (October 30, 2014 - MilitaryTimes)

  41. President of Asahi Shimbun newspaper to resign after the Paper was caught lying about the Comfort Women fiction - Michael Yon

  42. This comment has been removed by the author.

  43. I watched it loosely over the years. I’ve always been interested in geopolitics. And of course, after spend time in several wars or conflicts, you become even more interested in geopolitics. It is clear that the PRC uses various issues to split apart Japan, R.O.K., the U.S.A., Australia, and others. China’s goals are to expand, and China already is expanding. Insofar as the Comfort Women Issue (CWI), various parties have vested interests. Some people who want this CWI, more specifically sex-slaves, to be true, so to speak, and one of those is China. China is the biggest. There are other local interests such as specific women who want to get paid, who wish to get money from Japan. Communist groups in various countries use it for political purposes. When an article about comfort women starts with words about Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, that’s when you know it’s about him and or larger politics. It’s not about comfort women. It is not about human rights. It is about politics. Some parties use this issue to undermine Mr. Abe or US bases in Okinawa and elsewhere. These people do not care about human rights. A fictional sex-slave story from more than 70 years ago is the last issue that anyone who cares about human rights would go to. In February 2015, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, there are 3.7 million registered refugees from the Syria war alone. This number climbs by the minute, and there are other large human rights disasters around the world that are happening this moment. Those who drag the comfort women issue out as if this is some noble human rights issue, bring shame upon themselves and dishonor upon their positions.

    Michael Yon

  44. (Michael Yon continued) There are endless human rights issues right now across the globe. Here in Thailand there are huge issues. In the United States you have Mindy Kotler, who as you know has worked for Congressman Mike Honda. Kotler’s big pedestal is women’s rights, feminism, that sort of thing. So in the United States you get that one angle that’s about, say, women’s rights and human’s rights. And then over in Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia it was about lawsuits before. Some people merely were gold digging.
    President Park over in Korea can hardly mention the name of Japan without throwing in a comfort women reference. Those are all the smaller players and then the big player is clearly China who is using this as a geopolitical tool, and they are playing Korea like a fool. China is the hand inside the Korean puppet.
    You see these comfort women statues going up in places like Glendale, which I visited twice and there was a bunch of Japanese visitors who were there on the second day, fifteen of them, and they were getting a tour from the Korean group called KAFC, Korean-American Forum of California. But the 15 Japanese communist that were there, they actually said there were communist, had responded to an advertisement in the Akahata about visiting Glendale. This is very interesting. If you look back at Glendale statue, by the way, of the list of countries on the plaque, there is Thailand. The plaque makes it out to look like all these countries are against Japan when Thailand is not against Japan at all. Thailand has zero issues about comfort women. I’ve met with the right people here in Thailand, done my homework, there’s zero issue from Thailand, but the accusation is on the plaque in Glendale. That accusation is that Thais have a grievance with Japanese. Our team found very strong evidence that Thais helped run a comfort station along with Japanese. We are still investigating the Thai side, but of course the Thai-Japan relationship was good then, and great now. Thailand has no grievance with Japan, and to my knowledge never had any grievance with Japan. Yet the anti-Japan forces try to make it appear that all of Asia hates Japan.

  45. (Michael Yon continued) Only four countries cause major problems for Japan. Those countries are China. The Koreas. And Japan.
    Japan causes more problems for Japan than the Koreas or China cause. No other Asian country or any country on earth, to my knowledge, has any problem with Japan. I have been to about 70 countries, about 20 in Asia, and I know that Japan is respected outside of those four countries.
    The Chinese hand is everywhere in this information war. For instance, the lawsuits in Glendale filed by Dr. Koichi Mera and his group. I’ve got a copy of the lawsuits.
    Inside the packet is a Chinese amicus from Global Alliance. I mean, Global Alliance China. Global Alliance is a core of this movement. (Not to be confused with the Japanese organization with a similar name but with the goal of exposing source documents to set the record straight that the sex-slavery narrative is false.)
    In the IWG report of 2007, the researchers specifically stated that they were looking for comfort women evidence and that’s 30-million-dollar study that took about six years. And then in the final report to Congress, the American researchers apologized to Global Alliance and others because they couldn’t find anything about the comfort women. This is a smoking gun of Global Alliance’s global reach and influence.

  46. Yoshihisa Komori (Journalist in Washington D.C.): The most critical point is whether or not Japanese army or the government as a matter of policy forcefully and coercively recruited young innocent women in the Korean peninsula or in the mainland China or in other parts of Asia during the war time. And my position, as well as probably position taken by the Japanese government, is that there was no such thing. There was no systematic coercive recruitment by the Japanese military for Japanese women. I think there’s a prevailing impression in Japan that it’s Korean-Americans rather than Chinese who have been pushing this issue of comfort women harassing and making Japan looking like some morally, ethically inferior nation. So that fits into that geopolitical picture that you just mentioned.

    Michael Yon: Some Koreans are deeply involved in this, for instance the KAFC organization, that sort of thing, but behind it, there’s a Chinese hand. Chinese are masters of manipulation. They know how to create that comfort women statue in Japan. That’s genius! They put that out there on a remote island, which nobody even knows the statue is there practically, but then they go to places like Glendale and Union City in New Jersey and say, “Look, the Japanese put up a statue in Okinawa!” Then you find that the former mayor if Glendale, Mayor Weaver, feels now, he realizes that Glendale was used as a pawn because once Glendale allowed KAFC to install the propaganda statue, many problems began. Weaver said he was getting many emails from Koreans and Japanese and then as he mentioned that now Glendale can expect the Armenians will ask them to put up a statue and create problems with Turkey and it’s just a very clever ploy by China, which blows up into headaches for everyone, while China builds warships.

  47. Michael Yon: I spent most of the last 10 years overseas in Asia, I’m most well-known for my war work in Afghanistan and Iraq and also conflict in Thailand. But I’ve only been to the United States one time in the last three years and that was to investigate comfort women issues, so I spent about 20 years overseas.
    There’s also the Yasukuni Shrine and Nanking and other things that Chinese and Koreans are using as one package to try to cause frictions between various countries especially United States, Japan, Australia, and Korea. It’s working!

    excepts from