Japanese government whitewashes World War II ‘comfort women’ forced prostitution


This video says about itself:

Wianbu – Comfort Woman

A short film about a Korean seventeen-year-old girl, brought to a Japanese military camp during War World II, where a catastrophic future awaits her. Can she escape her fate?

By Ben McGrath:

Official Japanese report whitewashes wartime sexual slavery

28 June 2014

The Japanese government of Shinzo Abe released a report on June 20 throwing into doubt a 1993 apology for the army’s World War II exploitation of women as sex slaves. In the process, Japan has angered its neighbors South Korea and China, from where many of the victims were taken.

The 1993 Kono Statement, released by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, was a formal but limited apology for the use of “comfort women” during the war. Approximately 200,000 women and girls, mainly from Korea, but also China and other countries, were forced into military brothels.

Written by a government-appointed panel of five “experts,” the review called into question whether the victims were forced into prostitution. Referring to investigations at the time of the Kono Statement, the report asserts: “The recognition obtained through these series of studies was that it was not possible to confirm that women were ‘forcefully recruited.’”

The report also claimed that the South Korean government was involved in writing the Kono Statement, with Seoul demanding that Japan’s apology should refer to the coercion of the comfort women.

The report even declared that among the 16 victims interviewed before the release of the Kono Statement, “there were some who spoke indifferently and others whose memories had become confused.”

Interviews with former comfort women paint a different picture. Kim Bok-dong recounted the Japanese military’s coercive measures in a 2012 interview published on Amnesty International’s blog, Livewire:

“I was 14 years old when I was forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese government. They said they would hire me as a factory worker, but instead they dragged many of us to Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia and Indonesia. I was with the army headquarters so I went almost everywhere with them. There are no words to describe what the soldiers did to me.”

The South Korean government predictably reacted with anger to last week’s report, summoning Japanese ambassador Koro Bessho on Monday to lodge a complaint over the revision. Foreign Affairs Vice Minister Cho Tae-yong chastised Bessho saying: “The coercion of comfort women is an historical fact that the international community recognizes. The more the Abe government attempts to undermine the Kono statement, the more its credibility and international reputation will be damaged.”

China reacted similarly. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying demanded that Japan “face up to history and uphold the spirit of the Kono Statement,” saying: “The forced recruitment of comfort women by the Japanese military is a serious crime against humanity.”

In an attempt at damage control, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga stated on Friday: “Nothing has changed about the Japanese government’s position that it will not revise the Kono Statement.” In reality, the official report is an attempt by the Japanese government to whitewash the past crimes of Japanese imperialism.

By undermining the Kono Statement, the Abe administration is taking another step in its wider agenda of remilitarizing Japan. Abe is preparing a new generation to be dragooned into fighting wars of imperialist aggression, by justifying the Japanese Imperial Army’s role during World War II.

Since coming to power in December 2012, the Abe government has raised military spending for the first time in over a decade while seeking to end the constitutional constraints on Japan’s ability to wage war. Last December, signaling the start of an ideological offensive, Abe visited the infamous Yasukuni Shrine where 14 class-A war criminals are interred and which stands as a symbol of Japanese militarism.

Right-wing officials, appointed by Abe, have also sought to cover up the crimes of the past. Katsuto Momii, placed on public broadcaster NHK’s board of governors, tried to excuse the use of comfort women by saying the practice “was everywhere in Europe … In the current moral climate, the use of comfort women would be wrong. But it was a reality of those times.”

Another Abe-appointee NHK governor, Naoki Hyatuka, denied in February that the 1937 Rape of Nanjing took place. The week-long atrocity carried out by Japanese soldiers left up to 300,000 Chinese civilians and soldiers dead.

Japan is being remilitarized with the Obama administration’s encouragement, as part of its “pivot to Asia,” aimed at undermining Chinese influence and encircling it militarily. Japan has taken an increasingly confrontational stance toward China, particularly over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. Last month, Japan sent two military reconnaissance planes to spy on Chinese and Russian joint naval drills, leading to confrontations with Chinese fighter jets and highlighting the danger of war.

However, Washington’s support for Tokyo has come at the price of upsetting Washington’s other ally in North East Asia, South Korea. The United States has attempted to draw the two neighbors closer together, but to little avail. The ruling elites in both countries are whipping up nationalism to divert rising domestic social tensions. Seoul regularly incites anti-Japanese sentiment in order to distract the population from worsening unemployment and social inequality.

In its response to the Kono Statement review, Washington lightly chided Tokyo. US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki stated: “We’ve consistently encouraged Japan to approach this and other issues arising from the past in a manner that is conducive to building stronger relations with its neighbors.” Psaki continued: “Because South Korea and Japan have so many common interests, it’s important that they find a way to resolve the past in the most productive manner and look to the future.”

Abe’s government is facing mounting opposition at home to its remilitarization campaign. A recent Kyodo News poll found that 55.4 percent of people oppose Abe’s plans to reinterpret or revise the constitution to end limitations on the Japanese military, up from 48.1 percent the previous month. An even greater number of people—74.1 percent—said Abe should not set a deadline for ending discussion on the issue.

Reaction from the Netherlands about this: here.

No Japanese government apology for ‘comfort women’ forced prostitution


This video from South Korea in English is called “Herstory” Comfort Women Animation – English.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Japanese government refuses slavery apology

Friday 20th June 2014

TOKYO government spokesman Yoshihide Suga outraged Seoul today, insisting that there would be no real apology for Japan’s wartime enslavement of hundreds of thousands of Korean women in brothels for its troops.

Japanese nationalists contend that women in wartime brothels were voluntary prostitutes, not sex slaves.

Mr Suga reiterated Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s refusal not to revise an infamous 1993 semi-apology, saying that evaluation of the historical evidence should be left to historians and scholars.

Japan’s relations with South Korea are extremely important and we will try to explain this issue to gain understanding,” he said.

However, South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Noh Kwang Il said: “The Japanese government should clearly know that action that again picks on the painful wound of the victims will never be forgiven by the international community.”

Mr Noh urged Japan to admit its responsibility and immediately propose a solution that the elderly victims can accept.

Survivors of Japanese militarist sex slavery demand justice


This video from Australia says about itself:

Australian comfort woman Jan Ruff-O’Herne

Jan Ruff-O’Herne told her shocking story on Australian Story in 2001 – a secret that took her 50 years to come to terms with before finally, she revealed it in a letter to her two daughters.

An idyllic childhood in Java was brought to an abrupt end by the Japanese occupation during Word War Two. Aged 21, she was taken from her family and repeatedly abused, beaten and raped – forced to be a sex slave for the Japanese military.

The term coined for this brutal sex slavery was ‘comfort woman‘.

But since revealing her ‘uncomfortable truth’ Jan Ruff-O’Herne’s suffering has been transformed into something affirmative.

In February this year, this 84-year-old Adelaide grandmother made the long journey to testify before Congress in Washington DC. The Congressional hearing was the pinnacle in her 15-year global campaign to seek justice for ‘comfort women‘.

Now six years since Australian Story first aired her story, Jan Ruff-O’Herne feels she is one step closer to finally achieving her ultimate goal.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain today:

JAPAN: Five former victims of Japan’s wartime sex slavery and their supporters submitted hundreds of official documents to the government today, demanding that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe face up to the country’s past atrocity and formally apologise.

Several support groups backing the women, who are from Indonesia, the Philippines and South Korea, said the documents collected from round the world include clear evidence of coercion.

Successive Japanese governments have insisted that there is no proof the women were systematically coerced, citing a lack of official Japanese documents stating so.

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John Pilger on Korean and other wars


This video from South Korea is called Peace activists on Jeju Island rally to protect their village from military base plans.

By John Pilger, from the New Statesman in Britain:

Buried horors and forgotten wars

Thursday 20th February 2014

JOHN PILGER looks back to the Korean war of 1950-53 and how distorted history masks the true nature of a conflict which scars the region to this day

Fifty years ago, EP Thompson‘s The Making of the English Working Class rescued the study of history from the powerful. Kings and queens, landowners, industrialists and imperialists had owned much of public memory.

In 1980 Howard Zinn‘s A People’s History of the United States also demonstrated that the freedoms and rights we enjoy precariously – free expression, free association, the jury system, rights of minorities – were the achievements of ordinary people, not the gift of elites.

Historians, like journalists, play their most honourable role when they myth-bust.

Eduardo Galeano’s Open Veins of Latin America (1971) achieved this for the people of a continent whose historical memory was colonised and mutated by the dominance of the United States.

We need such smokescreen-clearing now more than ever.

The powerful would like us to believe that the likes of Thompson, Zinn and Galeano are no longer necessary – that we live, as Time magazine put it, “in an eternal present” in which reflection is limited to Facebook and historical narrative is the preserve of Hollywood.

This is a confidence trick. In Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell wrote: “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”

The people of Korea understand this well.

The slaughter on their peninsula following the second world war is known as “the forgotten war,” whose significance for all humanity has long been suppressed in military histories of cold war good versus evil.

I have just read The Korean War: a History by Bruce Cumings (2010), professor of history at the University of Chicago.

I first saw Cumings interviewed in Regis Tremblay’s extraordinary film The Ghosts of Jeju, which documents the 1948 uprising on the southern Korean island of Jeju and the campaign by the present-day islanders to stop the building of a base with US missiles aimed provocatively at China.

Like most Koreans, the farmers and fishing families protested at the senseless division of their nation between north and south in 1945 – a line drawn along the 38th parallel by a US official, Dean Rusk, who had “consulted a map around midnight on the day after we obliterated Nagasaki with an atomic bomb,” as Cumings writes.

The myth of a “good” Korea (the South) and a “bad” Korea (the North) was invented.

In fact, Korea, north and south, has a remarkable people’s history of resistance to feudalism and foreign occupation, notably Japan’s in the 20th century.

When the US defeated Japan in 1945 it occupied Korea and often branded those who had resisted the Japanese as “commies.”

On Jeju, as many as 60,000 people were massacred by militias supported, directed and in some cases commanded by US officers.

This and other unreported atrocities were a “forgotten” prelude to the Korean war (1950-53), in which more people were killed than Japanese died during all of the second world war.

Cumings gives an astonishing tally of the degree of destruction of the cities of the North – Pyongyang 75 per cent, Sariwon 95 per cent, Sinanju 100 per cent.

Great dams in the North were bombed in order to unleash internal tsunamis. “Anti-personnel” weapons, such as napalm, were tested on civilians.

Cumings’s superb investigation helps us understand why today’s North Korea seems so strange, an anachronism sustained by an enduring mentality of siege.

“The unhindered machinery of incendiary bombing was visited on the North for three years,” he writes, “yielding a wasteland and a surviving mole people who had learned to love the shelter of caves, mountains, tunnels and redoubts, a subterranean world that became the basis for reconstructing a country and a memento for building a fierce hatred through the ranks of the population.

“Their truth is not cold, antiquarian, ineffectual knowledge.”

Cumings quotes Virginia Woolf to describe how the trauma of this kind of war “confers memory.”

The guerrilla leader Kim Il Sung had begun fighting the Japanese militarists in 1932.

Every characteristic attached to the regime he founded – “communist, rogue state, evil enemy” – derives from a ruthless, brutal, heroic resistance, first to Japan, then the United States, which threatened to nuke the rubble its bombers had left.

Cumings exposes as propaganda the notion that Kim Il Sung, leader of the “bad” Korea, was a stooge of Moscow.

In contrast, the regime that Washington invented in the South, the “good” Korea, was run largely by those who had collaborated with Japan and the United States.

The Korean war has an unrecognised distinction.

It was in the smouldering ruins of the peninsula that the US turned itself into what Cumings calls “an archipelago of empire.”

When the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s, it was as if the whole planet was declared pro-US – or else.

But there is China now.

The base being built on Jeju Island will face the Chinese metropolis of Shanghai, less than 300 miles away, and the industrial heartland of the only country whose economic power is likely to surpass that of the US.

“China,” says President Obama in a leaked briefing paper, “is our fast-emerging strategic threat.”

By 2020, almost two-thirds of all US naval forces in the world will be transferred to the Asia-Pacific region. In an arc extending from Australia to Japan and beyond, China will be ringed by US missiles and nuclear-weapons-armed aircraft.

Will this threat to all of us be “forgotten” too?

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