United States, Trump’s ICE sex trafficking scandal


This 16 May 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

ICE Agents Pay For Sex In Trafficking Scheme

ICE agents pay for sex in a trafficking scheme when ironically their job is to combat sex & human trafficking. John Iadarola and Brett Erlich break it down on The Damage Report.

US candidate Biden and sexual assault allegations


This 28 April 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Bernie Bumped From Ballot

It’s pretty clear what the New York State Democratic Party wants: to shut out and alienate Sanders’ wing of the party from their state politics as much as possible, and make sure that another AOC never happens on their watch.

So, Bernie Sanders is still a candidate for the Democratic party primary elections in many states. Which may give Sanders supporters the chance to influence the Democratic party election platform. However, not in New York State, where the party establishment has purged Sanders from the ballot papers. Leaving Joe Biden as only candidate on those papers.

With Bernie Sanders as its candidate, the Democratic party would have a realistic chance of ending the Donald Trump presidency. Far less so with Biden. Not only because of Biden’s support for wars and for Wall Street. Not only because of Biden’s opposition to Medicare for all; badly needed during this coronavirus crisis. Not only because Biden’s opposition to really stopping global warming.

Also because of this.

This 27 April 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

New video evidence supporting credibility of Tara Reade’s allegations against Joe Biden emerges. John Iadarola and Francesca Fiorentini break it down on The Damage Report.

“A NEW PIECE of evidence has emerged buttressing the credibility of Tara Reade’s claim that she told her mother about allegations of sexual harassment and assault related to her former boss, then-Sen. Joe Biden. Biden, through a spokesperson, has denied the allegations. Reade has claimed to various media outlets, including The Intercept, that she told her mother, a close friend, and her brother about both the harassment and, to varying degrees of detail, the assault at the time. Her brother, Collin Moulton, and her friend, who has asked to remain anonymous, both confirmed that they heard about the allegations from Reade at the time. Reade’s mother died in 2016, but both her brother and friend also confirmed Reade had told her mother, and that her mother, a longtime feminist and activist, urged her to go to the police.

In interviews with The Intercept, Reade also mentioned that her mother had made a phone call to “Larry King Live” on CNN, during which she made reference to her daughter’s experience on Capitol Hill. Reade told The Intercept that her mother called in asking for advice after Reade, then in her 20s, left Biden’s office. “I remember it being an anonymous call and her saying my daughter was sexually harassed and retaliated against and fired, where can she go for help? I was mortified,” Reade told me.”

Read more here.

By Rebecca Traister in the USA:

The Biden Trap. As the candidate faces credible assault allegations, his progressive female colleagues are being offered a poisoned chalice

27 April 2020

In the world of political reporting on the presidential race, two seemingly divergent stories are taking shape and blowing up, respectively. And it’s the stuff of feminist nightmares.

The first is about the “veepstakes”: Because the world is topsy-turvy and former vice-president Joe Biden cleared the Democratic field in March, we’re in an earlier-than-usual frenzy of speculation about who his running mate will be. Biden, who has long been dogged by criticism on feminist grounds (stemming from his history of bad stances on abortion, his having permitted the ill-treatment of Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas hearings, and allegations that he has spent a career touching women in ways that have made them feel uncomfortable), has promised that his running mate will be a woman. (Will she be short or tall, big or small, black or white, left or center? Who is to say, really. She will be A Woman™.)

Meanwhile, Biden’s shaky past behavior around women and their bodies isn’t staying in his past, despite his having worked to overcome it via passage of the Violence Against Woman Act, improving his views on abortion and the Hyde Amendment, sort of apologizing to Hill, and promising to pick A Woman vice-president and appoint A Black Woman to the Supreme Court.

Last year, A Woman named Tara Reade, who worked in Biden’s office in 1992 and 1993, was one of several to allege that Biden had touched her neck and shoulders in ways that were unwelcome; in Reade’s case, while she was in his employ. This March, Reade went further and claimed that Biden in fact digitally penetrated her against her will and that when she complained to his staff, she was retaliated against professionally — claims that Biden and his former staffers have denied but that investigative reporters have been working to shed new light on. Over this weekend, audio emerged of Reade’s late mother, whom she says she told about the assault, calling in to Larry King’s television show in 1993 to complain about how her daughter had a problem with a prominent politician’s staff but was rebuffed when she complained, strongly corroborating the claim that Reade expressed dissatisfaction and suffered professional consequences, an allegation supported by the New York Times, which reported that two former interns recalled Reade abruptly ceasing to supervise them. On Monday, Lynda LaCasse, Reade’s former neighbor and a Biden supporter, told Rich McHugh, Ronan Farrow’s former producer, that Reade had confided to her in detail about having been assaulted by Biden, while another former colleague confirmed to McHugh that Reade had told her she’d complained of harassment and been fired by a prominent politician. Such strong pieces of corroboration should surely imperil Biden’s position at the top of the ticket, though it remains to be seen whether — in the midst of the COVID crisis … — there is any chance that they will.

And part of what’s sickeningly clear is that if Biden remains the Democratic nominee, whichever woman gets the nod to be his running mate will wind up drinking from a poisoned chalice. Because the promise to choose a woman ensures that whoever she is, she will be forced to answer — over and over again — for Biden’s treatment of other women, including the serious allegations of assault leveled by Tara Reade.

This double bind was already apparent this weekend, in advance of McHugh’s reporting, when New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez confirmed once again that she would vote for Biden despite their sharp political differences. Ocasio-Cortez, who is progressive on many issues, has a long history of righteous fury at the ubiquity and impact of sexual harassment and assault. Back in 2018, she said that assault is “one of the most serious allegations anyone who cares to be a public servant can be accused of. Sexual assault is about the abuse of power. It is always women who are marginalized. It is the interns. It is the immigrants. It is the trans. They are always most at risk, because society listens to them the least.”

Ocasio-Cortez was also among the first politicians to suggest that Reade’s claims were “legitimate to talk about” and deserved further investigation, for which Reade thanked her on Twitter. But since Ocasio-Cortez has indicated that she intends to vote for Biden, Reade has told the conservative website the Daily Caller how disappointed she is that AOC has chosen to “toe the line”, and on Sunday she tweeted, “Those who remain silent are complicit to rape” and tagged Stacey Abrams, Kamala Harris, … Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Michelle Obama, Barack Obama, and Ocasio-Cortez; it was retweeted 6,000 times.

One of the grim ironies here is that it’s some of these people who have worked most fiercely to keep Biden from becoming the nominee. But now that he is the presumptive choice, he may in fact be the only presidential bulwark against Donald Trump, who is both murderous and incompetent and whose reelection would lead to further cataclysmic collapse of our environment, health-care system, courts, and democracy, with fatal results that will redound more negatively to women than to men and most negatively of all to women with the fewest resources. In the fight to prevent this, Biden and his campaign will be calling on women — especially the women who have challenged him in the past, including on feminist grounds — to help him build support by rallying other women around him. That rallying will now have to entail somehow papering over the disgust and dismay provoked by multiple allegations of inappropriate touching and alleged assault made against yet another would-be president.

What a grievous mess. Biden’s critics on the left should be hoping for the selection of a powerful progressive to run alongside him, and perhaps succeed him, whenever that might be. But any politician who might fulfill those requirements — whether your fantasies run toward Warren or Abrams or Barbara Lee or Ayanna Pressley (AOC is too young) — will also, tautologically, be a politician who has taken an aggressive stand against sexual harassment and assault. So on the one hand, these are women who left-leaning feminists should hope Biden picks. They are women who themselves might for extremely good ideological reasons want to lead the country and see Biden’s vice-presidency as an opportunity to make his administration, and thus the country, better. Some, especially Abrams, have been very vocal about their desire for this job, which is itself a radical approach to voicing ambition.

Yet in putting themselves forward as subsidiaries to Biden, in accepting an invitation that he might extend, or even in voicing their support for his campaign, these women wind up imperiling themselves by getting tied to him and the mess of his historical shortcomings, often on exactly the issues that have driven them into politics. In fact, they are quite likely to have their own history of righteous advocacy held up against them, used to make them look like hypocrites for agreeing to be on a ticket with a man who has been credibly accused of behavior they have aggressively condemned, and as sops to a system that they are in fact working hard to change. (These kinds of turnarounds have been made by former male rivals all the time, and, in fact, Bernie Sanders has come in for some criticism for having endorsed Biden after Reade’s allegations were made public; but we have a higher tolerance for inconvenient hypocrisy when it comes from male politicians, likely because we have centuries of experience with it and, in this case, because the contested ground — the unequal distribution of power along gendered lines — isn’t at the very heart of the matter.)

But is the only alternative to hope that Biden picks a milquetoast woman who has never distinguished herself as a feminist or progressive advocate and who, therefore, dispiritingly, cannot be called out for hypocrisy? This is indeed one of my fears, as Reade’s story gets firmer corroboration and the Biden campaign and its supporters in the Democratic Party begin to grapple with its seriousness: Will it alter the calculus around his vice-presidential pick, leading him to pick A Woman whom he can count on to diminish Reade’s claims? Is the cost of a nominee who is a disappointment to many feminists on the left a running mate (and thus likely presidential successor) who is just as disappointing? Even those women will still be asked about Reade — Amy Klobuchar and Gretchen Whitmer, both reportedly on his shortlist, have already been asked about it — and any willingness to defend him or shield him from this story will leave them vulnerable to being held responsible for the misdeeds of the mediocre man to whom they will now be publicly bound.

This kind of chilling calculus, even before the Reade allegations, led many Biden critics (including me) to hope that he did not become the nominee from the start. The damage often inflicted by sexual power abuses extend far beyond those who have been abused to others who are reliant on those accused of abuse — whether as employees, dependent economically; family members, dependent emotionally and economically; or voters, dependent politically. One of the hallmarks of systemic gender inequity is that women wind up paying for the misdeeds of the more powerful men to whom they are subsidiary, a setup that reinforces men’s ability to perpetuate and profit from abuse.

Democratic women got a taste of this when Al Franken was accused of harassment. While he denied the allegations and asked for an investigation, his female colleagues were asked repeatedly by those on both sides of the aisle to condemn him or be understood as hypocrites — willing only to come out against those accused of harassment if they belong to the opposition party. Democratic women — including possible Biden VP picks Harris and, eventually, Franken’s close friend Warren — wound up asking that the Minnesota senator resign. .., Recently, when [Senator] Gillibrand endorsed Biden and called him a “champion for women”, she was criticized for it. That criticism may have been fair, but it is also an illustration of the grim tax women are expected to pay, always in reaction to the more powerful men whose authority they don’t get to challenge without being pilloried for it, but that they always must carefully reflect and correctly comment on.

And make no mistake, if Biden loses, regardless of his running mate, even as feminists are being criticized for hypocrisy in not condemning him more swiftly, it will also be feminists and women who are blamed for his loss, for encouraging an environment in which claims of sexual harm are taken seriously enough to damage a politician.

Especially in light of McHugh’s recent persuasive reporting on Reade’s assault claim, Democrats and feminists are in a terrible bind, and that includes those of us who never thought Biden should be the nominee. Because as of now he is the nominee. And he needs a running mate, and I don’t think hoping he picks a dud is a great strategy for expanding progressive power within his administration, even if there are reasonable doubts about how much influence a progressive vice-president might have within his administration.

The fact should be that it is better to have the right voice at Biden’s side than no voice there at all. But if we get that progressive voice, she will immediately be damaged via her association with the nominee. Alas, we do not have a system or culture in the United States that would permit a running mate to say, “I am deeply troubled by the allegations persuasively leveled against my running mate, Joe Biden, and wish we didn’t live in a world in which we had to choose between an accused rapist and self-confessed pussy grabber versus an accused harasser who’s now been credibly accused of assault, but this is what white capitalist patriarchy does and I’m actually here to try to change that!”

We should have a way to say those things. If part of the work of this election is pushing for a politics that is more just, we should be insisting on freedom for women — including those who will be asked to support Joe Biden, within his party and as his running mate — to fully express themselves about the gendered and political realities in front of us. Reade’s former neighbor Lynda LaCasse offered a model of this herself, noting that she’s a strong Biden supporter and will vote for him, but that she “still [had] to come out and say this … I would want somebody to stand up for me. It takes a lot of guts to do what [Reade] is doing.”

But it’s near impossible to imagine prominent Democratic women being able to give voice to this and still wind up with any sway within a potential Biden administration. So as we move closer to the abyss, remember that plenty of Women never wanted to be here, and now that we are, have no good choices in front of us.

POTENTIAL BIDEN VP CANDIDATES SILENT ON TARA READE ALLEGATION An allegation of sexual assault against Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, gained new credibility with a report that a former neighbor of accuser Tara Reade said that Reade confided in her about the alleged 1993 assault in 1995 or 1996. HuffPost contacted nine people on Biden’s rumored vice president shortlist. Only Stacey Abrams responded. [HuffPost]

ME TOO FOUNDER: BIDEN CAN BE ACCOUNTABLE AND ELECTABLE The founder of the Me Too movement explained what she believes is an “inconvenient truth” about the sexual assault allegations against Joe Biden. Tarana Burke, who founded Me Too in 2007, said former congressional aide Tara Reade’s accusations against Biden are being felt differently because of the 2020 election, which will feature two men in powerful positions who have been accused of sexual assault. [HuffPost]

DOCUMENTS THAT COULD SHED LIGHT ON BIDEN ALLEGATION REMAIN LOCKED UP Tara Reade, says she filed a written complaint about Biden with a Senate personnel office, but does not have a copy herself. If a copy exists, one place where it might be found is in Biden’s Senate files. But those documents are slated to remain locked up until long after the 2020 election. Biden donated his senatorial papers, which cover the period from 1973 to 2009, to the University of Delaware in 2011. [HuffPost]

BIDEN STAYS SILENT Joe Biden, who championed women’s rights during his time in the Senate and the vice president’s office, has remained silent as a sexual assault allegation against him gains more traction. His campaign has put out a statement denying the accusation by Tara Reade, a former Senate aide, but Biden himself has not said anything. And in his absence, other Democrats ― particularly female activists and politicians ― have had to weigh in and decide whether to defend him. The New York Times, meanwhile, has refuted the Biden team’s reported talking points. [HuffPost]

DON’T EXPECT TO SEE JOE BIDEN’S PAPERS Somewhere, there may be documents that shed light on allegations of sexual harassment and assault leveled by former aide Tara Reade against presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. But if they exist, it will be difficult to unearth them. Biden has told the press to request documentation from the National Archives of a formal complaint she says she made at the time. But the National Archives doesn’t keep Senate personnel records, and the Senate itself refuses to give up its HR documents for 50 years after severance. Meanwhile, most voters say sexual assault shouldn’t disqualify a presidential candidate. [HuffPost]

BIDEN LIMITS ACCESS TO WALL STREET FUNDRAISER Joe Biden’s campaign removed the press from a fundraising call with Wall Street donors on Thursday shortly before the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee began taking questions from those on the line. It was the first time Biden has limited media access to a virtual high-dollar fundraiser, Bloomberg News noted, and it drew criticism from reporters who said it went against his pledge of transparency. The event was hosted by the heads of three investment banking firms: Evercore, Centerview Partners and Insight Partners. [HuffPost]

Candidate Biden-Tara Reade #MeToo issue


This 15 April 2020 video about the USA says about itself:

AOC: Silencing Tara Reade Allegations Against Joe Biden is “Gaslighting

Earlier tonight, CBS News reported that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said it was legitimate to talk about Tara Reade and her allegations against Joe Biden. This makes AOC the first congressperson to acknowledge Tara Reade and her claims against Biden.

This is a brave stand to take, where AOC is suggesting we can’t be hypocritical and ignore stories when they affect our party. She also says this story shouldn’t be set aside because of the election.

In her words: “What you’re voicing is so legitimate and real. That’s why I find this kind of silencing of all dissent to be a form of gaslighting.”

When it comes to Joe Biden, New York Times abandons “Believe women”. By David Walsh. 15 April 2020. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the leading candidate for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2020, has been accused by a former staffer of sexually assaulting her. Tara Reade alleges the incident occurred in 1993 when Biden was a senator from Delaware. There were no witnesses, Reade never filed a complaint and the statute of limitations for such an offense, if it occurred, has long since expired. Reade told Newsweek that she went public with her claims in late March, according to the magazine, “to ensure that ‘powerful men’ are held to account”.

Portrait of Tara Reade on her U.S. Senate ID (provided by her to New York Times)

This 14 April 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

NYT CHANGED Tara Reade Story at Joe Biden Campaign Request

Status Coup’s Jenn Dize reports on the New York Times changing a line in their Tara Reade story after Joe Biden’s campaign asked them to.

Women survivors of religious cults, new books


The former convent in Velddriel, later home of the Dutch Pentecostalist cult, the Assembly of God

This photo shows the former Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity convent in Velddriel, later home of the Dutch Pentecostalist cult, the Assembly of God.

Translated from (Christian) daily Trouw in the Netherlands, by Marijke Laurense, 5 April 2020:

You should be silent when the Lord speaks

Two young women liberated themselves from the cults they grew up in, the Assembly of God and the Apostolic Society.

Cults are timeless. Take a charismatic leader who knows the way and the truth, a select group of followers who are willing to give up their “old” lives and cut all ties with their families. Who want to sacrifice everything for the good cause, often in the expectation that the world will end soon. So that they will then be saved, while the sinful rest of mankind inexorably will go to hell. …

Some more recent examples of cults: the collective suicides (?) in 1978 in the jungle of Guyana under Jim Jones. Bhagwan. Scientology. A family [offshoot of the ‘Unification Church‘] that has been waiting for the end of time in a Drenthe farm for nine years. Gurus and therapists who feel they can be on top of and inside anything. No, whoever is wise should keep far from anyone who claims to be a prophet or the Messiah. Yet they keep popping up again and again, in living rooms, back rooms and villas, where after a warm bath of interest, attention and love you have to let yourself be pushed over and turn in all your savings. And from which it is then incredibly difficult to leave.

But if it is so difficult for adults to turn their back on such a cult, what if you grew up in it? Have been indoctrinated since childhood that the outside world is ignorant and evil? Two books about this were published simultaneously.

The secret world of the Society

Eg, next week there will be “Apostelkind”, the story of Renske Doorenspleet (1973), born in the Apostolic Society, a highly idealistic community of exemplary citizens. …

It must indeed have been difficult for Doorenspleet to commute between two worlds as a child: the first world of school and the second, secret world of the Society, for which you can go to ‘The Building in a long skirt until well into the 1990s, and where ‘being allowed to’ almost always meant ‘should’. …

What amazes Doorenspleet in particular is that the democratic outside world never paid attention to the conservative terror that marked her youth. That no one has ever noticed that it was a totalitarian organisation, which systematically committed itself to emotional abuse and which will have damaged its youth members, eg, the author, for life. No, it is clear that the hurt Doorenspleet twenty-two years after her departure from the Society is far from finished with her anger and sorrow at a troubled youth.

Nightly retreats in the chicken coop

Indeed, it is highly questionable that an “Apostle” interferes so imperatively with the education of the children of his followers. But that it can get even crazier and sicker, according to Frank Krake’s story told him by Hannelore Geerdink (1978), whose parents fell under the spell of the prophet Sipke Vrieswijk, who really meets all the characteristics of a cult leader who gets crazier and crazier.

Book about Hannelore in the cult

It starts with a warm reception at the Assembly of God, where faith healer Vrieswijk can relieve you of a headache. He concludes his instructions and revelations more and more with the phrase “Thus speaks the Lord of hosts.” Those who criticize are “occultly infected”. He also expects his followers to be deeply in debt to buy a former nunnery in Velddriel to live as one big family. Reality soon turns out to be less idyllic: Vrieswijk deals in unpredictable outbursts of anger, senseless cinderella assignments and nocturnal retreats in the chicken coop. He is also not averse to psychological terror to exchange his wife for a mistress, who as “Prophetess” makes herself especially creditable by arranging extra “Brides of Christ” for in bed – the gluttony knows no bounds.

Not allowed to go to your father’s funeral, not to speak to your children anymore. Fines for the silliest offences or on the contrary getting jewellery or a beautiful new name: Vrieswijk knows how to make his followers yearn for his attention. And in that environment, can a child grow up in a balanced way? While Hannelore was raped for the first time by Vrieswijk at the age of eleven? And six years later, very much against her now addicted mind, is liberated thanks to a stubborn police officer?

But in the end she even dares to report the cult leaders to the police and the prophet couple is sentenced to psychiatric imprisonment.

Japanese militarism abused ´comfort women´, new film


This 6 August 2019 video from South Korea says about itself:

Japanese-American director Miki Dezaki is in Korea with his ‘comfort women‘ documentary film “Shusenjo: The Main Battleground Of The Comfort Women Issue“. For over the span of 3 years, he had been tracking down vivid stories across Korea, the U.S. and Japan to make his film.

His film is distinguished from existing wartime sexual slavery documentaries in that it contains stories about activists who support the victims and interviews of Japan’s so-called ‘far-right revisionists’. The film had immense repercussions in Japan when it was released there last April.

Through the film “Shusenjo: The Main Battleground Of The Comfort Women Issue”, director Miki Dezaki says he wants to approach ‘comfort women‘ as a women’s rights issue rather than an interstate conflict. We meet with director Miki Dezaki on today’s Heart-to-Heart.

By Isabel Roy in Germany:

Shusenjo: The Main Battleground of the Comfort Women Issue: Documentary about war crimes and historical revisionism in Japan

20 March 2020

In late 2019, the documentary Shusenjo: The Main Battleground of the Comfort Women Issue, directed by Japanese-American filmmaker Miki Dezaki, was shown at a well-attended screening at Leipzig University in Germany. The film was shown at several European universities last year, following a US tour in 2018.

The valuable documentary treats the so-called “comfort women”, women who were forced into prostitution in military brothels both in Japan and Japanese-occupied territory during World War II. Most of the women came from Korea or China. The subject has been the source of tensions between South Korea and Japan for decades.

In his movie, Dezaki interviews historical revisionists from far-right circles, politicians and historians who have studied comfort women, as well as activists working for the recognition of the victims.

Following the release of his film, which Dezaki completed as his masters thesis and financed through Kickstarter and with his own money, he was sued by five of the interviewees. In the film, the latter deny both the responsibility of the Japanese government for the comfort women and their circumstances in the brothels. Dezaki also received several written threats and his movie’s distributor was sued by a right-wing extremist organisation that appears in the film.

A film festival in Kawasaki (in the Greater Tokyo Area) first announced it was canceling a showing for security reasons in response to threats from right-wingers. This move was criticized by other artists, including Japanese filmmakers Kazuya Shiraishi and Hirokazu Koreeda, and owing to help from volunteers who provided additional security, the film ended up being presented at the festival in November 2019. Shiraishi described the initial decision by the organisers as “an act to kill freedom of expression.” Shusenjo (which means “main battlefield”) opens with a clip from December 2015 in which one of the surviving women, Lee Yong-Su, confronts a Korean foreign ministry official at a press conference. The press conference followed an “agreement” on the comfort women issue between Japan and South Korea.

This agreement was initiated under pressure from the Obama administration, which viewed the conflict between its two most important allies in northeast Asia (South Korea and Japan) as a threat to its confrontation with North Korea and China.

Comfort women interrogated by the US army 1944

Lee Yong-Su is visibly angry and movingly accuses the official: “Who are you? What are you doing? Why do you have to kill us a second time? Are you living my life? Before reaching any agreements, shouldn’t you have spoken to the victims? You think we are old and know nothing.”

The agreement only entailed a very limited, “moral” apology to the comfort women and a donation of one billion yen [$US 9 million] to a fund to be split amongst survivors. The apology did not acknowledge the full responsibility of the Japanese military, even though historians such as Yoshiaki Yoshimi, a professor of Japanese modern history at Chuo University in Tokyo and a founding member of the Center for Research and Documentation on Japan’s War Responsibility, have been able to prove this responsibility conclusively with the aid of historical documents.

Dezaki’s film then moves on to examine the claims made by Japanese historical revisionists and contrast them with the explanations of serious historians and activists.

To give one example, the nationalist-revisionists argue that the testimonies by survivors are “inconsistent” and therefore unreliable. They also claim that although prostitution took place, the women voluntarily chose to engage in it and were “well-compensated” with “luxury goods and restaurant visits”, among other things. They present the comfort women as a South Korean and Chinese fabrication and dismiss it as “anti-Japanese” propaganda. The attendees of the showing in Leipzig were audibly shocked and disgusted by these statements.

Historians and activists in the movie explain that former comfort women from South Korea, among other countries, were faced with terrible social stigma for what they had endured. This led to many of them only speaking out years after the fact.

One particularly gripping interview features a former soldier in the Imperial Japanese Army. On the subject of women’s rights in Japan before the Second World War, he explains to the director: “Women before the war, before the constitution, weren’t quite seen as human. Nippon Kaigi wants to go back to that.” He also describes war atrocities again Chinese prisoners in which he was forced to participate.

Nippon Kaigi (“Japan Conference”) is a far-right organization that advocates a return to the monarchy of the Meiji Era (1868-1912), the abolition of women’s rights, state Shintoism, the remilitarization of Japan and a “patriotic” education in schools. It includes many members of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet, and Abe himself is a special advisor to the group’s parliamentary wing. Nippon Kaigi and Abe also support state visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, which commemorates Japan’s war dead, including 1,068 convicted war criminals of whom 14 are A-Class (convicted of having been involved in the planning, preparation, initiation or waging of war).

Bodies of victims along Qinhuai River out of Nanjing's west gate during Nanjing Massacre

One of Shusenjo’s strong points is the way it illustrates the intertwining of far-right organizations in Japan and the US, the Japanese state and historical revisionists.

Dezaki explains how after the Kono Statement of August 1993, which acknowledged the responsibility of the Japanese imperial army for the comfort women system, ultra-right groups and the Japanese government launched a targeted campaign to relativise the crimes of the Second World War.

In 2006, Abe championed a reform that promoted patriotism as a basic aim of the education system. Additionally, the government initiated the practice of routinely rejecting Japanese schoolbooks produced by private publishers on the grounds of “grave error”, without offering any further explanation. This, in turn, led the publishers to self-censor “uncomfortable” facts that might cause offense in order to avoid financial problems.

This kind of censorship is also prevalent in the media. A notable case was the editing out of victims’ testimony from a television broadcast of the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery, held in December 2000. This took place under the pressure of Abe himself as well as right-wing groups.

Hideaki Kase is a central figure in the network of pseudo-historians, far-right activists and politicians exposed in Shusenjo. He is a member of or occupies leading positions in the following organizations: Global Alliance for Historical Truth, Society for Dissemination of Historical Fact, Alliance for Truth about Comfort Women and Nippon Kaigi. Kase (born 1936) has written numerous books and produced revisionist films, appeared on talk shows and was a special advisor to former prime ministers Takeo Fukuda and Yasuhiro Nakasone.

Kase, who—among other things—denies the Nanjing Massacre (in which Japanese military forces slaughtered as many as 400,000 Chinese in Nanjing in December 1937-January 1938), when asked by the director if he knew the two most important historians of comfort women, simply responded: “I don’t read books by other people.” … According to him, Japan’s involvement in the Second World War can be described as “a war of national self-defence.”

As is the case in Germany and other countries, historical falsification is resorted to in Japan because its population is deeply opposed to war. When Abe’s grandfather, the war criminal Nobusuke Kishi, was released by the Allies in 1948, massive protests took place.

During the question-and-answer session after the showing in Leipzig, Dezaki, who grew up in the US, remarked “I had this question I wanted to answer from the very beginning—why are these people trying to erase history? This led me to Nippon Kaigi and I found out it is because they want to cultivate or foster this myth that Japan has never done anything wrong and ‘we only fought wars of peace’. If you were to become a soldier in the future you don’t want to believe that your country fights wars for oil, right? Like the U.S., we fight for freedom, right? The history is being erased so that people will become more patriotic.”