Goverment, stop lying on forced prostitution, Japanese historians say


Dutch ex-World War II Japanese army forced prostitute Ellen van der Ploeg during a demonstration in The Hague in 2007

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Japanese historians: tell the truth about the comfort women

Today, 12:14

Thousands of historians in Japan call on their compatriots to face the truth about the history of the ‘comfort women‘. Comfort women is the designation for women from Korea, China and the Dutch East Indies who were forced during World War II to have sex with Japanese soldiers. That happened in camps of the Japanese army. Many Japanese politicians and media maintain that there is no evidence that there was coercion.

The historians disagree. According to them, sticking to this “irresponsible” position means that Japan sends the message to the world that the country does not respect human rights, they write in a manifesto published yesterday.

Unreliable

The immediate reason for the call was the decision by the newspaper Asahi Shimbun to retract a series of articles on these foreign sex slaves. In these articles the newspaper wrote that there had been coercion. In November last year, the newspaper retracted this: the main source of previously published articles was said to have been unreliable.

According to the historians that does not alter the statement of the Japanese government in 1993, that the Japanese army during the war ran brothels in which foreign women were forced to work on a large scale. They also refer to historical research done into the fate of the comfort women.

The president of the Historical Science Society of Japan said at a press conference that university teachers engaged in research on the comfort women are being threatened. They are also made to choose between not lecturing on this or to resign.

World’s oldest deck of cards exhibited in New York


King, queen and knave cards in oldest deck of cards

This photo shows king, queen and knave (court jester) cards in the oldest deck of cards known in the world.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Deck of cards discovered by Dutchman exhibited in New York

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in the coming period a special deck of cards will be on display. It is the oldest complete card game in the world and it has been discovered by an Amsterdam antiques dealer.

Harry Kenter bought the game in 1978 at an auction in Paris. He paid 8,000 guilders. In the catalog it was presented as an incomplete tarot game from the 16th century, but Kenter immediately thought the game was older.

The card game is from Flanders and is called Court Years Hunting Package. Instead of hearts, diamonds, spades and clubs there are hunting pictures on the cards: hunting horns, dog collars, dog lines and snares to catch animals.

The medieval deck of cards

“It took years before we knew that the game must have been made between 1470 and 1480. Museums and institutes helped us with researching the clothes shown on the cards. There were also samples of the paper. That study showed that there were no substances in it younger than 1450.” The watermark in the paper of the game was used between 1466 and 1479 in the Netherlands and South Flanders.

The short jackets and hair cut above the ears was fashionable in dynasties between 1470 and 1480. Like the pointed shoes, which in 1480 went out of fashion.

I was taken under police escort to Sotheby’s – Harry Kenter

The hand-painted cards are in exceptionally good condition and were probably property of a prince who never used them. For what game they were intended is not known. Just like our current decks one can in principle play any card game with it, like a game of poker or bridge, although these games did not exist in the 15th century.

In 1983 Kenter sold the game to the museum for $ 143,000. That happened in London at an auction at Sotheby’s, where he was taken to under police escort.

“In Amsterdam I once cycled around with the deck of cards in my pocket, but the insurance told me to really never do that again. If I wanted to show the deck to friends, I had to take them to a bank, where the vault was. Then I told my wife that it was useless to us and that we should auction the deck.”

Japanese government whitewashes war crimes, historians criticize


This video says about itself:

Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

28 January 2015

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul.

By Ben McGrath:

Historians condemn Japan’s whitewashing of war crimes

11 May 2015

Last Tuesday, 187 prominent historians from universities in the United States, Canada, Australia and other countries published an open letter criticizing the Japanese government of Shinzo Abe for continuing to whitewash past war crimes.

The statement entitled, “Open Letter in Support of Historians in Japan,” takes aim at the Abe government’s stance on “comfort women,”—a euphemism for women coerced into becoming sex slaves for the Japanese army during the 1930s and 1940s. It calls for the defense of the “freedom of historical inquiry” in Japan and all countries against nationalistic distortions.

Among the signatories were notable historians such as Herbert Bix, professor emeritus at Binghamton University/State University of New York (SUNY), Ezra Vogel, professor emeritus at Harvard University, and Bruce Cumings from the University of Chicago. An earlier letter, released by 19 American historians in February, criticized Abe’s efforts to have references on comfort women altered in American university text books.

The comfort women system was established in the early 1930s. While the first women to be involved were Japanese, as the war spread throughout the Pacific, the military turned to its colonies, coercing poor women with phony promises of good jobs in factories. An estimated 200,000 women from Korea, China, the Philippines, and other Asian nations were then taken to brothels and prevented from leaving. Many committed suicide to escape their barbaric treatment.

The open letter stated: “The undersigned scholars of Japanese studies express our unity with the many courageous historians in Japan seeking an accurate and just history of World War II in Asia.” Historians, as well as journalists in Japan, who have published information on war crimes, have been criticized and in some cases threatened with violence by right-wing nationalists, who claim that comfort women were willing prostitutes and that stating otherwise is an affront to Japanese honor.

Yoshiaki Yoshimi, a leading Japanese historian on comfort women, received phone calls and letters threatening his life after he began publishing his research on comfort women in the 1990s. One such note read, “You must die.” In 1992, Yoshimi discovered extensive documents from the 1930s in the Japanese Ministry of Defense’s library (then called the Defense Agency), showing the military’s role in establishing “comfort stations” (military brothels) throughout Asia.

In January of this year, former Asahi Shimbun journalist Takashi Uemura filed a defamation lawsuit against Bungei Shunju, a publisher, and Tsutomu Nishioka, a right-wing professor at Tokyo Christian University and denier of the crimes against comfort women. Nishioka has accused Uemura of faking the information in his articles.

Uemura stated when he filed his lawsuit: “There is a movement in Japan to stop people who want to shine a light on the dark side of history, on the parts of the war that people don’t want to mention.”

Uemura first became the target of Japanese nationalists in 1991, following two articles he wrote on Kim Hak-sun, who is considered to be the first comfort woman to come forward. Uemura was accused of faking his stories and was attacked as the journalist who “fabricated the comfort woman issue.”

Condemnation of Uemura increased last August, following the Asahi Shimbun’s retraction of a series of articles on comfort women published in the 1980s and 1990s that referenced the accounts of Seiji Yoshida, a former soldier who claimed he had rounded up women during World War II in Korea. Historians had dismissed Yoshida’s story by the early 1990s, while emphasizing the clear evidence of the military’s role in establishing comfort stations.

Neither of Uemura’s articles relied on Yoshida’s story, but the retractions further opened the door for attacks on journalists and academics by right-wing nationalists like Nishioka. Not only was Uemura’s life threatened, but Hokusei University, where he is now employed, received bomb threats. Photos of Uemura’s teenage daughter also appeared online with calls to force the girl to commit suicide.

The Abe government strengthened the nationalists’ claims by calling into doubt the 1993 Kono Statement, a formal yet limited apology for the abuse of comfort women during the war in the Pacific, released by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono. In June 2014, Abe’s government released a report by five “experts” questioning whether women and young girls were coerced or forced into the military brothels.

Tuesday’s letter goes on to say, “[…] historians have unearthed numerous documents demonstrating the military’s involvement in the transfer of women and oversight of brothels. Important evidence also comes from the testimony of victims. Although their stories are diverse and affected by the inconsistencies of memory, the aggregate record they offer is compelling and supported by the official documents as well as by the accounts of soldiers and others.”

The letter also makes clear the fundamental difference between the comfort women system and justifications by Japanese nationalists that prostitution was common in other theaters of war: “Among the many instances of wartime sexual violence and military prostitution in the twentieth century, the ‘comfort women’ system was distinguished by its large scale and systematic management under the military, and by its exploitation of young, poor, and vulnerable women in areas colonized or occupied by Japan.” [emphasis added]

The open letter comes less than a week after Abe, the most right-wing Japanese prime minister in the postwar period, was warmly welcomed by Obama on a trip to the United States where the prime minister also made a speech to a joint session of Congress, the first Japanese premier to do so. The two sides agreed to new security guidelines to allow Japan to take part in the United States’ imperialist wars.

All of this is bound up with the United States’ “pivot to Asia,” designed to economically subordinate and militarily surround China. Japan has been encouraged by Washington to remilitarize and discard its postwar pacifist constitution, as well as to enflame territorial conflicts in the region. During Abe’s recent trip to the US, Obama once again promised to back Japan in a war with China over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.

While the historians’ letter fails to directly tie historical revisionism to preparations for war, that is the purpose of Abe’s campaign: to whip up Japanese nationalism to condition public opinion, particularly young people, for future conflicts.

British elections and corporate media sexism


This video about the British election campaign says about itself:

Leaders’ debate: ‘Farage should be ashamed’ on HIV – Leanne Wood

2 April 2015

The leaders’ debate first clap went to Plaid Cymru‘s Leanne Wood, after she told Ukip leader Nigel Farage that he should be ashamed of himself.

Mr Farage had been talking about the treatment of immigrants with HIV on the NHS.

By Louise Raw in Britain:

Why are we so afraid of the idea of women in power?

Saturday 9th May 2015

Women have been sidelined and written out of history due to a longstanding notion of what constitutes the ‘natural order,’ writes LOUISE RAW

IN the run-up to this election, you may have noticed the mainstream media noticing something very particular — the leaders of the Green Party, the SNP and Plaid Cymru are not men. They’ve been falling backwards off their chairs.

Excitement has been considerable, with some commentators opining that feminism can now pack up its bags and go home — its work here is done.

But is that really the case? The tone of much of the commentary suggests not. We might have expected the tabloids to take more interest in the women’s hair and clothes than their gravitas — and so they did, with the odd publication ranking the women in order of attractiveness.

But consider James Ashton on Plaid’s Leanne Wood, in the Independent (even before it essentially declared for the Tory Party): “Less fierce than Nicola Sturgeon, less shrill than Natalie Bennett, Leanne Wood has emerged from three-and-a-half hours of prime-time television as the leader you’d most likely invite around for a cup of tea.”

Shrill? Fierce? Cups of tea? Can you imagine David Cameron or Ed Miliband being rated in those terms? I’ve met Bennett, and a calmer, more measured woman you’re unlikely to meet. Nor does the Sturgeon I’ve seen and heard in the media bear any resemblance to the woad-clad Braveheart, roaring and rattling her sword at the English, who is supposed to be making my blood run cold.

Such are the workings of sexism and misogyny. Women in the vicinity of power must be reduced, made manageable, diminished. And if they refuse to, as the wonderful Ngozi Adichie has it, shrink themselves, then they are a threat, and we will demonise them.

Behind it all lies the idea that women attaining power is new. If something’s a novelty, it’s not tried and tested. It could fail, be a passing phase, a mistake — could even lead to disaster. It might also be a threat to that extremely subjective concept, so infinitely malleable to such a variety of arguments — the “natural order.”

Naturally, this is a crock. As socialists, by definition somewhat at odds with the system we live under, we should find it easy to accept and challenge that kind of cant (not a typo). And yet ideas about the dodginess of women in power seep into all our consciousnesses.

How can they not, when every other billboard tells us women are here to ornament, to compete with each other for men, and at the mercy of hormones, periods and other bodily unpleasantness?

The history of women’s lives is fudged, blurred, ignored, not taught. No wonder some believe its chronology was essentially: Dawn of time; babies; cooking; cooking; nothing much… (millennia pass) … 1960s! Miniskirts! The pill! Working women (secretaries, etc)!

If you skew the facts like this, it’s easy to think nature has been usurped, and that this explains all modern social malaise. It’s feminism — boys no longer know how to be men, women feel they have to have careers and are unhappy in them, kids are neglected, you can’t even open a door for a woman without being arrested, political correctness gone mad, yada, yada.

Just as we’re messing up the environment, we are messing — at our peril — with the essential nature of men and women.

Whereas in “the old days…” This would all have been music to John Knox’s ears. The Protestant preacher and reformer pulled no punches when he titled his 1558 polemic The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstruous Regiment of Women. By “regiment” he meant “rule” — there wasn’t some 16th century marching army of uppity women, sadly. What really got Knox’s goat was Catholic queens like Mary of Guise. To rail against them, he went straight to the “it’s not natural” box (“monstruous” means “unnatural” here). “For who can denie but it repugneth to nature … that the weake, the sicke, and impotent persones (yup, that’s women) shall norishe and kepe the hole and strong, and finallie, that the foolishe, madde and phrenetike shal gouerne … and such be al women.”

Foolish, mad, frenetic — ringing some shrill, fierce bells? Like any modern Twitter troll, Knox published anonymously, but authorship quickly became known and shot Knox stupendously in the foot. That same year, Protestant Elizabeth I took to the throne. She took umbrage at Knox’s insults to female sovereigns and put a complete block on his involvement with the English Protestant cause after 1559.

But if men were arguing against women’s power in the 16th century, clearly there’s nothing new about the concept. In fact, we can go back much further — anthropologists have shown us women hunting and fully involved in “pre-historical” societies. The evidence is there, should we care to see it, for ancient Egyptian women working, including as brewers, medieval women in every trade from fine art to construction and powerful in the guilds, militant women weavers on strike in 1788 — it’s a long list, covering every historical period imaginable.

But there’s profit in “othering” women and keeping all of this quiet. If you tell people for long enough that they’re not capable, it will sink in. Though they know, intellectually, that it’s not true, some of that will be internalised.

Companies make millions telling women they are unacceptable as they are, and must constantly improve every physical aspect of themselves. Wax that body hair, be thinner, prettier, younger-looking — and then we just might treat you nicer. Black and Asian women are sold skin-bleaching products and must straighten or otherwise Westernise their hair.

Mothers are told their most important new job is getting “their body back” post childbirth (where did it go? Who is snatching the corporeal form of new mothers? We should be told).

This is women’s true life’s work, and a handy distraction from that pesky pay gap. Rape, domestic abuse, street harassment, FGM? Nothing a new pair of shoes can’t make better.

It has been capitalism’s most successful trick to make the majority of citizens of the world feel unequal to holding power — from the divine right of kings to “scientific” treatises on the inadequacies and lack of full humanity of black women and men, women generally, and the working class, it’s been done relentlessly and well.

We can’t do better than writer and theorist Bell Hooks here, who has long warned against the interconnectivity of race, capitalism and gender both creating and perpetuating systems of oppression and class domination.

But few white feminists are introduced to Hooks’s work. Even those who fight for liberation are made to feel they can only operate in their own limited spheres — class, race, religion, gender — all are absolute divides we cross at our peril, we are made to believe.

So white feminists can talk about their Muslim sisters, but not to them — they’re “naturally,” or at least culturally, anti-feminist, aren’t they? Also we’d probably offend them somehow. No wonder the marvellous Sara Khan of Inspire Muslim Women, who challenges gender discrimination in Islam, is writing a book on how the left has failed Muslim women.

All the mainstream parties, and all of us as individuals, need to utterly and publicly reject divisive thinking right now. The protests, opposition and strength under impossible duress of our sisters and brothers in Gaza, Ferguson and Baltimore and the young mothers fighting enforced homelessness in Britain cannot but impress and teach us that we must talk to Muslim women, black women, working-class women — and, yes, men — not just when we want their votes, but constantly.

As socialists — especially if we’re white — it’s incumbent upon us to do this, too. Yes, we might misunderstand, tread on cultural sensitivities, get it wrong — so we will learn, listen, fight our own privileges, and do better. We cannot be silent any longer and we must no longer allow ourselves to be divided. We need to remember that “divide and rule” carries within it an equal and opposite potential — unite and conquer.

Louise Raw is the author of Striking a Light: the Bryant & May Matchwomen and Their Place in History (Bloomsbury). The 2015 Matchwomen’s Festival is on July 4 in Canning Town. Discounted advance tickets now available at www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/matchwomens-festival-2015- tickets-16082194276. Children’s tickets are free.