Japanese government lies on ‘comfort women’, people protest


This video from South Korea says about itself:

“Herstory” Comfort Women Animation – English

15 January 2014

Produced with actual voices of the victims of the Japanese Military’s ‘Comfort Women‘ [policy].

By Ben McGrath:

Opposition to Japanese government’s lies on “comfort women”

27 February 2015

Opposition to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s attempt to whitewash the history of the Japanese military’s war crimes has emerged in Japan and also the United States. Earlier this month, a group of American historians issued a statement criticizing the Abe government’s attempts to pressure a US publishing company McGraw-Hill to amend its textbook’s treatment of so-called “comfort women.”

During the 1930s and 1940s, some 200,000 Korean, Chinese and other women were coerced into sex slavery in “comfort stations” established for Japanese officers and soldiers. Abe and other right-wing nationalists falsely claim that the women were not forced but willingly acted as prostitutes. This revision of history is bound up with the government’s plans to remilitarize and to end the current constitutional restrictions on the dispatch of the Japanese military in overseas interventions and wars.

Abe’s efforts to rewrite history could cloud plans for him to address a joint session of the US Congress, which, according to the Japan Times last weekend, could take place in late April. He would become the first Japanese prime minister to speak to Congress since 1961 when Hayato Ikeda addressed the House of Representatives. Abe’s grandfather, Nobsuke Kishi, also spoke before Congress as prime minister in 1957.

A bipartisan group of US lawmakers who visited Japan last week raised questions about Abe’s view of history. Democrat Congresswoman Diana DeGette warned that the issues surrounding World War II “could really put some cracks in the relationship… It’s really important that Japan not be seen as backtracking… on the comfort women issue and some other issues around the end of the war.”

Republican congressman James Sensenbrenner told the Wall Street Journal that Abe’s “revisionist history” was hurting “Japan’s standing with its neighbors. That has to be cooled down.” His warning reflects concerns in Washington that the Abe government’s whitewash of Japanese war crimes was undermining relations with South Korea, the other major US ally in North East Asia.

Regardless of these misgivings, Abe’s congressional address appears to be going ahead. The Obama administration regards Tokyo as a crucial ally in its “pivot to Asia” and military build-up throughout the Indo-Pacific region against China.

It should be noted that the criticisms of Abe’s stance on Japan’s atrocities are rather hypocritical. The US political establishment remains silent on its own crimes during World War II, including the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians in the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the firebombing of Tokyo and other Japanese cities.

Within Japan, right-wing nationalist groups continue to wage a vicious campaign against the Asahi Shimbun after it retracted a series of articles last August based on the testimony of Seiji Yoshida, a former soldier, who claimed to have forcibly rounded up “comfort women” on Korea’s Jeju Island. Yoshida later admitted that he had made up parts of his story, which has been seized on to claim there is no evidence that women were coerced into sex slavery and to demand the retraction of Japan’s 1993 Kono statement—a formal, but limited apology over the abuse of “comfort women.”

In an interview last month with the Asia-Pacific Journal, Yoshiaki Yoshimi, a leading historian on comfort women, said in, “As early as 1993 at the latest, no one took seriously Yoshida’s testimony claiming that he had witnessed the Japanese Army’s forcible relocation of women in Jeju Island. The Kono Statement was not based on Yoshida’s testimony. Nor do scholars researching the comfort women issue draw on it for their argument. In short, Asahi’s retraction of Yoshida’s testimony due to its falsity should not affect the discussion.”

Other former Japanese soldiers have provided evidence of the military’s system of sexual slavery. Masayoshi Matsumoto, currently 92, has spoken out against the crimes he witnessed as an army medic. “I feel like a war criminal. It is painful to speak of such things and I would rather cover it up. It is painful, but I must speak,” he said in a 2013 interview with Reuters.

In a more recent interview in the Asia-Pacific Journal in October 2014, Matsumoto described working at a base in Yu County in Shanxi Province in China during the war. “Our battalion had approximately one thousand men. We took about 5 or 6 ‘comfort women’ with us. I was a corpsman…I had to help the army doctor to do tests for venereal disease on comfort women.”

After describing the instruments and testing methods, Matsumoto said, “These [women] had definitely not arrived there of their own will. Nobody would be willing to travel to such a remote area. The money was handled by Japanese civilians employed by the military, who took care of the women.”

Matsumoto made clear that rape of captured village women was rampant and that the setting up of the “comfort stations,” where soldiers forced women to have sex, was an attempt to curb the spread of disease among the troops. Matsumoto described finding several women in a captured village.

“When we raided a village, there happened to be some villagers left behind. Normally during a raid all the villagers would flee. Among them were seven or eight women. The soldiers grabbed them and took them away to the barracks. Knowing that they would be killed if they resisted, these women came along without resisting. The women were made to live inside the barracks, and whenever the soldiers felt like it they would visit them to have sex,” he said.

Matsumoto explained why he spoke out: “While reading all kind of things, I realized that if we don’t face our past squarely, we’re bound to repeat the same mistakes. When I look at Abe, I think he’s starting to do exactly that. Someone needs to speak up.” Asked about Abe’s claim that there was no coercion of women, Matsumoto responded: “Such a thing is not true! It’s…nonsense. A lie.”

The evidence proving that the Japanese army engaged in the wide-scale and systematic coercion of women into its “comfort stations” is not limited to such personal accounts, but has been found in wartime documents unearthed by historians. Nevertheless Matsumoto’s first-hand testimony is not only telling refutation of Abe’s lies but also points to the fact that the whitewashing of war crimes is the preparation for new ones.

Dancing is illegal in Japan


This video says about itself:

Real Scenes: Tokyo

10 February 2014

Read more about this film here.

For our latest Real Scenes films, we journey to the Japanese capital to meet the DJs, promoters, campaigners and producers who have been affected by the Fueiho. We hear how a rapidly aging population and the negative public perception of nightclubs have meant that fighting for reform is just part of the problem.

Despite these extraordinary challenges, Tokyo is home to passionate, dedicated dance music community, who have responded with campaign groups like Let’s DANCE, and the establishment of small, underground music spaces. There is a collective understanding that if they want to affect change it will have to come from within.

From The Newsletter, #70, spring 2015, of the International Institute for Asian Studies:

The politics of dancing in Japan

Dancing is illegal in Japan. That does not mean it doesn’t happen, and indeed nightclubs regularly stay open into the early hours. However, since 2010 police have begun reanimating Japan’s old fueiho cabaret law, dubiously used to crackdown on nightclubs.

This has been a disaster for Japan’s vibrant underground music scene, an affront to freedom of expression, and evidence of a growing authoritarianism by elites who rely on vague legal and institutional practices.

With a push back from Japan’s civil society in the form of the Let’s Dance Campaign, and a simultaneous alignment between domestic and international elites worried about the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics, things may be beginning to change. This article explores the structures of power underlying this issue and speculates on the degree to which recent developments may be cause for alarm or cheer.

Read full article here.

Japanese conservative praises South African apartheid


Pictures from Japanese neo-Nazi Kazunari Yamada’s website show him posing with Shinzo Abe’s internal affairs minister, Sanae Takaichi, and his party’s policy chief, Tomomi Inada. Photograph: Guardian

This photo shows prominent politicians of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe‘s ruling party smile happily at a photo op with the fuehrer of Japan’s neo-nazi movement.

From The Economist:

Japan and immigration: Bad timing

February 21 2015

The Sankei Shimbun, a Japanese daily, has a reputation for illiberal commentary. Last week it outdid itself by running a column that lauded the segregation of races in apartheid-era South Africa-and urged Japan to do the same.

Ayako Sono, a conservative columnist, said that if her country had to lower its drawbridge to immigrants, then they should be made to live apart. “It is next to impossible to attain an understanding of foreigners by living alongside them”, she wrote.

Ms Sono’s views got an airing as the government of Shinzo Abe, the prime minister, appears set to promote immigration in all but name. They caused a stir in South Africa, whose ambassador to Japan called them “scandalous”. In Japan, however, the reaction has been oddly muted. The media scarcely picked up on the ambassador’s letter. The Sankei initially greeted criticism with bemusement. It then issued a pro-forma reply defending its right to run different opinions.

Japan’s government is considering allowing 200,000 foreigners a year to come to Japan to help to solve a deepening demographic crisis and shortage of workers. The population fell by nearly a quarter of a million in 2013. An advisory body to Mr Abe says that immigrants could help stabilise the population at around 100m, from a current 127m. Not since the ancestors of Japan’s current inhabitants arrived in the islands from Korea two millennia ago has there been an example of immigration on the scale of that proposed. In this largely homogeneous country, just 2% of the population is of foreign origin-and that includes large numbers of residents with roots in Korea, a former Japanese colony, whose families have lived in Japan for generations.

Ms Sono is hardly a fringe figure. A bestselling author and conservative activist, she recently sat on a government panel on education reform; she is quoted in a textbook on morals for secondary school students, alongside Mother Theresa.

The last farmer of Fukushima, Japan


This video says about itself:

The Last Farmer in Fukushima‘s Post-Nuclear Wasteland: VICE INTL (Japan)

12 February 2015

Two years since the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant went into full meltdown, and the resulting 20km evacuation zone was enforced, one farmer still remains behind braving high levels of radiation and loneliness to tend to abandoned animals.

His name is Naoto Matsumura, and he is the last man standing in the ghost town of Tomioka. Another farmer’s, Kenji Hasegawa’s town of Iidate was also evacuated due to high levels of radiation, he sought refuge in temporary housing. Faced with a post­nuclear world both these men share brutally honest views on the state of their lives, TEPCO, government inaction and some of the hardest situations they have had to face in the midst of overwhelming radioactivity.

US historians against Japanese government whitewashing war crimes


This video says about itself:

Rape of Nanking Part I Atrocities in Asia Nanjing Massacre

Rape of Nanking – Nanjing Massacre. Japanse Atrocities in Asia. Part I of 2. This documentary, by Rhawn Joseph is based on 20 years research and consists entirely of archival photos and film-clips. This film begins with an overview of Japan and China at the beginning of the 20th Century, explains the mind-set of the Japanese and their God, Hirohito, and then continues with the invasion of China, the crimes committed by the Japanese (during the Fall) on the road to Nanjing, Nanjing Massacre, the rape of the Philippines, Unit 731, the Baatan death camps, Japanese denials, and the dropping of the A-bomb on Japan.

This video is the sequel.

By Ben McGrath:

US historians criticize Tokyo’s efforts to whitewash war crimes

16 February 2015

A group of 19 American historians have condemned efforts by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to whitewash the historical record following his recent attempts to pressure a McGraw-Hill, a US publishing company, to change textbook passages concerning the Japanese military’s terrible abuse of “comfort women” during the 1930s and 1940s.

In a February 5 statement entitled “Standing with Historians of Japan,” the American academics not only criticized the Japanese government’s attempts to whitewash history but opposed any attempt by other governments to censor the past. As the title also makes clear, the historians lent support to their Japanese colleagues who have worked to investigate the truth regarding “comfort women,” or women who were coerced into “comfort stations” as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers.

Among those who signed the statement were Patrick Manning, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh who is being considered for the chair of the American Historical Association, and Hebert Ziegler, of Hawaii University and one of the authors of McGraw-Hill’s textbook that Abe criticized.

At the end of last year, the Japanese Consulate General in New York met with representatives of McGraw-Hill, to call for its textbook to be amended. The company refused. At the end of January, Abe declared that he was “shocked” by what he had read in the books and called for greater efforts to “correct” such accounts.

The statement by the American academics reads, “As historians, we express our dismay at recent attempts by the Japanese government to suppress statements in history textbooks both in Japan and elsewhere about the euphemistically named ‘comfort women,’ who suffered under a brutal system of sexual exploitation in the service of the Japanese imperial army during World War II. We therefore oppose the efforts of states or special interests to pressure publishers or historians to alter the results of their research for political purposes.”

The historians’ statement also expressed support for Japanese historians like Yoshimi Yoshiaki, a professor at Chuo University in Japan. It continued, “The careful research of historian Yoshimi Yoshiaki in Japanese government archives and the testimonial of survivors throughout Asia have rendered beyond dispute the essential features of a system that amounted to state-sponsored sexual slavery.”

Yoshiaki is a professor of modern history and author of the book, “Comfort Women,” first published in Japanese in 1995 and then in English in 2002. Yoshiaki began researching the sexual enslavement of comfort women in 1992 when victims were first beginning to come forward. He made extensive use of documents from the 1930s, found in the Ministry of Defense’s library (then known as the Defense Agency). This type of information is invaluable as many papers were destroyed in Japan during the closing days of World War II, including many that were evidence of war crimes.

While Yoshiaki made use of these documents to show the military’s role in setting up the brothels, he also stated in 2007 in the New York Times, “There are things that are never written in official documents. That they [comfort women] were forcibly recruited—that’s the kind of thing that would have never been written in the first place.”

The number of women forced into military-run “comfort stations” is estimated to have been approximately 200,000, with many of them coming from Korea, China, the Philippines, and other Asian countries occupied by Japan. Girls, often in their teens, endured horrendous conditions in the Japanese military brothels. Many committed suicide.

While some women were directly forced into sexual slavery, others were duped and then held against their will. In Korea, for example, the Japanese military relied on Korean middlemen to round up girls, often with phony promises of good jobs in factories or other work. These girls often came from poor families.

Right-wing Japanese nationalists often claim that the “comfort women” were already prostitutes and willingly worked at the comfort stations. While there is some evidence that this might be true in the early stages, as Japan’s imperialist war drive expanded, the practices of coercing and intimidating young women into becoming “comfort women” increased.

“The Japanese military itself newly built this system, took the initiative to create this system, maintained it and expanded it, and violated human rights as a result,” Yoshiaki said in 2007 comments to the New York Times. “That’s a critical difference [from prostitution].”

Abe’s attempt to revise the historical record on “comfort women” is just one aspect of a broader agenda. The government has also set aside more than a half billion dollars for a diplomatic and propaganda offensive to “restore Japan’s honor.” It recently announced the establishment of “Japan Houses” around the world to promote the country’s image and to whitewash past war crimes.

The first “Japan Houses” will be set up in London, Los Angeles, and Sao Paulo by the end of 2016, but the plan does not end there. “We are half-satisfied. By mobilizing all means, we must strengthen Japan’s information strategy…so that in a real sense, we can have (others) properly understand what is good about Japan,” said Yoshiaki Harada, a lawmaker with Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

Japan also recently provided $5 million to Columbia University for a Japan studies position. It was the first time Tokyo has made such a grant in more than four decades. “There is a fear that Japan is losing out in an information war with South Korea and China and that we must catch up,” said Kan Kimura of Kobe University.

This concerted ideological campaign is part of the Abe government’s remilitarization of Japan and preparation for war. It is aimed at whipping up patriotic sentiment at home to dragoon a new generation of youth to go off to war, while blunting criticism abroad not only of past crimes, but the Japanese government’s current military build-up.

All of this has been encouraged by the United States as part of its “pivot to Asia,” designed to undermine China economically and militarily encircle it. While it is fully supportive of the “pivot,” the Abe government is also seeking to remilitarize to prosecute the economic and strategic interests of Japanese imperialism, even if they conflict with those of the US.