Japanese sex slavery not settled, Korean president says

This video says about itself:


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:

Friday, March 2, 2018

South Korean President insists sex slave issue is not over

SOUTH KOREAN President Moon Jae In assured citizens today that, whatever Japan may say, the wartime sex slave issue is not over.

In a speech marking a national holiday commemorating Korean resistance to Japanese occupation, President Moon said that Japan cannot declare the issue to have been relegated to history, insisting that Tokyo must apologise and confront its wrongdoings.

“As the perpetrator, the Japanese government shouldn’t say: ‘It’s over’,” he insisted.

“Wartime crimes against humanity can’t be swept under the rug by saying: ‘it’s over’.”

The scandal of what Tokyo refers to euphemistically as “comfort women”, those forced into sexual slavery for Japanese troops, is a sensitive issue for all Koreans.

Park Geun Hye, President Moon’s ousted [impeached] predecessor, negotiated a deal in 2015 under which Seoul promised not to raise the issue again, while Japan paid 1 billion yen (£6.8 million) to a foundation supporting the victims.

Tokyo fell short of taking legal responsibility for Japan’s actions and Mr Moon condemned the deal as “wrongful” and urged Japan to make a “heartfelt apology”.

“The true way of resolving a tragic history is to remember that history and to learn from it”, he said.

He also expressed hopes for strong future relations “with the closest neighbour on the backdrop of a sincere apology”.

Tokyo government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said this “goes against the Japan-South Korea agreement.

“We cannot accept it at all and feel it is extremely regrettable. We immediately conveyed our stance and made a strong protest to the South Korean side through diplomatic channels”.


New tardigrade species discovered in Japan

This video says about itself:

Here’s the real poop on tardigrades | Science News

28 February 2018

The tardigrade species newly named Macrobiotus shonaicus (after the Shonai region of Japan where it was discovered) has a talent for growing under lab conditions. That allowed genome biologist and tardigrade fan Kazuharu Arakawa to capture water bear home movies. Here, M. shonaicus trundles along with its almost bearlike gait. In an event rarely shown on film, it excretes waste almost its body size.

Read more here.

Credit: Kazuharu Arakawa

From PLOS:

New tardigrade species Macrobiotus shonaicus sp. nov. identified in Japan

Researchers characterize new species using microscopy, genetic analysis

February 28, 2018

A new tardigrade species has been identified in Japan, according to a study published February 28, 2018 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Daniel Stec from the Jagiellonian University, Poland, and colleagues.

Tardigrades are microscopic metazoans that are found all over the world, and there were 167 known species from Japan. For decades, the globally distributed Macrobiotus hufelandi complex has been represented only by the nominal taxon M. hufelandi, but currently numerous species within the complex are recognised.

In this study, Stec and colleagues describe a new tardigrade species of the hufelandi group, Macrobiotus shonaicus sp. nov., from East Asia. The researchers collected a sample of moss from a car park in Japan and examined it for tardigrades, extracting 10 individuals from the sample, which were used to start a laboratory culture to obtain more individuals required for the range of analyses. They then used phase contrast light microscopy (PCM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) as well as analyzed the DNA for four molecular markers to characterize the new species and determine where it fit in the phylogenetic tree.

To distinguish between different tardigrade species, the researchers paid special attention to their eggs. This new tardigrade species has a solid egg surface, placing it in the persimilis subgroup within the hufelandi complex. The eggs also have flexible filaments attached, resembling those of two other recently described species, Macrobiotus paulinae from Africa and Macrobiotus polypiformis from South America.

The researchers’ phylogenetic and morphological analysis identifies M. shonaicus sp. nov. as a new species within the M. hufelandi complex, increasing the number of known tardigrade species from Japan to 168.

Co-author Kazuharu Arakawa says: “We revisit the large and long-standing Macrobiotus hufelandi group of tardigrades, originally described by Schultze in 1834 and where M. shonaicus also belongs, and suggest that the group contains two clades with different egg morphology.”

Fukushima disaster in Japan update

This video says about itself:

A New Source of Fukushima Radiation Was Just Found, Now What?

21 October 2017

Researchers found radioactive particles from Fukushima on beaches miles away, but how did it get there?

Japan wants Fukushima evacuees to go home. They’re not so sure. — The Christian Science Monitor: here.

Tokyo court orders Tepco to pay $10 million in damages over 2011 disaster — Reuters: here.

TOKYO — The decision Jan. 16 to automatically extend a nuclear agreement with the U.S. came as a relief to a Japanese government worried about the prospect of renegotiating the basis for a cornerstone of its energy policy. But friction remains over a massive store of plutonium that highlights the problems with the nation’s ambitious nuclear energy plans: here.

Japan’s military sexual slavery and South Korea

This British ITV video says about itself:

2 November 2015

A Chinese “comfort woman” tells ITV News the tale of the brutality she endured at the hands of Japanese invaders during WWII.

By Ben McGrath:

Tensions between South Korea and Japan reemerge over “comfort women

3 January 2018

A task force under South Korea’s Foreign Ministry released new findings on December 27 regarding a December 2015 agreement between Seoul and Tokyo on the historical issue of “comfort women.” The report calls into question the manner in which the accord was reached and has the potential to destabilize South Korean and Japanese relations.

The task force conducted a five-month investigation and found that certain aspects of the negotiations between Seoul and Tokyo were kept secret from the public. It accused the former South Korean administration of Park Geun-hye, which was in power at the time, of failing to take into account the opinions of former comfort women—a euphemism for sex slaves—who are still alive, as well as related civic groups.

Details reportedly withheld from the public included Tokyo’s demands that Seoul not support any groups that would oppose the agreement, provide detailed plans for dealing with a statue honoring those enslaved in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, and pledge that Seoul not use the phrase “sexual slavery”. Park’s government said it would work to persuade civic groups to prevent protests and agreed to use the term “comfort women”.

Moon’s government has not rejected the agreement, which Seoul stated in 2015 was “final and irreversible.” Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said: “Based on the findings, the government will gather opinions of the victims and others involved going forward with a focus to be placed on a victim-centered approach. In addition, action will be taken carefully in consideration of any impact that it could have on the relations between South Korea and Japan.”

A final decision on the matter is not expected until after the Winter Olympics being hosted by South Korea in February. However, a high-ranking South Korean official quoted by the Yonhap News Agency suggested Seoul could pursue a path of strategic ambiguity to avoid a diplomatic falling out with Tokyo. At the same time, Moon is cautious of moving too close to Japan as he attempts to rebuild economic relations with China.

Following a two-track approach that separates historical disputes from diplomatic and military issues, Moon pledged that despite the task force’s findings, he would “restore normal diplomatic relations for future-oriented cooperation between Korea and Japan.” Seoul is also reportedly making arrangements for a trilateral summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who proposed the meeting, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Tokyo in April. Beijing has not yet expressed support.

However, Tokyo reacted negatively to the report. Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono called on Seoul to “faithfully” carry out the 2015 agreement, while warning any attempt to revise it would make relations between the two countries “unmanageable.”

The 2015 agreement represented a significant thaw in relations between Tokyo and Seoul at the behest of the Obama administration in Washington, which was concerned that animosity between its two major military allies in Northeast Asia was cutting across preparations for war with North Korea and China.

The Abe government offered a limited apology for the women’s enslavement by the Japanese military during the 1930s and 1940s, while pledging to donate 1 billion yen ($8.9 million) to a fund to be distributed to South Korean victims, 32 of whom are still alive. The deal did not cover women in North Korea, China, the Philippines or other countries where women were also enslaved.

Moon’s approach to this issue is similar to that it had adopted in relation to the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) anti-missile deployment, part of the US military build-up primarily directed against China. In his campaign for the presidency, Moon exploited public opposition to the comfort women agreement and THAAD to win electoral support. In June, Moon called for a full environmental impact assessment before THAAD could be completely deployed. After posturing as a THAAD opponent, he quickly approved its full installation a month later, pointing to a North Korean missile launch as justification.

However, a dispute in the South Korean ruling class is emerging over this approach, with Moon’s opponents demanding closer relations with Tokyo and Washington as the latter accelerate the current war drive against North Korea. Chang Je-won, party spokesman for the main opposition Liberty Korea Party [the right-wing party of ex-President Park Geun-hye, impeached for corruption and daughter of a military dictator], denounced the task force’s report.

“Amid escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula, a strong alliance with the United States and Japan is crucial to protect the country from the nuclear threats from North Korea”, Chang said last week. “The revelation is a poor move that is far removed from resolving the comfort women issue, and can lead to serious security issues.”

The comfort women dispute has been ongoing for nearly three decades following growing public anger over war crimes in the early 1990s. Before and during World War II, the Japanese government and military established a system in which an estimated 200,000 women from its colonies and conquered territories were deceived, coerced and in some cases physically forced into becoming nominal prostitutes.

Poor working class and peasant women were primarily affected, with the first “comfort women” coming from Japan. While some women received or were supposed to receive money for their “services,” this was only to provide a thin veil of legitimacy to a practice where women endured hellish conditions at “comfort stations,” in some cases at the front lines. Many women turned to drug abuse or opted to commit suicide.

The South Korean establishment in the past was undoubtedly well aware of this practice of sexual slavery. Following post-war independence, leading government and military positions were filled with Japanese collaborators who did nothing to address the needs of these women and their families.

The recent visit to Sri Lanka by Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono saw governmental confirmation of Sri Lanka’s first Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) project. A statement from Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s office revealed that an MoU with Japan to build a Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU) would be signed in the third week of January. The project to build the FSRU and LNG terminal will be a joint venture by Sri Lanka Ports Authority with both Japan and India, it is learnt: here.

Korean president criticizes sex slave deal with Japan

 A statue of a Korean ‘comfort woman’ in Seoul, South Korea. Photo: Yun Ho Lee

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Friday, December 29, 2017

South Korean president criticises ‘seriously flawed’ sex slave deal with Japan

Government panel reports on problems with content and process of ‘comfort women’ agreement

SOUTH KOREAN president Moon Jae In condemned the 2015 deal with Japan over reparations for wartime sex slaves yesterday as “seriously flawed, both in process and content.”

“Once again [I] firmly state that this agreement does not resolve the issue over comfort women”, Mr Moon said in a statement, using the euphemism for women and girls forced into sexual slavery in Japanese military brothels in the 1930s and ’40s during the country’s conquest and occupation of east Asia.

Mr Moon’s criticism followed Wednesday’s report of a commission set up to study the deal, agreed two years ago yesterday, by which Japan was to pay less than £6 million into a fund to support former sex slaves.

Parts had been kept secret, the panel said, including a Japanese demand that South Korea not use the term “sexual slavery” and that it remove a bronze statue commemorating the sex slaves from outside Japan’s embassy in Seoul.

The South Koreans agreed to the first but didn’t give a clear answer to the second.

The panel also said the government hadn’t properly consulted surviving victims before reaching the deal.

The agreement was negotiated by the government of Mr Moon’s right-wing predecessor Park Geun Hye, who was removed from office and arrested for corruption in March.

Mr Moon vowed during his presidential campaign to renegotiate the agreement.

A government spokesman said only that it would take “sincere and practical” measures to do right by the sex slaves and consult victims and experts before pursuing any changes.

However, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said on Wednesday that Japan stands by it and that any attempt at revision would make relations between the countries “unmanageable” and “unacceptable.”

The Japanese military forced between 200,000 and 400,000 women into organised sexual slavery, beginning in Shanghai, China, in 1932. Most of the women were from China and Korea but also several other countries, including the Philippines and Indonesia.

As with other states such as Britain, Japan has been extremely reluctant to acknowledge its imperialist past.

Along with its refusal to fully apologise and pay reparations for its taking of sex slaves, leading politicians often visit a shrine commemorating war criminals and rightwingers have repeatedly and successfully campaigned against accurate history textbooks.