Sunday, March 04, 2007

political aspect of the comfort women issue

But you have to look closer, especially when talking about this issue being discussed in South Korea
This was an issue I was wrestling with, and I put it to my colleague that I found it unfathomable that none of the comfort women made these connections between militarized sexualized slavery, the South Korean government's use of so-called "kisaeng diplomacy" to gather capital from American GI's and Japanese businessmen, and the continued protection of the system by the Korean government that not only protected and nurtured the system that had been formalized and expanded by the Japanese, but had actively suppressed the historical narratives and witnessing of these women for decades.

In fact, and ironically, it was a Japanese historian who first vaulted the story into the realm of historical fact in Japan, along with many Japanese journalists, at a time when the women in question had little more than their testimony, and the South Korean government had done everything in its power to publicly muzzle this historical narrative lest it interfere with Korean-Japanese relations. (reference and good concrete summary of the issue's evolution)

In fact, South Korean citizens and the rest of the world didn't even find out until 2005 that yes, indeedy, according to secret documents released that year, the South Korean government had taken compensation for individual victims of Japanese imperialism and wartime actions – down to the won for specific kinds of victimization – but had not offered that to a single victim
She said that when the big newspapers come to interview the women, along with the big TV stations, they always talk about "this issue is bigger than just an apology from Japan, but it is about the victimization of women regardless of nationality, as victims of a sex industry that continues from that system to this day" – my words here, but their points.

Funny thing is, the only thing that gets in the papers is, "Japan must apologize."

The big point here is that on a lot of levels, including that of legal compensation, these women were sold up the river.

Legally, there are issues here, one which the Korean government has made difficult by legally signing away claims to future damages.

Morally, there's a problem, because the same system the Japanese created, after the war, rather than be dismantled, was maintained and actually strengthened by the Korean government.

So not only did Korea's own government legally betray these women, they already TOOK compensation in theirs and others name and did not relay it to them, they maintained the conditions that had previously victimized them, and did so for decades later.

Even the former comfort women continue to point this out, but the Korean media won't dare report that, so that viewpoint gets silenced. This is actually one of the most important viewpoints – that these women are victims of an INTERNATIONAL set of forces that victimizes women in general, regardless of nationality, espeically Japanese and Korean ones.

Yet, because this is only publicized in specific ways, and set up as a specific political tool at specific times, we just hear "Japan, apologize!" and while the nation's dancing around on one foot, the politicians are up to their same old shenanigans on the other.

And for the US to be all up in arms about this, even while it refuses to apologize for having committed its own set of war crimes against the Japanese people, that is extra rich.

There are layers of irony here. That's the point.m

I'm just very suspicious that America is suddenly so "concerned" right now, being so self-righteous about Japanese war crimes while not even being able to look at its own. Same goes for crimes committed against women in general, while the Korean government gets let off the hook.

Point is, say the Prime Minister and the Diet and the Emperor himself get in their knees and prostrate themselves before these women? So they get their apology? What changes? It's just weird that so much energy is put into squeezing a small, symbolic gesture out of a government that wouldn't ever sincerely do it anyway, even as the huge, huge moral/ethcial questions and bigger fish are just elided right over.

So more power to the women in trying to get their apology, but I think this is so much political theater, and they're just being used as politicial tools again.

So, stay on point – no one's debating the issue of how bad they had it or any of that. I'm talking about the now, and the fact that the issue has become so hyper-politicized by self-interested parties putting these women on the headmast of their political agendas that most of these indignant demands smell like bullshit. And for the US getting all high and mighty makes a stink to high heaven.

That's what I'm saying. So if you think this is gonna work out fine, they're not getting used once again, and this is going to have some lasting effects on how "Japan" sees itself, or whatever – great.m

Scribblings of the Metropolitician via Japan probe
Sea also
th e post "this is why comfort women are not satisified "at Marmot and its discussion in the coment section
the US resolution on comfort women/Marmoto
sympathy for th devil/Marmot
How dare you doubt Korean testimonies and judges
parents sold their daughter/Marmot
And from the Japanese right/Marmot
journalism about Japan/anpontan
abe/bush disucuss sex slave issue/rok drops
The Dangers of Politically Correct History/Scribblings of the Metropolitician
backgrouond of comort women issue/sdi/今日の覚書、集めてみました