Sunday, November 09, 2014

Myth and Truth in East Asai 2

1:05 pm, November 06, 2014 The Yomiuri Shimbun 3 Chilly Ties with South Korea Public, private sectors pouring oil on flames Bilateral relations between Japan and South Korea have chilled dramatically in recent years. South Korean President Park Geun-hye said in a speech in March 2013: "The historic dynamic of one party being a perpetrator and the other party a victim will remain unchanged even after 1,000 years have passed." Is it impossible to remove anti-Japanese sentiment from the hearts of South Korean people? "We will cast Japan out of Asia." This is the strident message of the Voluntary Agency Network of Korea (VANK), a South Korean civil organization with about 120,000 members, mainly young people. VANK also wants to call the Sea of Japan "Donghae," or East Sea, and insists that "Dokdo [Takeshima islets] is territory of South Korea." SLIDE 1 OF 1 Asahi Shimbun President Tadakazu Kimura, center, bows in apology on Sept. 11, 2014, in Tokyo. It says such claims are "correct knowledge" and transmits these views around the world. The organization has compiled actions conducted by the defunct Imperial Japanese Army such as the Nanjing Incident and Bataan Death March into a video and made it available on the Internet. The video was made in English and appears to have been designed to spread the image of an "atrocious and inhumane Japan" to the world to fuel anti- Japanese sentiment. It is generally known that the Imperial Japanese Army killed many Chinese people in the Nanjing Incident in 1937. China says "more than 300,000" people were killed, but the basis of this figure is unclear. A Japanese historian says the number is about 40,000. The Japanese government's position is that it is "difficult to recognize a correct figure." The Bataan Death March refers to an incident that took place in April 1942 on the Bataan Peninsula of the Philippines' Luzon Island, in which the Japanese military forced U.S. and Filipino prisoners of war to march for days under the scorching sun, resulting in many deaths. After World War II, Lt. Gen. Masaharu Honma, the commander of the Imperial Japanese Army's 14th Army stationed on the island, was sentenced to death by the U.S. military tribunal for Class B and C war crimes. To "cast out" Japan from Asia, VANK has a program to educate South Koreans to become special volunteers, dubbed "cyberdiplomats." The 12-step program includes spreading "correct knowledge" to overseas friends or sending protest letters to parties who "misunderstand" South Korea. VANK's activities have been heavily supported by the South Korean government and that country's companies. The South Korean government provided funds to the organization for four years from 2005. In February 2013, then South Korean President Le Myung Bak awarded an honorable recognition to Park Ki Tae, the leader of VANK. In 2008, major shochu brewery Jinro Ltd., currently Hite Jinro Co., donated 110 million won (about \10 million at the current exchange rate) to VANK. The money was used in a youth education program called Cyber Dokdo Academy, jointly promoted by VANK and the North Gyeonsang Province government. The program was designed to foster human resources that can spread the view to the international community that Takeshima in Shimane Prefecture, called Dokdo in South Korea, is a territory of South Korea. This joint drive by the public and private sectors of South Korea is part of a campaign called "Discount Japan," a new movement to undermine Japan's position in the international community. VANK leader Park told The Yomiuri Shimbun that VANK is fighting against Japanese politicians and right-wingers who promote a revival of imperialism. "We would like to positively share friendship with young Japanese who wish for peace in East Asia," he said. However, Kobe University Prof. Kan Kimura, an expert on Japan-South Korea relations, said: "VANK may be not intending to inflame nationalism. However, the South Korean government has skillfully taken the organization under its wing and is using its members as tools in the 'Discount Japan' campaign." The South Korean government has been promoting the "Discount Japan" campaign in various fields. Manga, a signature symbol of Japan's youth culture, is one such example. The South Korean Gender Equality and Family Ministry displayed dozen of manga stories based on the theme of socalled comfort women at an international manga festival in France. The ministry plans to distribute them to other countries after translating the stories into English, French and Japanese. Anti-Japan movements gain foothold in U.S. The raging tide of anti-Japan sentiment is not limited to South Koreans alone. In recent years, Americans of South Korean descent have been stepping up a similar campaign in the United States, as if to act in concert with the movement launched in South Korea. Glendale, a suburb of Los Angeles, is a U.S. city where such activities are under way. On July 30, 2013, a statue depicting a young girl intended to symbolize so-called comfort women was erected at a local park, at the initiative of the Korean American Forum of California, a pro-Seoul nonprofit organization. The figure closely resembles one built in front of the Japanese Embassy in the South Korean capital in late 2011. Comfort women refer to those who provided sexual services for officers and soldiers of the now-defunct Imperial Japanese Army at comfort stations, most of them privately owned and operated, during World War II. The South Korean government has asserted that many women were forced into sexual slavery by the prewar Japanese army. The Japanese government has refuted the South Korean argument, saying none of its official records contain a description of such forcible conduct by the Japanese army. The Glendale city council's decision to approve the erection of the statue was preceded by a public hearing on July 9, 2013. The meeting was attended by many Japanese, Japanese- Americans and others. They included members of the Study Group for Japan's Rebirth, Southern California, a nonprofit organization working to improve Japan's international standing in the United States. The group is led by Koichi Mera, a Japanese resident in Los Angeles. During the public hearing, Mera and many others opposed the plan to erect the statue, dismissing as fiction the assertion that the Japanese government had forced women into sexual slavery during World War II. However, their argument was countered by local residents of South Korean descent who insisted there was no denying that Korean women had been forced to work as sex slaves. Some participants said the Japanese government had acknowledged its prewar army's involvement in controlling and managing comfort women, citing a statement issued by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono in 1993. Controversial Kono statement Kono's statement said the Imperial Japanese Army had been "directly or indirectly" involved in setting up and managing comfort stations. The statement was interpreted as Japan's own acknowledgment of its forcible action to take away such women. However, the statement was hardly supported by substantial evidence. (details in Chapter 4) During the July 9, 2013 public hearing, the plan for the statue was put to a vote, and four of five city council members voted in favor of the plan. In many other U.S. locations, similar movements related to the comfort women issue have been taken, including the erection of monuments and the adoption of city council resolutions. One such area was Bergen County, N.J., where a monument citing the issue was built in the front yard of a courthouse in March. Its inscription said the prewar Japanese army had forced Korean women to work as sex slaves. The structure stands alongside other monuments marking such historical events as the Holocaust by Nazi Germany and slavery in the United States. It was apparently intended to show the public that the prewar Japanese army's involvement in the provision of sexual services by comfort women must be treated as a historical atrocity like the Holocaust. Book boycott South Korean groups leading such anti-Japan campaigns are strongly united. They are also gaining political power with which they could swing U.S. public opinion. One such example is a campaign to boycott "So Far from the Bamboo Grove," a semi-autobiographical novel published by an American of Japanese descent, Yoko Kawashima Watkins, in 1986. The novel depicts the hardships experienced by a Japanese girl named Yoko during World War II. The Japaneselanguage translation of the book was published by a Tokyo publishing house in July 2013. Immediately after the end of the war, Watkins returned to Japan from the Korean Peninsula. As the wife of an American soldier, she moved to the United States. In "So Far from the Bamboo Grove," she recounts the misery of war by speaking of her own experience. In 1998, the novel was cited as recommended reading by a U.S. guidebook for teachers and became reading material for American students. However, controversy arose in South Korea when the novel's Korean-language edition was published there in 2005. Objections were raised over the book's descriptions of Koreans sexually assaulting Japanese women and plundering Japanese. But the novel also depicts Koreans who treated Yoko's family kindly and helped them. The book's Korean-language edition was withheld from publication in 2007. In the United States, those of South Korean descent initiated a campaign to boycott the book, asserting that the novel was a historical distortion of Japan's colonial rule over the peninsula. The book was removed from the list of suggested readings in some areas. It is of great value to South Korea that the anti-Japanese movement is based in a superpower like the United States. In October 2013, a delegation of South Korean parliamentarians visited the United States. In a meeting with South Korean diplomats there, they urged the diplomats to increase the number of American supporters of their country, insisting that the so-called comfort women issue must be resolved within the international community. However, it must be recognized that an extreme anti-Japan campaign by pro-South Korea citizens in the United States could produce the opposite effect of what was intended. Citizens of the United States, a nation traditionally built on immigration, are inclined to be skeptical toward any disputes over how people from two different nations perceive facts related to their historical relationship. James Schoff, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said the United States would not support one side in dealing with two nations with which it is on friendly terms. As things now stand, the Japanese government has not yet taken any measures to counter South Korea's anti-Japanese campaign. "If South Korea goes too far, it will earn them international distrust," said an official from the Japanese Embassy in Seoul who asked not to be identified. This sentiment was echoed by a Foreign Ministry official who said: "What one should consider in thinking about diplomacy is how his or her country appears to the rest of the world. "South Korea's current behavior makes it look as if it were on the way to committing suicide." "So Far from the Bamboo Grove" ~ girl's hazardous journey to safety In July 1945, Yoko, an 11-year-old Japanese girl, left her home, which was surrounded by bamboo groves, in Nanam, a city in the northern part of the Korean Peninsula, with her mother and sister. Yoko's family had heard a rumor that the Soviet army would invade the city, so they decided to return to Japan. The family's escape to Pusan (present-day Busan) was a hazardous journey of over 1,000 kilometers. Over and over again, Yoko witnessed Korean men sexually attacking Japanese women. The three shaved their heads, hoping to look like men, and managed to escape such a danger. It took them two months to arrive in Busan. They boarded a freighter heading for Japan, finally reaching safety. Japanese Embassy, textbooks also targeted As a chorus of voices chanted repeatedly, a high school girl was so touched by the scene that she began to cry. Meanwhile, primary school children led by their teacher were carrying placards containing such messages as "Many countries have suffered because of Japan's depraved desires," and "The hearts of old ladies who were sex slaves have been tainted." In the afternoon of Nov. 6, 2013, a crowd of about 200 people, mainly young people, gathered in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul. It was the scene of weekly demonstrations against Japan over the so-called comfort women issue. The following Wednesday, the demonstrations, which began in 1992, marked their 1,100th iteration. At that important juncture, a representative of a civic group known as the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan made a speech. Many reporters were in attendance to cover the event. A 22-year-old female university student from Daejeon who took part in the demonstration told The Yomiuri Shimbun: "I'm studying English so I can let people abroad know about the comfort women issue. To resolve the issue, I think we should join these demonstrations more often." The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations stipulates that it is the duty of a hosting country to protect the safety of embassies. According to South Korean law, assemblies and demonstrations are banned within 100 meters of a foreign diplomatic establishment. But local police simply stood by watching the demonstrations held in front of the Japanese Embassy, effectively giving tacit approval. In South Korea, there is a word that translates to "anti-Japan innocence," meaning anything is pardonable as long as it is anti-Japan. In this country, being labeled pro-Japan can even cost a person his or her life. In May, 2013, there were news reports that a 95-year-old man who spoke nostalgically of the days under Japan's colonial rule of Korea was beaten to death at a park in Seoul. There were a spate of writings on the Internet defending the perpetrator. Kim Wan Seop, a critic who wrote "A written plea in favor of Japan," in which he praised Japanese colonial rule in Korea, was fiercely criticized and even physically assaulted. The publication was later designated as "harmful to young people" and its sale was effectively banned. Startling remarks about Japan have been boldly carried by local newspapers. The Chosun Ilbo, the daily with the country's largest circulation, carried in early September an essay written by a contributor titled "How to conquer Japan through the use of feng shui." According to the article, a temple called Jissoji was built in South Korea to cut off the air flow from the continent to Japan. "Every time you strike a map of Japan carved on the temple bell, another blow is dealt to Mt. Fuji," the article said. The contributor was a professor at Woosuk University in Jeonju. South Korean history education is one of the factors behind what a source who is well versed in Japan-South Korean relations calls "senseless anti-Japan sentiment." In South Korea, government-designated textbooks were formulated under the administration of then President Park Chung Hee, promoting history education that is strongly tinged with nationalism. From fiscal 1974 to 2009, primary, middle and high schools each used only one government-designated history book. Currently, primary schools must use a designated history textbook, while a textbook screening system was adopted for middle and high schools in fiscal 2010, allowing them to select a history textbook from among several choices. "The History of South Korea," the government-designated textbook used until recently at middle schools, described Japan's prewar rule over Korea as "an oppressive and inhumane rule through military power," and one that "reduced [people in South Korea] to the state of slavery." Regarding the Takeshima islets in Shimane Prefecture, the textbook said, "Japan unilaterally placed it into its territory, but our nation recovered it when we liberated ourselves from Japan's rule." Such statements are used to justify South Korea's illegal occupation of the islands. People who underwent such an education now have pivotal roles in South Korean society. On the subject of education, President Park Geun-hye made a surprising proposal on Nov. 14, 2013. During her speech in Seoul, she proposed the "publication of a common history textbook to be used across Northeast Asia." Yet Japan and South Korea have been trying to conduct joint research by historians for more than 10 years since 2002. According to Hiroshi Furuta, a professor at University of Tsukuba who took part in the research, the two sides failed to reach any accommodation. When the Japanese side tried to use objective data, the South Korean side would get angry, refusing to accept Japan's arguments. Furuta, a scholar of East Asian politics, said South Korea will never create a history textbook based on objective historical facts. Attempts at joint research Joint studies on history between Japan and South Korea have been conducted twice in the past. The first, which began in 2002, started when Seoul was upset over descriptions in a history textbook in Japan, which later developed into a diplomatic issue. Eleven history scholars from each side took part and published a report in 2005. As seen in the report, both sides failed to narrow their differences over major issues of contention, including the legitimacy of the 1910 treaty on Japan's annexation of Korea and the handling of South Koreans' rights to seek wartime damages from Japan. The report documented the opinions of both sides. The second joint study was held from 2007 to 2010, while a subgroup was newly established to discuss the textbook issue. The South Korean side criticized a history book in Japan, saying it described Japan's aggression on the Korean Peninsula using weak language. Meanwhile, the Japanese side called it problematic that South Korea had mixed together the issues of the so-called comfort women and the wartime labor mobilization system in which women worked in factories. During summit talks in December 2011, then Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and South Korean President Lee Myung Bak agreed to hold a third round of joint research, but it has not yet begun. Funds offered as atonement The Japanese and South Korean governments confirmed that the issue of war reparations between the two nations was settled by their 1965 accord on the right to claim war reparations and economic cooperation. The Japanese government nonetheless provided livelihood support to former comfort women through the Asian Women's Fund, established in July 1995 and disbanded in March 2007. The fund-with donations from the Japanese people and \4.8 billion from taxpayers' money-offered an atonement payment and supported groups that provide medical and welfare services to those women. The atonement money was delivered with a letter of apology from the incumbent prime minister to 285 former comfort women in South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines. In South Korea, however, a campaign to reject the atonement money was launched, and a series of incidents was reported about former comfort women being harassed for receiving the money. As a result, only 60 of about 240 people who came forward as having served as comfort women filed an application to receive the money. After the fund was disbanded, the Japanese government covered medical checkup costs for the women and provided medicine through nonprofit organizations. According to the Foreign Ministry, Japan has secured a yearly budget of \10 million to support former comfort women since fiscal 2007. Concessions to South Korea 'led to nothing' Relations between Tokyo and Seoul were further strained in August 2012, when then South Korean President Lee Myung Bak visited the Takeshima islets in Shimane Prefecture. South Korea claims the islands. Noda regarded Lee's visit as a betrayal of Japan's desire to improve relations. In an interview carried in the morning edition of The Yomiuri Shimbun's Oct. 29, 2013 issue, Noda expressed frustration that Lee had taken such a step amid a decline in his approval rating. "I believed he had taken an apparently anti-Japanese action, calculating his behavior in connection with his [falling] support rate. I argued with myself why this extraordinary situation was going on," Noda said. Since the two nations normalized diplomatic ties in 1965, the Japanese Foreign Ministry has apparently sought to appeal to Seoul with logic and emotion-70 percent affection and 30 percent logical reasoning. This approach has been adopted in consideration of Japan's colonial rule over the Korean Peninsula before and during World War II. With that past in mind, the ministry has paid heartfelt attention to the stance taken by South Korea in dealing with bilateral issues, not just thinking about them logically. However, a senior ministry official has said he feels such lines of thinking may be outdated today. He said Japanese concessions to South Korea have led to nothing. This sentiment is shared by others. "We shouldn't compromise our principles when dealing with South Korea," a close aide to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said. Japan's efforts upended by 'moving goalposts' Some Japanese government officials are beginning to think of South Korea as "moving goalposts." The phrase suggests that Japan has been unable to "score a goal" because the target is always moving. The metaphor shows that Japanese efforts to improve bilateral relations will always be met by South Korea's moves to escalate its demand for an apology from Tokyo, leaving the situation with no resolution in sight. Over the years, Japan has repeatedly apologized for its colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula before and during World War II. The Japan-South Korea joint communique issued prior to the normalization of bilateral ties in 1965 stated that "....there have been unfortunate times [in the two nations' historical relations], it is truly regrettable and we are deeply remorseful." On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the war's end on Aug. 15, 1995, then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama expressed "feelings of deep remorse" for the suffering inflicted on other Asian nations by Japan's wartime conduct. Emperor Showa also expressed a similar sentiment. In 1984, he met then South Korean President Chun Doo Hwan during the latter's visit to Tokyo. In the meeting, the Emperor said it was "indeed regrettable" that there was an unfortunate past between the two countries. However, South Korea demanded a more explicitly worded apology from Japan. Tokyo and Seoul coordinated their opinions in negotiations over the issue. In 1990, the current Emperor expressed "the deepest remorse" in a meeting with Chun's successor, Roh Tae Woo. In August 2012, however, then South Korean President Lee Myung Bak said, "[The Emperor] does not need to visit [South Korea] if 'the deepest remorse' was the only phrase he could find after months of agonizing rumination." 4 Investigating Reports on 'Comfort Women' Delayed apology On Sept. 11, 2014, The Asahi Shimbun, Japan's second-largest newspaper expressed a formal apology for the delay in correcting the misreporting regarding the issue of so-called comfort women. In a news conference on the day, Tadakazu Kimura, president of the Asahi, said, "I apologize to our readers for carrying the erroneous articles and being too late in making the correction." In a special feature in its Aug. 5 morning edition, the Asahi carried the results of an in-house investigation into its past reports on comfort women. The newspaper admitted that the account given by Seiji Yoshida-who said comfort women had been forcibly gathered on South Korea's Jeju Island-was false and retracted at least 16 articles that were based on it. But it had not offered any apology for publishing the articles, drawing a barrage of harsh criticism. The Asahi said it would establish a third-party panel consisting of lawyers, historians and journalists to conduct a thorough review of the impact of its comfort women coverage on Japan-South Korea relations and the international community. Yoshida's account was quoted in the report that Radhika Coomaraswamy submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Commission in 1996. The Asahi had argued that it is important that there was coercion in a broad sense, but it was criticized as simply switching the point of contention. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe blamed the Asahi shortly after the press conference, saying on a radio program that the newspaper's reporting on the issue of comfort women tarnished Japan's honor. "It's true that many people have suffered, and Japan's honor has been stained in the international community because of [the Asahi Shimbun's] erroneous reporting," Abe said on the radio program. 3 decades of debate It was thirty-two years ago when The Asahi Shimbun first reported unverified remarks that Korean women were "forcibly taken away" to serve as so-called comfort women during World War II. The Asahi's stories on the comfort women issue over the decades have been a significant factor in the entrenchment of the distorted view that "the Japanese military systematically and forcibly took away women to serve as comfort women" for its soldiers. Even today, this fabrication about the comfort women is being dispersed around the world, and there is little likelihood it will be rectified anytime soon. The Japanese government "should ensure that all allegations of sexual slavery perpetrated by Japanese military during wartime against the 'comfort women' are effectively, independently and impartially investigated and that perpetrators are prosecuted and, if found guilty, punished." On July 23, 2014, the U.N. Human Rights Committee made this recommendation during a session in Geneva. Although this is not legally binding, the panel also urged Tokyo to pay reparations to former comfort women and disclose "all evidence available." During discussions on the UNHRC report on Japan held on July 15-16, Osamu Yamanaka, the director of the Foreign Ministry's Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Division, had twice insisted that the term "sexual slaves" was not appropriate. However, his assertions were not accepted. Critical views of Japan are not limited to just the United Nations. According to the Foreign Ministry, two comfort women statues and six stone monuments dedicated to these women have been erected in the United States. More such statues have been built in South Korea. Most have been erected at the behest of groups of citizens with Korean ethnicity, and appear to be aimed at tightening the net of international opinion around Japan. One of the reasons why fierce scorn continues to be heaped on Japan almost 70 years after World War II ended is the belief that the Japanese government forcibly recruited and rounded up Korean women to serve as comfort women. The government has pored through its documents and other relevant materials but has not found one shred of evidence that the women were "forcibly taken away." Tracing the path back to where this fabrication started leads to an article in the Asahi's morning edition published by its Osaka Head Office on Sept. 2, 1982. Carried in the city news section, the article's Japanese headlines blared: "I also forcibly took Korean women" and "Violence inflicted as women taken against their will." Yoshida frequently quoted The detailed report was about remarks by Seiji Yoshida, who claimed to be the former head of the mobilization department of the Shimonoseki branch of Romu Hokoku-kai. The Asahi reported Yoshida's remarks during a speech in Osaka before he in July 1983 published a book on this topic, titled, "My war crimes: Forced transportation of Koreans." The Asahi reported on Yoshida's comments at least 16 times, including the original story. Researchers and other people began to raise doubts about the credibility of Yoshida's remarks from about 1992. Despite this, the Asahi ran a special report on Jan. 25, 1994, to mark the 115th anniversary of the newspaper's establishment in which it even boasted that its series of articles had helped make comfort women an international issue. On Aug. 5, 2014, the Asahi at last published a special review on its comfort women coverage, and finally admitted that Yoshida's remarks were false. It retracted some of the articles' contents. The most significant piece of evidence behind the claim that women had been "forcibly taken away" had crumbled. Suspicions over Yoshida statements ignored The remarks by Seiji Yoshida that spawned the fabrication that "comfort women had been forcibly taken away" were oddly vivid. An article in the Sept. 2, 1982, morning edition printed by The Asahi Shimbun's Osaka Head Office reported claims by Yoshida that he had rounded up and forcibly taken away 200 young women from Jeju Island, South Korea. The article said: "Ten fully armed Japanese soldiers took part in this. When we found a settlement, the soldiers would first surround it. Then, the nine subordinates of Yoshida would storm the settlement together. Young women were dragged out to the lane with their arms twisted behind their backs. These women were then shoved into the back of a truck covered with a canopy." The article also claimed Yoshida had forcibly rounded up as many as 950 Korean women to serve as comfort women over three years. With the apparent seal of approval from the Asahi, in July 1983 Yoshida published a book that expounded on his claims. Titled "My war crimes: Forced transportation of Koreans," the book was later translated into Korean. In 1992, Yoshida visited South Korea and even apologized to former comfort women. In time, the expression "forcibly taken away" became more widely used when referring to the treatment of these women. The Asahi continued to put wind in Yoshida's sails. In a column on Page 1 of the evening edition on Jan. 23, 1992, the Asahi lauded Yoshida for "having the guts" to step forward and speak about his involvement in the comfort women issue. Some readers apparently contacted the Asahi to voice their doubts over the veracity of Yoshida's claims. However, the March 3, 1992, version of the same column admonished these readers with a pointed comment: "There are things we don't want to know or believe. But we cannot properly record history without fighting such sentiments." Asahi changes the topic Even in South Korea, Yoshida's comments soon met with skepticism. Japanese historian Ikuhiko Hata conducted a research survey on Jeju Island and published a paper in the June 1992 issue of the Seiron monthly magazine in which he "confirmed that Yoshida's remarks appear to be fabricated." The findings of Hata's survey also were carried in the April 30 morning edition of The Sankei Shimbun. Jeju Island should have been home to many people who had lived through the war and knew what had happened during those years. However, not one of them offered any statement that women had been hunted and forcibly taken away on the island. Hata also confirmed that in August 1989, a reporter from a Jeju local newspaper wrote in a review of Yoshida's book that "there are hardly any people whose testimony backs up his claims" about women being forcibly rounded up. Despite this, the Asahi has never properly addressed suggestions that Yoshida's remarks were untrue until recently. On March 31, 1997, The Asahi Shimbun's morning edition carried a special article on its coverage of the comfort women issue. However, the daily only said it was "unable to confirm the authenticity" of Yoshida's comments. Furthermore, the Asahi said "there is no reason to limit" the issue to one of women being "forcibly taken away." This time it argued that greater importance should be attached to the fact that those women were caught in a situation marked by a "coercive nature." Nobukatsu Fujioka, a visiting professor at Takushoku University and an expert on the comfort women issue, has derided the Asahi for adding this new concept to the mix at this late stage. "The Asahi wrote all these articles about women 'being forcibly taken away,' and then it comes out with the assertion that 'a coercive nature' is the heart of the problem," Fujioka said. "It has completely changed the subject." Mystery shrouds Yoshida According to Yoshida's eldest son, who is in his 60s, Yoshida adopted the name Seiji during an exchange of messages with the publisher of his 1977 book about Korean comfort women and Japanese people. The publisher, Shinjinbutsuoraisha, and Yoshida decided to use the penname Seiji, rather than his real name, Yuto. The names of real people who appeared in the book were all changed to fake names, and Yoshida reportedly mentioned that dates and places were also changed. Yoshida's eldest son remembers his father saying when the book was published, "This will make our family better off." Hata telephoned the publisher after Yoshida's book was released. The person in charge of the book told Hata, "That's a novel." In 1996, Hata phoned Yoshida to ask him whether his remarks about the comfort women were true. Yoshida allegedly told him, "The section about hunting for comfort women on Jeju was interspersed with fiction." Hata has labeled Yoshida a "professional con artist." Almost nothing is known about Yoshida's personal history before and during World War II. According to his eldest son, Yoshida spent some time after the war as the owner of a fertilizer company. After years of staying tight-lipped about the many questions surrounding the truthfulness of his remarks on comfort women, Yoshida died in Chiba Prefecture on July 30, 2000. He was 86. Yomiuri reported comments as false On the national news page of its evening edition on Aug. 15, 1992, The Yomiuri Shimbun carried an article with a headline "Meeting over comfort women issue held to reflect on 'war victims.'" The article reported on testimony made by Seiji Yoshida at the meeting, saying that he was involved in forcibly taking away Korean women. But since then, the Yomiuri has neither carried Yoshida's remarks nor run articles that could be construed as saying, on the basis of his testimony, that the women were forcibly taken away. 'Scoop' sheds light on victims On Aug. 11, 1991, The Asahi Shimbun morning edition published by its Osaka Head Office carried a major scoop on its city news page. Under the headline "Tears still well up when I remember," the article featured the statements of Kim Hak Sun, a former comfort woman living in Seoul. An almost identical article was printed in the Asahi's Tokyo edition the next day. The story was an exclusive that not even local South Korean media had covered. With its 1991 exclusive, the Asahi became the first media outlet in the world to share the human voice of a "victim" in this matter-a former comfort woman. With a comfort woman coming forward, the fabrications embedded in Asahi's coverage of this issue-that comfort women were forcibly rounded up and taken away-began to take on a touch of reality. Riddled with problems Penned by Takashi Uemura, the opening paragraph of the article began: "A 'Korean military comfort woman' forced to provide sexual services for Japanese military personnel after being taken to the combat zone under the name of the female volunteer corps during the Sino-Japanese War and World War II has been found living in Seoul..." From the beginning, the article gave the impression that the woman had been forcibly taken away by the Japanese military and forced to be a comfort woman. However, parts of the story are inconsistent. In the article, Kim explains that "when I was 17 [under the Korean way of counting ages; she was actually 16], I was tricked and made to serve as a comfort woman." Although the beginning of the Asahi story implied Kim was taken away as a member of the female volunteer corps, she herself said that was not the case. In the first place, comfort women and the volunteer corps who were mobilized to work in factories and elsewhere were completely different. Uemura wrote the article after listening to a tape recording of Kim's statements made by the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, a support group for former comfort women. Key elements omitted On Dec. 25, 1991, another article written by Uemura on the struggles Kim had experienced in her life was carried on Page 5 of the Asahi's Osaka morning edition. Remarkably, Uemura did not mention in his stories about Kim that Kim's mother had sold her to a family that ran a school for kisaeng-a kind of female entertainer-for \40. Kisaeng learn traditional arts to perform at banquets and other events, and some reportedly became comfort women. Furthermore, Kim has stated that her adoptive father took her to Beijing after telling her, "If you go to China, you can make money." Uemura's articles describe the person who tricked Kim as someone "doing work in the district." It is not made clear that it was, in fact, her adoptive father. In December 1991, Kim filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court seeking compensation from the Japanese government. Kenichi Takagi, the lawyer who led the team for plaintiffs Kim and others, told The Yomiuri Shimbun in an interview in August 2014: "We and Ms. Kim are not saying she was forcibly taken away as a member of the volunteer corps. She was sold after she went to the kisaeng school." The implications and nuances of "a comfort woman forcibly taken away by the Japanese military" and an "unfortunate comfort woman sold off by her parents" are strikingly different. Uemura's ties to plaintiffs Another glaring oversight in the Asahi's coverage cannot be simply brushed off. In its special report, The Asahi Shimbun clarified that Uemura had married the daughter of Yang Sun Im, a senior official of Kankoku Taiheiyo Senso Giseisha Izoku Kai. The organization, an association of families of people killed in the Pacific War, was involved in organizing a lawsuit brought by Kim and others. This means Uemura was a close relative of someone involved in the lawsuit. Tokyo Christian University Prof. Tsutomu Nishioka, an expert in South Korean and North Korean regional studies, believes Uemura has left himself open to criticism. "There's not much Mr. Uemura can do to prevent people from assuming that he tried to use his story to benefit a court case involving a relative," Nishioka said. Uemura was a reporter in the city news section at the Asahi's Osaka Head Office when he wrote the original article about Kim. The Asahi's special report tried to dispel suggestions that Uemura used his family connections for his articles, and insisted "he did not obtain any special information through his relationship with his mother-in-law." The Asahi report concluded by stating, "There was no intentional twisting of the facts in the article by Uemura." Report's timing complicated PM's S. Korea visit The Asahi Shimbun's morning edition on Jan. 11, 1992, carried another "scoop" at the top of its front page. The main headline read: "Comfort stations; records show military involvement." The story was carried in the paper only five days before then Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa's scheduled trip to South Korea. In its special report on the comfort women issue published on Aug. 5, 2014, the Asahi said it did not time the story's publication with the prime minister's visit to South Korea. However, the 1992 story included the sentence: "[The findings] placed a very serious burden on the shoulders of Prime Minister Miyazawa, who is scheduled to visit South Korea from Jan. 16." It seems certain that the Asahi had Miyazawa's visit in mind. The story in question reported that documents showing the Japanese military's involvement in the establishment of comfort stations and the recruitment of comfort women during World War II were found in the library of the then Defense Agency's National Institute for Defense Studies. However, historian Ikuhiko Hata pointed out in his book "Ianfu to senjo no sei" (Comfort women and sex on the battlefield) that the documents reported on by the Asahi had been open to the public for 30 years before the newspaper printed the story. "It was common knowledge among researchers that the Japanese military was involved" in the establishment of comfort stations, Hata said in the book. Even the Asahi itself admitted in an editorial published on Jan. 12, 1992, the day after the initial article, that it was common knowledge that such stations were established under the administration of the Japanese military, and in that sense, the discovery of the documents by the newspaper was not surprising in itself. However, reporting this common knowledge again and on a larger scale ignited anti-Japan sentiment in South Korea. Miyazawa visited the country amid a highly charged atmosphere, with South Korean demonstrators throwing eggs at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul. In response to the Asahi's reporting, South Korean newspapers unleashed a hostile campaign against Japan. The Hankyoreh, a leading daily, said in its Jan. 12, 1992, edition that Japan's savagery had finally been revealed. During a summit meeting on the second day of his visit, Miyazawa apologized to South Korean President Roh Tae Woo, who called on the Japanese prime minister to bring to light the whole truth about the comfort women issue and take "appropriate measures." Miyazawa reportedly told Roh, "I apologize and express remorse [over comfort women] from the bottom of my heart." "Prime Minister Miyazawa used eight different expressions to apologize," a South Korean government official told local media, revealing the number of times the prime minister had expressed apologies. Yukio Takeuchi, who accompanied Miyazawa to South Korea as his secretary, recalled the summit meeting. "It was completely unexpected that [the South Korean] president stuck to the comfort women issue and spoke in such a tone of reproach," said Takeuchi, a former administrative vice minister of the Foreign Ministry who later became a Supreme Court justice. "As his secretary, I apologized to the prime minister for failing to anticipate this situation." Anti-Japan sentiments ignited The documents in question only showed the Japanese military's involvement in controlling private operators of comfort stations. But the Asahi's article was interpreted in South Korea and other countries as saying that documents had at last been discovered proving that the Japanese military forcibly took women away to make them comfort women. The Asahi also carried a story explaining the meaning of "comfort women" that included the phrase "forcibly taken away" on the front page. This apparently led to the mistaken impression that the military was involved in forcibly taking women away. In an effort to stop Japan-South Korea relations over the comfort women issue from deteriorating further, the Japanese government on Aug. 4, 1993, issued a statement through then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono (the Kono statement). However, since Kono made remarks at a press conference implying that the Japanese military had actually taken women away forcibly, it has spread the misunderstanding that the Japanese government had officially admitted its former military had done so. That has made the problem even more complicated. Roh recalled the comfort women issue in an interview carried in the March 1993 edition of Bungei Shunju magazine. "The Japanese mass media have stirred up this problem," Roh said in the interview. "It has kindled anti-Japan sentiment among the people of my country and infuriated them." '200,000 comfort women' The Asahi also confused comfort women with female volunteer corps, who were recruited to work at factories and do other jobs unrelated to sex services, in its article in the Jan. 11, 1992, edition. The article said the military forcibly took away 80,000 to 200,000 Korean women and others under the name of female volunteer corps. South Korean media also addressed the issue. The Chosun Ilbo, a South Korean daily, reported on the Asahi's article the following day. It said in its editorial on Jan. 13, 1992, that there were 80,000 to 200,000 comfort women, the same figures the Asahi used, and said 80 percent of them were Koreans. A group of former comfort women said in a lawsuit against the Japanese government that there were 100,000 to 200,000 comfort women. It is undeniable that the Asahi's article made the "200,000 comfort women" theory more credible and helped disseminate it. Based on the number of Japanese soldiers, Hata estimated there were about 20,000 comfort women. He also said Koreans were estimated to account for 20 percent of that number. The Yomiuri Shimbun itself wrote in articles published in the early 1990s that there were said to have been over 200,000 comfort women. Asahi and South Korean media shared sympathy Since the latter half of the 1990s, repercussions of The Asahi Shimbun's factually inaccurate coverage of the so-called comfort women issue have manifested themselves in South Korea, the United Nations, the United States and elsewhere. The Asahi stories fueled the misperception that these women had been systematically and forcibly rounded up and taken away by the Japanese military. As the issue mutated into an international matter, South Korean media quoted these Asahi articles, which fanned anti-Japan sentiment among the public in South Korea. The Asahi would then report on these consequences, and the cycle would be repeated. There emerged a type of shared sympathy among the Asahi, South Korean media and that country's public opinion. The headline for the front page's top story in the Asahi's morning edition on Jan. 11, 1992, said documents found in the archives of the then Defense Agency "showed military involvement" in running wartime comfort stations. In its evening edition that day, the Asahi bragged that its article had been "quoted and extensively reported" by South Korean TV stations and radio since that morning. The following day, The Chosun Ilbo newspaper's morning edition cited the Asahi story. On Jan. 13, its editorial demanded the Japanese government issue an apology to and pay appropriate compensation to surviving comfort women. When then Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa visited South Korea and issued a formal apology to the comfort women on Jan. 16, the Asahi's coverage was widely praised in that country. An article in The Dong-A Ilbo on Jan. 16 said this apology was forthcoming "because of The Asahi Shimbun's extensive coverage about military involvement on Jan. 11. Without this, the Japanese government might still be trying to escape responsibility by claiming the 'women were taken by private operators.'" Fabrications appear in U.N. reports In April 1996, the U.N. Human Rights Commission (now the U.N. Human Rights Council) adopted a report compiled by Radhika Coomaraswamy that recommended the Japanese government pay compensation to former comfort women. In its evening edition on Feb. 6, 1996, two months before Coomaraswamy's report was adopted, the Asahi ran a frontpage story headlined, "Give compensation to former comfort women." The story outlined the content of the report. An article on the city news page in the same edition said the United Nations' special rapporteur on violence against women had given a clear rebuke to the Japanese government, which had "avoided paying state compensation to individual war victims." A commentary piece, whose headline suggested the debate on compensation to individuals might be rekindled, also emphasized the Asahi's view that "the Japanese government should pay compensation" to former comfort women. Ever since the 1992 Asahi report about "military involvement" in so-called comfort stations, demanding that Japan's government pay compensation has become a clear trend among South Korean media. The tone of the Asahi's articles has matched that of the media in South Korea. In August 1998, the U.N. Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights adopted the McDougall Report that, among other things, called for the prosecution of "all those responsible" for the comfort stations, and a "compensation scheme to provide official, monetary compensation" to former comfort women. A person who was on the commission when both reports were adopted has revealed that outside forces had been pushing for these developments. "South Korean support groups for former comfort women and Japanese nongovernmental organizations had been stepping up their lobbying at the United Nations to ensure these reports were adopted," the source said. Since about 1992, lawyer Etsuro Totsuka has been a central figure in the drive to press the United Nations to take up the comfort women issue. Totsuka, who is the head of an NGO, is known as the first person to have described comfort women as "sex slaves" at the United Nations. "I believed the compensation problem probably couldn't be resolved through lawsuits in Japanese courts," Totsuka said. "The military's involvement had become clear [because of the Asahi's stories], so I thought it was about time to give an account on this issue to the United Nations." Lawsuits by plaintiffs including comfort women were going through Japan's courts. However, given their slim chances of a legal victory, it appears turning to the United Nations was an attempt to apply "outside pressure" via the international body. Repercussions rumble on The 1996 Coomaraswamy Report was based partly on the testimony of Seiji Yoshida, who claimed he had forcibly taken away Koreans to work as comfort women. Although suggestions that Yoshida's comments were untrue had been raised since 1992, the report's acceptance of them as if they were "historical fact" also raises doubts about its credibility. In August 2014, Yang Sun Im, who heads an association of Pacific War victims and their families that has organized plaintiff groups for lawsuits by former comfort women, told The Yomiuri Shimbun that she believes not all of Yoshida's claims can be dismissed. "The content of his remarks was extremely detailed, and would have been impossible unless he had actually experienced what he was talking about," Yang said. "Nobody can say that his entire story was fabricated." Yang is the mother-in-law of Takashi Uemura, the then Asahi reporter who scooped the testimony of former comfort woman Kim Hak Sun in 1991. On July 30, 2007, the United States - Japan's ally - joined the fray as the House of Representatives passed a resolution demanding the Japanese government issue a formal apology over the comfort women issue. Movements to establish statues and other memorials dedicated to these women are continuing. In March 2014, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said about comfort women, "It breaks my heart to think about those who went through indescribable hardships." And in his remarks at a House of Councillors Budget Committee session, he clearly denied that his Cabinet will review the Kono statement. Still, the criticism of Japan knows no bounds and seems certain to continue. Published since 1955 by THE YOMIURI SHINBUN 1-7-1 Otemachi, Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo 100-8055 E-mail: Web edition part 1 Speech Clip to Evernote inShare Myth and Truth in East Asia


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