I have visited Geneva, Switzerland, on the 16th and 17th of August, to attend meetings at the Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination as an NGO member. The Committee holds sessions periodically to examine the racial discrimination situation of each country that ratifies the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. During the session, the committee, the government delegations and NGOs participate in the meetings and exchange information and opinions. After the session, the Committee presents a report called “the Concluding Observations” and states recommendations to the government on various human rights issues.
The reason why I attended the session this time is because after the last session on Japan, in August 2018, the committee made recommendations as follows:
The Committee urges that the State party take immediate action to:
(a) Conclude investigations on violations of the rights of comfort women by the Japanese military, and bring to justice those responsible for human rights violations;
(b) Pursue a comprehensive, impartial and lasting resolution of the issue of comfort women, including expressions of sincere apology and the provision of adequate reparation to all surviving comfort women or to their families;
(c) Condemn any attempts at defamation or denial of such events
Why did the committee make such recommendations? The committee respects the opinions from NGOs and has received reports on the comfort women issue from NGOs who claim “Japanese military’s comfort women as sex slaves.” And the UN Special Rapporteurs, Coomaraswamy and McDougall, had reported one-sided claims on comfort women without any corroborative evidence.
So, I went to Geneva to speak at the meeting with the committee members and delivered the booklet “What is ‘Comfort Women’ BASIC FACTS.” Here is my oral statement at the meeting:
The myth of comfort women as “sex slaves” despite being completely debunked, continues to be weaponized against Japan and its people.
The myth deliberately tarnishes Japan’s image and justifies crimes committed against Japan. This fake human rights issue causes people of Japanese descent, especially those living in the US, Canada, Australia, and Europe, to face discrimination and feel ashamed.
I produced this booklet “What is ‘Comfort Women’ BASIC FACTS” with the Japanese mothers whose children are bullied – as the vicious propaganda campaign has infiltrated schools – to protect them from further harm and humiliation.
Vice-chair Ms. McDougall, in your 1998 report “Contemporary Forms of Slavery” you repeatedly accuse Japan of being legally liable for its government and the military running “rape centres.” However, the grounds for such condemnation fail to meet the minimum legal standard. Justice requires facts to be examined without bias. I hereby request that you and the committee look at the facts presented in our booklet.
We also request the government of Japan to take responsibility of protecting Japanese children and women from this vicious propaganda campaign masquerading as a women’s rights issue.
There was another issue that our NGO presented to the committee. That is “Japan was the very first country who proposed the elimination of racial discrimination in the international community.”
On February 13, 1919, at the Paris Peace Conference in Versailles, a responsible committee was held to draft the Covenant of the League of Nations. And the Japanese government made a proposal that racial equality and the elimination of racial discrimination should be clearly stated in the Covenant. Japan was the very first proposer in the world when there were few independent nations of colored people. The proposal was supported by an overwhelmingly majority, 11 to 5, of the committee members. However, US President Woodrow Wilson, chairman of the committee, blithely argued that such an issue of importance should be decided unanimously and turned down the proposal.
50 years after Japan’s proposal for racial equality, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination finally came into being in 1969. And now, countries of various races watch and examine each other’s human rights situations at the United Nations. This had never happened 100 years ago.
Well, do you think Japan a racially discriminatory country? How is the situation in comparison with other countries? I would like to know how the readers living outside of Japan think about it.
I do not think Japan is racially discriminatory. Japan was a pioneer and has been a leader of racial equality for last 100 years. I believe that Japan will continue to contribute to the movement.
Yumiko Yamamoto, president of the grassroots civil group “Nadesiko Action,”also known as “Japanese Women for Justice and Peace.”
On August 15 of this year, it will be 73 years since the Pacific War was ended by the unconditional surrender declared by the Japanese government. When the Japan-China War (so-called Japan-China Icident) had started on July 7, 1937, I was a second-grader in elementary school. When I was a sixth-grader, the Pacific War had started by attacking the U.S. Pacific Fleet which had anchored at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii by the Japanese Pacific Fleet. Then, the Japanese Army started to march into such Asian countries as the Philippines, Singapore, Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam. (At that time, those countries were the colonies of the British, France and the U.S.A. ). Soon after, the United States and its allied forces turned together the aim of their attacking to Japan.
I fully experienced all kinds of disaster which were caused by the war. The air raids by the American bombers every night which caused almost all the Japanese cities to become burnt ruins; the draft of the high-school students to work in the factory or farms since all young men over 17 years were drafted by the military; and unbearable poor living condition by the strict ration of food-stuff, clothing, and daily necessities. Therefore, I fully understand the disasters and hardship which are caused by the war. However, when I heard and read about many brutal acts of the Japanese military during the war, some of which are fabricated or exaggerated to justify their allegations, I fully realize that the “silence is not necessarily gold but “oratory” or “make-up-story” are gold to convince the people. I am not trying to justify the brutal acts of the Japanese military in the many areas of Asia. However, I regret very much to observe that some witnesses of the war are still living with the vivid memory of their war experience, and feel deeply regret to observe that some people distort their true experience and observation to their own benefit and gains.
The good examples are the stories of “Comfort Women” and “Nanking Massacre”. For the honor of my country, I would like to describe in this article the fact of “Comfort Women”. On June 22, 1965, then Prime Minister Eisaku Sato and then President of Korea Park Chung-hee agreed and “The Peace Treaty between Japan and Korea” was duly signed. During the numerous talks to conclude the Treaty, the Korean Government allegedly insisted that the indemnity payment to the comfort women should not be paid individually, but should be paid to the Korean Government in order to decided the amount of indemnity on the base-by-case basis. Accordingly, the Japanese government to pay gratuitously three hundred million dollars, two hundred million dollars onerously, and three hundred million dollars as civil financing. In addition, the assets of the Japanese government which were held in the Korean Peninsula and was estimated fifty-three hundred million dollars, were surrendered without any condition. The Japanese government believed that the indemnity was paid to each Korean comfort women who allegedly insisted that they were forced by the Japanese Government.
It is most incomprehensible allegation that was made by Korean women who appeared publicly at the international arena 60 years after the end of the Pacific War. They audaciously appeal at such an international arena as the U.N. Humane Rights Committee meetings that they were abducted and forced by the Japanese military to sexually work for Japanese soldiers. Their appearance at the U.N. Humane Rights Committee was irresponsible act which was arranged by the Korean Government. However, it seems to be more irresponsible and unjust act is that the U.N. Humane Right Committee, the members of the Committee believe the one-sided story and didn’t elaborate for fact-finding at all.
There are still some living witnesses of the history such as myself. The Japanese Government paid two hundred million dollars twice to the Korean Government for the remuneration for the alleged comfort women and then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama and the Cabinet Secretary Taro Kohno sent a letter of apology to the former comfort women through the Korean Government. Yet, the former Korean comfort women insisted that they received neither remuneration nor a letter of apology.
If you don’t know the historical facts of both Japan and Korea where the social status of women was much lower than that of men, and the licensed prostitution was officially approved. As a human being, you should know better about this historical fact, otherwise you cannot talk about the comfort women.
Publisher, Potomac Newsletter
The Responses of the Government of Japan to the Comfort Women Crisis: Activated but Delayed
Fierce fighting took place in court between us and the Korean and Chinese organizations from 2014 and 2017. Even though their governments did not show up in front, those organizations which appeared to have received assistance from the respective governments were defending the City of Glendale. When we went back to Japan, we appealed to Japanese general public donations for our endeavors. Our attorneys advised us that a direct letter from the Government of Japan to the court would contribute to our cause enormously. So, we along with an attorney visited the Consul General in Los Angeles and inquired if a letter could be sent from his office just indicating that the Consul General had strong interest in this lawsuit and was in support of the plaintiffs because such a letter would be effective in this lawsuit. His response was that such a letter would lead to the loss of the diplomatic privileges which he and his colleagues were enjoying in the U.S., and the request was declined. When we were back to Japan, we made the same request to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The reply was that the comfort women issue was not a foreign affair or diplomatic issue, and therefore, the Ministry could not do anything. This incident took place a few years after President Myun-bak Lee of South Korea met and demanded Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda an official apology and compensations from Japan to Korean ex-comfort women. We were deeply disappointed with the Ministry’s response.
To begin with, the original government response to the comfort women issue was misdirected. The Kono Statement of 1993 already contained an apology. Then, the Asian Women’s Fund which followed Kono Statement, tried to resolve the problem by distributing atonement money to ex-comfort women along with a letter of apology from the Japanese Prime Minister. When the U.S. House of Representatives was trying to make a resolution blaming Japan on comfort women, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was trying to prevent it. But, due to strong pressure in the U.S., he had to give it up. But, since then, the situation within Japan had changed.
One prominent change was a statement by the government’s representative at the U.N. Human Rights Council meeting on July 16, 2014. He declared that in reference to the Slave Treaty of 1926, it was inappropriate to call the comfort women as sex-slaves. This position was strengthened by Deputy Minister Shunsuke Sugiyama of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (currently Ambassador to the U.S.) when he spoke at the U.N. meeting for Elimination of Discrimination against Women on February 16, 2016. He stated that on the basis of an extensive study undertaken by the Government of Japan, neither the Government or its military recruited comfort women coercively, nor were they sex-slaves, and the total number was much less than 200,000. This has become the Ministry’s basic position toward the comfort women issue. Nevertheless, as the Japanese government expressed apology and promised to pay money to ex-comfort women at the time of the Japan-South Korea Agreement of 2015, most overseas observers regard that Japan admitted criminal acts.
On the other hand, the Government of Japan started to take positive actions. One example was the 2015 Japan-South Korea Agreement. With this agreement, the government requested the removal of the comfort women statue in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul. Then, when a comfort women statue was installed in front of the Consulate General in Pusan, the Government of Japan withdrew the Japanese Ambassador from Seoul back home. Soon afterwards, when the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta approved the installation of a comfort women statue, a Japanese consul there actively worked against the plan, and led the Center to revoke the decision, a remarkable achievement. Then, when we filed a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court in January 2017, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked an attorney in Washington, D.C. to file an amicus curiae brief in support of Koichi Mera and GAHT. In this Ministry’s policy of “the comfort women issue being not a diplomatic issue” has gone away. The intention of the government was clearly expressed in the amicus brief.
As explained, the policy of the Government of Japan toward the comfort women problem has been transformed recently. It is becoming more action-oriented. It is a desirable change. Nonetheless, we cannot be at ease. On the coming July 20th and 60 times from then, a musical “Comfort Women” will be played at the Lincoln Center in New York by a Korean group, to which the Consulate General in New York informed me that they could not do anything because there was no evidence that the Government of South Korea was supporting the event. Also, the Government of Japan would not take any action to the Teachers’ Guide on Comfort Women which was prepared by a Korean organization and distributed to 18 high schools in San Francisco. The Guide is aimed at teaching high school students inhuman and cruel treatments which they claim the Japanese military did to Korean women, despite the fact that the stories have been fabricated.
Koichi Mera, Ph. D.
President, GAHT-US Corporation
The Fabricated History on Comfort Women &
The Installations of Their Statues in the U.S.
On November 22, 2017, Edwin Lee, Mayor of San Francisco officially endorsed the offer to annex the property containing statues of comfort women to City’s public park located within its Chinatown. With this, the number of monuments having comfort women statues had increased to three. The first was the one in the City of Glendale in California installed in July 2013. The second was four years later in the City of Brookhaven, GA in June 2017. These are small and medium cities. San Francisco is the first one among big cities.
These three monuments have a statue of a comfort woman (three comfort women in the case of San Francisco) as the focal point. There have been several monuments in public places containing drawings of comfort women before. The first was the one at the entrance to the public library in Palisades Park, NJ installed in October 2010. This plaque reads: “In memory of the more than 200,000 women and girls who were abducted by the armed forces of the government of Imperial Japan 1930’s-1945 known as ‘comfort women,’ they endured human right violations that no peoples should leave unrecognized. Let us never forget the horrors of crimes against humanity.” These descriptions contain several statements contrary to the historical facts, and are colored by anti-Japan sentiments. Later in 2012, a similar monument was built in Westbury, Nassau County outside of New York City. During 2013, another in Westbury, and a similar plaque in Hackensack, New Jersey were built. Then, in 2014, one in Fairfax County, VA, and another in Union City, NJ were erected. Since then, there was no activity for a while. This is due to the lawsuit against the City of Glendale as explained later. Then, when the lawsuit was about to end in the beginning of 2017, the erection of comfort women memorials has resumed.
These monuments have been built on the basis of the Resolution 121 against the Government of Japan which was approved in 2007 by the U.S. House of Representatives. This resolution was initiated ironically by Japanese –American, Mike Honda, then-Representative from a Silicon Valley district in California. This resolution was in turn based on the report on “comfort women” prepared by Special Reporter Radhika Coomaraswamy for the United Nations. She asserted they were coercively recruited, and became “sex slaves,” and endured extreme hardship going through repeated rapes, sexual violence, and abortions, and concluded that the system was the notable human trafficking of the twentieth century, and demanded apology to the Government of Japan. Even though this resolution was adopted in the House of Representatives, it was not discussed in the Senate. President Bush at the time kept some distance to the resolution. There are three important points in the resolution: (1) they were coercively recruited, (2) they were sex-slaves without freedom, and (3) the Government of Japan committed crimes of human rights violations.
Not only the resolution has led several cities to erect monuments for comfort women, but several states and cities have also made resolutions accusing the Government of Japan. They include States of New York, New Jersey, and Illinois, and cities of Milpitas, Fullerton and San Francisco, all in California.
This biased understanding of Comfort Women was originated from the U.N. Special Reporter’s report as stated above, and this report was made after a brief visit to Japan, South Korea, and North Korea (which was planned, but not visited). Thus, it was written largely on the basis of a book written by George Hicks, which was one of very few books written in English on comfort women at the time. Then, this book was written by believing the stories of girls-hunting by gun-point written in My War Crimes by Seiji Yoshida, which was already discredited at the time. Thus, the Coomaraswamy report is not credible either.
As I shall describe subsequently, the honor of Japan was hurt seriously by a careless report by the United Nations. The report spread the news of human rights violations around the world, and accused Japan for crimes of human rights violations which were not committed. The South Korean people, which is competing with Japan in every occasion, found this report highly usable for the purpose of disdaining Japan. Thus, they are promoting the spirit of the Resolution 121, and installing the statues of comfort women in every possible location within the United States.
Koichi Mera, Ph. D.
President, GAHT-US Corporation
THE GLOBAL ALLIANCE FOR HISTORICAL TRUTH (GAHT) www.gahtjp.org
Mrs. Roko Ueno in Fukuoka, Japan turned 98 years old in January this year. She uses a wheelchair, but enjoys reading lots of books, especially history books, and making tanka, Japanese traditional short poems.
For 6 years until the end of the WWⅡ, she had been an elementary school teacher for both Korean and Japanese children in Korea during the Japanese annexation. She still has very clear memories, and remembers many things in detail; such as her school, her students, the days when she returned from Korea right after the War, names of people she had met and conversations.
Now, most of the older people with direct knowledge about the war time and the tempestuous period of the Showa Era have passed away, and there are fewer Japanese who can remember that time. Though Mrs. Ueno is very old, she can still talk about what she witnessed and experienced at that time. Her family thought they should keep the records of her precious experiences, and published a book entitled “The Children I Loved: 1939-1945 Memories of a Japanese Woman Teacher in Japan’s Annexation of Korea Days” (Azuma-shoin).
From the book, we learn that in Korea, during the Japanese annexation, teachers worked their best for education, just as same as the teachers did in Japan. We also learn about the good relationship between Japanese and Koreans in those days.
This book also teaches us the facts to pass on to the next generation and gives clues for objective verification. Mrs. Ueno writes as follows:
“I had never seen or heard the scene in which Japanese and Koreans were quarreling or fighting with each other in the town we lived. Furthermore, I had never ever heard that Korean people were moved or taken forcibly by the Japanese Army or police, though Korean people began to say recently that Japanese had treated Koreans terribly as something like slaves.
“If such a story had been true, the whole society in which Japanese and Koreans had been living together peacefully for a long time under the good relationship would have been split into two and chaotic, and resistances or riots would have broken out all over the Korean peninsula.
“We sometimes use the word ‘colony’ to refer to Korea. Though I don’t know what Asian countries colonized by Western countries were like, in Korea, we Japanese and Koreans had the same rights. and were equal with each other as the same human beings. We got along quite well with each other.”
And at the end of book, Mrs. Ueno closes with “Why don’t you look back on the history of Japan? How were they leading lives when your grandparents or great-grandparents were young? How drastically has Japan changed during and after the War? I’d like you to know about Japan, Korea, and all the conditions of the world at that time. I wish that we Japanese and Koreans would understand each other, and keep on good terms with each other forever from the bottom of my heart. It would be my greatest pleasure if this book were useful for it.”
This book is translated into English by one of her sons, Mr. Masahiro Ueno. One day, he happened to hear the news that there was “A lot of Japanese or Japanese descents, especially small children, all over the world being bullied by the Korean people, who are blaming them that they are descendants of the devil Japanese who forced Korean people to be slaves under ‘the Japanese annexation of Korea days.” This news moved him to start the translation.
There are stories such as; “The Koreans those days didn’t only have basic human rights, but they were also treated like slaves and tortured”, “Young women were taken away and forced to be ‘comfort women’ or ‘sex slaves,’ while young men were forced to work at dangerous places such as mines” and “Hundreds of thousands of Korean people were finally killed.” Mr. Ueno was shocked to hear such fake stories were spreading. He worked on his translation, hoping that Japanese children all over the world will learn the facts.
He says “If we hope for Japan to be an honorable nation in the world, we should avoid being cowards who won’t say anything true out of fear of offending others. We’ll be able to maintain the honor and dignity of ourselves, our ancestors, and our descendants, only when we speak out about historical facts, rather than keep silent. And as a result, it will finally improve the relationship between Korea and Japan.”
Please visit our Nadeshiko Action Web site for the English translation of the book “The Children I Loved” at https://bit.ly/2qhw1aP.
Mrs. Ueno will be so delighted if this book helps you understand the truth about Korea and the people during the days of the Japanese annexation.
Yumiko Yamamoto, president of the grass root civil group, “Nadesiko Action,” or “Japanese Women for Justice and Peace.”
NADESIKO ACTION Japanese Women for Justice and Peace http://nadesiko-action.org
The Horrific Consequences of “Apology Diplomacy” By Japanese Government]
To this day, many Japanese nationals on business assignment at Japanese corporations choose to live in Fort Lee, New Jersey because of its easy accessibility to Manhattan, lying just across the George Washington Bridge. Surely there are many expatriate Japanese who used to live in Fort Lee as children and have since returned to Japan. The origin of its name is General Charles Lee, a hero of the Revolutionary War. George Washington and General Lee are said to have set up a camp here in order to defend New York City and were marching down Fort Lee’s Main Street. In the early 20th century, it is also known as the home of major movie studios, rendering it a bustling place like Hollywood (however, most of them left Fort Lee for Hollywood in the late 1930s). In addition, Fort Lee was originally largely populated by Italian immigrants, and it was rumored that the area was safe because of the mafia presence.
In the late 1970s, Japanese started settling in Fort Lee and the surrounding areas, such as Palisades Park and Leonia. Koreans began following Japanese in the 1980s, and in big numbers at that. This influx was the result of several family-run Korean conglomerates, which were enjoying remarkable growth at the time, opening offices in Fort Lee. It is also due to the U. S. government expanding its quota of green cards for Koreans who fought alongside the U.S. during the Vietnam War. I used to live in Palisades Park for 3 years from 1982–1985, and I believe that there were more Japanese than Koreans at that time. Even then, however, there were so many children of Asian descent that, as a consequence of this large Asian population, I recall hearing stories of local American parents complaining to the schools that their own children were not speaking English correctly. I am surprised to learn that the populations of Fort Lee, Leonia, and Palisades Park are now approximately 35%, 20%, and 65% Korean, respectively. Americans are sometimes exceptionally tolerant and generous, but even so, it’s hard to believe they have let the situation come this far. Or, I could surmise that Americans have gradually fled to escape from the expansion of Korean immigrants. I wonder what will happen if it continues to grow like this. We encounter signs written in Hangul (the Korean alphabet) all over the area, giving some illusion as if we were in Korea. No wonder that the area has become a hotbed of Korean anti-Japanese activity. In fact, the first comfort women memorial in the world was erected at the entrance to the Palisades Park Library in October 2010. Since then, nine more memorials and statues have been built in the United States.
Ironically, “Lee” is a common way to romanize a Korean surname, and it is one of the five most common Chinese and Korean surnames. In Korea, Lee is very popular, second only to Kim, marking about 15% of the population. Two well-known Lees that quickly come to my mind are Syngman Rhee (Lee), the first president of South Korea who snatched Takeshima islets by one-sidedly drawing the Syngman Rhee Line, and Myung-bak Lee, a former Korean president who rubbed the Japanese emotion by visiting Takeshima in person and by stating that the Emperor of Japan “must himself apologize if he would like to set his foot in Korea.” It seems that the surname Lee is a foreboding one for Japan.
On December 14 of last year, the Fort Lee City Council unanimously voted to erect a comfort women memorial. Yoko Nagato of Himawari Japan contributed an “advocacy advertisement” to Shukan NY Seikatsu, writing that the people who advanced the plans were a group of Korean-American high school students from Fort Lee High School and that they had been inspired by watching “Spirits’ Homecoming,” an anti-Japan propaganda film about comfort women. She also concluded that several anti-Japan organizations were behind the scenes using these high school students.
It is pathetic that all of the members of the City Council have surrendered to the anti-Japan movement, but politically this makes sense because the majority of the electorate is of Korean ancestry. No matter how much we Japanese assert that this anti-Japan movement is based on a fake historical story and that it will encourage the bullying of and bias against Japanese children, it is almost impossible to resolve unless the Japanese government resolutely asserts accurate historical awareness and flatly rejects the anti-Japan movement’s slander and defamation using the comfort women issue. According to Nagato, Fort Lee Mayor Sokolich stated, “I think the blame lies upon Japan because the Japanese government paid compensations to South Korea. Why would you have to do it unless you knew you were wrong?” Yes, he’s got it right! The repeated “apology diplomacy” coupled with the lack of refutation carried out to date by the Japanese government and Ministry of Foreign Affairs has aggravated the comfort women issue to this extent and has also caused Japanese children living abroad to be the target of bullying.
When we Japanese first arrived in the United States taking a new assignment, weren’t we told repeatedly by friends or superiors, “In America, you shouldn’t be quick to apologize. Do not promptly say, ‘I’m sorry,’ even if you’re involved in a traffic accident. An admission of guilt could be subject to some payment of huge monetary compensation?” This is the basic preparatory knowledge required for overseas living not only in the United States but also in other countries. Since this is a kind of common knowledge in everyday life, then it is even more relevant to foreign relations at the frontline of conflicting national interests. It would be unthinkable for Japanese diplomats who have spent many years living overseas in various countries to claim they are unaware of this mindset. Or have the elite bureaucrats been unable to experience this, having lived in a privileged world with no reality?
To this day, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not made any clear-cut public explanation regarding the truth and cause of the comfort women issue, nor has it contested the slanderous accusations made by various parties. Upon searching for “comfort women issue” on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs homepage, one only finds excuses such as an expression of “sincere apologies and remorse to all those women known as comfort women who suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds,” and that we have “extended maximum cooperation to the Asian Women’s Fund, which implemented ‘medical and welfare support projects’ and provided ‘atonement money,’ to offer realistic relief to former comfort women.” No matter where one looks on the site, there is no mention whatsoever of a resolute rebuttal of the issue indicating that the problem originated from lies made by a genius conman, Seiji Yoshida, that were proliferated for more than twenty years by the Asahi Shimbun, and that the fake stories that comfort women were sexually assaulted and that there were 200,000 Korean women (and another 200,000 of Chinese women!) in sexual slavery have no basis in reality and have in fact slandered the nation of Japan and its citizens. Based on this, the Japanese government is essentially admitting that it is guilty of a heinous crime—and as previously mentioned, the Fort Lee mayor has stated as such. This false accusation will never be cleared. Japanese children have no recourse when they are bullied. Is the Japanese government incapable of understanding how much our children are hurt and how horrific it is that they have lost their pride and dignity in being Japanese?
Under the 1965 Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of South Korea, Japan paid $800 million in total under the condition that Korea “renounces all rights to request reparation and compensation from Japan.” This figure was huge as it was equivalent to 2.3 times the national budget. And, Japan had already renounced all infrastructure-related facilities such as bridges, roads, dams, power plants, etc. free of charge that were built during its annexation of Korea. Korea’s miraculous economic recovery could not have been achieved without this unprecedented support from Japan. In 1995, the comfort women issue resulted in a contribution to the so-called Asian Women’s Fund with approximately 1.1 billion yen (approximately 600 million yen donated by Japanese citizens, plus approximately 500 million yen in subsidies from the government), paying two million yen to each comfort woman. A considerate letter of apology from former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi accompanied the payment. And in recent memory, there was another stunning agreement between Japan and South Korea in December 2015 where another payment of one billion yen was made under the “absolute final and irreversible” conditions. At this time as well, Prime Minister Abe expressed his “sincere apologies and remorse.”
Even so, comfort women statues and memorials have continued to be built one after another worldwide. How long will this last? It’s like repeatedly 「泥棒に追銭」 (a Japanese proverb that translates to “throwing good money after bad”). And it goes without saying that the “good money” is the hard-earned taxpayers’ money. When will the Japanese government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs learn their lesson? The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is complaining that South Korea is always moving the goalposts, but it is Japan that has attached wheels to the posts so they can be moved easily. Japan must wake up to the reality of the world by now.
The unveiling ceremony for the Fort Lee comfort women memorial was held on May 23. All I want now is that the Japanese government demonstrate resolute attitude to the anti-Japan movement that has disparaged Japan to the point of bending the truth. Please don’t cause senseless suffering to Japanese people and the children living in New York area anymore. Before considering “friendship” or “common ground,” I would like Japan to resolutely assert its “stance” and the “truth of the comfort women story.” If such a simple task is impossible to take, please don’t do anything for us. Please also take out all references to comfort women from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ homepage. It is simply because of that that the battle over history is crucial and endless, and it does nothing to seek compromise for “common ground” or otherwise.
Masaki Shirota (Music Producer)
The Comfort Women Memorial opening ceremony was held with Mayor Mark Sokolich on May 23, 2018. Photo by Ryoichi Miura, Shukan NY Seikatsu. ©New York Seikatsu Press, Inc.
この「おばあちゃんの回想録」の英語版「The Children I Loved」は、
なでしこアクション Japanese Women for Justice and Peace
Confederate Memorial and Comfort Women Memorial
This spring, I visited Atlanta, Georgia for the first time. During my stay, I went to Stone Mountain Park. The park is one of the most popular tourist spots and is famous for the Confederate Memorial Carving on Stone Mountain. It is the largest high relief sculpture in the world and depicts three Confederate figures of the Civil War: Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Jefferson Davis (1808-1889) was the President of the Confederate States from 1861 to 1865. In 1886, 21 years after the defeat of the Civil War in Mississippi, he stated, “the Southerners would not have to get revenge on the Yankees but would never tell their children that the South was wrong in the War Between the States; the South lost the battle, but the cause was right.”
At a point where you can have the best look of whole memorial carving, there is a plaque of the quotation by Beverly M. Dubose, the Curator of the memorial hall. It reads, “The vast majority of those who fought and died for the Southern Confederacy had little in worldly goods or comforts. Neither victory nor defeat would have greatly altered their lot. Yet, for four long years they waged one of the bloodiest wars in history. They fought for a principle: The right to live life in a chosen manner. This dedication to a cause drove them to achieve: A monument of greatness which endures to this day.”
I was deeply impressed with these words. Although the Confederates lost the Civil War, they praise the courage and honor of those who fought and died for the confederacy. I thought Japanese should pass down our story just like their words to the next generation.
I went to another park called Blackburn Park in Brookhaven, a city in the northeastern suburbs of Atlanta. In the park, there is a comfort women memorial that was installed last year. The memorial consists of a comfort woman statue, an empty chair, and a plaque. It is a replica of the controversial statue in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, Korea. And, it is the second comfort women statue in the public space in the U.S. after the one in Glendale, California.
In Blackburn Park, Brookhaven City has the Cherry Blossom Festival every March. The Cherry blossom is the symbol of Japan. On the other hand, the comfort women statue is now known as a symbol of anti-Japan.
I believe it is not acceptable that they have the festival of cherry blossoms, a symbol of Japan, with the comfort women statue, a symbol of anti-Japan.
It was during the festival when I went to the park to see the comfort women memorial. Local families and young people were there to enjoy weekend. They passed by the memorial and stopped to read the inscription of the plaque.
The plaque reads as follows:
“Comfort Women who were enslaved by the Japanese Imperial Armed Force”; “One of the largest known cases of human trafficking in the 20th century with estimates ranging up to the hundreds of thousands”; “The Comfort Women are from at least thirteen Asian-Pacific countries, principally from Korea”; “Most died or were killed during World War II”; and “GIRL- Represents the average age of 16 when most girls were abducted.”
These descriptions are totally wrong and not facts. What a big difference from the Confederate Memorial!
Japan lost the War, but we should honor those who fought and died for our country with the words just like I found at Stone Mountain Park. However, the reality is that memorials of fabricated stories are being erected overseas, and the distorted history of Japan is spreading all over the world.
In May, another comfort women memorial was erected at Constitutions Park in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Do we just keep quiet and do nothing, but let them build more comfort women memorials?
We have a responsibility for what to pass on to the next generation. Now it is time to speak out.
In the next chapter, I will introduce a book and the author, a 98-year-old Japanese woman, who tells the truth about what really happened during the days of the Japan’s annexation of Korea.
At the beginning of this year, President Moon Jue-In declared that the agreement which was concluded on the issue of “Comfort Women” irreversibly in December 2015 does not fully solve this controversial issue, although the Japanese government again paid 100 million dollars for the redemption to former “Comfort Women.” In studying through past negotiations on this issue, it is obvious that the Korean government does not seem to have any intention to conclude this matter. When the Japanese government formerly expressed apologies and paid the redemption to “Comfort women,” the Korean government claimed that the way of apology didn’t express enough for its repentance. Then Japan again expressed its apology, but the Korean government insisted that all the victims are not satisfied by the way of Japan’s apology. Furthermore, when Japan paid $10 billion as indemnity, the then Korean President criticized, saying, “Japan tries to settle this matter by money, not by sincere repentance.”
There are rumors that some organizations which are closely connected to the North Korean Government urge former comfort women not to receive any redemption from the Japanese government, because they may lose the best way to draw the money out from Japan. I hardly believe that the Korean government is sneaky to that extent.
In 1993, Cabinet Secretary Taro Kohno expressed his apologies on the basis of re-examination on this issue, and in 1995, on the basis of Mr. Kohno’s apologies, Prime Minister Murayama established “The Asian Women Indemnity Fund” (Prime Minister Murayama was the first Prime Minister who was elected from the Socialist Party.) Then, with the letter of apology from Prime Minister Murayama, the indemnity of 2 million yen was paid from the donation of Japanese people and an additional 1.2 million yen – 3 million yen were paid from “The Asian Women Indemnity Fund” for their medical expenses. However, in Korea, many organizations which support former “Comfort Women” rejected the payment from “The Asian Women Indemnity Fund” and tried to persuade the former “Comfort Women” not to receive any form of redemption from the Japanese Government or from other Japanese organizations. As a result, among 240 women who claimed to be “Comfort Women,” only 60 women accepted the indemnity. “The Asian Women Indemnity Fund” was established for the purpose of paying redemption to Asian women. This foundation paid redemption to women in Indonesia, The Philippines, Korea, Indonesia and Taiwan and supplied medical needs and other support they needed. This fund was closed in 2007 by the completion of its ultimate purpose.
When the Pacific War started on December 8, 1941, I was a teenage girl and lived in Tokyo, Japan. From the beginning of the year 1945, I experienced indiscriminate bombing by B-29 bombers almost every night until Japan declared surrender on August 15. By the air raid by B29 bombers on March 10, 1945, more than 100 thousand people were killed by the fire bombs. Those who jumped into the Sumida River were killed by boiling water. It was estimated that more than 300 fire bombs were dropped into the Sumida River. Some people said, “it was caused by the natural consequence of your own government’s act.” Since Japan started the Pacific War by attacking Pearl Harbor, all the Japanese accepted the consequence and endured all kinds of unbearable difficulties for many years during and after the war. Many people still talk about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the first and second cities where thousands people were killed by atomic bombs. However, the air raid by fire bombs in Tokyo on March 10, 1945 was as brutal as Hiroshima and Nagasaki! Those who were injured or killed did not receive any monetary assistance from the government. Whenever I mentioned indiscriminate bombing by B-29 bombers, and many large cities in Japan became burnt fields, many said, “the disaster was caused by Japan and it was the consequence of Japan’s brutal acts. It was indeed true that the disastrous cause of the war was started by Japan. Therefore, Japanese people had never complained – we just worked so hard to reconstruct our country. Then, only 20 years after the war, Japan was able to host the Olympic Games in 1965!
I would like to mention again that the hard life of “comfort women” was not caused by the war, but caused by the Japanese/Korean feudalistic societies where the status of women was not equal as men, and women who were born into poor families were forced to sacrifice their own lives for their family. After the war, particularly during last 20-30 years, many Koreans have immigrated to the U.S. Those children of new immigrants were educated in the U.S and many of them became college graduates. They are intelligent and active in local politics. However, they do not seem to know the history of the country they came from. Therefore, they invited former “Comfort Women” to speak at public and civic meetings, even at the Human Rights Committee meetings of the Congress to tell their fabricated story.
However, it is almost impossible to persuade the Korean Government not to reiterate this controversial matter, because the issue of the comfort women is the most effective tool to insult Japan and to keep receiving remuneration from Japan.
Publisher of Potomac Newsletter
●Focusing historical issue from the overseas point of view chapter 9
The Comfort Women
A fabricated story as a tool of bashing Japan! Don’t let that change true fact
I was born in 1930. I am in the same generation of those “comfort women” who allegedly insist that they were abducted by the soldiers of the Japanese Imperial Army and forced to become sex slaves – or so called “comfort women.” I am a living witness of the upheaval Showa era of Japan. Although I have the deepest sympathies for those who were born in poor families and who were forced to engage in professions which would yield much greater amount of money than factory workers or baby sitters, I am appalled by the allegations which these comfort women appealed at the meeting of the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations. As witnesses of the most inhumane acts done by the Japanese Imperial Army whose allegations, for the most part, do not match the backgrounds of that time, it is indeed a shameless act by the Korean Government to use old women as witness at the international scene and let them speak the fabricated story which has already been denied by the Japanese people who live in the same generation.
In August 1945, Japan lost the war and was occupied by the Allied Forces led by General Douglas MacArthur. The GHQ (General Headquarters) was very eager to change Japan towards modern society, particularly the social status of women. The gates of good colleges, which were opened only to male students, had to open their gates equally to women. Japanese women over 20 years old were given voting rights and freedom of marriage, by which allowed women to marry men they chose without their parents’ consent. The most notable change was the abolition of licensed prostitution. Until 70 years ago, it was notable that chronicly poor families had many children, and even before they could finish elementary school, many girls of poor families had to work as babysitters, factory workers, and at other low-wage jobs. Some girls, particularly good-looking girls, were adopted by the owners of licensed prostitution houses and were taught about their jobs until they reached the legal age of 17 to work as prostitutes. In those days when I was a child, I noticed a big advertisement on the pole at the corner of streets that read “Help wanted – Girls for Brothel”. I asked my mother what a brothel was, and she quickly said “Children don’t have to know.” Before 1945, it was obvious that many women who were born in poor families took that kind of job at their own will in order to bring some money to their family.
Those Koreans, who are completely ignorant about the history of their own country, use “comfort women” as a tool of Japan bashing. What shameless people they are! Furthermore, in Japan, there are some people, including a honorary professor of one of the top ranking universities, who believe the fabricated story of the comfort women. Without having a bit of knowledge about the history of the feudalistic society both in Japan and Korea, those Koreans who immigrated to the U.S. with their parents and were educated in the U.S. believe the fabricated story of comfort women, and are actively working with local governments to build comfort women statues in public places such as play grounds and parks. How ignorant and shameless they are!
In June 22, 1965, The Treaty for the Basic Agreement for the Normalization of the Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea was signed by the Prime Minister of Japan and by the President of Korea. Since the first meeting to discuss the treaty was held in February 1952, it took 15 years to conclude the finalization of the Treaty. After numerous negotiations, both governments finally agreed that Japan will pay the total of $800 million as an indemnity. The assets of about $530 million owned by the Japanese government and Japanese residents in the Korean Peninsula were confiscated. During the negotiations, the Japanese Government suggested that such individual claims as forced laborers and comfort women will be taken care of by the Japanese Government. However, the Korean Government insisted that the individual compensation will be taken care of by the Korean Government.
In December 2015, Japan again paid $100 thousand dollars by the request of the then Korean President, and both countries agreed that this issue is irreversibly solved. However, some Koreans still insist to build comfort women statues in the U.S. and Canada.
In the past, the Japanese Government paid twice.