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Japan PM Denies Comfort Women War Crimes


Jaimoe
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I find this ongoing story fascinating and repugnant. Japan has been in history revision mode for decades, but this has gone too far.

From today's Toronto Star:

Japanese PM's denial of war crimes blasted

Ottawa urged to condemn remarks as outrage grows

Mar 03, 2007 04:30 AM

Carl Freire

Associated Press

TOKYO–Anyone who doubts the Japanese army forced Asian women into sexual slavery in World War II should "face the truth," South Korea's foreign minister said yesterday as outrage grew over comments by Japan's prime minister that there was no evidence of the enslavement.

Women's rights activists in the Philippines and a group of politicians in South Korea denounced the remarks by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday that there was no proof so-called "comfort women" were forced into prostitution during the war.

Chinese-Canadian politicians and community leaders also called on Ottawa to publicly condemn the comments.

But one of the harshest reactions came from 81-year-old Hilaria Bustamante of Manila, who said she was kept as a sex slave in a Japanese garrison for a year in 1942 as a 16-year-old.

"What (Abe) said has angered me," she said. "They think we are just like toilet paper that they can throw away after being used.''

Historians say some 200,000 women – mostly from Korea and China – served in Japanese military brothels throughout Asia in the 1930s and 1940s. Witnesses, victims and even some former Japanese soldiers say many of the women were kidnapped or otherwise forced into brothels, where they could be raped by scores of soldiers a day.

Abe on Thursday said there is no proof the women were forced into prostitution: "The fact is, there is no evidence to prove there was coercion."

His statement contradicted evidence in Japanese documents unearthed in 1992 that historians said showed military authorities had a direct role in working with contractors to forcibly procure women for the brothels, known as "comfort stations."

The remark also cast doubt on a 1993 Japanese government apology to the sex slaves.

"We should speak out and issue a condemnation," NDP MP Olivia Chow (Trinity-Spadina) said in Ottawa yesterday.

Conservative MP Inky Mark (Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette) said he was shocked when he read Abe's words and said he wants Prime Minister Stephen Harper to condemn the comments.

"It's along the same lines of denying the Holocaust. It was a war crime against humanity."

There's a double standard when it comes to recognizing war crimes in the West, said Joseph Wong, the founding president of the Chinese Canadian National Council.

"We have heard how quick Western politicians are to condemn Holocaust deniers, which is good, because that has to be done," he said.

"But on the other hand, Western politicians are so silent when they encounter these denials from Japanese right-wing politicians who say the rape of Nanking was justified and these comfort women, these sexual slaves, were willing victims."

Before a speech yesterday in Washington, South Korean Foreign Minister Song Min-soon said Abe's comments were "not helpful."

"We had better face the truth," Song said in the South Korean government's first reaction to the remarks.

Victims and their supporters have pushed unsuccessfully for a parliament-approved apology from Japan and official government compensation. Japan set up a private fund for compensation in 1995, but has refused to provide government money.

In China, Su Zhiliang, director of the Chinese Comfort Women Research Centre at Shanghai's Normal University, said she was surprised by Abe's remarks.

"Suddenly to have Abe deny the fact that women were coerced into sexual slavery is both very regrettable and very enraging," said Su, who compiled 100 case studies with testimonials from Chinese comfort women.

In Manila, Rechilda Extremadura, executive director of Lila Pilipina, an organization of activists and former Filipino wartime sex slaves, said 120 are still alive among 174 documented Filipino comfort women.

With files from Canadian Press

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Koizumi broke the ground on deliberately stupid nationalism, but Abe is especially unnerving to have as Japan's PM - all the talk of remilitarisation, and now this.

I shake my head whenever I talk with the average Japanese student, who's been kept in the total dark about what their country was responsible for. It's especially stunning for them when they travel through Southeast Asia.

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Koizumi broke the ground on deliberately stupid nationalism, but Abe is especially unnerving to have as Japan's PM - all the talk of remilitarisation, and now this.

I shake my head whenever I talk with the average Japanese student, who's been kept in the total dark about what their country was responsible for. It's especially stunning for them when they travel through Southeast Asia.

Dave, as you know by talking to my cousin, Japan has a shockingly sub-par educational system, especially post-seconday.

Eventually xenophoia creeps into historic texts. The government does not want to deal with their war crimes.

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I think that Japan's complete ignorance on the subject of their own culpibility in war crimes is only out matched by that of the United States. I've read some horrifying accounts from Korean women about that shit.

Japanese ignorance is especially stupefying when compared to how well most Germans are educated regarding their own past war crimes.

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I think that Japan's complete ignorance on the subject of their own culpibility in war crimes is only out matched by that of the United States. I've read some horrifying accounts from Korean women about that shit.

Japanese ignorance is especially stupefying when compared to how well most Germans are educated regarding their own past war crimes.

Exactly.

Why would the Japanese own up to their WWII war crimes when they haven't acknowledged their roles in the China and Korean occupations? Why does Kim Jong-il fire long-range test missles over Tokyo or launch test nuclear bombs off the coast of Japan if North Korea wasn't pissed?

I was talking to an English friend yesterday who lives in Japan and I sent him the above Toronto Star article. He said that he heard nothing of the story and stories of a similar theme are never mentioned in the media.

I had a Japanese roommate after I graduated from Ryerson. He was a nice guy, but he told me one day: "Hitler was a great man". I almost stangled him. Yuichi never heard of the Holocaust or Hitler's rise to power.

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I think that Japan's complete ignorance on the subject of their own culpibility in war crimes is only out matched by that of the United States. I've read some horrifying accounts from Korean women about that shit.

Japanese ignorance is especially stupefying when compared to how well most Germans are educated regarding their own past war crimes.

Very true; it's amazing how fast and severe their reactions can be around Holocaust denial' date=' compared to countries like our own and the US (many of whose citizens [i']are oblivious to their own histories of violence).

Quite right, Jaimoe, about the lame ed. system there. There are big on discipline, though (at the expense of all other things), which will be of all sorts of uses if they do remilitarise.

There's not much I remember learning in high school, but I'll never forget my grade 9 history class. Every year the teacher would bring in as a guest speaker our driver's ed. teacher at the time, an old German who'd been in the regular army on the Russian front. It was a brilliant way of getting the students to realise that not only are "enemies" flesh-and-blood human beings with their own lives, but are often enough forced into fighting in spite of their own attitudes towards their governments. His wife, apparently, used to get upset whenever that time of the term rolled around because he would go into weeks of nightmares as he recalled all of it.

I'll never forget, though, the sound of his voice, when, with his thick German accent, he'd get you moving after a light changed - "Drrive! Drrive avay! It vouldn't get any greener if you put fertiliser on it!"

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