Comfort Women from the Japanese conservative perspective
Posted by ampontan on Thursday, March 29, 2007
Now that a month has passed after the initial controvery erupted, it should be apparent that the deluge of blather about comfort women has been simply a superficial exercise in the indulgence of emotions. The participants in this exercise have treated the facts as so many cheap fashion accessories that can be used or discarded to suit the occasion–when they’ve bothered to research them at all.
We all know that people see what they want to see and overlook the rest, sometimes deliberately. That’s true of both left and right, bloggers and the mainstream media, and even the hired experts, who are delighted at the opportunity for a turn on stage in the role of omniscipundit. It’s yet another example of how a debate about any issue these days quickly becomes a waste of time.
Well, let me add a caveat–for some it is hugely enjoyable as entertainment.
Be that as it may, we have seen the anti-Japan position in spades, starting with what was probably a deliberately mistranslated statement in the New York Times and continuing with a House Subcommittee hearing featuring two women from South Korea who openly acknowledged that they weren’t coerced into the business by the Japanese military. (One actually snuck out of the house to volunteer; the other was tricked by a Korean procurer.)
What we haven’t seen in English is a concise, yet comprehensive, summary by Japanese defenders. I’ve been looking around and finally found something that seems to fit the bill. Here is a statement by a group called the Japanese Policy Institute on their website. It is also worth reading their website preface. (They also have a Japanese site here.) This is their conclusion in the matter of the comfort women.
Though it is true that there were “comfort women” in war zones, it is definitely false that these women had been abducted by the Japanese military. In this sense, “comfort women” controversy has already been settled.
When I was a high school student in the Tidewater area of Virginia, one of my best friends was a boy whose father was a Presbyterian minister. I was at his house one day when I heard his father complaining about the Northern Presbyterians. At that time (and perhaps still today), the Presbyterians in the US were divided between a Northern branch and a Southern branch who were often at loggerheads despite the absence of significant theological differences.
I asked my friend’s father why the two groups had such trouble getting along. “Oh, some people are still interested in fighting the Civil War,” he answered. This was fully a century after Lee had handed over his sword at Appomattox.
It’s obvious that the same applies here–some people are still interested in fighting World War II. Isn’t it curious that while the arena itself is deserted, save for a few groundskeepers, the stands are packed with brawlers from the box seats to the bleachers? And it’s fascinating that most of the people who want to duke it out weren’t even alive during the war. Indeed, the parents of many of those people weren’t alive during the war either.
The oddest phenomenon of all? The people most interested in fighting World War II are those from the winning side. It seems as if the annihilation of the defeated nation–Imperial Japan–wasn’t enough for them.
The enormous sums paid in reparations weren’t enough for them, either. They’re still banging their tin cups on the pavement. Some of them won’t accept any money unless it comes in a specially wrapped package with an apology written in a particular kind of ink by the Entire Japanese Nation and delivered in person by the Emperor with his forehead pressed to the pavement. And even then, some would probably still turn up their nose if, with their superior discernment, they decided that the apology wasn’t “sincere”.
One would hope that they don’t expect any sympathy from today’s Japan. But then again, that’s probably what they’re hoping for–no sympathy from today’s Japan.
It gives them the chance to continue entertaining themselves by fighting a war that’s been finished and done with for more than 60 years.
Then there are the folks whose entertainment is to be found in bashing Japan for whatever reason seems to be handy at the moment. But we don’t have to spend time talking about them.
After all, they do know who they are.