Japan from the inside out

Murayama: Keep the AWF alive; Abe: Second look at Kono admission?

Posted by ampontan on Thursday, March 8, 2007

Former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama wants to extend the 12-year mandate of the Asian Women’s Fund past its expiry date at the end of the month to continue to provide assistance to the former comfort women, as the Japan Times reports in its March 8 edition (registration required).

The Fund was created at the initiative of the Japanese government in 1995 when Murayama was Prime Minister. The article is worth reading because it provides some details of the assistance provided.

  • It has paid 1.7 billion yen (about $US 14.6 million) to 360 women recognized by their governments as comfort women. Murayama said the group has completed its projects in Indonesia, the Netherlands, the Philippines, South Korea, and Taiwan.
  • The fund received 565 million yen (about $US 4.9 million) in private donations and 750 million yen (about $US 6.44 million) from the government. The private donations were used to compensate the comfort women, and the government’s funding was used for social assistance programs, including medical care.
  • Each woman received at least 2 million yen (about $US 17,200), and the Filipino women received an additional 1.2 million yen ($US 10,300) each for medical and welfare support. South Korean and Taiwanese women received 3 million yen (about $US 25,760) each.
  • 79 women in the Netherlands received 3 million yen each for medical and welfare support.
  • Indonesia said it could not positively determine who had been comfort women, so the fund gave the country 380 million yen (about $US 3.25 million) to build 69 senior citizen facilities.
  • Each woman received a letter of apology from the Prime Minister of Japan at the time.

The article also notes:

…Many (women) refused to accept any of the money because the fund was not an official state organ and the portion deemed “atonement” money did not come from the government.

It fails to mention, however, that South Korea, Indonesia, and the Philippines have received reparations from the Japanese government, and that South Korean government has agreed to relinquish the right to make individual claims against the Japanese government.

The Japan Times also carries a Kyodo report (on-line, not yet in print) stating that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is mulling the appointment of historians and other experts to a commission to reinvestigate the issue and look at the “relevant facts”. An LDP source said the move is being considered “because ‘new documents and testimonies have emerged’ in the 14 years since then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono issued the apology statement.”

This could result in a revision of the government’s 1993 statement admitting the military’s involvement in the operation of “comfort stations”. This does not mean, however, that the Japanese government will take a more sympathetic stance toward the women; the move to reexamine the facts is being driven by LDP members who think Kono’s statement went too far, and want to either rescind it or water it down.

Bloomberg, however, is reporting that Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki has not heard that Abe is thinking of reopening the investigation. Shiozaki does say that Japan might formally write rebuttals to overseas reports and commentaries.

Credit where credit is due: Progress of a sort is finally being made in the US media. Bloomberg almost (but not quite) quoted Abe properly, though they don’t explain it:

…”he (Abe) said four days earlier there is no evidence that there was ‘coercion as defined at that time’ in using young females as so-called comfort women.”

A better translation would be “coercion as initially defined”, i.e., abductions by the Japanese Imperial Army.

UPDATE: The Mainichi Shimbun is citing an AP report that Prime Minister Abe says the ruling LDP will conduct a new investigation of Japanese involvement with comfort women, and that the government will cooperate.

Said the prime minister:

“My remarks have been twisted in a sense and reported overseas which further invites misunderstanding,” Abe said. “This is an extremely unproductive situation,” he said.

Said North Korea:

“This once again strips bare his true colors as a political charlatan,” North Korea’s official news agency said Wednesday.

In my previous post on the subject, I suggested that Mike Honda’s House resolution in support of the comfort women might alienate the Japanese, and initial evidence seems to suggest that’s exactly what’s happening. Occidentalism provides links to this Yomiuri Shimbun editorial (in English) and this TV discussion program on the Asahi network (in Japanese) that are highly critical of the resolution. And Prime Minister Abe is not the sort of man amenable to this type of overseas pressure.

The efforts by Honda and his Korean-American supporters could wind up being a Pyrrhic victory that results in fewer tangible benefits to the surviving comfort women—or none at all–rather than more.

7 Responses to “Murayama: Keep the AWF alive; Abe: Second look at Kono admission?”

  1. tomojiro said

    I seriously hope that Abe leaves the history to historian. Especially now, he should stay away from problems of history. Whatever he says, it will only considered as an appology overseas. Only serious research, free from government conduction will ammend this situation, but politician who duggs in history is no good. The other LDP member should also stay away from history. Leave the Nanking massacre to the historian.

  2. kimchi2000 said

    I agree with you tomojiro but sometimes, historians arent very objective even if their research is free from government’s funding or influence. If you look at “all your islands belong to us” entry, you will know what I am talking about. BTW, it is very popular belief in korea that okinawa should be part of korea… please return okinawa to rightful owner you evil greedy island stealing japanese!!!!.
    I think it is very sad that these former sexslaves (or greedy ex-prostitutes who want to make innocent japan look bad to many readers of ampontan) will die without sincere apology. Even though this issue is settled by the treaty between korea and japan, I think it is mortally right to say “I am sorry.” Why is it so hard to say “I am sorry” when you did something wrong? I am talking about really sincere official apology. One official sincere apology will solve this issue. Actually, sincere official apology will solve many issues like nanking massacre and unit 731. You could argue all day long what the definition of “massacre” or “cohercion” or “torture” or “inhumane treatment” but deep inside, they know that they did was inhumane. I think this issue will go unresolved and these women will just die of old age and people will forget about the whole issue…. I hope that these women find peace within themselve because it is terrible to die with anger and frustration.

  3. Aceface said

    Well, Kimchi2000(real name?).
    I think we’ve already passed the “sincere apology” stage.
    It may help the situation,if your side start listening with a little more sincerity when we apologize.

    Sincerely yours.

  4. jion999 said

    Do you understand the meaning of “sincere apology”?
    Do you know how many times Japanese apologized?
    “Sincere apology” for Korean means Japanese must kneel down to Korean and Chinese every time and forever, forbid all Japanese to doubt about the “historical facts” and brainwash all of Japanese children to believe that Japan was evil.
    In any diplomatic negotiations, Korean could mention about “the past crime of Japanese” and force Japanese to step back.
    It does not work anymore.

  5. jion999 said

    The point is, do you believe that the relationship between Japan and Korea would be better if Japan apologize again?
    It seems to be meaningless to make another Kono statement.
    Korean ultranationalists are not criticizing Japanese because of humanity or justice but because of revenge against their miserable modern history which was conquered by Japan.
    And the feeling of hatred never disappear if Korean Government continues unti-Japan brainwash.

    Korean nationalists would use the apology of Japanese as an evidence/excuse to criticize Japan to force Japanese to kneel down in the near future again.
    Next time, not in US House of representatives, but in UN, maybe.

  6. Media Lies said

    So much of what we “know” to be true….

    ….really isn’t. In a lengthy and fascinating article, a blogger with intimate knowledge of Japanese culture and the credentials …

  7. jin said

    I don’t think that Mike Honda and his resolution would alienate Abe or the Japanese people from America. As a Japanese, I feel, although it is very regrettable what has happened, America is still a strong ally who has common values of democracy, freedom, and free market system. America has supported our sixty years after surrender and I trust the greater American support of Japan. Abe is a strong supporter of the United States and believes the Japan-US security alliance is crucial to Japan and the world. He understands that Mike Honda is not representing the whole of America and that he is just merely one extremist. And those who come from democratic countries like Japan and America are aware that extremists like these always get elected by minorities but that their opinions, if wrong, will not go uncontested.

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