WaPo’s Comfort Women Ad
Posted by ampontan on Friday, June 15, 2007
GI Korea is reporting on his ROK Drop blog that a group of “Japanese lawmakers” has taken out a full-page ad in the Washington Post stating that “no historical document has ever been found” proving the direct involvement of the Japanese government and military in conscripting comfort women.
Reader Infimum tipped us off that Occidentalism has a large copy of the full page ad itself, with the names of those signing it, here. It’s still a little difficult to read, but you can probably find ways to magnify it. Of interest is that several members of the primary opposition group, the Democratic Party of Japan, also endorsed it. Another prominent name on the document is that of Yoshiko Sakurai, a journalist who was the main anchor on Kyo no Dekigoto, a national news program that ran at roughly 11:00 p.m. for more than 50 years until September last year.
Of even greater interest is that the ad provides the URL for a 20-page article (.pdf file) by Prof. Ikuhiko Hata titled No Organized or Forced Recruitment.
This is worth reading for anyone who has an open mind on the issue. It reveals, for example, that Mike Honda, the sponsor of the House resolution, was also instrumental in the passage of the Hayden Act in the California state legislature. This act allowed parties to sue Japanese companies for “war crimes” a half-century after the fact, demonstrating that the state remains a fount of unctuous and self-righteous political vapidity. The Supreme Court mercifully struck it down as unconstitutional.
Prof. Hata also references the six (!) contradictory stories given by Lee Yong-soo, one of the three former comfort women who gave testimony to the House subcommittee. Two were Korean; neither were coerced by the Japanese. The third was a Dutch national from Indonesia, and Hata reports that a Japanese officer shut down the brothel and freed the women when he discovered its existence. Also, a Dutch military court tried and convicted 11 people in connection with the incident, executing one. Hata uses this incident to demonstrate that the Japanese military did not countenance coercion as a policy, and that the matter in question was legally dealt with years ago.
I agree with GIK when he says the ad is not going to change anyone’s mind; the time for this sort of action was when the issue first erupted a few months ago. He also makes a point I’ve made several times here and elsewhere over the past couple of years, not only about the comfort women in particular, but the war in general:
Prime Minister Abe could apologize for everything from the comfort women issue and the Nanjing Massacre to the Hideyoshi invasions of Korea starting in 1592 and the Japanese piracy of Shilla and Tang dynasty shipping even before then, followed by committing seppuku on top of Namsan mountain in Seoul…and it would still not be enough for these governments because (the issue) provides them with a great domestic political weapon to disguise their own…failures by encouraging anti-Japanese sentiment.
On the other hand, I disagree partly with his proposed solution: a speech by Prime Minister Abe.
…(t)o atone for its past sins, (Japan) would become a champion of women’s rights, beginning with the plight of modern day sexual slavery of North Korean women in China that both the South Korean and Chinese governments choose to ignore. Then announce that Japan would…start accepting North Korean defectors into Japan and become an outspoken advocate of NK defectors, unlike South Korea.
This isn’t a bad idea on the face of it, but one problem with the suggestion is that it would perpetuate the false concept of “women’s rights”. There is no such thing as “women’s rights” or “children’s rights” or “gay rights”, or anything of the sort. Rights are absolute; it is not possible for any group to have its own exclusive collection. An examination of the rights claimed as exclusive would reveal that they either are the same rights possessed by everyone else, or else not really rights at all.
Another problem is that the speech would likely be ignored. Most of the world’s media (which is the real audience here) already overlooks the whaling carried out by such countries as Norway and Iceland to concentrate on Japan’s fleet, for example. In the same way, those in the civil rights profession in the West tend to ignore the contemporary slave trade still conducted in Africa, with other Africans or Arabs as the slaveholders.
Besides, the motivation of the people such a speech would rebut has little, if anything, to do with the surviving comfort women themselves. It was concisely described by Thomas Sowell in the subtitle of his book, The Vision of the Anointed: “Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy”
The real motivation is to see themselves as superior people. This requires inferior, “bad”, non-progressive people to whom they can be favorably compared. It also affords the anointed a turn on the public stage to demonstrate their superiority.
You think not? Pick up any newspaper–you’ll find dozens of examples, none of which has anything to do with comfort women.