Japan from the inside out

You go first (Part two of two)

Posted by ampontan on Thursday, August 23, 2012

More than anything else, what is first required is that the Asahi Shimbun revise its series of error-filled reports that created a mistaken understanding in South Korea, and apologize…the one who “should face the past to build the future” is the Asahi Shimbun.

-Ikeda Nobuo

The Japanese mass media has aroused the wrath of the Korean people against the Japanese people.

– Korean President Roh Tae-woo, quoted in the March 1993 issue of the monthly Bungeishunju

This is the second part of two-part post on the Korean historical consciousness in regard to bilateral relations with Japan. The first part is here.

EVERYONE understands how young men are apt to behave in wartime when they are given weapons and trained to ignore the constraints of civilization they were reared with. Everyone also understands how young men in those circumstances are apt to behave towards women, particularly overseas. It is easy to find accounts of Soviet Army behavior in Germany and points east in 1945. The Americans cooperated with Japanese and South Korean authorities to establish prostitution houses for its military in both of those countries, during the Allied occupation in the first, and later in the second. They did the same during the Vietnam War. The long-running controversy over the Marine air base at Futenma in Okinawa began when Marines abducted and raped a Japanese schoolgirl.

The Japanese arranged for licensed prostitutes for its military forces in the late 1930s through a commercial transaction between the military and private sector brokers. The government term for the workers was kosho, or licensed prostitutes. They are now commonly referred to as comfort women. Prostitution was a legal activity in Japan and Korea at that time, and between 40% to 50% of the comfort women were Japanese.

The advertisement shown above ran in the Keijo Nippo in Korea on 26 July 1944, offering salaries of JPY 300 a month for their services. That is 40 times greater than the JPY 7.5 a month paid to a new private in the Japanese army at that time, and 10 times greater than the salary paid to a sergeant.

People in the private sector operated the centers and recruited the women. Because some of them were near the front lines, Japanese military authorities oversaw their operation. The military provided transport for the workers, as they also provided transport for general laborers.

No one in Japan denies what have you have just read. The issue is whether the Japanese Army as a general practice abducted women and forced them to serve as “sex slaves”. This charge is often included in Korean mass media reports on any subject dealing with Japan, and those English-language news media reports that focus on the subject.

This was not a matter of controversy during the first 40 years of the postwar period. That changed with the publication of a book in 1983 by Yoshida Seiji.

Mr. Yoshida was a soldier in the Imperial Army during the war. After he was mustered out of the service, he ran for the Shimonoseki City Council in 1947 as a member of the Communist Party and received 129 votes. He began talking about what he referred to as the army’s coercion of Korean women as sex slaves in 1977, but it was his 1983 book Watashi no Senso Hanzai (My War Crimes) that brought the issue to the forefront of public attention in Japan and South Korea. Mr. Yoshida said he and his army mates went comfort women hunting on Jeju, a Korean island in the Sea of Japan.

The Jeju Shinmun, a local newspaper, finally conducted an investigation of its own and published the results in its 14 August 1989 edition. They concluded that Yoshida made the story up. Nihon University Prof. Hata Ikuhiko went to Jeju himself to interview the residents and drew the same conclusions. One Korean he interviewed told him:

“There would have been a huge uproar if anyone went people hunting on this island, and everybody would know about it. But I’ve never heard any stories like that.”

When Yoshida Seiji was interviewed by the weekly Shukan Shincho for their 29 May 1996 edition, he told them:

“If I had written the truth in the book, there wouldn’t be any profit in it. Isn’t concealing the facts and mixing them with personal opinions something that even newspapers do?”

The Asahi Shimbun wrote in a 1997 article stating that Mr. Yoshida’s testimony could no longer be trusted. The importance of that Asahi conclusion will soon become apparent.

In a later book, Mr. Yoshida said he made up the place where the comfort women hunting happened. Prof. Hata reported that in a 1998 telephone conversation with Yoshida, the latter told him, “It’s my fault that I was used by human rights hustlers (人権屋).”

Comfort women hunting

After Yoshida Seiji’s blockbuster appeared, two other Japanese went comfort woman hunting in South Korea. They were Takagi Ken’ichi and Fukushima Mizuho, both human rights lawyers. The South Korean government awarded Mr. Takagi the Order of Civil Merit, Peony Medal, in 1989 for his legal work on behalf of Korean atomic bombing victims in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is the same medal the government gave Olympic figure skating champion Kim Yu-na earlier this year.

In addition to her activities as a human rights lawyer, Ms. Fukushima appeared as a commentator on an Asahi TV discussion program. She has been associated unofficially with the Japan Revolutionary Communist League (Chukakuha), a terrorist group, for many years. Both Mr. Takagi and Ms. Fukushima were on the legal team subsequently created for the Korean comfort women. The former was the head of the team, and the latter was the media liaison.

During their hunt, they were put in contact with Kim Hak-sun. In August 1991, Ms. Kim became the first of the comfort women to come out in public. According to her first statement, her father died while she was still young, and her mother sold her to a gisaeng establishment for JPY 40 when she was 14. The gisaeng in Korea were somewhat similar to the Japanese geisha. Unlike the latter, however, many of them were prostitutes. She also said in her statement that her stepfather took her to a comfort woman station in China and sold her to a broker.

The case that the Takagi/Fukushima legal team wanted to bring on behalf of Ms. Kim was to recover the salary she hadn’t received. She was paid in Japanese military scrip. In September 1945, the early days of the occupation of Japan, the GHQ under the direction of the Americans told the Japanese government to declare the scrip invalid. The Finance Ministry did what they were told that month, and the scrip became worthless.

Other comfort women lost all their savings the same way. Mun Ok-ju had a savings passbook with JPY 26,145 as of September 1945, an amount confirmed by the Shimonoseki Post Office. That was a substantial sum of money in those days, and it was accumulated in fewer than three years of work. Some Japanese sources say that would be the equivalent of JPY 130 million today, though I do not know the standards used for the conversion. She also sent home 5,000 yen per month.

Ms. Mun came to Japan in 1993 for an unsuccessful suit against the Japanese government to reclaim the money. She said at the time that JPY 1,000 would have bought a house. She also told the story of riding a jeep with Japanese officers in Rangoon during the war to see a statue of the Buddha. While at the statue she prayed for the good fortune of her boyfriend, a Japanese soldier named Yamada Ichiro.

People throughout East Asia were forced to accept the repudiation of the scrip as a war loss. A group from The Philippines sued the American government — not the Japanese — to recover the money, but lost the case.


The Yoshida book had caused the controversy to become so heated that Japan’s quasi-public television network, NHK, decided to produce and broadcast two documentary programs. One focused on the Korean laborers taken to Japan to work against their will, while the other focused on the comfort women.

The network sent two teams to South Korea to conduct research and interviews. The team responsible for the program featuring Korean laborers was headed by then-producer Ikeda Nobuo. He is now a university professor, non-fiction author, and blogger. Mr. Ikeda says that he interviewed 50 Koreans about their experience in Japan, and none of them said they were forced to go against their will. The reason for that is easy to understand. As Chung Dae-kyun wrote in Zainichi – Kyosei Renko no Shinwa (Koreans in Japan: The Myth of Coerced Service), they stood to make double the wages in Japan than they would in Korea.

The team responsible for the comfort women, however, created a program that concluded the Japanese were guilty of war crimes. The idea for the program was pitched to NHK by Fukushima Mizuho, shown in the photo above, who accompanied the team to South Korea. They brought Kim Hak-sun back to Tokyo for studio interviews. Mr. Ikeda says he watched Ms. Fukushima coach Ms. Kim in the studio before she was interviewed on camera. He adds that NHK began to have doubts about Ms. Fukushima midway through production after observing her behavior. Some suspected she was using this as a springboard for a political career.

Asahi Shimbun

Five days before then-Prime Minister Miyazawa Kiichi was to pay a state visit to South Korea in January 1992, the Asahi Shimbun began a series of articles about the Japanese military abducting women in Korea and forcing them into sexual slavery. They charged that the women were abducted and sent to the front as part of the women’s volunteer corps. This inflamed South Korean public opinion, and demonstrations followed the prime minister throughout his visit. Miyazawa and the government had literally been blindsided. Absent their own research, they assumed the information in the articles was correct, and he apologized in public in South Korea eight times alone during the visit.

The basis for the articles was the Yoshida Seiji book about comfort women hunting. Prof. Hata’s discovery that the book was fiction was to come later that year. The articles were augmented by the story of Kim Hak-sum and information provided by Yoshimi Yoshiaki, a Chuo University professor and the head of the Center for Research and Documentation on Japan’s War Responsibility. Said Mr. Yoshimi:

“There are (official) notifications and diaries in the library of the National Institute for Defense Studies stating that the Japanese Army established comfort women centers, and supervised and regulated the recruitment of comfort women.”

Mr. Yoshimi wrote a book of his own, called “Military Comfort Women”. It was published three years later on 20 April 1995, and it contained the documentary evidence he said he had uncovered. It is still available as an inexpensive paperback. (My copy from 2007 was from the 19th printing.)

But the evidence he presented in the book tells a different story. The notifications he said were proof that the Japanese Army kidnapped women as sexual slaves turned out to have been issued after an official Japanese investigation of the private sector brokers who were deceiving and kidnapping women, and private sector brokers that pretended to be from the military. The notifications were sent to Army officials to manage affairs in these areas to prevent the brokers from behaving in that manner.

In other words, his documentary evidence showed that the Japanese Army was trying to prevent the abduction of women. In fact, newspaper articles were printed in Korea during the war that warned people of unscrupulous brokers. This one appeared in the Dong-A Ilbo on 31 August 1939 about more than 100 women from farming villages who were ensnared by them. The fourth headline from the right refers to police in Busan.

Mr. Yoshimi also presented the figures for the Asahi newspaper article that said from 80,000 to 200,000 people were forced to become comfort women. The English-language news media often publishes reports that say “historians agree” that as many as 200,000 were abducted to become sexual slaves. Their source for this claim is the higher number of the Yoshimi estimate.

A representative of Mr. Yoshimi’s center recently admitted on Japanese television that they have found no physical evidence that the Japanese Army condoned the abductions of women in occupied areas. Mr. Yoshimi now has a different explanation. He says that even if the women freely chose to become comfort women, they were indirectly compelled to do so by Japanese colonial control, poverty, or unemployment.

Incidentally, Mr. Yoshimi also provides the fact in his book that some of the women whose contracts had ended used their savings to go into business as brokers themselves.

The author of the Asahi Shimbun articles was Uemura Takashi. Mr. Uemura’s wife is Korean, and his mother-in-law is Yang Sun-im. She is the head of a group called the Families of Pacific War Victims, and was party to the suit of the Takagi/Fukushima team against the Japanese government. She is also said to have brought Kim Hak-sum and the Japanese legal team together.

Ms. Yang became the leader of the group in December 1991, one month before the articles appeared on the eve of the Miyazawa visit to South Korea. Last year, 39 members of that group were charged by South Korean authorities for fraud. They are alleged to have bilked as many as 30,000 people for membership fees and the funds to pay attorneys’ fees in cases to receive compensation from the Japanese government. She and other members told people they were eligible to receive compensation even if they were merely alive at the time and not directly involved.

Yang Sun-im is the woman in the surgical mask in the photo below.

That is a screenshot from the website of the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) reporting on the incident. Some reports say that Ms. Yang was arrested, while others say only that she was a suspect, and that she has gone into hiding.

After the Asahi Shimbun articles appeared, Kim Hak-sum altered her statement. Some reports say this was done on the instructions of Fukushima Mizuho. Ms. Kim first said that her stepfather sold her to a broker. Her new story was that she left the gisaeng establishment and went to China by herself. Soon after her arrival, she was accosted on the street by a Japanese Army officer who told her she looked like a spy and took her in for questioning. She was then sent, she said, against her will to a comfort woman station.

Kim Hak-sum is now dead. Her English language Wikipedia article describes her as a “human rights activist”.

When the information contradicting their articles appeared, the Asahi Shimbun finally changed their tone, but continued to assert that it was clear there was compulsion even if they were not abducted by the military. Starting in 2000, the newspaper began to insist that compulsion was not the essence of the issue. An editorial that appeared on 15 August this year, the anniversary of the end of the war, said the deep-rooted anti-Japanese sentiment in South Korea was partially due to the comfort women. Some people in Japan point out that the sentiment was partially due to the Asahi Shimbun.

Hongo Yoshinori was an Asahi Shimbun employee at the time the articles appeared. He later wrote a book about his experiences during his employment. Here’s an excerpt:

“The Asahi Shimbun had a reporter named Uemura Takashi. When I learned that he was the author of a series in the evening edition on Colonized Korea, I began to have serious doubts about the Asahi’s position.”

Mr. Hongo explains that many of the Asahi reporters in those days were of the old Left who shared anti-Japanese values with some Chinese and South Koreans. Their objective was to present Japan’s past in the worst of lights, and he said they were willing to twist the truth in regard to the comfort women and other issues.

The Kono Declaration

The complaints from South Korea grew despite the Miyazawa apologies. It would not be until 2005 that it was publicly revealed in South Korea that the 1965 treaty restoring relations between the two countries contained the provision that individual South Koreans could no longer make claims against the Japanese government. Individual compensation was to be paid by the South Korean government. Of the US$ 800 million the South Korean government received, less than US$ six million was used to compensate people whose family members had been killed or whose land was confiscated. No comfort women were compensated. President Bak Jeong-hui, who had served as a lieutenant in the Japanese Imperial Army, used the money to rebuild the national infrastructure.

The Japanese government has never been able to find evidence that it was the practice of the military to abduct people and have them work as comfort women. Kato Koichi, the chief cabinet secretary in July 1992, said the Japanese Army was at times directly involved in the operation of the stations, but that no coercion was involved on their part. That did not satisfy the South Koreans. Finally, Kono Yohei, the next chief cabinet secretary, issued an official statement for the government in August 1993. Here is the section that has caused the most trouble.

The then-Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of the comfort stations and the transfer of comfort women. The recruitment of the comfort women was conducted mainly by private recruiters who acted in response to the request of the military. The Government study has revealed that in many cases they were recruited against their own will, through coaxing, coercion, etc., and that, at times, administrative/military personnel directly took part in the recruitments.

The deputy chief cabinet secretary at the time was Ishihara Nobuo. He later explained the process through which the document was created:

“South Korea kept pressing for the inclusion of the word ‘coercion’ in the Kono Declaration, while unofficially, they told us they would not demand individual compensation because it would create problems for the honor of the individual women… It was our expectation that if Japan recognized that there had been coercion, the South Koreans might ‘lay down their arms’. We informed the Koreans that we would recognize coercion before the declaration was made public.”

He added:

“There were no records proving coercion, so we decided to include the part about coercion as an overall judgment based on the testimony of the comfort women.”

Mr. Kono told the Asahi Shimbun in 1997 that no documents have been found “showing the government took measures to recruit women with violence”. The recognized recruitment of women against their will, as we have seen, was done not by agents of the Japanese government, but by unscrupulous brokers and people selling the women to the brokers unwillingly, as Ms. Kim originally testified before she changed her story.

Mr. Ishihara also explained the reason the decision was made to include the section that “administrative/military personnel directly took part”. It had nothing to do with Korea. That stemmed from a 1944 incident in Indonesia. Some Japanese soldiers took Jan Ruff O’Herne, a Dutch woman then in Indonesia who later moved to Australia, from a Japanese internment camp in Semarang, Java, and placed her in a comfort station. The station had six women, and reports say that she was one of five there held against their will. She was released two months later when a Japanese officer discovered the existence of the station and closed it down. A Dutch military court tried 11 persons in connection with this incident. One of the people involved was executed. That the comfort station was shut down when it came to the attention of Japanese military authorities is not at question.

Nevertheless, this was a matter of public record, and the Japanese government thought for this reason alone they had to state that military personnel took part in the recruitments.

The idea was to create a politically vague document that would appease everyone, but that failed. The South Korean government did not keep its unofficial word to refrain from asking for individual compensation, overseas governments and news media think it is an admission of government-sponsored sexual slavery in Korea, and the Japanese are upset because it created an impression contrary to the facts.

Asian Women’s Fund

In a further effort to resolve the issue, the Japanese government created and supervised the Asian Women’s Fund, which was in existence from 19 June 1995 to 31 March 2007. It was managed by volunteers who were private citizens. The fund paid JPY 1.3 billion to 364 women during its existence, and five prime ministers signed letters of apology, including the Yasukuni visitor Koizumi Jun’ichiro. Some of the women who received the money were South Korean, despite the threat of their government to withhold social welfare assistance to anyone who did. Their objection was that the fund was not an official organ of the Japanese government. The terms of the treaty restoring relations were not revealed by the South Korean government for the first 10 years of the fund’s existence.

The Honda Subcommittee in the US House of Representatives

Korean-American activists in the United States and the politicians representing their districts tried several times to have the House of Representatives hold hearings on the issue and vote for a resolution condemning sexual slavery. They did not succeed until the Democrats took control of the House in 2006, and the resolution was passed in 2007.

The hearings were held by a subcommittee chaired by Mike Honda of California. They called three former comfort women as witnesses. One of them was the aforementioned Jan Ruff O’Herne, whose case had already been resolved. The other two were Korean. One was Kim Goon-ja. In an article titled “Korean WWII Sex Slaves Fight On”, the BBC reported:

“At the age of 17, she was tricked into being abducted by a Korean middle-man who delivered large numbers of young women and girls to his country’s then Japanese colonial masters. Kim Gunja suspects that her foster father, a policeman, sold her for money or promotion.”

The third was Lee Yong-su. She testified that she was one of a family of nine that lived in the same house, and she went to work in a factory at age 13. She also said:

“In the autumn of 1944 when I was 16 years old, my friend Kim Pun-sun and I were collecting shellfish at the riverside when we noticed an elderly man and a Japanese man looking down at us from the hillside. The older man pointed at us with his finger, and the Japanese man started to walk towards us. The older man disappeared, and the Japanese beckoned us to follow him. I was scared and ran away, not caring what happened to my friend. A few days later, Pun-sun knocked on my window early in the morning and whispered to me to follow her quietly. I tip-toed out of the house after her. I (left) without telling my mother. I was wearing a dark skirt, a long cotton blouse buttoned up at the front, and slippers on my feet. I followed my friend until we met the same man who had tried to approach us on the riverbank. He looked as if he were in his late 30s and he wore a sort of People’s Army uniform with a combat cap. Altogether, there were five girls with him, including myself.”

Ms. Lee has told many stories. In fact, she’s told nine different stories altogether. This is an excerpt from a CNN report that is no longer online:

“Lee Yong-soo, 78, a South Korean who was interviewed during a recent trip to Tokyo, said she was 14 when Japanese soldiers took her from her home in 1944 to work as a sex slave in Taiwan.

“’The Japanese government must not run from its responsibilities,’ said Lee, who has long campaigned for Japanese compensation. ‘I want them to apologize. To admit that they took me away, when I was a little girl, to be a sex slave. To admit that history.’ ‘I was so young. I did not understand what had happened to me,’ she said. ‘My cries then still ring in my years. Even now, I can’t sleep.’

Prof. Hata has summarized her stories as follows.

1. Report to Korean Council for Women Drafted for Sexual Slavery by Japan, in 1992. She received a red dress and leather shoes from man wearing clothing that resembled a uniform. She went along with him right away. The rest of the story is the same as in 6 (i.e., the Honda Subcommittee testimony).

2. Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery, in December 2000. She was deceived by a Japanese man who was a comfort station proprietor

3. Akahata, the newspaper of the Japanese Communist Party, 26 June 2002. She was kidnapped at age 14 at bayonet point

4. Kyoto University speech on 12 April 2004. She was kidnapped by a man wearing a People’s Army uniform

5. A community meeting at Koshigaya, Saitama, on 08 March 2005. She was kidnapped by a man with clothing resembling a military uniform and brandishing a rifle.

6. The Honda subcommittee on 15 February 2007, as noted above

7. The upper house of the Japanese Diet, as quoted in the Japan Times on 22 February 2007. “On an evening in 1944, Japanese soldiers forced their way into 14-year-old Lee’s home and dragged her out by the neck.”

8. The Foreign Correspondents’s Club of Japan on 02 March 2007. A soldier and woman entered home between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m. on a bright moonlit night. The soldier pointed a sword at her, covered her mouth, and took her away. The soldier and three girls met another soldier and three girls, and were put on a train.

9. The New York Times, 06 March 2007. “Japanese soldiers had dragged her from her home, covering her mouth so she could not call to her mother.”

Two aspects of these stories are worthy of note. First, in two of them, she is not abducted and goes with the recruiters of her own free will, sneaking out of the house to do so. She told those stories the first time she ever got a chance to speak out in public, and when she had her largest international audience during the Congressional hearings in the United States.

Second, Story #6 and Story #7 were both told to national legislatures only a week apart. In the first, she is 16 and willing. In the second, in Japan, she is 14 and dragged out of the house by soldiers.

No one knows why the story changed in such a short time. Prof. Hata wonders if she was coached by Fukushima Mizuho and her allies in the Diet.

It is also worthy of note that the Honda Subcommittee chose from among more than 100 surviving comfort women to testify about how the Japanese Army abducted women into sexual slavery. None of the three women they selected prove their case.


When South Korean President Lee Myung-bak took office nearly five years ago, he pledged to focus on the future in bilateral relations with Japan. But, as often happens with Korean presidents at the end of their term, he brought up the comfort women issue again. This corresponded to a precipitous drop in his public approval ratings. One reason for that decline is that 20 people closely connected with Mr. Lee, both relatives and associates, have been arrested for various problems with the disposition and handling of funds.

Japanese Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko has also testified in the Diet that the Japanese government cannot find evidence showing that the army deliberately abducted women as sex slaves. He and Mr. Lee met in May for an hour. Japanese sources say that Mr. Lee spent 40 minutes of that hour talking about comfort women. He was dissatisfied with the response of the Noda government, and concluded that he could expect no more from Mr. Noda. Therefore, he decided to take more assertive steps. One of those steps was his visit to Takeshima earlier this month. Mr. Lee said the comfort woman issue was one of the factors that impelled him to make the visit.

Freelance journalist Itagaki Eiken, who once covered the Prime Minister’s office for the Mainichi Shimbun, wrote:

“President Lee Myung-bak says that the comfort woman issue has become a political problem in Japan, but his thinking is basically mistaken. That’s because it hasn’t become a political problem in Japan. In fact, it is seldom a topic for discussion among Japanese. The people born after the war account for 75.5% of the population. Interest in the issue is near zero.”

That might change after Mr. Lee’s Takeshima visit, but perhaps not in the way Mr. Lee would hope. Earlier this week, Osaka Mayor Hashimoto Toru, the center of attention in Japanese politics, said the following at a news conference:

“There is no evidence that the comfort women were assaulted by the army, threatened, and led away. If there is any evidence, I want South Korea to present it…The thinking in Japan is that there is no solid evidence that they were taken away by force. That is my standpoint…This should be fully debated with South Korea in a form that allows full understanding by the people.“


“The problem of the comfort women is the root of the Takeshima problem. Immediately turning this into a territorial issue is a serious problem. ..Opinions diverge on whether or not there was coercion by the military. From the contemporary viewpoint, the comfort women might be seen as an ethical problem, but this must be debated by confronting directly the background of conditions at the time.”

And on the Kono Declaration:

“We must clearly state whether we will adhere to it as is, and if there is a problem, state that there is a problem with it.”

Wrote the Joongang Ilbo:

“Mayor Hashimoto’s statement today repeats the claims of the Japanese right wing that seeks to minimize the meaning of the Kono Declaration, which recognized coercion in the recruitment of comfort women in the past. This is expected to cause a controversy.”

Mr. Hashimoto thrives on controversy, and he is not the type of man who will say something vague in the hope that a problem will go away.

Moral failure

Ikeda Nobuo recognizes that some Japanese behavior represents a moral failure. During his trip to South Korea for NHK, he did find people who had been tricked by middlemen into working in the coal mines and living in squalid conditions. Once they were sent, they were not allowed to return. He also recognizes that the same thing happened with some comfort women. While that was not a desirable situation, however, he insists that the state was not responsible for creating those conditions.

The South Koreans demand that the Japanese face the facts of history to create a solid bilateral relationship. As this and the previous article demonstrate, however, there are some facts of history the South Koreans are unwilling to face themselves. Among these are the fact that the Japanese made the arrangements for licensed prostitutes to prevent what the Koreans now complain they did on purpose.

It is a matter of documented fact that the Japanese Army stopped an incident of sexual slavery when it came to the attention of superior officers.

It is a fact that Korean women were willing to become prostitutes for the Japanese military.

It is a fact some Koreans were guilty of fraud, among other offenses, by tricking Korean women into the comfort centers. (Some Japanese citizens in the private sector also did the same.)

It is a fact that South Korean public opinion has been manipulated by some Japanese with ulterior motives who inflamed a dormant issue. One of those Japanese has reportedly admitted that he himself was manipulated by “human rights hustlers”.

A solid bilateral relationship requires that the Koreans go first to face the facts of history they would prefer not to see. The Japanese have already been looking.

But that is unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future.


* Those who read this and are tempted to compare this to “Holocaust denial” are cordially invited to wash their minds out with soap and read it carefully with the intent to understand what it says. There are no denials of anything in this article. In fact, if there is a more objective article written on this subject in English, I would like to read it.

* Ikeda Nobuo says that NHK began to suspect Fukushima Mizuho was using the issue to start a political career. Ms. Fukushima was later elected to a Diet seat through the proportional representation system, and is still a Diet member today. (She has never won a direct election.) She became the head of the Social Democratic Party, which is the survivor of Japan’s former Socialist Party. Not long after the Soviet bloc fell apart, they also fell apart and changed their name. Most of the members who wanted to continue their political careers joined the Democratic Party of Japan, the current ruling party. The SDPJ was a coalition partner with the Hatoyama government, and Ms. Fukushima was given a Cabinet portfolio. She left the coalition when Mr. Hatoyama decided he could not make the Americans move the functions of the Futenma air base outside Okinawa.

Time magazine in the U.S. named her as one of the 100 most influential people in the world last year.

*Takagi Ken’ichi went to Indonesia in 1993 and placed ads in local papers looking for comfort women and promising them money. He created a group of Indonesians to plead their case, but the Indonesian government was not interested. The story was broadcast on Japanese television. Jamal Ali, the chairman of the English-language Indonesia Times, watched the broadcast and dismissed it as ridiculous. He said they were trying to make a mountain out of a molehill with one incident that had been resolved. Translated from English to Japanese to English, this is what he said:

“We are different from South Korea and China, which hurls invective at Japan. We have history and pride. We were controlled by the Dutch for 360 years, and we have never said to them, “Give us money”.

University of Tokyo Prof. Fujioka Nobukatsu charged that Mr. Takagi tried to start a fire where none existed. One Japanese wag commented that it was natural for South Korea, a country of pyromaniacs, to give him a medal.

* Richard Armitage and Joseph Nye of the Center for Strategic and International Studies issued a report on 15 August titled “Anchoring Stability in Asia”. They ask if Japan will decide it wants to remain a “tier-one nation”, or will it be satisfied with second-class status. They say that to become an influential force in Asia, Japan has to face its historical problems.

After reading this and the previous article, you now know more about Japan’s historical problems than Armitage, Nye, the people that were paid to do their research, and the 27 countries that have adopted resolutions about the comfort women.

You also know more than American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who has lately started talking about the Japanese “sex slaves”. Mrs. Clinton’s early professional career, by the way, is similar in some ways to that of Fukushima Mizuho.

There are also some similarities between the behavior of the “human rights hustlers” in Japan and what some people call “race hustlers” in the United States. People who follow American affairs know who and what that term refers to.

20 Responses to “You go first (Part two of two)”

  1. Gray said

    Good work! ‘m sure you’re well aware, but this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to evidence against the comfort women allegations made by South Korea and China. For anyone doubting the veracity of the above statements, it would be very easy to continue for two or three times the length of this article, highlighting the inaccuracies in the claims made and the duplicitous manner in which the issue has been handled at both the regional and international level.

  2. Tony said

    Perhaps I am being the devil’s advocate here (don’t mean to), but don’t you think that while the Japanese government may not have been directly involved in acquiring comfort women, they are still somewhat responsible for the current state of relations with Korea because of their inept handling of the Kono resolution (after dealing with Korea for so long one would think they would be somewhat more aware of how making such statements would be interpreted) and their initial naive and ultimately wrong acceptance (and subsequent 9 apologies my Miyazaki) of the 1992 Asahi newspaper stories based upon the false allegations originally made by and later recanted by Seiji Yoshida?

    Christ, that’s a long sentence/question but too tired to parse it to make it come out better.

  3. nextgen88 said

    Thanks Bill for this excellent article.

  4. yankdownunder said

    Thanks for this.

    About the report Anchoring Stability in Asia …

    The following individuals participated in the study group process through which the report was produced.

    Victor Cha
    Senior Adviser and Korea Chair, CSIS, and Professor
    of Government and Director of Asian Studies,
    Georgetown University

    This individual may be why the “Japan has to face its historical problems” statement was included in the report. The bigger problem is that it was(is) accepted as true.


    She also sent home 5,000 yen per month.


    …. offering salaries of JPY 300 a month for their services.

    Is the 5000 ypm right? Seems odd given 300 ypm salary.
    Y: They say she was extremely popular with both enlisted men and officers alike. The bank account amount was confirmed, and that salary in three years wouldn’t account for it either.

    – A.

  5. Gray said

    Ha! Just yesterday I was reading an article on J-Korea relations (from RSIS) and the author quoted Cha saying, Japan demonstrated “a superiority complex towards Korea inherent in the collective mindsets of former colonizers”. I made a note in the margin that “source doesn’t seem entirely neutral” and later it seemed borne out when the same source (Cha) was quoted again as saying “forgiving Japan or remaining mildly neutral to Japanese actions is, in essence to deny a critical part of one’s identity as a Korean”.

    I wasn’t aware of him before yesterday (I love synchronicity) and only after looking him up today realized he was the Bush administration’s National Security Advisor for Asia, i.e. everthing relating to Japan, the Korea’s and China (including of course, the war history issues).
    This guy Cha’s got a problem, doesn’t he?

    The superiority complex part seems about 50 years out of date. But then I actually watch Japanese interact with Koreans, read what they write, and hear what they say.


  6. Avery said

    This could easily be an exhibit in Mayor Hashimoto’s proposed museum.

  7. Aceface said

    “Hokkaido Prof. Fujioka Nobukatsu charged that Mr. Takagi tried to start a fire where none existed”

    OK.Fujioka GRADUATED Hokkaido University.But at the time of this incident,he was a professor of faculty of education at Tokyo University.
    A: Thanks.


  8. Topcat said

    Report No. 49:
    Japanese Prisoners of War Interrogation on Prostitution

  9. Topcat said

    Thanks a lot especially for your writing about Yoshida Seiji. Post-war communists did anything, yes anything, to ruin Japan. In my view, 1993 Kono statement was the fruit of political maneuvering by North (and South) Korea to conceal abduction of Japanese citizens (Ms Megumi Yokota and others). Remember what Seiroku Kajiyama stated in Diet in 1988.

  10. Aceface said

    “This guy Cha’s got a problem, doesn’t he?”

    BTW,here’s some Victor Cha quotes:

    “Japan’s provision of money, skills and material were certainly not out of a sense of philanthropy, and were largely forged through U.S. cold war pressures”

    “the Japanese bureaucracy’s incredibly incompetent ability to finesse, even a little, historical irritants like textbooks, Dokdo or comfort women (Korean women forced into sexual slavery)should not stand in the way of a rational calculation of South Korean interests. ”

    Cha is also a member of recent Armitage/Nye report on US-Japan Alliance.
    Not very amused.Especially he’s pushing us into an alliance that Japan only gets burden and no respect in return.
    The worst part of this is that he doesn’t realize how bad South Korean history textbooks are. Even some South Koreans think they need to be rewritten. (Japanese language link)


  11. Aceface said

    “an alliance that Japan only gets burden…”

    I meant to say US-SK-Japan alliance of which Victo Cha has been the promoter and also mentioned in above report from CSIS

  12. Aceface said

    Forget Victor Cha.Don Kirk seems to have some issue on Japan-Korea relationship.
    A: Thanks for sending it in. I saw that last night and was just thinking about how to deal with it.


  13. Ken said

    We were communicating with Matt who is white Australian blogger, weren’t we?
    Here are some articles about comfort women though the owner is long gone.

  14. yankdownunder said

    A background report the Honda subcommittee used was prepared by Larry Niksch. Larry Niksch is a fellow at the Institute for Corean-American Studies(

    Niksch says that a sizeable majority of the “comfort women” were Korean. Chinese, Dutch … made up the rest. No Japanese according to Niksch.

    Don Kirk and Larry Niksch are fellows at the Institute for Corean-American Studies.

  15. Aceface said

    Being the fellows at the Institute for Corean(sic)-American Studies probably means nothing.There’s way too many people listed as “fellow”(think guy like Francis Fukuyama had done anything for this insitution?)and some of them are even dead.(Like James R. Lilley).

  16. Albert Lu said


    And what about this article mentioning 7 official trial documents that allegedly implicate the military in direct abductions?
    AL: Thanks for the note.

    The document most prominently mentioned says the Special Police issued an order. There is no direct quote from any Special Police order, nor is there a copy of the order itself. It is quite vague.

    It mentions that this referred to “three brothels”. That suggests to me this is an out-of-order group rather than a general policy for all of East Asia. The article was staff-written by the Japanese Times, whose owner at the time had substantial business interests in South Korea. It was not picked up by the major news media.

    I can find only three or four references to this document on the web. One is from the Women’s News Network, who also complain about a comfort woman station in Kanagawa. All use the Japan Times article as their source. The JT itself uses the word “suggests” in its lede. If there was physical evidence of such an order that could be produced for examination, and that implicated the entire national government instead of one small part of it, they would have used stronger language. Indeed, the document itself would be all over the web and presented by such media outlets as the New York Times or the Guardian. It wouldn’t be buried in one newspaper article five years ago.

    You will note that the article on this site shows copies of three items of original evidence, and discusses much more. Show us this document and what it says exactly, and we’ll take it from there.



  17. 21st Century Schizoid Man said

    The last line of this article tells it all. I do not like Fuji-Sankei group just as I do not like Asahi. But my taste does not count here.
    2: I think a lot of Japanese agree with you about that last line.


  18. Albert Lu said


    I believe at least for the Dutch side, here’s one:

    Summary from fairly accurate Google Translate:

    In 1994 sent to the Minister of Foreign Affairs on behalf of the Minister of Welfare, Health and Culture at the House of the inventory “Forced Prostitution of Dutch women in the former Dutch East Indies.” The report is the result of extensive archival research.
    Kooijmans Minister of Foreign Affairs wrote about the purpose of the inventory. That insight ‘into the nature and extent of coercion prostitution which Dutch women in the former Dutch East Indies were victims. ” The investigation into what is popularly “the comfort women ‘has become known, was done at the National Institute for War Documentation (NIOD nowadays), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Archives (then National Archives). The researcher used sources include witness statements, letters from the files of the court martial of the then Batavia and sentences with accompanying documents. Egodocuments are disregarded.
    In the final conclusion of the survey is: “from the evidence shows that in all the larger islands of the Dutch East Indies during the Japanese occupation military brothels are located. It also appears that there are European women in these brothels are employed in Java, Sumatra, Celebes, Ambon, Flores and Timor. Their number is on the basis of the available material is not precisely determined but is probably between two hundred and three hundred. “[…] Within this group who has worked in Japanese military brothels” it is beyond dispute that there was forced prostitution regarding of about forty women. In addition, the report concludes that “any form of voluntariness not be dissociated from the (very difficult) conditions of the Japanese occupation.”
    The report is printed as an appendix to the Debates of the House of Representatives, session year 1993-1994, 23 607, no 1. The Acts of the States General were consulted in the larger libraries in the Netherlands.
    For consulting the archives are strict disclosure rules. This is for the privacy of persons named in the records to protect. Exemption for these archives to the National Archives is possible after authorization by the Director of the National Archives. For access or information about this, please contact the Research Department:
    National Archives
    Research Department
    PO Box 90520
    2509 LM The Hague”

    A direct quotation from the Dutch report (yes, the Dong-An Ilbo reported it, unless your willing to say they made the whole thing up):

    “The Japanese Navy directly managed a brothel in Borneo Island in Indonesia, and military police was responsible for gathering comfort women (July 1946). A Japanese freelancer took governmental information from the Netherlands in 1992 and released it in the Japanese monthly magazine Sekai. The Netherlands government included this information in a report summarized in January 1994.

    The case of Magelang in Java Island in Indonesia (May 1946) was described vividly by a 25 year-old Dutch woman. She was detained in a brothel for three weeks with other comfort women by Japanese soldiers and was sent to detention camp by a Japanese military officer.

    “We were sent to an asylum from a detention camp by Japanese soldiers on January 28, 1944 and underwent a health inspection by Japanese doctors on February 3. We heard that we would be sent to a brothel for the Japanese. There was a rumor that the brothel would open that night. After returning to our room, Ms. Bracker and I closed all our windows and doors. Around 9 o’clock in the evening, we heard knock. Military police forced us not to close the door. The military police brought a Japanese soldier and said we must accept the soldier. The military police forced us to do so by saying, ‘If you do not accept the soldier, your husband will be responsible for that.’ The brothel was opened for officers in weekdays, and for sergeants on Sunday afternoons. Sunday mornings was for private soldiers and sometimes for common Japanese people. We always resisted but it was in vain.”

    The report also includes cases submitted by French inspectors which proved forced mobilization of prostitutes in Langson, Vietnam and fake advertisements for factory workers in Guilin, China.

    Mr. Hayashi, a Japanese professor, pointed out that in addition to court documents, an official report publicized by the Japanese government in 1992 contained data that verifies the Japanese army was involved in the mobilization of sex slaves in China. A Japanese military officer’s instructions on the “mobilization of military comfort women,” which was sent to a military detachment stationed in China in March 1938, reveals the following records: “Detached units will control mobilization and lead the selection of comfort women; detached units should maintain close cooperation with local military police and police authorities.””

    Unfortunately, to obtain the whole Dutch report, one has to have access either the Official Archives of the Netherlands or to a university class library with deep connections. So contrary to what you may think, primary documents such as these on a generally obscure field ( despite what your assumptions about media “hype” of the comfort women issue may hold) are hardly easy to be obtained and studied, let alone scanlated and distributed over the web. And no, absence of coverage from major Western media does not automatically signify inauthenticity or insignificance. Your yourself should know various lacunae present in Western media coverage of Japan.
    A: The first report says nothing about who forced the women. We already know that some of them were tricked by brokers in Korea or sold by stepfathers or fathers.

    The second report mentions a Dutch woman. Is she the one whose case was resolved, which is mentioned in the article here? You don’t know.

    It is also about one brothel. This is akin to saying that what Lt. Calley did in Vietnam was official US government policy.

    There is no detail in the Hayashi statement about a document that says the military wanted to mobilize comfort women. Of course they did. That was the point of establishing the commercial relationship to begin with. It also makes an unfounded jump from “mobilizing comfort women” to abducting sex slaves.

    You need to reread the article to see what the issue is here.

    As for your inability to find documents — why should you be surprised? No one else can find them either.

    And I almost forgot: “fairly accurate Google Translate”? Say that to a professional translator (which I’ve been since 1990) and they’ll have to struggle to keep from laughing out loud. Or is your knowledge of Dutch sufficient to say that it is accurate? “Egodocument”?


  19. Albert Lu said

    AKA, it is a logical fallacy to conflate extensive media coverage of the issue in certain East Asian nations with readily and extensive availability of those wartime primary sources

    Oh by the way, its quite cute for you state any misconduct from common soldiers in the brothels or forced abduction drives by officers, all of them employed and deployed by the military(a govt agency), was not “sanctioned” by official policy and thus not under the responsibility of the wartime govt at all when it was the govt itself that brought the whole thing into conception with their military invasions and establishment of the brothels in the first place. This has got to be one of the “best” having you cake and eating it too moments on this blog, to put it very, very, very mildly.

  20. nigelboy said

    Albert Lu

    As Ampontan pointed out, “The issue is whether the Japanese Army as a general practice abducted women and forced them to serve as “sex slaves”. This charge is often included in Korean mass media reports on any subject dealing with Japan, and those English-language news media reports that focus on the subject.”

    If you really want to get the overall pictures of the relationships between the military the the operators of brothels and their employees, the documented evidences are here.

    Click to access 0051_5.pdf

    -Issuing passports to comfort women, verifying their age. -Order for weekly medical examination by military doctors to check for VD and other illnesses with hundreds of reports summarizing the results. -Order to carefully screen the operators for some are recruiting underage girls under false pretenses. -Supply orders for “condomns” because the local area did not have them. -Setting up price and working hours -Warnings not to use brothels set up by locals for it appears that they are growing in spurts due to presence of IJA soldiers and therefore, haven’t complied with the regulations (VD screening, age, how they were recruited, etc.) -Warning to soldiers to pay the prepaid ticket before the actual service for it was reported by operators that some have skipped paying. -Reports of fighting among IJA soldiers because of their affection towards a particlar comfort woman. -Advisement to the soldier to pay for the property damage incurred at the brothel to the operator.

    And of course, there are documents/reports issued by Allieds when IJA surrendered which includes shocking documents. For instance,


    -Women between ages 20~25, the fee is 2.5 yen which includes condomns. The drinks are quite expensive. -Operation hours between 8 am~6pm. However, certain upper class military can stay overnight at a price. -Women can refuse service if the customer does not use condomn.


    -According the Korean operator there, his restaurant business wasn’t doing to well so he decided to operate the comfort station. -He recruited women from ages 19 to 31 paying in advance from 300 yen~1000 yen per woman. -In his operation, his women earned between 300 yen~1,500 yen a month of which a minimum of 150 yen per month was collected by the operator from each women.

    And of course, you have the United States Office of War Information report dated October 1, 1944.

    In regards to how the Japanese government government((Chosun Sotokufu/Police) handled the illegal recruitment of women in the Korean peninsula, here are various reports of newspapers at that time.

    So we know that the Japanese government at that time prohibited such action of abductions and recruitment under false pretences. We get the general picture that the miitary units were enforcing rather strict regulations on the brothels (who else was going to do it?) We also get the picture that their intent was to prevent as much as possible, the estalishment of such brothels using local women as well as the use of local brothels for that would result in such crimes as abductions and false recruitment by the locals.

    Now, the recent statue in NJ states the following.


    As Hashimoto stated in the recent press conference, what is the apology and compensation that the Korean government/Comfort Women Inc. seeking? If it’s for the above statement on the statue? If so, he’s specifically asking for supporting evidence. If they are seeking apology for the estalishment and the system of the above described comfort women system during the war, then he’s stating that we should look and compare the global prostitution system of today especially in Korea where there are estimated 100K prostitutes operating overseas with half of them in Japan. (Per statement from Korean lawmaker during a session).

    Were these women of today forced? If you expand definition of the word “forced” which would include trickery among operators, debts, and economic hardships, the system of today does not really differ from the comfort women system except for the fact that prostitution is illegal in most advanced nations so there are no regulations to speak of so one can argue that the chances of exploitation and human rights violation are much greater.

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