Saturday, March 10, 2007

The background of the comfort women issue: III. Asahi Shimbun---an alchemist of "inconvenient truths"

The first of the apologies by Japanese politicians related to the comfort women issue was made in 1992 by then-PM Miyazawa Kiichi (宮沢喜一) during his visit to South Korea. Prior to his visit by 5 days, Asahi Shimbun (朝日新聞: a major Japanese leftist newspaper) reported, as the day's top story, the "discovery" of an evidence proving the commitment by the Japanese military to the recruitment of comfort women and the installation of comfort stations (military camp brothels) during WWII". Here's its excerpt:

日中戦争や太平洋戦争中、日本軍が慰安所の設置や、従軍慰安婦の募集を監督、統制していたことを示す通達類や陣中日誌が、防衛庁の防衛研究所図書館に所蔵されていることが十日、明らかになった。朝鮮人慰安婦について、日本政府はこれまで国会答弁の中で「民間業者が連れて歩いていた」として、国としての関与を認めてこなかった。昨年十二月には、朝鮮人元慰安婦らが日本政府に補償を求める訴訟を起こし、韓国政府も真相究明を要求している。国の関与を示す資料が防衛庁にあったことで、これまでの日本政府の見解は大きく揺らぐことになる。政府として新たな対応を迫られるとともに、宮沢首相の十六日からの訪韓でも深刻な課題を背負わされたことになる。

There has been revealed on (Jan) 10 to exist, at the library of the Defense Agency's Research Institute of Defense, (Japanese governmental) notifications and Army journals showing that the Imperial Japanese Military was involved in the installation of comfort stations and the recruitment of comfort women during the Sino-Japanese and the Pacific wars.

Japanese government had not admitted at the Diet that its was involved in (the recruitment and supervision of) Korean comfort women, saying "private employers took them here and there". Former Korean comfort women (and their supporters) brought a lawsuit against Japanese government for compensation last December (1991), and South Korean government has also been requesting Japan to clarify the historical facts (related to the issue).

The discovery, at the Defense Agency, of documents showing Japan's governmental commitment (to the recruitment of comfort women, etc) is likely to give a fatal damage to the government's heretofore point of view (over this issue). It now requests the government to pledge a new measure with regard to the issue, as well as PM Miyazawa, now burdened with a serious obligation in his visit to South Korea scheduled on (Jan) 16.

The "discovery" was reportedly made by Prof. Yoshimi Yoshiaki (吉見義明) of Chuo University, who appeared in the previous post as one of the key persons in the "sex slave" propaganda. Although Asahi says it was revealed on Jan 10, the actual date of the "discovery" was earlier by at least a few weeks, told Prof. Hata of Chiba University. It is clear that Asahi intentionally delayed the release of this news, by a political aim, to right before PM's visit to Korea.

Unlike Asahi's prediction, the "discovery" was actually nothing new. It is a common sense, and it had been before the "discovery" as well, that the government was involved in the recruitment of comfort women and the management of comfort stations, since every private brothel manager had to be qualified as "appropriate" for doing business at the camp, and they of course had to totally depend on the Japanese military in the transportation of comfort women from the Korean peninsula to camps in far-apart frontlines.

It is clear, therefore, that if the Japanese government had been saying something like that "private employers took the comfort women here and there" (i.e. the comfort women were doing their business under their private employers), that does NOT follow that the government had been denying its commitment to the management of military brothels, transportation of comfort women, etc. What the officials had been denying (and they still are) is just that the recruitment of comfort women was conducted by the Japanese military in any coercive manner.

As a matter of fact, in the notification "discovered" by Prof. Yoshimi, the Japanese military authority ordered its troops in the Chinese frontline to carefully choose appropriate brothel managers to prevent them from recruiting comfort women by any brutal manner, as a few pimps in mainland Japan were lately arrested for such cases. How can this be "an evidence of coercion of Korean women by the Japanese military"?

Asahi's trick is this way: first to give the readers a preconception like "the government is hiding an inconvenient truth", and then show them "an evidence of the governmental commitment", thereby misleading the readers into thinking as though there were any coercion by the military. Hereby the nationwide "sex slave" propaganda succeeded in forcing the PM into apology for what didn't occur.

Asahi says in its editorial on Wednesday (Mar 7) as follows:

Abe seems fixated on the word "coercion," and this is what has made his remarks difficult to understand. The prime minister explained Monday that there was "coercion in the broad sense of the word," citing the fact that traders effectively recruited the women by force. But Abe said there was no "coercion in the strict sense of the word," as in authorities abducting the women.

However, in the overall process of recruiting, transporting and supervising the women, there were obviously situations where coercion was used. The Kono statement takes this position. It is hardly gracious of Abe, the prime minister of Japan, to split hairs over the trivial definition or distinction of a word.

(Original Japanese text published on the day before:) 首相には「強制性」について、こだわりがあるようだ。それが首相の発言をわかりにくくしている。

女性を集めた業者らが事実上強制をするような「広義の強制性」はあったが、当局が人さらいのように連行するといった「狭義の強制性」はなかった。きのう、首相はそう説明した。

だが、いわゆる従軍慰安婦の募集や移送、管理などを通じて、全体として強制性を認めるべき実態があったことは明らかだろう。河野談話もそうした認識に立っている。細かな定義や区別にことさらこだわるのは、日本を代表する立場の首相として潔い態度とは言えない。

The original text says "全体として強制性を認めるべき実態があったことは明らかだろう (it will be obvious that there were situations where coerciveness should be admitted as a whole)". No doubt Asahi cannot say "there was coercion" any longer inside Japan because the trick used in its 1992 "scoop" is commonly known inside Japan now, whereas they can keep on deceiving, by the very same trick, overseas readers lacking in basic knowledge of the historical background of how the "sex slave" propaganda was launched.

Actually there are lots of more misleading "scoops" of this kind, reported by Asahi for the past several decades: like "government to order publishers to delete the word 'invasion' out of their history textbooks", "Japanese Army's experiments on living human in Manchuria proved by newly released photos", "Ruling LDP politicians push NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) to cut 'inappropriate' scenes off the TV program", etc, etc... As mentioned earlier, I guess they are part of the Japanese leftist activitists' survival strategy. Facing the unrecoverable decline of their movement under the Cold War approaching its end, they realized that the only way left for them to survive was talking about Japan's past instead of its future: that is, to keep on condemning Japan's "wartime atrocity" instead of organizing Japanese people for revolution.

It is rarely the case that Asahi makes any apology for them after its tricks come out. In fact, even after Yoshida Seiji (the author of the fake "coercion" story mentioned in the previous post) admitted his fabrication, Asahi has not even made a correction of its repeated citations of the book.

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