井の中の蛙

7/15/2005

New Museum to Focus on Sexual Slavery

Filed under: — K. M. Lawson @ 9:17 pm

The Japan Times reports that there is to be a new museum, opening next month, which will focus on wartime sexual slavery. The museum is called “The Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace” (Anyone have links to Japanese news reports on this?) and will display materials and videos related to the issue in time for the 60th anniversary of the end of the war.

This comes on the heels of the latest embarrassing contribution to the controversy by 中山成彬 (Nakayama, Nariaki). He is the current Minister of Education and famous for a number of disturbing statements and his support for the removal of discussion of the issue in Japanese textbooks. In his most recent speech on the issue to make news, he spent some nine minutes reading out an email he received from a female Japanese graduate student studying in Canada. It seems that he wanted to emphasize that she agrees that the word now commonly used for comfort women, or 従軍慰安婦 didn’t exist at the time. Even the minister is not stupid enough to deny that there were comfort women at all, but to claim that this term didn’t exist is perhaps somehow supposed to support his crusade against teaching about sexual slavery during the war. You can find articles on this in the Japanese media online: Asahi, Yomiuri, Sankei.

Notice the different emphases in each article reporting on this. Asahi includes, and is the only one of the three newspapers to include this somewhat disturbing quote from the email:

「彼女らには大いに同情すべきだが、(意に反して売春させられたのは)古い時代の日本の農村で見られた情景とそう変わらない」「戦地にある不安定な男の心をなだめ、一定の休息と秩序をもたらした存在と考えれば、プライドを持って取り組むことが出来る職業だったという言い方も出来る」とも述べているという。

The student apparently wants the comfort women, and thus presumably also the sexual slaves (意に反して売春させられた) among them, to take pride in their work providing “comfort” for the unsettled hearts of the soldiers on the battlefield. Yomiuri notes her denial that the term now common existed at the time and adds this quote:

「(従軍慰安婦という言葉は)一部の日本人が自虐的にも戦後に作った。わざわざイメージの悪い言葉を作って、ことさら悪事のように騒ぐのは不思議だ」

I am not entirely clear on how exactly having some other name for massive institutionalized prostitution which included sexual slavery will somehow create a less evil image. True to form, Sankei dwells on this issue a little more, including the aforementioned quote and adding a few more, including:

中国や韓国の反発に対し「国益に沿って反日を利用し、国内をなだめつつ、とりあえずごねてみる作戦。(中国や韓国に)ただ頭を下げるのでは政治家として二流、三流」としている。
 中山文科相は6月、静岡市で開かれたタウンミーティングで「従軍慰安婦という言葉は当時なかった。間違った記述が教科書からなくなってよかった」と述べたが、慰安婦の存在や苦痛は否定していない。

Here Sankei is adding her thoughts on the reaction of China and Korea, playing the history card to serve their own national interests, and criticizing Japanese politicians who refuse to be defiant. Providing some additional context, Sankei adds that Nakayama said in June that he was glad that comfort women had been removed from the textbooks since the word didn’t exist at the time. While I’m not sure what terms were or were not used during the war, note the connection being made between a squabble about the term – and discussion in textbooks of the important issue to which this term refers (according to various reports, the issue has made a mass disappearance from many if not all the major textbooks that are coming out this year).

Sex, Lies, and Okinawa

Filed under: — tak @ 10:03 am

For anyone interested in Okinawa and the history of journalism in Japan, David Jacobson over at Japan Media Review has recently reported on a new lawsuit by a journalist who 30 years ago was slammed for uncovering a “secret pact” between the U.S. and Japan.

Disgraced Journalist Seeks to Revisit 30-year-old Scandal
More than 30 years later, a Japanese court is reconsidering an epoch-making media scandal that raised the question of whether unethical conduct by a reporter in obtaining the news should outweigh the significance of the facts he uncovered, no matter how earthshaking they might be.

The first oral hearing took place Tuesday in a suit brought by disgraced Mainichi Shimbun political reporter Takichi Nishiyama. Nishiyama, now 73, sued the government in April, claiming that it had destroyed his reputation. He seeks a government apology and 33 million yen (roughly $300,000) in damages.

The case concerns Nishiyama’s reporting on the negotiations between the United States and Japan over the reversion of the southernmost islands in the Japanese archipelago, Okinawa, to Japanese sovereignty (For a detailed chronology, see Wikipedia’s entry). Nishiyama uncovered documents in 1971 that revealed that Japan had secretly made a pact with the U.S. to absorb $4 million of the cost of returning Okinawa – which had been a U.S. protectorate since World War II – to Japan.

However, it was later learned that Nishiyama had obtained the documents through an affair with a married Foreign Ministry secretary. Both the secretary and Nishiyama were arrested, she for revealing state secrets and he for abetting her efforts. Each was convicted, though he appealed his case as far as the Supreme Court, which upheld his conviction.

Powered by WordPress