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The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus
In-depth critical analysis of the forces shaping the Asia-Pacific...and the world.

 

Out With Human Rights, In With Government-Authored History: The Comfort Women and the Hashimoto Prescription for a ‘New Japan’

Tessa Morris-Suzuki

Hopes and Dreams

They exist all over Japan, like tiny sparks of light, flickering and fragile, but somehow surviving against the odds: the peace museums, the reconciliation groups, the local history movements that work to address problems of historical responsibility neglected or denied by national politicians. As Kazuyo Yamane notes, according to a UN survey, Japan has the highest number of peace museums of any country in the world (Yamane 2009, xii). But the heritage created at the grassroots by ordinary Japanese people is constantly under threat from the hostility of nationalist politicians and sections of the media: and never more so than today (see Chan 2008; Morris-Suzuki, Low, Petrov and Tsu 2012).

Among the sparks of light is Osaka’s Human Rights Museum, also known as Liberty Osaka.

Founded in 1985, Liberty Osaka is Japan’s only human rights museum. It features displays on the history of hisabetsu buraku communities (groups subject to social discrimination), the struggle for women’s rights, and the stories of minority groups such as the indigenous Ainu community and the Korean minority in Japan. An important aspect of the museum is its depiction of these groups, not as helpless victims of discrimination, but rather as active subjects who have fought against discrimination, overcome adversity and helped to create a fairer and better Japanese society. By 2005 more than a million people had visited the Liberty Osaka. (See the museum’s website (Japanese) here and (English) here.)

Today, the museum faces the threat of closure. The Osaka city government has until now provided a crucial part of themuseum's funding, but the current city government, headed by mayor Hashimoto Tōru, has decided to halt this funding from next year, on the grounds that the museum displays are ‘limited to discrimination and human rights’ and fail to present children with an image of the future full of ‘hopes and dreams’ (Mainichi Shinbun 25 July 2012)

The ‘Restoration’ of Japan

Hashimoto’s own hopes and dreams for the future have recently been on prominent display. His Ōsaka Ishin no Kai (generally known in English as ‘One Osaka’, though literally meaning the ‘Osaka Restoration Association’)  has high hopes of gaining a substantial share of the seats up for grabs in Japan’s impending national election, and Hashimoto is being hailed by many as a future national leader – even as a national savior. A relatively young politician with a successful career in law and the media behind him, Hashimoto has succeeded in winning popular support by projecting the image of an action man unafraid of taking the tough decisions.

Like Prime Minister Koizumi in the early 2000s, Hashimoto combines personal charisma, budget-slashing economic neo-liberalism and hard-line political nationalism. (Koizumi's insistence on paying annual visits to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which commemorates Japan’s war dead including executed war criminals, caused particular tensions with neighbouring countries.) But Hashimoto is Koizumi on steroids. His radical plans for reform would see Japan converted into a quasi-federal system with prime ministers directly elected in presidential style, along with massive reductions in welfare spending and creation of a voucher-based educational system. He is famous for remarking that Japan would benefit from becoming a dictatorship – a remark that most commentators have not taken as seriously as they should. His penchant for attracting attention by deliberately outrageous statements gives his role on the political stage an unstable and ugly edge that was lacking from Koizumi’s cooler and suaver performances.

At a time when Japan’s political system is mired in factionalism and indecisiveness and in which prime minister’s rise and fall annually, bold words have popular appeal. Until recently, Hashimoto has shown considerable skill in mixing policies drawn from various parts of the ideological spectrum, so avoiding being easily pigeonholed in conventional political terms. Ever quick to spot an opportunity to boost his political appeal, he responded to mass demonstrations against nuclear power following the Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown by hastily adding a call for reduced reliance on nuclear power to his agenda for a new Japan, though he then went on to support the reopening of two nuclear power plants in neighboring Fukui Prefecture (see Asahi Shinbun, English online edition, 1 June 2012).

But as the election draws nearer, Hashimoto’s true colours become increasingly visible. He is now wooing the support of leading old-style nationalist Abe Shinzō, a scion of Japan’s conservative elite and one of the rather crowded field of very short-lived former Japanese prime ministers. (Abe’s tenure lasted precisely one year, from 26 September 2006 to 26 September 2007). Abe, for his part, has expressed interest in working with Hashimoto to change Japan’s postwar peace constitution (Nihon Keizai Shinbun, evening edition, 25 August 2012).

Hashimoto (left) and Abe

The 'Comfort Women' Revisited, and Revisited, Again and Again...

Amidst heightened international frictions in Northeast Asia, as both South Korea and China face significant changes of leadership, Hashimoto Tōru has found it impossible to resist stirring the pot of nationalist divisiveness. On 10 August, outgoing South Korean President Lee Myung-bak paid a provocative and self-serving visit to the island of Dokdo/Takeshima, the first visit of its kind by a Prime Minister in office. The island’s sovereignty is disputed between Japan and Korea. Two weeks later, Hashimoto responded in kind, playing the shop-soiled card of historical revisionism: a favoured weapon of right-wing politicians in need of some free publicity.

Using Twitter as his means of communication, Hashimoto chose this sensitive moment in Japan-Korea relations to denounce the Kōno Statement: a key element in Japan’s search for reconciliation with its Asian neighbours.

In 1993, after the government had collected and studied extensive documentary evidence over a two year period, Chief Cabinet Secretary Kōno Yōhei acknowledged that the Japanese military had been responsible for forcibly recruiting Korean, Chinese and other ‘comfort women’ to work in wartime military brothels where they were subjected to extreme sexual abuse. Kōno’s carefully worded statement of apology noted that brokers had often been used to recruit the women, but that in some cases Japanese soldiers or officials had carried out the recruitment themselves

Extract from the Kōno Statement

 

As a result of the study which indicates that comfort stations were operated in extensive areas for long periods, it is apparent that there existed a great number of comfort women. Comfort stations were operated in response to the request of the military authorities of the day. 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. They lived in misery at comfort stations under a coercive atmosphere.

 

For the full text, see here.

Fourteen years later, the Abe cabinet issued a partial retraction, denying that Japanese military or government officials were personally involved in forcible recruitment of ‘comfort women’. This retraction was part of a broader, and loudly proclaimed, nationalist salvo, one of whose chief goals was the revision of the postwar constitution to allow more rapid military expansion.

The Abe resolution was flawed on two grounds. First, it completely ignored the substantial but inconvenient historical evidence that contradicted its premise. The 'comfort women' story, largely neglected until the 1990s, has now been very well researched by numerous Japanese and international scholars and international agencies including the International Commission of Jurists and two UN special rapporteurs on human rights (Radhika Coomaraswamy, who reported in 1996, and Gay McDougall, who reported in 1998 - see their reports: here and here). Despite the complexities of the issue, a relatively clear story has emerged from their work.

From the early 1930s onward, but particularly following the outbreak of full scale war in China, the Japanese army created a massive network of military brothels throughout its empire and occupied territories, to which hundreds of thousands of women were recruited. The brothels took a number of forms, including those run by the army itself, those run by brokers commissioned by the army, and temporary ad hoc brothels set up for short periods near the battle front. The official Japanese documents collected by the Japanese government, as well as the testimony of victims, former Japanese soldiers and the early 1990s provide incontrovertible proof of the role of the military and state in planning and running this system. They also provide incontrovertible proof that many (though not all) comfort women were recruited by trickery or abduction, and that they were commonly confined in brothels where they were subject to appalling treatment and drastic punishments if they attempted escape.

Recruitment, particularly in the earlier stages of the system, was often assigned to private brokers, colonial police and others, who operated at the request of the military. Particularly in the latter stages of the war, and in the case of 'informal' battlefront brothels, there is well-corroborated evidence of the direct forcible recruitment of women by Japanese soldiers. Japanese soldiers were, of course, also directly involved in keeping women forcibly confined in brothels, and subjecting them to sexual and other violence while they were there (see, for example, Yoshimi 2002; Tanaka 2002; Soh 2008; Totani 2008, 126-128 and 176-185; Wada Haruki, The Digital Museum: The Comfort Women Issue and the Asian Women's Fund here; testimony of Jan Ruff O'Herne here; the website of the Center for Research and Documentation on Japan's War Responsibility here.)

The Abe resolution discounted all testimony from survivors, even when it was detailed and corroborated by other evidence, as well as testimony from third party observers and oral testimony from former Japanese soldiers. In other words, it took the view that only official documents produced by the perpetrators could be acceptable as 'evidence' even as it chose to ignore those documents that survived official attempts to destroy all documentation. In particular, it ignored oral and written evidence (including official documentation) showing the intimate collaboration between Japanese military and police and brokers, and making clear the forced confinement and inhuman treatment of women by Japanese military and brokers in the brothels.

The second flaw in the resolution was that it also failed to answer the obvious question: how does the use of brokers (which no-one denies) diminish the moral responsibility of the Japanese state and army? Or, to put it more bluntly, even if we were to discount the clear evidence of direct involvement of the military in forcibly recruiting some of the comfort women, does employing others to do your dirty work make it OK?

History by Government Resolution: Foreign Policy by Tweet

Hashimoto Tōru’s analysis of this profoundly sensitive, painful and controversial issue is a long, rambling and uninformed tweet which runs in part as follows: ‘In 2007 the Abe cabinet made a cabinet resolution that there was no evidence that comfort women were forcible recruited by the military or officials. That is the view of the Japanese government. I am a Japanese, so I stand by the view of the Japanese government. Besides, I am not a historian, so I’m not going to do the work of collecting historical documents to deliberately overturn the Japanese government’s cabinet resolution.’ (For the full text and unofficial translation of the series of tweets, which is recommended reading for anyone interested in the current state of Japanese politics, see the text at the end of this article.)

Hashimoto’s bright new Japan, it seems, will be a place where not only the country’s future but also the events of the past are decided by government resolution. George Orwell would have loved it.

Even without being a historian, Hashimoto might have recalled that the ‘comfort women’ fiasco was one of the less glorious moments of his would-be ally Abe Shinzō’s brief tenure as Prime Minister. Having pushed through the cabinet resolution, which caused considerable damage to Japan’s relations not only with South Korea and China but even with the United States, Prime Minister Abe then publicly backed down and repeatedly stated that his government intended after all to stand by the Kōno Statement. In the context of debate surrounding the 2007 US Congress' House Resolution 121, which demanded an apology from the Japanese government to surviving former 'comfort women', he went on (bizarrely) to make a rather half-hearted apology, not to the victims themselves but to President George W. Bush, for any hurt caused (Okinawa Times, 27 April 2007). Equally bizarrely, Bush solemnly accepted the apology.

Korea Liberation Association members take part in an anti-Japan rally outside the Japanese Embassy in Seoul on August 23, 2012. The banner reads: "Demand an apology and compensation for the wartime sex slaves from the Japanese government."

Hashimoto goes on to bitterly criticize Japanese bureaucrats who wish to argue that issues of war responsibility were settled by the 1965 Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea. But his alternative diplomatic solution to the crisis in relations with Korea, as far as it is comprehensible from his tweet, would appear to involve overturning the Kōno Statement, accepting the Abe cabinet resolution from which Abe himself subsequently retreated, drawing some arcane distinction between 'being forced' and acting 'contrary to one's own will', demanding proof from 'the Korean side' of something that has been historically documented many times over, and on this basis offering (or threatening) to rescind and renegotiate the 1965 Treaty with South Korea.

Hashimoto’s politics poses a dilemma for his critics. This is not politics by persuasion but politics by performance. The object of the current performance is obvious. It is to provoke impassioned counter-attacks, preferably from those who can be labeled left-wing and foreign – best of all from those who can be labeled Korean or Chinese nationalists. This will then allow Hashimoto to assume the ‘moral high ground’ as a martyred nationalist hero assailed by ‘anti-Japanese’ forces. In responding to Hashimoto-style politweets, it is important not to act out his predetermined scenario. But it is equally important that the considerable number of relatively sensible people who have seen Hashimoto as a possible beacon of hope for Japan should recognise his political agenda.

Another Future is Possible

More broadly, the Hashimoto phenomenon can be placed in the context of the current political instability in Northeast Asia as a whole. A presidential election is imminent in both South Korea and Japan; a change of leadership is underway in China; and an untested new leader has taken power in North Korea. All of this magnifies the uncertainties created by the massive disaffection from the mainstream parties in post-disaster Japan. It is from this context of change and anxiety that the resurgence of territorial disputes over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands and Takeshima/ Dokdo, as well as of nationalist rhetoric such as Hashimoto's, emerges.

This makes a careful and considered response to the Hashimoto phenomenon particularly important. Above all, this phenomenon should not be 'nationalised'. Hashimoto does not speak for Japan, and to condemn Japan because of his comments would only be to boost his demagogic appeal. The best reply from those who hope he never will speak for Japan is to allow his words to speak for themselves. Those outside Japan who are alarmed or offended by these words should seek out and lend support to the embattled peace, human rights and reconciliation groups in Japan which also seek a different future, so that their voices too may be heard at the national level.

Japan urgently needs political renewal and hope. But this is not going to be achieved by replacing the dull faces of traditional party politics with an egocentric would-be megastar who plans to conduct foreign policy by Twitter.  Rather, it is at the grassroots level, in places like Liberty Osaka, that the real hopes and dreams for the future are still being quietly nurtured. The worst tragedy of all for Japan would be to allow the search for ‘restoration’ to extinguish the sparks that still burn bright in many parts of the country.

UNOFFICIAL TRANSLATION OF THE HASHIMOTO Series of TWEETs

 

Now we’re being abused by the Korean media about the military comfort women problem, right? And if you try to argue back in the Japanese media you get in terrible trouble, but, ah well, it can’t be helped. In the position of mayor of Osaka, a mere local government leader, I guess I shouldn’t touch national foreign policy, but I will make a statement as representative of One Osaka (Ōsaka Ishin no Kai) who thinks about problems of national politics.

 

This time when the issue was raised what I clearly understood is that the Japanese government’s logic about the 1993 Kōno Statements needs to be sorted. In 2007, the Abe cabinet made an important cabinet resolution about the 1993 Kōno Statement, which had admitted that military comfort women were subject to forcible recruitment (kyosei renko) by the Japanese state. In 2007 the Abe cabinet made a cabinet resolution that there was no evidence that comfort women were forcible recruited by the military or officials. That is the view of the Japanese government. I am a Japanese, so I stand by the view of the Japanese government. Besides, I am not a historian, so I’m not going to do the work of collecting historical documents to deliberately overturn the Japanese government’s cabinet resolution.

 

So what I’m saying is I want the Korean side to produce proof that they were forcibly recruited by the Japanese state. I’m not saying I absolutely don’t accept the statements of the Korean side, I’m saying show us the proof. Then Korean media comes back and says the Kōno Statement is the proof.  That’s complete tautology.

 

This is where Japanese nationals need to be properly aware, confront Korea and argue back. The 1993 Kōno Statement ran away from this most important thing. That's what destroyed Japan-Korea relations. This is the real responsibility of politicians. Fight it out verbally until you foam at the mouth. We need to think seriously about what the real issue is, and how far we should respect the position of the other side.

 

In the 2007 cabinet resolution, the Japanese government determined that there was no proof to support the 1993 Kōno Statement. But in spite of that Korea says the Kōno Statement is the proof of forced recruitment. We can’t leave the Kōno Statement the way it is. It’s true that the Japanese army was involved in running comfort stations. These institutions were instituted because it was wartime. In contemporary society too brothels are publicly regulated. It was natural that comfort stations were publicly regulated from the point of view of hygiene and maintaining order.

 

The problem is, were comfort women forcible recruited against their will. That’s the number one point. But there is no proof of that on the Japanese side. Even when the Jeju Island media did a survey they couldn’t find anything to prove the fact that comfort women were forcibly recruited by the Japanese state. So I’m demanding that the Korean side provides proof. If there’s proof then there should be an apology. Forced recruitment can’t be justified by any arguments. But there isn’t yet any evidence that the Japanese state forcibly recruited comfort women.

 

This is separate from the question of sympathy for the comfort women. You’ve got to feel sympathy for the suffering people who became comfort women in all sorts of circumstances against their own will and experienced mental and physical suffering. It’s the same if you hear stories from Japanese people in the same circumstances. But [having to do something] against your own will and being forced is completely different.

 

The 1993 Kōno Statement cheated us with the words ‘against their own will’. That’s the greatest responsibility of politicians. Does this mean it was against their own will, or does it mean that they were forced by the Japanese state? We have to make this clear. Of course we have to apologise if it was the latter. But now there isn’t any proof of this. That’s why I want the Korean side to produce it.

 

If it wasn’t forced, how do we understand the comfort stations in the circumstances of the time? Japan wasn’t the only place where there were comfort stations to protect military order, and the prostitution industry exists in every country of the world. It is certain that comfort stations and similar sorts of prostitution industry exist. The problem is, were the comfort women forcibly recruited. We have to confront Korea about that face to face.

 

Should the Japanese government leave things as they are when the Korean media says the Kōno Statement is proof that comfort women were forcibly recruited etc.? How about the issue of reconciling this with the cabinet resolution of 2007 which said that there is no proof they were forcibly recruited? Japanese parliament and Foreign Ministry, get your act together!

 

But hey, I don’t think we should quarrel with our neighbours in nearby countries about this. If the root of it is the military comfort women issue, we should debate it face to face, and if there are facts we should apologize about, then we should apologize. If no facts emerge, then we shouldn’t apologize. This is where the Foreign Ministry gets politicians to give a pathetic excuse of an answer. The 1965 Japan-South Korea Treaty of Basic Relations.

 

In times of problems like this, there’s no reason to communicate with the other party by giving a bureaucratic reply like, this was all settled by the 1965 Japan-South Korea Treaty of Basic Relations. You know, when I was Governor [of Osaka] and my departments kept producing that kind of formulaic reply, I’d just hit it straight back to them all the time. That’s the sort of formal logic that the law courts use when handing down judgments. Person to person communication is banned.

 

But bureaucrats just develop this sort of formulaic logic. If you say ‘it was all settled by the 1965 Japan-Korea Basic Treaty!’ you have no idea whether there was or wasn’t forcible recruitment, right? A typical bureaucratic response. Whatever it says in the Basic Treaty, we should debate face to face whether there was forcible recruitment. Until persuaded. If there really was forcible recruitment, then we should debate whether it was settled by the Treaty of Basic Relations. There is definitely a legal principle that if you don’t enter into discussion of topic of conflict to be reconciled, the search for reconciliation is ineffectual. So if you say it was all solved by the 1965 Treaty of Basic Relations, that’s no solution. Politics is what corrects the logic of bureaucrats.

 

Whatever the 1965 Japan-South Korea Treaty of Basic Relations, we should confirm whether there was or wasn’t forcible recruitment of comfort women. If we made a cabinet resolution in 2007 that there was no evidence of forced recruitment, then there is nothing for it but to revise the Kōno Statement. And ask the Korean side for proof of forcible recruitment other than the Kōno Statement. If proof emerges, then we will think of including the 1965 Japan-South Korea Treaty of Basic Relations in the frame. Bureaucrats find it easy to start with hair-splitting. That’s why they start with the 1965 Treaty. Politicians should start with the real essence of things. Because of the problem of Takeshima, the people of the nation have come to know the Japan Korea conflict to this extent. This is the best chance to solve the comfort women problem which is at the root of it. That’s real politics for you.

 

(The final paragraphs of the series of tweets, which deal with the Dokdo/Takeshima issue, have been omitted)

 

 

JAPANESE TEXT (from NET IB NEWS)

 

  それと韓国のメディアから従軍慰安婦の問題で罵倒されちゃったね。日本のメディアに反論するだけでも大変なのに、 まあ仕方ない。一介の自治体の長である大阪市長と言う立場では国の外交問題にタッチすべきではないんだろうけど、国政課題も考えている大阪維新の会の代表 として発言した。

 

今回の問題提起でよく分かったのは、やっぱり93年の河野談話について日本政府はロジックの再整理をしなければならな いということ。従軍慰安婦について国の強制連行を認めたような93年河野談話に対して実は2007年、安倍内閣は重要な閣議決定を行った。軍や官憲が慰安 婦を強制連行したという証拠はないと安倍内閣は2007年に閣議決定した。これが日本政府の見解である。僕は日本人だから、日本政府のこの見解に拠って立 つ。また僕は歴史家でもないから、日本政府の閣議決定をわざわざ覆すような資料収集の作業はしない。

だから韓国側に、日本国が強制連行したという証拠があるなら示して欲しいと言ったのです。韓国側の主張を一切認めないと言うことではなくて、証拠を出してよ、ということ。そしたら韓国メディアは、証拠は河野談話だと来た。完全なトートロジー。

 

ここを日本国民はしっかりと認識して韓国と正面から議論しなければならない。こういう一番肝要なところを、93年河野 談話は逃げた。それで日韓の信頼はがた崩れ。これこそ政治の責任だ。口から泡飛ばして激論したらいい。何が問題で、相手の立場のどこに配慮をしてあげるべ きなのかを真剣に考える。

 

日本政府は93年の河野談話に関し、2007年に強制連行を裏付ける証拠はなかったと閣議決定した。にもかかわらず韓 国は強制連行の証拠は93年河野談話だと言う。河野談話を今のまま放置するわけにはいかない。日本軍が慰安所の運営に関与していたのは事実だ。これは戦争 下でしかも施設が施設だから。現代社会にあっても風俗店についてはきちんと公が監督している。慰安所について公が監督するのは衛生管理・秩序維持の観点か ら当然だ。

 

問題は慰安婦が、その意思に反して強制されたかどうか。ここが一番のポイント。しかし日本側にはそれを裏付ける証拠が ない。済州島のメディアが現地調査しても日本国が慰安婦を強制連行した事実を裏付けることはできなかった。だから僕は韓国側に証拠を求めたのだ。証拠が出 てきたら、それは謝らなければならない。強制連行はどういう理屈でも正当化はできない。しかし慰安婦を日本国が強制連行した証拠は未だ存しない。

 

この話と慰安婦に対する同情は別問題。色んな事情で不本意ながら慰安婦になり、心身ともに苦痛を被ったということに関してはその苦痛を察してあげなければならない。これは日本人で同じような境遇の人の話を聞いても同じ。ただ不本意と強制はまったく異なる。

93年河野談話は「本人の意思に反して」とうい言葉で誤魔化した。政治の最大の責任だ。これは不本意と言う意味なの か、日本国が強制したという意味なのか。ここをはっきりさせる必要がある。後者であれば謝罪は当然。しかし今のところその証拠がない。だかlら韓国側に出 して欲しい。

 

強制がないのであれば、当時の社会状況からして慰安所をどう捉えるか。軍人の秩序を保つためいわゆる慰安所が存在した のは日本だけではないし、風俗業は今でも世界各国に存在する。慰安婦と同形態の風俗業も存することは確かだ。問題は慰安婦が国家によって強制連行されたか どうか。この点真正面から韓国と議論すべきだろう。

慰安婦が強制連行された証拠が93年の河野談話だと韓国メディアが言っている状況を日本政府は放置しておくのか。2007年の強制連行を裏付ける証拠はなかったとした閣議決定との整合性はどうなんだ。日本の国会議員、外務省、しっかりしろ!

 

ただね、僕は隣国同士、こういうことでいがみ合うのはよろしくないと思う。従軍慰安婦の問題が根っこにあるなら、真正 面からしっかり議論して、謝るべき事実があればしっかりと謝ればいい。事実が出なければ謝るべきではない。ここで外務省がしょうもない答えを政治家にさせ る。1965年日韓基本条約。

こういう問題のときにね、1965年の日韓基本条約で解決済みなんていう官僚答弁をして相手とのコミュニケーションを とれるわけがない。知事時代も、部局からこういう形式答弁が出てきて、何度も突き返したよ。これは裁判所が形式論理で下す判決の手法。対人コミュニケー ションではご法度だ。

 

ところが役所はこの形式論を展開する。1965年の日韓基本条約で解決済み!と言ったら、強制連行の事実があったのか なかったのか全く分からないじゃないか。まさに官僚答弁。基本条約がどうであれ、真正面から慰安婦の強制連行の事実の存否を議論したらいいんだ。納得する まで。本当に強制連行の事実があったなら、次は1965年の基本条約で解決済みになったかどうかの議論になる。和解の対象にきちんと入っていなかったら、 確かに和解錯誤無効と言う法論理もある。だから1965年の日韓基本条約で解決済みなんて言っても何の解決にもならない。官僚のロジックを正すのが政治。

 

1965年の日韓基本条約があろうとも、慰安婦の強制連行があったのかどうかをしっかりと確定すべき。2007年に強 制連行の証拠はないという閣議決定をやったなら河野談話は見直しするしかないでしょう。韓国側に河野談話以外の強制連行の証拠を求める。もしその証拠が出 てきたら、次に1965年の日韓基本条約の射程範囲を考える。役人は簡単な理屈から入る。だから1965年条約から入る。政治家は事の本質から入るべき。 竹島問題でここまで日韓紛争が国民の知るところとなった。根っこの慰安婦問題を決着させる最大のチャンス。これこそ政治だ。

 

Sources

Chan, Jennifer. 2008. Another Japan is Possible: Social Movements and Global Citizenship Education. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Morris-Suzuki, T., Low, M., Petrov, L. and Tsu, T. 2012 (forthcoming). East Asia Beyond the History Wars: Confronting the Ghosts of Conflict. London and New York: Routledge.

Soh, C. Sarah. 2008. The Comfort Women: Sexual Violence and Postcolonial Memory in Korea and Japan. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Tanaka, Toshiyuki. 2002. Japan’s Comfort Women: Sexual Slavery and Prostitution During World War II and the US Occupation. London and New York: Routledge.

Totani, Yuma. 2008. The Tokyo War Crimes Trial: The Pursuit of Justice in the Wake of World War II. Cambridge Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Yamane, Kazuyo. 2009. Grassroots Museums for Peace in Japan: Unknown Efforts for Peace and Reconciliation. Saarbrucken: VDM Verlag Dr. Muller.

Yoshimi, Yoshiaki. 2002. Comfort Women. Sexual Slavery in the Japanese Military During World War II, Asia Perspectives. trans. Suzanne O’Brien. New York: Columbia University Press.

Tessa Morris-Suzuki is Professor of Japanese History in the Division of Pacific and Asian History, College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University, and a Japan Focus associate. Her most recent books are Exodus to North Korea: Shadows from Japan's Cold War, Borderline Japan: Foreigners and Frontier Controls in the Postwar Era and To the Diamond Mountains: A Hundred-Year Journey Through China and Korea

Recommended citation: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, "Out With Human Rights, In With Government-Authored History: The Comfort Women and the Hashimoto Prescription for a ‘New Japan,’" The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 36, No. 1, September 3, 2012.

 

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Comments
Kiyoshi Yamaga
05/03/2013
I have read a considerable number of documents and articles that condemn the Japanese over the so-called "coerced" Korean comfort women, including yours. However, I have never come across a single document or article that refer to the Korean volunteer soldiers and civilian employees who served in the Imperial Japanese Army. Why do people ignore this plain fact? According to the Ministry of Welfare of Japan, over 240,000 Korean volunteer soldiers and civilian employees were serving in the Japanese Army up to the end of WWII. Some 9% of that number are now enshrined at Yasukuni. And some 140 Koreans were convicted for Class-B and -C war crimes by the Allied Forces after WWII. It'd be almost insane to believe that Korean "sex slaves" existed under this circumstance. Korean volunteer soldiers and Korean sex slaves are a sheer contradiction. The former were the clients of the latter? No one would believe that the Japanese Army recruited young Koreans and gave them weapons while forcing their fellow-country women into sexual slavery. The Koreans would have raised a riot if they'd found even a single Korean sex slave. On top of that, a number of Korean military officers, including some lieutenant generals, were serving in the IJA. The father of Park Geun Hye, the new president of Korea, was a graduate from the military academy in Japan. He served as a lieutenant in the Manchukuo Army that was virtually under the command of Japanese Army. If you ask the president what her father said about the Korean comfort women, her answer would be very interesting. Of all the women in the world, Korean (and Taiwanese) women were the farthest from the risk of military sex slavery because many fellow-country men, including a number of high-rank military officers, were serving in the Imperial Japanese Army. The Taiwanese, who went through almost the same Japanese annexation rule as Koreans did, are our best friends for long. Why are Koreans so opposite in their attitude to Japanese? The presence of Korean-Japanese soldiers in the IJA is indeed the Koreans' top secret. They suppress every bit of information on this fact through some unscrupulous measures. I'm very curious to know if you really have no idea about these facts, or if you are taking the side of Koreans for some reason knowing they are talented liars.
Tessa Morris-Suzuki
05/09/2013
Thank you for your comment on my article. You say that “the presence of Korean-Japanese [i.e. colonial era Korean] soldiers in the IJA is indeed the Koreans' top secret. They suppress every bit of information on this fact through some unscrupulous measures.” This is not correct. The fact that Koreans served in the Japanese military is very well known in Korea as it is in Japan and internationally. The Japanese government paid pensions to Japanese military veterans, but not to the colonial subjects whom it recruited to its armed forces before and during the war, and this has been an ongoing subject of controversy between Japan (on the one hand) and Korea and Taiwan (on the other). The South Korean government initiated a program to pay small sums of assistance to some Koreans whose relatives had been killed while serving as recruits with the Japanese military (as well as to some relatives of forced labourers) as far back as 1973, under the Park Chung-hee regime, and from 2004 on the ROK government has been engaged in compiling its own data on the numbers of Koreans who were recruited to the Japanese military and who were wounded or killed in battle. You mention that you have never come across any “document or article that refer to the Korean volunteer soldiers and civilian employees who served in the Imperial Japanese Army”. As a starting point, I would encourage you to look at Takashi Fujitani’s major book on this topic, "Race for Empire", published in 2011; Utsumi Aiko’s [内海愛子] "Chōsenjin ‘Kōgun’ Heishitachi no Sensō" [朝鮮人「皇軍」兵士たちの戦争], published in 1991; and Kang Tok-Sang’s [姜徳相] "Chōsenjin Gakuto Shutsujin" [朝鮮人学徒出陣], published in 1997. There are of course many other works on the subject. I have written about the experience of Korean “kamikaze” [tokkō] pilots in the Japanese military in T. Morris-Suzuki, M. Low, L. Petrov and T. Y. Tsu, "East Asia Beyond the History Wars", published earlier this year. There are numerous recorded instances of encounters between Korean soldiers in the Japanese army and Korean “comfort women” during the war. (See, for example George Hicks, "The Comfort Women", 1995, pp. 95-98). Why did Koreans who served in the Japanese military, and were aware of the existence of Korean “comfort women”, not rebel against their Japanese commanders? There were occasional mutinies or attempted mutinies by Koreans serving with the Japanese military (see for example Kiriyama Keiichi’s article in this journal “A 1944 Rebellion within the Japanese Army” http://japanfocus.org/-Kiriyama-Keiichi/3151, 2009 and Poyer, Falgout and Carucci, "The Typhoon of War", 2001, pp. 226-228, which describes a rebellion by Korean military labourers on Mili Atoll in the Marshall Islands). These seem to have been prompted by general issues of discrimination and the longing for independence. However, most Koreans in the Japanese military did not rebel for the same reason that most African Americans who served in the US military during World War II - at a time when they experienced daily discrimination and segregation - did not turn their guns on their white comrades and officers. Subordination and resistance are not as simple as that. In some cases the colonized or subordinated internalize the ideologies of their rulers. Most soldiers hope to survive, and mutiny in such circumstances meant almost certain death. I would urge you, rather than figuring out abstract arguments in an effort to evade historical realities, to read the available written record, both on the “comfort women” and on Koreans in the colonial-era Japanese military.
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Authors: For all articles by the author, click on author's name.   Tessa Morris-Suzuki