politics

Abe says Asahi stories on comfort women damaged Japan's image abroad

39 Comments

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says that the Asahi Shimbun's decades-old articles on wartime atrocities based on an account later found to be fictitious, had damaged Japan's image abroad.

Speaking in the House of Representatives on Friday, Abe said the stories slandered Japan and he called for issue to be studied based on ducmented facts, TV Asahi reported.

Last month, the Asahi apologized, with its president pledging to restore his organization's credibility.

The Asahi articles were published in the 1980s and 1990s and based on a Japanese man's account - later found to be false - that described women on the Korean island of Jeju being forcibly recruited to work in Japanese wartime military brothels.

Those retractions, decades after scholars first raised doubts about the man's account and years after Asahi itself said it could not be confirmed, set off a firestorm of criticism.

The issue of "comfort women", as those forced to work in the brothels are known, has a flash point in Japan's ties with South Korea and a red-flag topic for Japanese conservatives.

A landmark 1993 apology by then-chief cabinet secretary Yohei Kono acknowledged Japanese authorities' involvement in coercing women, many Korean, to work in the brothels.

But many Japanese conservatives including Abe say there is no proof of direct state involvement in kidnapping the women.

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says that the Asahi Shimbun’s decades-old articles on wartime atrocities based on an account later found to be fictitious, had damaged Japan’s image abroad.

It must be nice for him to be able to criticise people who are even more of an embarrassment to Japan than he is.

But many Japanese conservatives including Abe say there is no proof of direct state involvement in kidnapping the women.

Of course not. The wartime authorities weren't that stupid. Almost, but not quite.

-3 ( +10 / -13 )

I used to work with a Japanese colleague who, when the topic of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima came up, broke into tears and said that his best friend had died in the bombing. I realised later that it was impossible as he couldn't even have been born at the time. I didn't conclude from this man's deception that the bombing of Hiroshima hadn't taken place. The same thing is happening here. One man has misled people with his story about comfort women, but it doesn't negate all the other thousands of pieces of evidence ( and I mean 'thousands')) that exist. Even if half were untrue it would still be a pretty damning indictment of the Japanese military's behaviour.

24 ( +31 / -7 )

I don't know what Abe's making all the fuss about. There were atrocities committed by the Imperial Japanese Army that were FAR worse than "comfort women."

16 ( +22 / -6 )

PM Abe said there will be no change or additions to the Kono Statement, and it remains as an apology to the suffering of the women in the battlefield brothels.

The evidence of those women and the brothels comes beyond the articles published by Asahi and their retractions don't invalidate all the evidence concerning the Comfort Women. There is evidence of the involvement of the IJM in all aspects of those brothels.

12 ( +17 / -5 )

BertieWoosterOct. 05, 2014 - 08:13AM JST I don't know what Abe's making all the fuss about. There were atrocities committed by the Imperial Japanese Army >that were FAR worse than "comfort women."

Good point. Why don't you bring that up with the South Koreans? You know, the ones who were in the IJA and making use of the Comfort Women.

-17 ( +11 / -28 )

And I thought it was Abe's denials that damaged Japan's image abroad, certainly in neighbouring countries.

15 ( +21 / -7 )

Abe isn't interested in the facts, only the narrative as he sees it which is that Japan did nothing wrong during the war. If he's worried about Japan's image abroad he should ask himself why he is being shunned by the leaders of neighbouring countries and try to work out why that is.

14 ( +17 / -3 )

....and japan wonders why nobody accepts their "apologies"

14 ( +20 / -6 )

Nnoooo, Abe and his cabinet poopoo'ing the story damages your image abroad.

What kids should learn, just fess up to what happened, don't say well others did it, too, but sincerely apologize and show youve learned from your mistakes through your actions in the future.

8 ( +13 / -5 )

I BELIVE Abe has gotten it all wrong. The person that's really damaging Japan's image is Abe himself. All of his useless tactics and foolish decisions are making Japan to look like a nation that can never be trusted at all. If you ask me, I think it's time for him to step down and let someone else who can do a better job then he is doing take his place.

9 ( +15 / -6 )

Let's see, Abe and followers. Your country invades and inflicts atrocities upon almost all of Asia, attacks the US, fights a war as an ally of Hitler .... and you're whining that a newspaper made it look bad???

Grow up!

16 ( +22 / -6 )

Yeah..Asahi damaged Japan,s image abroad...well, I guess Abe and his fellow right wing buddies comments about WW2 and comfort women on the other hand had done nothing but improve Japan,s image and relations with other countries right?

Ossan - " why don,t you bring it up with the South Koreans ? You know the ones who were in IJA and making use of comfort women. Aah, again with the typical apologist deflective line of defense...but, but, but...others did it too ! Whether South Koreans in IJA or anyone else committed the same offenses does not lessen the Japanese military establishment responsibility in any way, does it?

13 ( +18 / -5 )

Good point. Why don't you bring that up with the South Koreans? You know, the ones who were in the IJA and making use of the Comfort Women.

What a great argument! "I'm allowed to hit that woman, because her husband does it."

7 ( +11 / -4 )

Unfortunately Abe and his rightwing revisionist allies are taking the realization that one piece of evidence was proved false, one bit in the large mountain of evidence about forced recruitment of comfort women, as proof that there is no evidence--and some of the Japanese public are buying it. That's how Abe can argue that it is the Asahi damaging Japan's image, not Abe himself for denying historical fact or revising history. I don't think anyone abroad is buying it, so he--not the Asahi--will only further damage Japan's image.

18 ( +20 / -2 )

Abe's tactic of using Asahi to further his fascist agenda may work internally in Japan, but outside of Japan, it will be ridiculed and scoffed at. Seriously, they're either living in a dream world, thinking that this will change history as we the world know it. Or it could be that they know it won't work outside of Japan, but they still want to control their internal thought process of Japanese to tune them into their agenda to reshape Japan.

9 ( +17 / -8 )

Abe and the right wing wants to deny the atrocity of Japan. It tries to misinterpret the history by groundless speech and behavior. Abe and the Liberal-Democratic Party want to deny human rights. I think that Abe has deteriorated the image of Japan.

14 ( +16 / -2 )

I would say the statements by the likes of Toru Hashimoto damaged Japan`s image more than anything the Asahi could have possibly said. Did Abe get around to mention that?

11 ( +14 / -3 )

My friends outside of Japan didn't mention the Asahi shinbun issue - but they did say Japan's reputation deteriorated in the eyes of the world because of the government insisting history did not happen, hate crime issue -- but most mention Fukushima and the people affected are being ignored by the government.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

The places where Japan's reputation is gully low in China and the Koreas. They do not use the Asahi as their primary source of information about what imperial Japan did to them.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

BertieWoosterOCT. 05, 2014 - 08:13AM JST I don't know what Abe's making all the fuss about. There were atrocities committed by the Imperial Japanese Army that were FAR worse than "comfort women."

well said BertieWooster

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I believe the truth of history is important to know and study, but I do not hold today's people responsible for the actions of their ancestors.

I do however, like others, find Abe and his like-thinking friends to be causing damage to Japan's reputation. I can only dream the public realises the real enemy is their own politicians.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

These Asahi retractions are a godsend for the deniers and apologists, and now they have ONE other example they can use of false reporting (they never seem to quote the actual former troops who admit to it when denying history... hmmm...) alongside their favourite Yoshida reports. So now they've got two vs. all the examples from people who were actually there. Anyway, it's Abe that has damaged the nation's reputation through continuous denials and downplaying, and of course revision and lies about history. I notice this article doesn't have Abe saying, "(it is) necessary for Japan to make greater efforts than before toward bolstering the strategic dissemination of information overseas," which he said in relation to Asahi's retractions and on how Japan should be portrayed in general. And now Abe is trying to blame Asahi entirely for the damage HE has helped do to the nation with his denials, and his attempts to hide and rewrite history.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

I would say the statements by the likes of Toru Hashimoto damaged Japan`s image more than anything the Asahi could have possibly said. Did Abe get around to mention that?

No, WilliB, he didn't.

Meinherr Abe marches to the beat of a different drummer. He is trying to rewrite history instead of deal with it. This is very dangerous in a politician.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

abe CLEARLY is not playing with anyway near a full deck of cards, 26 if even that !

The amount of damage abe, ishihara, hashimoto & all the other illiterates do to Japan day in day out makes what Asahi did totally & utterly insignificant.

The rot & lunacy continues unabated! abe spewed this crap a couple days ago was hoping to heap on him last Fri here on jt.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

It's obviously a cheap political tact to check/restrain/suppress possible counterarguments against what he has been going to do. While Abe tries to be as vague as possible in his English speeches, he uses his favorite media and a racist group such as Zaitokukai to attack his opponents. He cannot be a leader of a democratic country. Unfortunately, some powerful groups seem to find him a useful tool. Recent Japanese success and its decline are more or less influenced bureaucrat-initiated Keynesianism but, now, it appears to be trying to shift to Military Keynesianism, which can benefit international military corporations (mainly Japanese and American) and it's good to have disposable human resource for military service especially when US citizens got wary of war. At least, Abenomics seems to be successful in increasing "haken" dispatch workers.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I don't think South Korea have the guts to continue bullying Japan by themselves without evidence on this. So, I think SK will play it down. But even if SK doesn't change, at leat Japan feels less stress now with Asahi finally apologized.

-17 ( +1 / -18 )

GW,

Exactly. And you realise, don't you, that after Dec 10th, when Abe's secrecy law is enacted, most of the posts here are likely to be greeted by a visit in the middle of the night.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@wizwind, no, PM Abe isn't denying the atrocities during that war. Any kind of war since time immemorial has its brand of atrocious actions. Sexual slavery as in the comfort women issue and sexual slavery in the modern context are two different things. Those comfort women were perhaps snatched away from their homes during military operations but being true to the word comfort, they stayed in the camps for comfort and till now still seeking not an apology since most of those men are dead by now, but a life of comfort by having a slice of Japan and rounding the world for free while riding on the comfort women issue.

-13 ( +1 / -14 )

To whomever criticizing Abe: Who do you people think will be a better person to be PM? Pls advise me what bad ABE did. Just give me an example if U can.

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

trinklets2

Any kind of war since time immemorial has its brand of atrocious actions.

Oh right!

That makes it OK, then.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

The scary thing is, the community at large (including those in Japan) don't even know the half of it...

5 ( +7 / -2 )

No article damaged reputations. Japan itself was an invader at the time, forcing women inti slavery and committed other attrocities which have resulted in a bad reputation. The bad reputation continues simply because Japan's politicians refuse to accept the past. Most countries have pasts with horrible actions instigated by government from the sane period, including America.

The reason for denial to claims like the premise of the article is unknown because the majority of the people who caused or aided theze attrocities in all theze places are long dead, blaming people not born for attrocities they had nothing to Do with is Also wrong

4 ( +6 / -2 )

There were atrocities committed by the Imperial Japanese Army that were FAR worse than "comfort women." exactly ask my grandfather how well he was treated by the imperial army during his stay in a POW camp. hell tell that stray dogs have a better life than the years he was imprisoned. problem with Abe and all his goons is that any witnesses that arnt Japanese arnt credible. documented facts LOL any documents proving Jgov involvement would be detroyed long ago

2 ( +3 / -1 )

To whomever criticizing Abe: Who do you people think will be a better person to be PM? Pls advise me what bad ABE did. Just give me an example if U can

Well duh.............here is a fairly recent example he went off to yasukuni to worship war criminals, good enough for ya!

And just because abe thinks Japans war criminals aren't war criminals, doesnt make him right

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Japan's reputation HAS been tarnished abroad. There is no denying it. But it's not because of some erroneous news report from the 90's. In the last 2 years at least a dozen stories that have linked the name "Abe" and "War Criminals" have been printed internationally. Add that to the fact that Japan and the Abe government has be publicly rebuked by China, SK and the United States this year alone and you can see for yourself why Japan's reputation isn't the greatest right now.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

When world is trying to think ISIS etc, Abe talks Asahi etc to remind Japan's problem so that other countries will refresh Japan's atrocity stories.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Actually I think the Asahi articles probably helped to repair Japan's image abroad.

Regardless of the fact that they turned out to be made up, they rang true at the time, fitted with what was already known, and it was in the vein of what people wanted to hear. At last someone has broken the old soldiers' vow of omerta, the world thought.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

they rang true at the time

No, they didn't. When Asahi carried Yoshida's article for the first time decades ago, Yoshida right way said it was made up, but Asahi did not listen.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I know some countries have habits of yelling down when someone trying to verify this issue. First, I want to know whole hard evidence of this issue, we should let fair historian to verify what happened.

Also I heard Korea had same system "comfort women for UN troops", after Korean war. But they hardly review it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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