politics

Chief of 'comfort women' museum wants Japan to come to terms with past

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By Keiji Hirano

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Mina Watanabe doing a good job god luck persuading the rest of Japan to follow her lead.

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Welcome to Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace

In this summer of 2005, which marks the sixtieth anniversary of Japan’s defeat in WWII, we are opening the Women’s Active Museum of War and Peace.

After the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery was held in 2000, we began dreaming of a museum where all the Tribunal records and materials related to the so-called “comfort women” issue could be preserved and made available to future generations. The passion of the late Yayori Matsui, then chairperson of VAWW-NET Japan, was the driving force that led us to realize this dream. In June 2003, we established the NPO “Women’s Fund for Peace and Human Rights” and launched our “Raise 100,000,000 Yen Campaign” for the museum with an initial support fund from Yayori’s legacy.

The Women’s Active Museum of War and Peace is a place where the reality of war crimes is recorded and kept for posterity. We come here to remember historical facts about “comfort women,” and to listen to their stories. And we raise our voices and say, “Never Again, anywhere in the world.”

More than a decade has passed since the women survivors of Japan’s military sexual violence courageously began to speak out. Their stories have challenged us in many ways. They have taught us that war crimes are never rectified unless the State faces its crimes; that a genuine apology and promise to prevent recurrence from the State is an absolute necessity; that in order to overcome the past we need to keep the memory of past aggression alive, and pass it on to future generations.

Here in Japan, there are those who deny the fact of military sexual slavery, and try to evade responsibility for it. But however vigorously they may seek to deny them, historical facts can never be erased.

Please listen to the voices of the women survivors. Come and join us in asking why these things happened and are still happening, and in thinking about how we might work together to bring about a non-violent world where peace and equality are realities rather than dreams.

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As the new chief of a Tokyo museum focusing on wartime sexual violence against women, Mina Watanabe faces a great challenge: How to preserve and pass on the memories of those who were forced into sexual servitude as "comfort women" under the Imperial Japanese military.

Knowing this country, I'd say its an impossible challenge

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Those who advocate Women's rights are on the right track. Unfortunately the Comfort Women issue has been hijacked for political purposes and people like this Watanabe, either knowingly or unknowingly, are being used. It doesn't take a genius to look over the exchange between South Korea and Japan concerning the Comfort Women issue to see that each time Japan pays with the intent that the money goes to the survivors and each time the South Korean government ensures that it doesn't reach them. Organizations like the Chong Dae Yup coach survivors in their "testimonies" and pressure them to reject compensation. There is an obvious lack of good faith in South Korea's negotiations and an intent to simply keep the issue alive forever, even after signing an agreement that states that the issue is resolved permanently.

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anyone who insists on using the term comfort women instead of the accurate term sex slave is not worthy of the kindness shown by the USA when it won the war and spared the lives of the Japanese people and the very existence of Japan

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There is an obvious lack of good faith in South Korea's negotiations and an intent to simply keep the issue alive forever, 

Well said Ossan America, well said. Always the voice of reason in this issue. What I would like to know, who is financing this "museum ". Real big rent in Tokyo. It averages just 19 visitors a day. Bankrolled by SK government propaganda machine?

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listen to two former Japan Army soldiers who were stationing China and others tell their stories https://wam-peace.org/en/

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anyone who insists on using the term comfort women instead of the accurate term sex slave is not worthy of the kindness shown by the USA when it won the war and spared the lives of the Japanese people and the very existence of Japan

It has been reported that the surviving "comfort women" dislike the term "sex slave." I do not read Korean but I do read the Japanese editions of Korean newspapers. Those newspapers use 従軍慰安婦 or "comfort women" just as Japanese newspapers do.

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The usual right-wing deniers out in force, I see.

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macvToday  03:10 pm JST

anyone who insists on using the term comfort women instead of the accurate term sex slave is not worthy of the kindness shown by the USA when it won the war and spared the lives of the Japanese people and the very existence of Japan

Anyone who uses the term "sex slaves" is, either knowingly or out of ignorance, participating in the misinformation war against Japan and ultimately the United States. The Comfort Women were employees of the Japanese military and were paid. Some paid their way out, some even earning more than the average IJA soldier. They were not "slaves". The term "sex slaves" was coined by the Chong Dae Hyup to invoke more emotional reaction than the accurate "Military Prostitutes". Which is the term used to describe the women forced to work in similar German and French systems.

The sheer idiocy of claiming that "Comfort Women" is a euphemism for "Military Prostitutes" is that South Korea refers to the many women employed in the South Korean government backed military prostitution system created to serve the U.S. Military as "Comfort Women". In Japan and South Korea and China, the term "Comfort Women" is more dignified and less degrading than calling them prostitutes.

"Surprisingly, the comfort women system did not end in 1945. The Korean War brought comfort stations for troops from the United States. Indeed, the South Korean government supported this peninsular comfort women system. Former president Park Chung-hee personally signed an order in 1977 to clean up the “camptowns” where “Western princesses” serviced U.S. troops. The aim? To keep the American military in South Korea and U.S. dollars flowing into the economy. South Korean women who work at the brothels thronging U.S. bases are still stuck in an endless cycle of sex work and societal discrimination."

https://taskandpurpose.com/much-may-think-know-korean-comfort-women-wrong/

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Ossan - factually wrong on a number of counts.

Please broaden your reading horizon.

There is a multitude of resources to paint a different model than the "They were all paid prostitutes".

And thank you for noting that the sexual exploitation of women, esp by militaries, continued after the war and in fact continues till this day in conflict zones.

This is exactly the crime that Watanabe & WAM focus on.

Failing to learn from history allows for repitition upon repitition.

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browny1Today  10:36 pm JST

Ossan - factually wrong on a number of counts.

Please broaden your reading horizon.

There is a multitude of resources to paint a different model than the "They were all paid prostitutes".

I suggest you broaden your reading horizon. Every documented evidence supports the fact that the Comfort Women System was organized, had a pay scale, included welfare such as health and medications. There exists no documented evidence suggesting otherwise.Therefore it is factually correct. If they were paid, they were "paid prostitutes". There may be isolated incidents which are the exception, not the rule. Exceptions and dubious "testimonies" do not alter the fact that the Comfort Women System was an organized one.

""They lived in near-luxury in Burma in comparison to other places. They lived well because their food and material was not heavily rationed and they had plenty of money with which to purchase desired articles. They were able to buy cloth, shoes, cigaretes, and cosmetics to supplement the many gifts given to them by soldiers who had received 'comfort bags' from home."

"While in Burma, they amused themselves by participating in sports events with both officers and men, and attended picnics, entertainments, and social dinners. They had a phonograph, and in the towns they were allowed to go shopping."

"In an average month, a girl would gross about 1,500 yen (half of which she turned over to the master)".

"This means, a comfort girl earned 750 yen a month. To give you an idea of how humongous this salary was, a Japanese Imperial Army sergeant at the time was paid 30 yen a month."

Were "ALL" comfort women paid? Probably not. But the vast majority obviously were, as being paid was an established part of the system. Were "ALL" comfort women "sex slaves"? No they were not. There may be exceptions but certainly not enough to call all of them "sex slaves". Were all Comfort Women "prostitutes"? Yes, once in the system they were. The issue is whether they were or were not before, and how they ended up there.

Perhaps you have a link to support the notion that non-payment was the norm?

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macvDec. 1  05:56 pm JST

listen to two former Japan Army soldiers who were stationing China and others tell their stories https://wam-peace.org/en/

In his testimony, he clearly testified that The Army's criminal code gave at least 7years in prison for rape and 4years in prison for just being present at the scene (of rape), Yasuji Kaneko making confession himself went against the codes

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Ossan - thank you for your reply.

The reason I reccomended widening your library ( in good faith) was you speak in absolutes. For example -  "Every documented evidence......exists no documented evidence......"etc.

Documents do exist. In English & other languages. I've noted such on this forum a number of times over the past decade, so I can't be bothered regurgitating it all again & again. Many appear to take the line of - if the evidence is burnt, then it never existed. A common strategy by denialists of all sorts of phenomena.

And of course Testimonies exist - both by Japanese soldiers, associates, locals & victims all accounting for a terribly traumatic time. But testimonies are dismissed by naysayers as mere fabrications not to be trusted - so nothing will change their perspectives.

I've never argued right or wrong, yes or no, left or right  on this issue, the same as I do on many issues, I just give observations - but frankly many can't accept that and so all the labels get slung around like a school-yard jostle.

And Ossan - I do appreciate your willingness to discuss this topic (and others) and put forward points of views, different analyses, and evidence. That's what a forum is for. Sadly some posters here either trot out ridiculous biases ad infinitum or just blindly down vote without offering a syllable of dialogue.

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macvDec. 1 03:10 pm JST

anyone who insists on using the term comfort women instead of the accurate term sex slave is not worthy of the kindness shown by the USA when it won the war and spared the lives of the Japanese people and the very existence of Japan

Japan Times issued an announcement that they will no longer use the term Sex Slave OR Comfort women, instead they will the use the term "women who worked in wartime brothels, including those who did so against their will, to provide sex to Japanese soldiers"

Makes much more sense.

They are also going to use the term "wartime laborers" to those who recently sued Japan  because the conditions they worked under or how these workers were recruited varied.

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Japan Times issued an announcement that they will no longer use the term Sex Slave OR Comfort women, instead they will the use the term "women who worked in wartime brothels, including those who did so against their will, to provide sex to Japanese soldiers"

It's nice to see there are still ethics in journalism.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

browny1

I am very disappointed that you can not bother to substantiate the documentation to which you refer, after declaring that they exist.

The excuse that documentation damning the IJA was destroyed is ridiculous because prostitution was not illegal at the time therefore there existed no need to "destroy" any evidence. As I've said before, this is the "dog ate my homework" argument. Military prostitution systems were not a chargable offense against Japan at the Tokyo Trials, not against Germany at the Nuremberg Trials.

Testimonies given by surviving CWs which have received the most media coverage and influenced world opinion has been found to be contradictory and "not credible" by several South Korean scholars. These people are not "nayersayers" and they certainly aren't Japanese or right wing.

I am only interested in the truth. Not the repetition of fallacies.

I

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Y.Jacket - thanks.

Yes it's true I can't be bothered. As I stated I've been commenting, discussing & linking on htis topic for years upon years. It just goes on and on and on.

I know that's not the answer you're looking for - so be it. I challenge you to search for more details if that's what you seek.

And your suggestion re "prostitution was legal, so destroying evidence is a ridiculous claim" - well I'll just leave it at that. Please reread my post and look at what you wrote. Your comment has no bearing on whether or not the truth has been told or what in fact happened.

The cyclical nature of this argument grinds one down after years of it. Nothing is so cut & dry as to not have viable, reliable varying sides, but essentially most people see what they want to see.

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