yushi comments

Posted in: Japan asks U.S. publisher to change 'sex slave' reference in textbook See in context


I disagree for it overly exaggerates the hardships with play on words like "forced to render". It's a profession that was legal at that time and it still is in various parts of Europe.

Okay, I understand why you disagree with the position taken by the AWF.

Private brothels attached or operated close to the military. It's an operation that exists even today. The most common in the recent past are local operators who recruit local women with no regulation to how these women were recruited or the labor conditions in which they were subjected to, attach closely to the newly occupied military. In regards to Japan comfort women system in general, the women were recruited by operators in their territories and were granted passage to the battle area overseas attaching themselves to a military unit or command area. Not even worth placing neither issues in textbooks,IMO.

Thank you for responding. I have a better feeling from where you are coming from. As a Canadian educated in an Asian studies department of a foreign university I can tell you that your understanding of this issue does not fall within the mainstream academic understanding, but you already know this.

More important than the worldwide consensus, which you or I are not going to change, seems to me to be the fact that you don't agree with the Asian Women's Fund, which received support (tacit if not financial) from the Japanese government. Your opinion is also at odds with the Kono Statement, which your government (if you are a Japanese citizen) officials supports. With this in mind, perhaps your energy is misspent trying to dialogue with a non-Japanese audience when we are mostly educated differently, and mostly familiar with the work of the AWF and the official position of the government of Japan. It is hard for people to avoid labeling you as a 'denier' or 'revisionist' when you clearly want the official position to be revised. Maybe your efforts should be directed towards changing this official narrative (perhaps they already are).

As a Canadian who has access to the many memoirs of POWs who went through the war, survived various deprivations (including slavery) and then felt the need to leave records of what they saw and experienced, the documentation and circumstantial evidence combined with accounts of comfort women (yes, they are often well after the fact) seem plausible. That was my only point. If one group of people could be reduced to slavery, why not another group? I realize that this logic does not prove that they were slaves, but, combined with the documents and testimonies that we do have it is enough for most in the global community. Again, I think this is also something that you are aware of.

Personally, I have always felt that a look at the government-ordered comfort stations for the U.S. occupation forces are a good place to start from and work backwards. The RAA (Recreation and Amusement Association) was judged to be problematic and to contain coercive elements and mistreatment of the women, which along with other reasons led SCAP to shut them down. How much worse must life have been for women shipped all throughout Asia? Coercion and prostitution seem to often be intertwined, officially-sanctioned or not. In the case of the comfort stations, they were officially sanctioned. This is probably the rosiest view of the system possible... the Dutch government, not to mention the governments of other Asian countries, do not take such a mild view, I'm afraid.

At any rate, I thank you for the dialogue.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Posted in: Japan asks U.S. publisher to change 'sex slave' reference in textbook See in context


You initially quoted the Asian Women's Fund's English page with the following quote:

"...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..."

When I mentioned that this is a personal testimony that stands in contrast with many other personal testimonies, you replied by saying:

It's not a personal testimony. It's an exerpt from a report by U.S. Army right after the capture of a military unit. This is primary evidence.

Or is it? Here is the full quote:

The records of a prisoner-of-war interrogation conducted by the US military include the claim that, at a comfort station run by a Korean manager in Myitkyina, Burma, the women were free to go on outings, participated in sports, and had picnics, giving the impression that the comfort woman had an elegant lifestyle. However, we might take into account the fact that these were testimonies before the US military interrogators.


Sounds like a personal account to me, and yes, eyewitness accounts of victims are all considered primary sources. Of course people will lie or embellish, which I'm afraid to say you just seem to have done.

Here is the top paragraph from the same AWF page:

Women at comfort stations were forced to render sexual services to many officers and men, their human dignity trampled upon. According to various regulations, comfort stations were open for long time from 9:00. or 10:00 . to late evening. There were such regulations as that of Morikawa unit stationed in Huarongzen, regulating soldier time from 10:00 to 18:00, noncommissioned officer time from 19:00 to 21:00.

This seems to be a reasonable, if mild, assessment of life at comfort stations. It excludes the issue of how the women got there, but would that matter so much if they had all been well-treated and free to leave?

Again, I am confused about who you believe the comfort women were and how they were treated at comfort stations. Would you mind sharing your opinion with us?

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Posted in: Japan asks U.S. publisher to change 'sex slave' reference in textbook See in context

nigelboy - you provide the following quote from the corpus of information provided by the Asian Women's Fund:

"...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..."

This personal testimony has been quoted often to support the position that there was no element of coercion in the comfort station system. Of course, there are other personal accounts that tell a different story.

Do you feel that the above quote represents the experience and treatment of the majority, if not all women working at the hundreds of comfort stations during the war (with, of course, a very few exceptions)? In not, it would really help me if you could give your opinion of who the ianfu were and what you think their status at the comfort stations was?

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Posted in: Japan asks U.S. publisher to change 'sex slave' reference in textbook See in context

The debate rages on...

Although a lot of controversy seems to lie in the minutia of just how the women got to the comfort stations, I have always found it curious that their actually situation at the stations is continually called into question (ie. were they forced into providing sexual services and unable to leave, or were they all well-paid prostitutes). Considering that Japan was officially censured on numerous occasions for enslaving large numbers of allied prisoners of war (along with Nazi Germany), not to mention others peoples, why is so hard to accept that women might have found themselves similarly enslaved?

It seems difficult to see how slavery could be kosher with regards to POWs, but then so 'improbable' when it comes to women.

3 ( +4 / -2 )

Posted in: Ben Affleck defends Muslims on U.S. TV talk show See in context

Coming out of a childhood in the charismatic Christian movement I can say that fundamentalist Muslims do not have a monopoly on 'crazy.' Does that mean we throw Anglicans or other staid Christian denominations under the bus?

Maher called the entirety of Islam a 'gangster' religion, and Harris implied that the problem with Islam, with it's 'concentric circles' is just one of degree. Affleck was right to call them out on this.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Afghanistan and Pakistan do have serious problems with fundamentalist Islamic teaching and practice. We would be hypocrites to support or ignore it... but we do. A Westerner might inquire into the role of Western powers in propping up repressive regimes that rob the citizenry of those countries of hope and dignity.

However, the majority of Muslims DON'T live in those countries. Why would we group Indonesians, Indian Muslims, Bangladeshis and others with them?

Sam Harris may do a good job of pointing out the absurdities of fundamentalist belief, but what does he really offer in place of morally-concerned moderate religious practitioners? The belief that humanity may be perfected through 'meme' re-education and scientific progress?

I'd sooner sit in the back pew of a 'liberal' church than listen to that dangerous tripe.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Posted in: China rereleases Japanese war crimes 'confessions' - again See in context

@ JoeBigs

If you are really a student of history you would know that it is written by the victors.

Very true. The victors emphasize the crimes of the losers while conveniently forgetting their own. So what does this have to do with Imperial Japan's war crimes? Are you saying that the victors flat out lied about Japan's war crimes?

Communist China continues to commit crimes against humanity while Japan hasn't committed one in over 70 years!

True, Imperial Japan has not committed a war crime in China for 70 years. Of course, Imperial Japan no longer exists and your point eludes me. Do China's atrocities offset Imperial Japan's atrocities? Would your misdeeds cancel out mine?

Historical accuracy aside, I get that almost all sides are chock full of hypocrites... but I thought we were talking about historical accuracy.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: China rereleases Japanese war crimes 'confessions' - again See in context


1glennSep. 01, 2014 - 06:00PM JST

As a student of history, and of World War II, it bothers me greatly that almost no Japanese know about the thousands of war crimes committed in their name.*

I can't imagine why so many people dislike this inoffensive comment. Specific events and issues aside, the behavior of the Japanese on the continent is both well known and uncontroversial. Is a general ignorance of history preferable to historical knowledge in the population of a country? Do people disagree with the idea that Imperial Japan committed war crimes or that there were '1000's' of them?

And yes, it also greatly bothers students of history that Canadians don't know much about their governments dealings with the aboriginals, North Americans about racism against early Asian immigrants, Chinese about Mao, and Japanese about the struggles of the minorities in their midst.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Posted in: Hotel in Seoul refuses to hold party by Japanese embassy for SDF See in context

If the article is to be believed, the event is in rather bad taste. When did someone think that holding a party to celebrate the formation of Japanese military units on Korean soil would be a good idea? The normalization treaty of 1965 aside, the reality is that Koreans and Japanese, from the governmental level on down, dispute what happened during the Japanese occupation. Why would anyone, especially the military, poke this open sore?

Tinawatanabe is right, this is probably more about wining and dining than basic cultural sensitivity.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Posted in: Should I stay or should I go? See in context

Long-term residence in Japan does require an individual to be somewhat self-contained. I think that Donald Richie expressed this best when he talked about the joys of NOT being a Japanese in Japan. Japan can be an interesting and enjoyable ride when viewed largely as an outsider. Donald Keene would obviously be on the other end of the spectrum, and all the credit to him on his legal and psychological success in becoming Japanese. Having lived in several countries I can say that Japan has many things going for it, but a rich communal sense of belonging is often elusive. Overtly social people seem to suffer more than the quiet and introspective types, and through no fault of their own I might add. Has anyone else found this to be the case?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Australian PM denies closer Japan ties hurt China relations See in context

Of course any leader would be quick to assert that strengthening economic and political ties with one trade partner will not conflict with similar ties to another, yet I think you would have to seriously will yourself into believing that this is in any way possible. China will continue to do business with Australia (and Japan for that matter), but the reality is that Australia has the choice of entering into the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (with China and Russia at the core) or to join with the alternative TPP crowd (in which the second largest economy has not been invited to join). It is safe to say that as these two spheres of influence seek to expand, confrontation on many levels will be the result. In such a reality, you could very well argue that Australia IS involved in a zero-sum game, while at the same time sympathizing with their situation. The question is, are they making the right choice?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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