Friday, March 02, 2007

Lies, Lies - all lies!

What would you say if someone came in to your neighborhood and kidnapped members of your family, members of your neighbor’s family, and in fact family members throughout the entire community? How would you feel if, after those family members were returned, instead of prosecuting the criminals who did this awful thing, the government took 50 years to do anything about it? How would you feel if all they did was pay you some money to compensate you and apologize?

How would you feel if all of a sudden, they changed their minds, and said it never happened?

In a move today that reminiscent of the first two of the famous monkeys “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” Japan’s Nationalist Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, did just that – “See no evil, hear no evil.” This is right up there with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad describing the Nazi holocaust of European Jews as a "myth". Well gentlemen, and I use the term facetiously, you can tell me that there is no Santa Claus and I will believe you. But when you try to tell me millions of people didn’t die in the holocaust, and the thousands of women weren’t forced into slavery in world war 2, that is where I draw the line. All I can say at this point is that both Sinzo Abe and Mahmoud Ahmadineiad should pray – and pray hard – that there is no such thing as reincarnation, nor divine justice. Because gents, come the afterlife you have one big surprise in store. The full story follows:

The Seattle Times for Friday March 2, 2007 carried the full version of the story
The Associated Press

TOKYO — Japan's nationalist prime minister denied Thursday that the country's military forced women into sexual slavery during World War II, casting doubt on a past government apology and jeopardizing a fragile detente with his Asian neighbors. The comments by Shinzo Abe, a member of a group of legislators pushing to roll back a 1993 apology to the sex slaves, were his clearest statement as prime minister on military brothels known in Japan as "comfort stations."

Historians say 200,000 women — mostly from Korea and China — served in the Japanese military brothels throughout Asia in the 1930s and 1940s. Many victims say they were kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery by Japanese troops.

But Abe, who since taking office in September has promoted patriotism in Japan's schools and a more assertive foreign policy, said there was no proof the women were forced into prostitution. "The fact is, there is no evidence to prove there was coercion," Abe said.

His remarks contradicted evidence in Japanese documents unearthed in 1992 that historians said showed military authorities had a direct role in working with contractors to forcibly procure women for the brothels.

The documents, which are backed up by accounts from soldiers and victims, said Japanese authorities set up the brothels in response to uncontrolled rape sprees by invading Japanese soldiers in East Asia.

In 1993, then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono apologized to the victims of sex slavery, though the statement did not meet demands by former "comfort women" that it be approved by parliament. Two years later, the government set up a compensation fund for victims, but it was based on private donations — not government money — and has been criticized as a way for the government to avoid owning up to the abuse.

The mandate for the fund is to expire March 31. Abe's comments were certain to rile South Korea and China, which accuse Tokyo of failing to fully atone for wartime atrocities. Abe's government has been recently working to repair relations with Seoul and Beijing.

The statement came just hours after South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun marked a national holiday honoring the anniversary of a 1919 uprising against Japanese colonial rule by urging Tokyo to come clean about its past. Roh also referred to hearings held by the U.S. House of Representatives last month on a resolution urging Japan to "apologize for and acknowledge" the imperial army's use of sex slaves during the war.

"The testimony reiterated a message that no matter how hard the Japanese try to cover the whole sky with their hand, there is no way that the international community would condone the atrocities committed during Japanese colonial rule," Roh said.

Dozens of people also rallied outside the Japanese Embassy in Seoul to mark the anniversary, lining up dogs' heads on the ground with pieces of paper in their mouths listing names of Koreans who allegedly collaborated with the Japanese during its 1910-45 colonial rule. Organizers said the animals were killed at a restaurant; dogs are regularly eaten in Korea. Roh's office said late Thursday it did not have a direct response to the Japanese leader's remarks. In Beijing, calls to the Chinese Foreign Ministry seeking comment on the remarks were not returned.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack would not comment on Abe's statement.
The sex-slave question has been a cause célèbre for nationalist politicians and scholars in Japan who claim the women were professional prostitutes and were not coerced into servitude by the military.

Before Abe spoke Thursday, a group of ruling Liberal Democratic Party legislators discussed their plans to push for an official revision of Kono's 1993 apology. Nariaki Nakayama, chairman of the group of about 120 legislators, sought to play down the government's involvement in the brothels by saying it was similar to a school that hires a company to run its cafeteria.

"Some say it is useful to compare the brothels to college cafeterias run by private companies, who recruit their own staff, procure foodstuffs and set prices," he said.
"Where there's demand, businesses crop up ... but to say women were forced by the Japanese military into service is off the mark," he said. "This issue must be reconsidered, based on truth ... for the sake of Japanese honor."

Sex-slavery victims, however, say they still suffer wounds — physical and psychological — from the war. Lee Yong-soo, 78, a South Korean, said she was 14 when Japanese soldiers took her from her home in 1944 to work as a sex slave in Taiwan. "The Japanese government must not run from its responsibilities," said Lee, who has long campaigned for Japanese compensation. "I want them to apologize. To admit that they took me away, when I was a little girl, to be a sex slave. To admit that history


Anonymous said...

What is almost worse than horrific tragedy and suffering is the world's denial that it has even occured. I think of Elie Wiesel's words about the dangers of indifference. He is a beautiful man. -Erin

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comment. It is easy to deny such things, especially when they make us feel uncomfortable. Yet each day, my father, could say hello to his secretary, who had a number tattooed on her forearm - she escaped the death camps of world war 2. - Sr. Julie

Dan in Tx said...

Reminds me of all the anti-Semites who claim the Holocaust didn't happen. There's a little thing called irrefutable proof that such people don't seem to understand.

Sadly, the act of forcing women into prostitution is still with us- the CIA beleives this is the second largest moneymaker for South American crime cartels, second only to drug smuggling and having just passed arms smuggling last year. It is a billions-of-dollars a year industry worldwide that affects an estimated 800,000 women and children. Most vitims are tricked into the business with a bait-and-switch: "we'll smuggle you to (the U.S. from Latin America, Europe from Africa, the Middle East and Western Europe from Eastern Europe and Russia are the most common) and get you a job as a waitress, housecleaner, nanny, etc. until you pay your smuggling fees off" Of course when these women get there they find they are literally forced at peril of their lives into a much different situation. Some victims are literally sold by their families at a young age, either because their famileis were tricked into thinking something else or because they needed money more than another mouth to feed (remember, women are very much undervalued and third-class citizens with no civil rights in many parts of the world). At the present time I have at least a hundred articles about forced prostitution on my computer, all from reputable agencies like the U.S. State Department, the CIA, the U.N., Amnesty International, newsgroups, and human rights and crime watchdog groups.

It is not an urban myth. And these women are not willing participants.
If you would like to know more, e-mail and I'll gladly share these articles.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comment Dan, I appreciate it. People often see the world not as it is, but as the NEED for it to be - and desperately so. It appears that is what is happening here. But the attitude of two of the famous three monkeys "see no evil and hear no evil" doesn't work - the evil is still there.

thanks for the comment

- Sister Julie