In the Muddy Waters of Historical Revisionism: Isolated from International Society (Part 2)

by Kazuko Itō, Lawyer and Human Right Activist
Excerpt from her Blog

(Part 1)

Most women who were forced to be taken as sex slaves were minors. If Japanese politicians really believe that under-age girls, who were living their lives threatened by knives and guns during Japan’s military occupation, were all voluntarily and arbitrarily drafted, then they lack common sense and overall sensitivity to human rights.

Worse than that, they seek to downplay Japan’s action by declaring that other states too used to have a sex slavery system, which is equivalent to a molester refusing to take responsibility for his actions simply because he knows others that did it too.

With such an attitude, Japan will not be able to recover its honor.

They should study the basics of human rights.

It seems that the Japanese government condones the arguments of some Japanese politicians despite the harms this causes to victims. One of the roles of any government is to rebut such shameful beliefs maintained by some politicians and educate people in order to prevent it from happening again, but the Japanese government is neglecting its duties by not making any comment.

The Big Gap between International Common Sense and Excuses That Japan Makes Only Exposes Japan's Shame Further

International conflict over the issue of sex slavery is not merely a bilateral political problem between South Korea and Japan, but it’s also an issue of Japan's international responsibility as a perpetrator for its damaging actions against women from other Asian countries as well as the Netherlands.

More importantly, international society has been paying attention to how serious infringements on women’s human rights should be compensated and it is focusing on how Japan will deal with the issue as a state that has inflicted damage.

When a state is aware of a serious infringement of human rights, it should investigate what happened, reveal the facts, name people who are responsible, punish them, and compensate the victims. And as a state, it should identify measures so that it never happens again. This is an established and stable approach in order to guard against the infringement of human rights, and is unanimously supported by the international community.

A state involved in the infringement of human rights is bound to such obligations. This principle has been agreed upon in international society for a long time.

Particularly, the serious infringement of human rights like sexual abuse under international conflict is recognized as one of the most shameful human rights infringements. Overcoming it is recognized as one of the most important issues.

Leaving such conducts unpunished concerns the entire international community.

It is disappointing that the Japanese government remains absolutely irrelevant and ignorant about how far international society has reached in terms of human rights protection and it does not understand the seriousness of the matter.

Japan reduces the matter to a question of whether there was forceful capture or not, and it argues that without forceful capture there is no infringement of human rights and it therefore has no responsibility to pay damages if there isn't any evidence. Such an argument won’t work at all.

Japan's excuses and its denial of the facts is so disgraceful internationally that it only dishonors Japan terribly.

As for the history of the Nazi Holocaust, Germany admitted its responsibility for damage and expressed its apology, after much deliberation. However, at least they did not deny nor diminish their responsibility in this matter. Germany overcame the grave crimes, remembers it, and teaches its people thoroughly, and has continued sincere efforts to prevent the recurrence of this horrific event.

These policies give Germany moral authority and respect from the international community even though it was involved in these serious infringements of human rights.

Japan, as a state that experienced the damage from nuclear bombs, has also put into practice the renunciation of war for a long time, dealing with its responsibility as a war offender no matter how inconclusive it may have been.

However, while denying the facts these days, Japan is losing its moral authority.

Original Article: http://wan.or.jp/book/?p=8093&page=2
Translated by Atsuko Ishikawa


In the Muddy Waters of Historical Revisionism: Isolated from International Society (Part 1)

by Kazuko Itō, Lawyer and Human Right Activist
Excerpt from her Blog

August 15th was the anniversary of the end of the war ... Why did not Prime Minister mention Japan's responsibility for the damage during the war?

Yesterday was the anniversary of the end of the war. Prime Minister Shinzō Abe attended the Memorial Ceremony of the War Dead, which was held by the government.

In his address of the ceremony, neither did he mention Japan's responsibility for the damage inflicted on other Asian countries nor did he state the renunciation of war, as his predecessors had done. He did not mention them last year, either.

I suspect he intentionally did not mention these words two years in a row. Not only in other countries but also in Japan people worry about his attitude.

PM repeats to phrase "future-oriented relationships," but only victims have the right to say "let bygones be bygones. Let's develop future-oriented relationships." Offenders are not entitled to claim such relationships.

On the same day, South Korean President Park said "Now, South Korea and Japan should overview the new 50 years and build an amiable and cooperative relationship thinking about the future," showing that she is willing to improve the bilateral relationship.

Pointing out that in order to do so, some efforts should be made to heal our historical wounds, she asked Japan to solve the issue of Sex Slave. They both talk about future-oriented relationships but their visions are different.

Of all the days in a year, on the anniversary of the end of World War II, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) held an urgent meeting.

More concerned is the move of the LDP.

On 15th, the LDP's association of MPs, "The Association that Talks about Japanese Future and History Education," held an urgent meeting and agreed that they were going to investigate the facts about the issue of Sex Slave.

This was followed by the report that the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's second-largest daily newspaper, retracted a series of articles on the women forced by Japan to serve in military brothels during World War II. As a chief of the LDP's policy research council, Takaichi insisted that, what we should do now is recover Japan’s honor and correct the wrong information spread over the world.

Her course of action is clear. She wants to recover Japan’s honor, saying, “Japan has not done such an evil thing.” Such an argument made by Japanese conservatives does not have a global currency. Japan is being left behind by a trend of promoting human rights in international society.

Don't they realize that they don't have any vision so they are losing Japan's honor rather than recovering it?

In August, the Asahi Shimbun retracted a part of past article after verifying a man's testimony, which said that during World War II, in Korea, then a Japanese colony, Japan forcefully transported hundreds of young women.

But why can they deny the fact that Japan forcefully transported women or Japan’s responsibility for damaging other Asian countries based on the judgment that the only one man’s testimony was false?

Even on the website of the Asian Women’s Fund, whose establishment was supported by the Japanese government, you can find articles mentioning forceful transportation. http://www.awf.or.jp/e-guidemap.htm

The conservatives are obsessed with whether material evidence to prove that Japan forced women to transport exists, trivializing the issue as if they are saying, “if you cannot find any material evidence, Japan has no responsibility for damaging the women.” Such an attitude deviates from the decent sense of human rights. As they make excuses, they are revealing that the Japanese lawmakers do not have a basic understanding of human rights. As a result, they disgrace themselves before the world.

Some young women were deceived if not forcefully taken but can Japan really make excuse, saying, “Japan did not forcefully take you to anywhere so although you were confined in a small space, savagely treated, and raped day and night, Japan was not guilty”?

Does any country or individual which make such an arrogant excuse deserve respect from others?

Their argument is almost equivalent to that of a criminal who says, “I'm not guilty because what I committed was not a robbery but a mere fraud” or “I'm not guilty because it was not a rape but it was only a sexual assault against a person who cannot offer resistance.”

As Japan is a constitutional state, it is not allowed to make such an excuse, is it?

Can’t they imagine how offensive their behaviors are?
I hesitate to say this but their personality is problematic.

Original Article: http://wan.or.jp/book/?p=8093
Translated by Atsuko Ishikawa


“The Coming of the New Class Society: Gender Matters” Chizuko Ueno’s Presentation at ISA World Congress of Sociology (July 2014)

ISA World Congress of Sociology (Facing an Unequal World: Challenging for Global Society) was held in Japan from July 13th to 18th, 2014. The Congress is held once every four years and over 4,000 sociologists gathered in Yokohama, Japan this time.
Program Information

Chizuko Ueno, chairperson of WAN, made a presentation at the Opening Presidential Panel, under the title of “the Coming of the New Class Society: Gender Matters.”

Presidential Plenary I: Facing an unequal World
Her presentation is available online at http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/50029763 (starting from 00:59:00)

Original Article: Chizuko’s Blog No. 75
Adopted and Translated by Fumie Saito