Saturday, April 4, 2015

Tragic Pages of History by Erick San Juan

This month is my birth month and my baby sitter, Yaya Beata's, a comfort woman during the Japanese war time regime.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer's article dated 2/20/15 catched my curiosity. It said  that more than 2,000 people sued the  Asahi newspaper and demanded that it place international advertisements apologizing for its coverage of wartime sex slavery saying that it has stained Japan's reputation.

The move is allegedly the latest salvo in the battle over Japan's history, which pits an increasingly aggressive revisionist right wing against cowed mainstream media that accepted Japan's guilt over it's World War 2  atrocities.

The Asahi newspaper reports on 'comfortk women' was reportedly instrumental in forging global opinion that the Japanese government and it's military were involved in organizing a formalized system of sex slavery.(Agence France Presse)

Mainstream historians say, up to 200,000 women (possibly 'Beata' and others were not yet included in the list), many from Korea, China, Indonesia, Philippines and Taiwan served in the Japanese military brothels called 'comfort stations'.

AFP report added that most agree that these women were forced and the Japanese Imperial Army and it's wartime government were involved in their enslavement.

According to the report, Asahi newspaper has produced a series of articles between 1982 to 1997 with documented evidence coming from the late S. Ishida about how he participated in sending South Korean women in Japanese army brothels.

The Shinzo Abe administration has reportedly stepped up work on the revision of history. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that the Asahi materials have caused significant damage to Japan's national interests due to unfounded insinuations that Tokyo contributed to the forced mobilization of women to 'comfort stations'. In a similar tone, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Y. Suga promised at the state level to strengthen advocacy on "restoring honor and credibility of the country", as well as the creation a correct view of history abroad.

Due to pressure, the management of Asahi newspaper was forced to make an apology and promised to release retraction of it's past publications on comfort women. As a result of large scale criticisms of the newspaper, it's president and editor were forced to leave their posts.

Japan's parliament called to push through the legislature a resolution directly denying the fact of coercion of women from Asian countries to sexual slavery and review the statement of former Chief Cabinet Secretary Y. Kono's admission of guilt and correct the distortions in school textbooks.

South Korea's criticism of Japan's policy does not weaken. Last March 10, South Korea issued a statement saying that,"Tokyo must have the courage to soberly assess the history to restore the confidence of it's neighboring countries and the international community."

Even US official warned Japan on harsh steps distorting historical events, particularly in preparation for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's speech on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War 2 in August.

Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel during her last March visit to Japan stressed that Germany had found the strength to express deep remorse and apology for the past events and established peace and cooperation in Europe.

Observers believe that Japan's course to review the history, the denial of actions of it's army during the war that caused large civilian casualties in Asia was dictated by the desire of the Japanese nationalist leadership to push the process of preparing legislative basis in departing from the constitution of post-war pacifist principles and justify steps to strengthen it's military capabilities.

Kaname Harada , a once feared 'samurai of the sky', shooting down allied aircraft as a pilot of Japan's legendary Zero fighter plane during World War 2 warned Japan against ever going to war again. He said that nothing is terrifying as war. It is a warning that Mr. Harada fears his countrymen may soon no longer be able to hear. (Intl. New York Times, April 4,2015)

Japan is now systematically preparing for remilitarization but many Asian neighbors hope that Japan will not repeat the tragic pages of history.

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