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Monday, November 17, 2014

FALL CIRCLE PACIFIC ADVENTURE: Day #15A--On the Matter of Comfort Women

The most troubling conflict between South Korea and Japan (left, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with South Korean President Park Geun-hye) has to do with World War II comfort women.  An article by Mindy Kotler of the International New York Times reports on the determination of the Abe administration to re-write the Imperial Military's history of wartime sexual slavery:
  • In 1942, Lieutenant Yasuhiro Nakasone, stationed in Indonesia, came up with a solution to improve the morale of his troops while reducing the incidence of venereal diseases.  He invented the Japanese military brothel.  Nakasone went on to be become Japan's Prime Minister from 1982 to 1987
  • It worked so well that the concept became standard operational procedure throughout the Pacific war region.
  • The issue attempting to being de-sensitized is the procurement process.
Just last month, the ruling Liberal Democrat Party appointed Nakasone's son, former Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone, to chair a commission established to "consider concrete measures to restore Japan's honor with regard to the comfort women issue."  You can imagine what this report will proclaim.

The current Abe government feels that these women were generally paid, or otherwise volunteered to avoid concentration camps and such.  Abe is trying to dilute the 1993 statement by Japan's chief cabinet officer, Yohei Kono (right), formally apologizing for their wartime network of brothels.

In 1996, Radhika Coomaraswamy served as the United Nations special reporter on violence against women.  For nearly two decades now she has been pressured to retract her strong views condemning Japan.  They are now working on the UN Human Rights Council to exonerate the country.
It seems like Japan is waiting for these comfort women to die to avoid paying them off.  Of the 200,000 or so said to have served, only 56 of the active protesters are alive today.  They are all approaching 90.  Seventy-seven percent of South Koreans continue to harbor an unfavorable view of Japan, and the primary reason has to do with a lack of repentance dealing with this and general occupation matters.  There is a protest every Wednesday at the Japanese Embassy in Seoul:


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