Spotlight: Japanese gov't dishonest in denying archives proving forceful recruitment of "comfort women": expert

TOKYO -- The Japanese government once again denied the forceful recruitment of "comfort women" by the Japanese military before and during World War Two, despite a number of government archives brought into light recently that showed women were forced into sexual slavery.

"It was rather dishonest for the government to deny what has been said in its own documents," said Hirofumi Hayashi, a professor of politics at the Kanto Gakuin University and one of the discoverers of the documents stored in the National Archives of Japan.


"We brought about 200 women and girls as comfort women to Bali under the orders of the Okuyama unit (of the Japanese army)," said a former Japanese navy official in a testimony after the war.

Copies of the testimony and 181 other documents were submitted by the National Archives of Japan to the Japanese Cabinet Secretariat earlier this year at the request of local civil groups.

The documents were mainly records of the Tokyo Tribunal and trials on Class-B and Class-C war criminals, and have been stored at the National Archives of Japan from 1999.

"Many of the documents include specific descriptions that confirm women were coerced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during the war," said Hayashi, discoverer of the majority of the 182 documents from the large amount of government archives.

In one such example, a ruling in the "Pontianak Trial No. 13 Case" reads "many women were violently threatened and forced."

Civil groups had requested the documents be submitted to the government in 2015 but were refused.

Another request was made this February and copies of the documents were then submitted to the Cabinet Secretariat.


Regarding the documents, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Hagiuda claimed at a press conference on Wednesday that the documents "could not prove the forceful recruitment of 'comfort women.'"

He went on and asserted that Japan has found no documents confirming that the "comfort women" were forcefully recruited by military or government authorities.

When answering reporters' questions about whether the government would conduct further investigations into these documents, he claimed that it would be very difficult.

"The government is deliberately ignoring the fact that there are specific words depicting coercion in the documents," said Hayashi.

"The Abe administration is being dishonest about the 'comfort women' issue," he said.

Japanese politician Yohei Kono said in a statement in 1993, when he was the chief cabinet secretary, that he had discovered documented evidence that the Japanese army established and ran "comfort stations."

He essentially admitted that the Japanese army had been involved in the establishment of comfort facilities and coercion had been used in the recruitment and retention of the women.

The Abe administration, however, has since denied what has been revealed by Kono and claimed that there were no documents found proving that coercion had been used.

"We really hope the government read the documents closely and will admit the historical fact that comfort women were forced into sexual slavery. We will continue to urge the government to take its due responsibility," said Hayashi.


Hayashi further pointed out that the Abe administration and the ruling parties have been pressuring schools not to teach students about the "comfort women" issue.

"Contents about comfort women were deleted from history textbooks of junior high schools and much reduced in senior high school textbooks. Teachers who teach students about this by themselves were attacked by far-right wing forces," he said.

"Even in universities, such a tendency is growing. For many young professors who work under a one-year contract, if they are attacked by far right-wing forces for teaching students about the comfort women issue, universities tend to not renew their contracts," he said.

"In general, now it is quite difficult for the 'comfort women' issue to be taught in classrooms," he concluded.

He also noted that the government tends to allow the Imperial Rescript on Education to be used as teaching material in school.

"The Imperial Rescript on Education embodies the militaristic ideology prevalent before and during WWII. Allowing it back in schools is a negation of Japan's postwar pacifism," he said.

The Imperial Rescript on Education is an edict issued in 1890 by Emperor Meiji meant for nurturing "ideal" citizens that would sacrifice themselves for the emperor and the country.

The rescript, serving as guidelines for prewar school education, played a considerable role in supporting Japanese nationalism and promoting militarism.

[ Editor: zyq ]


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