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  • Discussion: Osaka Mayor Hashimoto and GOJ WWII Sexual Slavery System: A brave debate that is suddenly and disingenuously circumspect

    Posted by arudou debito on May 27th, 2013

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    Hi Blog.  Posters on Debito.org have been champing at the bit to talk about Osaka Mayor Hashimoto’s controversial statements on the GOJ WWII sexual slavery program (which also involved NJ and colonial slaves, making this a Debito.org issue).  So let’s have at it as a Discussion in a separate blog entry.

    Below are Hashimoto’s statements to foreign press shortly before he appeared at the FCCJ on May 27. While I am disinclined to comment on the historical specifics (as I haven’t studied the WWII Sexual Slavery aka Comfort Women Issue sufficiently to make informed statements), I will say this about what Hashimoto’s doing:  He’s bringing the issue to the fore for public scrutiny.

    Bring this before public scrutiny in itself is a good thing.  Too many times we have had bigoted, racist, sexist, and plain ahistorical statements by Japan’s public officials downplayed by the media, resulting in predictable backpedaling and claiming that comments were “for a domestic audience only”.  This is typically followed by snap resignations without sufficient debate or correction (or, in recent years, people not resigning at all and just waiting for the next media cycle for things to blow over), undercarpet sweeping, and a renewed regional toxic aftertaste:  How Japan’s elite status in Asia under America’s hegemony allows it to remain historically unrepentant and a debate Galapagos in terms of historical accountability.  Japan’s media generally lacks the cojones to bring the xenophobic and bigoted to account for their statements (after all, Hashimoto to this day has not developed a filter for his role as public official; he still talks like the outspoken lawyer he was when appearing on Japanese TV as a pundit).  So having him show some unusual backbone before the foreign press is something more Japanese in positions of power should do.  Let’s have the debate warts and all, and let the historians debunk the ahistorical claims being made.  But the claims have to be made clearly in the first place before they can be debunked.

    The bad thing going on here, in my view, is that Hashimoto is rationalizing and normalizing sexual slavery as a universal part of war — as if “blaming Japan” is wrong because everyone allegedly did it.  In his words, “It would be harmful, not only to Japan but also to the world, if Japan’s violation of the dignity of women by soldiers were reported and analyzed as an isolated and unique case, and if such reports came to be treated as common knowledge throughout the world.”  That is:  Japan did nothing all that wrong because it did nothing unusually wrong.

    Hashimoto is also denying that the GOJ was “intentionally involved in the abduction and trafficking of women”.  And that is wrong both morally and factually.  It is also wrong because working backwards from a conclusion of relativism.  People (especially those of Hashimoto, Abe, and Ishihara’s political bent) have the tendency to not want to view their “beautiful country” “negatively” as the bad guy in the movie.  Therefore their countrymen’s behavior must have been within context as part of the “normal”, because to them it is inconceivable that people could possibly have acted differently in the same circumstances.

    But not only is this a dishonest assessment of history (EVERY country, yes, has a history that has shameful periods; the trick is not to cover them up, as Hashimoto’s ilk seeks to do, down to Japan’s education curriculum), but it is also disingenuously circumspect:  For Hashimoto’s ilk, not only must Japan be seen ACCURATELY (as they see it), it must be seen NICELY.  That’s simply not possible for certain time periods in Japan’s history.

    At least Hashimoto is willing to boldly present that side for people to shoot down.  Hopefully he will lose his political career because of it, for a man like this is unfit to hold political office.  But it is more “honest” than the alternative.

    Hashimoto’s statements follow in English and Japanese, plus an AJW article on the FCCJ Q&A.  After that, let’s have some comments from Debito.org Readers.  But an advance word of warning:  Although this falls under Discussions (where I moderate comments less strictly), the sensitive and contentious nature of this subject warrants a few advance ground rules:  Comments will NOT be approved if a) they seek to justify sexual slavery or human trafficking in any form, b) they try to claim that Hashimoto was misquoted without comparing the misquote to his exact quote, or c) they claim historical inaccuracy without providing credible historical sources.  In sum, commenters who seek to justify Hashimoto’s ahistorical stances will have to do more homework to be heard on Debito.org.  Conversely, comments will more likely be approved if they a) stick to the accuracy or logic of Hashimoto’s statements, b) talk about the debate milieu within Japan regarding this topic, c) take up specific claims and address them with credible sources.  Go to it.  But make sure in the course of arguing that you don’t sound like Hashimoto and his ilk yourself.  Arudou Debito

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////

    Statement by Toru Hashimoto
    Asahi Shimbun, Asia and Japan Watch, May 27, 2013, courtesy of JDG
    http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201305270012

    Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimioto issues a statement ahead of his press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo.

    * * *

    Ideals and values on which I stand:

    Today, I want to start by talking about my basic ideals as a politician and my values as a human being.

    Nothing is more regrettable than a series of media reports on my remarks with regard to the issue of so-called “comfort women.” These reports have created an image of me, both as a politician and as a human being, which is totally contrary to my real ideals and values. This has happened because only a portion of each of my remarks has been reported, cut off from the whole context.

    I attach the utmost importance to the universal values of human rights, freedom, equality and democracy, whose universality human beings have come to accept in the twenty-first century. As a constitutionalist, I also believe that the essential purpose of a nation’s constitution is to bind government powers with the rule of law and to secure freedom and rights of the people. Without such legal limitations imposed by the constitution, the government powers could become arbitrary and harmful to the people.

    My administrative actions, first as Governor of Osaka Prefecture and then as Mayor of Osaka City, have been based on these ideals and values. The views on political issues that I have expressed in my career so far, including my view of the Japanese constitution, testify to my commitment to the ideals and values. I am determined to continue to embody these ideals and values in my political actions and statements.

    As my ideals and values clearly include respect for the dignity of women as an essential element of human rights, I find it extremely deplorable that news reports have continued to assume the contrary interpretation of my remarks and to depict me as holding women in contempt. Without doubt, I am committed to the dignity of women.

    What I really meant by my remarks on so-called “comfort women”

    I am totally in agreement that the use of “comfort women” by Japanese soldiers before and during the World War 2 was an inexcusable act that violated the dignity and human rights of the women in which large numbers of Korean and Japanese were included. I am totally aware that their great pain and deep hurt were beyond description.

    I also strongly believe that Japan must reflect upon its past offenses with humility and express a heartfelt apology and regret to those women who suffered from the wartime atrocities as comfort women. Our nation must be determined to stop this kind of tragedy from occurring again.

    I have never condoned the use of comfort women. I place the greatest importance on the dignity and human rights of women as an essential part of the universal values in today’s world. It is extremely regrettable that only the cut-off parts of my remarks have been reported worldwide and that these reports have resulted in misunderstood meanings of the remarks, which are utterly contrary to what I actually intended.

    We must express our deep remorse at the violation of the human rights of these women by the Japanese soldiers in the past, and make our apology to the women. What I intended to convey in my remarks was that a not-insignificant number of other nations should also sincerely face the fact that their soldiers violated the human rights of women. It is not a fair attitude to blame only Japan, as if the violation of human rights of women by soldiers were a problem unique to the Japanese soldiers. This kind of attitude shelves the past offenses that are the very things we must face worldwide if we are truly to aim for a better world where the human rights of women are fully respected. Sexual violation in wartime was not an issue unique to the former Japanese army. The issue existed in the armed forces of the U.S.A., the UK, France, Germany and the former Soviet Union among others during World War 2. It also existed in the armed forces of the Republic of Korea during the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

    Against this historical background, I stated that “the armed forces of nations in the world” seemed to have needed women “during the past wars”. Then it was wrongly reported that I myself thought it as necessary for armed forces to use women and that “I” tolerated it.

    It is a hard historical fact that soldiers of some nations of the world have used women for sexual purposes in wars. From the viewpoint of respecting the human rights of women, it does not make much difference whether the suffering women are licensed or unlicensed prostitutes and whether or not the armed forces are organizationally involved in the violation of the dignity of the women. The use of women for sexual purposes itself is a violation of their dignity. It also goes without saying that rape of local citizens by soldiers in occupied territories and hot spots of military conflict are intolerable atrocities.

    Please do not misunderstand, and think that I intend to relativize or justify the issue of comfort women for former Japanese soldiers. Such justification has never been my intention. Whatever soldiers of other nations did will not affect the fact that the violation of the dignity of women by the former Japanese soldiers was intolerable.

    What I really meant in my remarks was that it would be harmful, not only to Japan but also to the world, if Japan’s violation of the dignity of women by soldiers were reported and analyzed as an isolated and unique case, and if such reports came to be treated as common knowledge throughout the world. It would suppress the truth that the violation of the dignity of women by soldiers not only existed in the past but also has yet to be eradicated in today’s world. Based on the premise that Japan must remorsefully face its past offenses and must never justify the offenses, I intended to argue that other nations in the world must not attempt to conclude the matter by blaming only Japan and by associating Japan alone with the simple phrase of “sex slaves” or “sex slavery.”

    If only Japan is blamed, because of the widely held view that the state authority of Japan was intentionally involved in the abduction and trafficking of women, I will have to inform you that this view is incorrect.

    While expecting sensible nations to voice the issue of the violation of the dignity of women by soldiers, I believe that there is no reason for inhibiting Japanese people from doing the same. Because the Japanese people are in a position to face the deplorable past of the use of comfort women by the former Japanese soldiers, to express deep remorse and to state their apology, they are obliged to combat the existing issue of the violation of the dignity of women by soldiers, and to do so in partnership with all the nations which also have their past and/or present offenses.

    Today, in the twenty-first century, the dignity and human rights of women have been established as a sacred part of the universal values that nations in the world share. It is one of the greatest achievements of progress made by human beings. In the real world, however, the violation of the dignity of women by soldiers has yet to be eradicated. I hope to aim for a future world where the human rights of women will be more respected. Nevertheless, we must face the past and present in order to talk about the future. Japan and other nations in the world must face the violation of the human rights of women by their soldiers. All the nations and peoples in the world should cooperate with one another, be determined to prevent themselves from committing similar offenses again, and engage themselves in protecting the dignity of women at risk in the world’s hot spots of military conflict and in building that future world where the human rights of women are respected.

    Japan must face, and thoroughly reflect upon, its past offenses. Any justification of the offenses will not be tolerated. Based on this foundation, I expect other nations in the world to face the issue of the sexual violations in the past wars as their own issue. In April this year, the G8 Foreign Ministers in London agreed upon the “Declaration on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict.” Based on this accomplishment, I expect that the G8 Summit to be held in this June in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, the UK, will become an important occasion where the leaders of G8 will examine how soldiers from nations in the world, including the former Japanese soldiers, have used women for sexual purposes, face and reflect upon the past offenses with humility, solve today’s problems in partnership with one another, and aim for the ideal future.

    With regard to my remark in the discussion with the U.S. commander in Okinawa

    There was a news report that, while visiting a U.S. military base in Okinawa, I recommended to the U.S. commander there that he make use of the adult entertainment industry to prevent U.S. soldiers from committing sexual crimes. That was not what I meant. My real intention was to prevent a mere handful of U.S. soldiers from committing crimes and strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance and the relations of trust between the two nations. In attempting to act on my strong commitment to solving the problem in Okinawa stemming from crimes committed by a minority of U.S. soldiers, I made an inappropriate remark. I will elaborate my real intention as follows.

    For the national security of Japan, the Japan-U.S. Alliance is the most important asset, and I am truly grateful to contributions made by the United States Forces Japan.

    However, in Okinawa, where many U.S. military bases are located, a small number of U.S. soldiers have repeatedly committed serious crimes, including sexual crimes, against Japanese women and children. Every time a crime has occurred, the U.S. Forces have advocated maintaining and tightening official discipline and have promised to the Japanese people that they would take measures to stop such crimes from occurring again. Nevertheless, these crimes have not stopped. The same pattern has been repeating itself.

    I emphasize the importance of the Japan-U.S. Alliance and greatly appreciate the U.S. Forces’ contribution to Japan. Nonetheless, the anger of the Okinawan people, whose human rights have continued to be violated, has reached its boiling point. I have a strong wish to request that the U.S.A. face the present situation of Okinawa’s suffering from crimes committed by U.S. soldiers, and take necessary measures to alleviate the problem.

    It is a big issue that incidents of sexual violence have frequently happened without effective control within the U.S. military forces worldwide. It has been reported that President Obama has shown a good deal of concern over the forces’ frequent reports of military misconduct and has instructed the commanders to thoroughly tighten their official discipline, as measures taken so far have had no immediate effect.

    With all the above-mentioned situations, I felt a strong sense of crisis and said to the U.S. commander that the use of “the legally accepted adult entertainment industry in Japan” should be considered as one of all the possible measures. Even if there is no measure with an immediate effect, the current state of Okinawa should not be neglected. From my strong sense of crisis, I strongly hope that the U.S. army will use all possible measures to bring a heartless minority of soldiers under control. When expressing this strong hope, I used the phrase “the legally accepted adult entertainment industry in Japan.” When this phrase was translated into English, it led to the false report that I recommended prostitution–which is illegal under Japanese law. Furthermore, my remark was misunderstood to mean that something legally acceptable is also morally acceptable. Although the adult entertainment industry is legally accepted, it can insult the dignity of women. In that case, of course, some measures should be taken to prevent such insults.

    However, I understand that my remark could be construed as an insult to the U.S. Forces and to the American people, and therefore was inappropriate. I retract this remark and express an apology. In conclusion, I retract my inappropriate remarks to the U.S. Army and the American people and sincerely apologize to them. I wish that my apologies to them will be accepted and that Japan and the United States of America continue to consolidate their relationship of alliance in full trust.

    My real intention was to further enhance the security relationship between Japan and the United States, which most U.S. soldiers’ sincere hard work has consolidated, and to humbly and respectfully ask the U.S. Forces to prevent crimes committed by a mere handful of U.S. soldiers. My strong sense of crisis led to the use of this inappropriate expression.

    In the area of human rights, the U.S.A. is one of the most conscientious nations. Human rights are among those values accepted throughout the world as universal. In order for human rights of the Okinawan people to be respected in the same way as those of American people are respected, I sincerely hope that the U.S. Forces will start taking effective measures in earnest to stop crimes in Okinawa from continuing.

    About the Japan-Korea Relationship

    The Japan-Korea relationship has recently gone through some difficult times. Underlying the difficulty are the issue of comfort women and the territorial dispute over the Takeshima Islands. Ideally, Japan and South Korea should be important partners in East Asia, as they share the same values of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. I believe that a closer relationship based on greater trust between Japan and South Korea would contribute to the stability and prosperity of not only East Asia but also the world.

    One of the points of tension is that concerning wartime comfort women. Some former comfort women in Korea are currently demanding state compensation from the Japanese government.

    However, the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea and the Agreement on the Settlement of Problems Concerning Property and Claims and on Economic Co-operation between Japan and the Republic of Korea, both signed in 1965, have officially and decisively resolved any issues of claims arising from the war, including the right of individual persons to claim compensation. Japan has also performed its moral responsibility with the establishment of the Asian Women’s Fund, and it paid atonement money to former comfort women even after the resolution of the legal contention with the treaties.

    The international community has welcomed the Asian Women’s Fund. A report to the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations welcomed Japan’s moral responsibility project of the Asian Women’s Fund. Mary Robinson, the second United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, gave the Fund a favorable evaluation. Unfortunately, however, some former comfort women have refused to accept the atonement money from the Asian Women’s Fund.

    Japan has given significant importance to the Treaty on Basic Relations and the Agreement on the Settlement, both of which made final resolution of any legal contention in 1965, and Japan also sincerely faces, reflects on, and apologizes for its own wartime wrongdoings with feelings of deep remorse.

    The whole situation poses a rending dilemma for us: how to make such a compensation that former comfort women would accept as our sincere remorse and apology, while also maintaining the integrity of the legal bilateral agreements between Japan and Korea.

    The Korean government has recently claimed that interpretive disputes over the individual right of compensation for former comfort women in the Agreement on the Settlement still remain. I hope that the Republic of Korea, as a state governed by the rule of law, recognizes the legal importance of the above-mentioned agreements. If the Republic of Korea still believes that there exist interpretive contentions in the agreements, I think that only the International Court of Justice can resolve them.

    One can hope that the same legal/rule-of-law stance is also observed in the resolution of the territorial dispute over the Takeshima Islands.

    I firmly believe that neither hatred nor anger can resolve the problems between Japan and Korea. I firmly believe in the importance of legal solution at the International Court of Justice, which arena would allow both sides to maintain rational and legal argument while both maintain both respect for each other and deep sympathy to former comfort women.

    I wish to express sincerely my willingness to devote myself to the true improvement of the Japan-Korea relationship through the rule of law.

    ================================
    Japanese version:
    橋下徹氏:「私の認識と見解」 日本語版全文
    毎日新聞 2013年05月26日
    http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20130526mog00m010012000c.html

    2013年5月27日

    橋下徹

    ■私の拠(よ)って立つ理念と価値観について

    まず、私の政治家としての基本的な理念、そして一人の人間としての価値観について、お話ししたいと思います。

    いわゆる「慰安婦」問題に関する私の発言をめぐってなされた一連の報道において、発言の一部が文脈から切り離され、断片のみが伝えられることによって、本来の私の理念や価値観とは正反対の人物像・政治家像が流布してしまっていることが、この上なく残念です。

    私は、21世紀の人類が到達した普遍的価値、すなわち、基本的人権、自由と平等、民主主義の理念を最も重視しています。また、憲法の本質は、恣意(しい)に流れがちな国家権力を拘束する法の支配によって、国民の自由と権利を保障することに眼目があると考えており、極めてオーソドックスな立憲主義の立場を採(と)る者です。

    大阪府知事及び大阪市長としての行政の実績は、こうした理念と価値観に支えられています。また、私の政治活動に伴って憲法をはじめとする様々(さまざま)なイシューについて公にしてきた私の見解を確認いただければ、今私の申し上げていることを裏付けるものであることをご理解いただけると信じております。今後も、政治家としての行動と発言を通じて、以上のような理念と価値観を体現し続けていくつもりです。

    こうした私の思想信条において、女性の尊厳は、基本的人権において欠くべからざる要素であり、これについて私の本意とは正反対の受け止め方、すなわち女性蔑視である等の報道が続いたことは、痛恨の極みであります。私は、疑問の余地なく、女性の尊厳を大切にしています。

    ■いわゆる「慰安婦」問題に関する発言について

    以上の私の理念に照らせば、第二次世界大戦前から大戦中にかけて、日本兵が「慰安婦」を利用したことは、女性の尊厳と人権を蹂躙(じゅうりん)する、決して許されないものであることはいうまでもありません。かつての日本兵が利用した慰安婦には、韓国・朝鮮の方々のみならず、多くの日本人も含まれていました。慰安婦の方々が被った苦痛、そして深く傷つけられた慰安婦の方々のお気持ちは、筆舌につくしがたいものであることを私は認識しております。

    日本は過去の過ちを真摯(しんし)に反省し、慰安婦の方々には誠実な謝罪とお詫(わ)びを行うとともに、未来においてこのような悲劇を二度と繰り返さない決意をしなければなりません。

    私は、女性の尊厳と人権を今日の世界の普遍的価値の一つとして重視しており、慰安婦の利用を容認したことはこれまで一度もありません。私の発言の一部が切り取られ、私の真意と正反対の意味を持った発言とする報道が世界中を駆け巡ったことは、極めて遺憾です。以下に、私の真意を改めて説明いたします。

    かつて日本兵が女性の人権を蹂躙したことについては痛切に反省し、慰安婦の方々には謝罪しなければなりません。同様に、日本以外の少なからぬ国々の兵士も女性の人権を蹂躙した事実について、各国もまた真摯に向き合わなければならないと訴えたかったのです。あたかも日本だけに特有の問題であったかのように日本だけを非難し、日本以外の国々の兵士による女性の尊厳の蹂躙について口を閉ざすのはフェアな態度ではありませんし、女性の人権を尊重する世界をめざすために世界が直視しなければならない過去の過ちを葬り去ることになります。戦場の性の問題は、旧日本軍だけが抱えた問題ではありません。第二次世界大戦中のアメリカ軍、イギリス軍、フランス軍、ドイツ軍、旧ソ連軍その他の軍においても、そして朝鮮戦争やベトナム戦争における韓国軍においても、この問題は存在しました。

    このような歴史的文脈において、「戦時においては」「世界各国の軍が」女性を必要としていたのではないかと発言したところ、「私自身が」必要と考える、「私が」容認していると誤報されてしまいました。

    戦場において、世界各国の兵士が女性を性の対象として利用してきたことは厳然たる歴史的事実です。女性の人権を尊重する視点では公娼(こうしょう)、私娼(ししょう)、軍の関与の有無は関係ありません。性の対象として女性を利用する行為そのものが女性の尊厳を蹂躙する行為です。また、占領地や紛争地域における兵士による市民に対する強姦(ごうかん)が許されざる蛮行であることは言うまでもありません。

    誤解しないで頂きたいのは、旧日本兵の慰安婦問題を相対化しようとか、ましてや正当化しようという意図は毛頭ありません。他国の兵士がどうであろうとも、旧日本兵による女性の尊厳の蹂躙が決して許されるものではないことに変わりありません。

    私の発言の真意は、兵士による女性の尊厳の蹂躙の問題が旧日本軍のみに特有の問題であったかのように世界で報じられ、それが世界の常識と化すことによって、過去の歴史のみならず今日においても根絶されていない兵士による女性の尊厳の蹂躙の問題の真実に光が当たらないことは、日本のみならず世界にとってプラスにならない、という一点であります。私が言いたかったことは、日本は自らの過去の過ちを直視し、決して正当化してはならないことを大前提としつつ、世界各国もsex slaves、sex slaveryというレッテルを貼って日本だけを非難することで終わってはならないということです。

    もし、日本だけが非難される理由が、戦時中、国家の意思として女性を拉致した、国家の意思として女性を売買したということにあるのであれば、それは事実と異なります。

    過去、そして現在の兵士による女性の尊厳の蹂躙について、良識ある諸国民の中から声が挙がることを期待するものでありますが、日本人が声を挙げてはいけない理由はないと思います。日本人は、旧日本兵が慰安婦を利用したことを直視し、真摯に反省、謝罪すべき立場にあるがゆえに、今日も根絶されていない兵士による女性の尊厳の蹂躙の問題に立ち向かう責務があり、同じ問題を抱える諸国民と共により良い未来に向かわなければなりません。

    21世紀の今日、女性の尊厳と人権は、世界各国が共有する普遍的価値の一つとして、確固たる位置を得るに至っています。これは、人類が達成した大きな進歩であります。しかし、現実の世界において、兵士による女性の尊厳の蹂躙が根絶されたわけではありません。私は、未来に向けて、女性の人権を尊重する世界をめざしていきたい。しかし、未来を語るには、過去そして現在を直視しなければなりません。日本を含む世界各国は、過去の戦地において自国兵士が行った女性に対する人権蹂躙行為を直視し、世界の諸国と諸国民が共に手を携え、二度と同じ過ちを繰り返さぬよう決意するとともに、今日の世界各地の紛争地域において危機に瀕(ひん)する女性の尊厳を守るために取り組み、未来に向けて女性の人権が尊重される世界を作っていくべきだと考えます。

    日本は過去の過ちを直視し、徹底して反省しなければなりません。正当化は許されません。それを大前提とした上で、世界各国も、戦場の性の問題について、自らの問題として過去を直視してもらいたいのです。本年4月にはロンドンにおいてG8外相会合が「紛争下の性的暴力防止に関する閣僚宣言」に合意しました。この成果を基盤として、6月に英国北アイルランドのロック・アーンで開催予定のG8サミットが、旧日本兵を含む世界各国の兵士が性の対象として女性をどのように利用していたのかを検証し、過去の過ちを直視し反省するとともに、理想の未来をめざして、今日の問題解決に協働して取り組む場となることを期待します。

    ■在日アメリカ軍司令官に対する発言について

    また、沖縄にある在日アメリカ軍基地を訪問した際、司令官に対し、在日アメリカ軍兵士の性犯罪を抑止するために風俗営業の利用を進言したという報道もありました。これは私の真意ではありません。私の真意は、一部の在日アメリカ軍兵士による犯罪を抑止し、より強固な日米同盟と日米の信頼関係を築くことです。一部の在日アメリカ軍兵士による犯罪被害に苦しむ沖縄の問題を解決したいとの思いが強すぎて、誤解を招く不適切な発言をしてしまいましたが、私の真意を、以下に説明いたします。

    日本の安全保障にとって、米国との同盟関係は最も重要な基盤であり、在日アメリカ軍の多大な貢献には、本当に感謝しています。

    しかしながら、多くの在日アメリカ軍基地がある沖縄では、一部の心無いアメリカ軍兵士によって、日本人の女性や子どもに対する性犯罪など重大な犯罪が繰り返されています。こうした事件が起きる度に、在日アメリカ軍では、規律の保持と綱紀粛正が叫ばれ、再発防止策をとることを日本国民に誓いますが、在日アメリカ軍兵士による犯罪は絶えることがありません。同じことの繰り返しです。

    私は、日本の外交において日米同盟を重視し、在日アメリカ軍の日本への貢献を大いに評価しています。しかし、人権を蹂躙され続ける沖縄県民の怒りは沸点に達しているのです。在日アメリカ軍兵士による犯罪被害に苦しむ沖縄の現状をアメリカに訴え、何としてでも改善してもらいたい、という強い思いを持っております。

    アメリカ軍内部において性暴力が多発し、その統制がとれていないことが最近、アメリカで話題となっています。オバマ大統領もアメリカ軍の自己統制の弱さに相当な危機感を抱き、すぐに効果の出る策はないとしつつ、アメリカ軍に綱紀粛正を徹底するよう指示したとの報道がありました。

    このような状況において、私は強い危機感から、在日アメリカ軍司令官に対して、あらゆる対応策の一つとして、「日本で法律上認められている風俗営業」を利用するということも考えるべきではないかと発言しました。すぐに効果の出る策はないとしても、それでも沖縄の現状を放置するわけにはいきません。私の強い危機感から、ありとあらゆる手段を使ってでも、一部の心無い在日アメリカ軍兵士をしっかりとコントロールして欲しい、そのような強い思いを述べる際、「日本で法律上認められている風俗営業」という言葉を使ってしまいました。この表現が翻訳されて、日本の法律で認められていない売春・買春を勧めたとの誤報につながりました。さらに合法であれば道徳的には問題がないというようにも誤解をされました。合法であっても、女性の尊厳を貶(おとし)める可能性もあり、その点については予防しなければならないことはもちろんのことです。

    今回の私の発言は、アメリカ軍のみならずアメリカ国民を侮辱することにも繋(つな)がる不適切な表現でしたので、この表現は撤回するとともにお詫び申し上げます。この謝罪をアメリカ軍とアメリカ国民の皆様が受け入れて下さいます事、そして日本とアメリカが今後とも強い信頼関係を築いていけることを願います。

    私の真意は、多くの在日アメリカ軍兵士は一生懸命誠実に職務を遂行してくれていますが、一部の心無い兵士の犯罪によって、日米の信頼関係が崩れることのないよう、在日アメリカ軍の綱紀粛正を徹底してもらいたい、という点にあります。その思いが強すぎて、不適切な表現を使ってしまいました。

    アメリカは、世界で最も人権意識の高い国の一つです。そして、人権は世界普遍の価値です。アメリカ国民の人権と同じように、沖縄県民の基本的人権が尊重されるよう、アメリカ軍が本気になって沖縄での犯罪抑止のための実効性ある取り組みを開始することを切に望みます。

    ■日韓関係について

    日本と韓国の関係は現在厳しい状況にあると言われています。その根底には、慰安婦問題と竹島をめぐる領土問題があります。

    日本と韓国は、自由、民主主義、人権、法の支配などの価値観を共有する隣国として、重要なパートナー関係にあります。日韓の緊密な関係は、東アジアの安定と繁栄のためだけでなく、世界の安定と繁栄のためにも寄与するものと信じています。

    現在、元慰安婦の一部の方は、日本政府に対して、国家補償を求めています。

    しかし、1965年の日韓基本条約と「日韓請求権並びに経済協力協定」において、日本と韓国の間の法的な請求権(個人的請求権も含めて)の問題は完全かつ最終的に解決されました。

    日本は、韓国との間の法的請求権問題が最終解決した後においても、元慰安婦の方々へ責任を果たすために、国民からの寄付を募り1995年に「女性のためのアジア平和国民基金(略称アジア女性基金)」を設立し、元慰安婦の方々に償い金をお渡ししました。

    このアジア女性基金を通じた日本の責任を果たす行為は、国際社会でも評価を受けております。国連人権委員会へ提出されたレポートもアジア女性基金を通じての日本の道義的責任を歓迎しています。また国連人権高等弁務官であったメアリーロビンソンさんも基金を評価しています。

    しかし、残念ながら、元慰安婦の一部の方は、このアジア女性基金による償い金の受領を拒んでおります。

    日本は過去の過ちを直視し、反省とお詫びをしつつも、1965年に請求権問題を最終解決した日韓基本条約と日韓請求権並びに経済協力協定も重視しております。

    日韓基本条約と日韓請求権並びに経済協力協定を前提としつつ、元慰安婦の方々の心に響く償いをするにはどのようにすればいいのかは大変難しい問題です。韓国政府は最近、日韓基本条約とともに締結された「日韓請求権並びに経済協力協定」における元慰安婦の日本政府への請求権の存否の解釈が未解決だと主張しております。韓国も法の支配を重んじる国でしょうから、日韓基本条約と日韓請求権並びに経済協力協定という国際ルールの重さを十分に認識して頂いて、それでも納得できないというのであれば、韓国政府自身が日韓請求権並びに経済協力協定の解釈について国際司法裁判所等に訴え出るしかないのではないでしょうか? その際には、竹島をめぐる領土問題も含めて、法の支配に基づき、国際司法裁判所等での解決を望みます。

    私は、憎しみと怒りをぶつけ合うだけでは何も解決することはできないと思います。元慰安婦の方の苦しみを理解しつつ、日韓お互いに尊敬と敬意の念を持ちながら、法に基づいた冷静な議論を踏まえ、国際司法裁判所等の法に基づいた解決に委ねるしかないと考えております。

    法の支配によって、真に日韓関係が改善されるよう、私も微力を尽くしていきたいと思います。
    ENDS

    //////////////////////////////

    Hashimoto explains remarks in Q&A session at Tokyo news conference
    Hashimoto denies ‘will of state’ in comfort women system
    May 27, 2013
    http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201305270124

    AJW
    Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto on May 27 explained his views on “comfort women” and other issues during a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. Excerpts from the question and answer session follow:

    ***

    Question: Are you trying to suggest that other nations were also somehow involved in the managing of wartime brothels like the Japanese military?

    Hashimoto: I have absolutely no intention of justifying the wrongs committed by Japan in the past. We have to always carry within our hearts the terrible suffering experienced by the comfort women.

    We should also put an end to unreasonable debate on this issue.

    Japan should not take the position of trying to avoid its responsibility. That is what causes the greatest anger among the South Korean people.

    I want to bring up the issue of sex in the battlefield. I don’t think that the nations of the world have faced their pasts squarely. That obviously includes Japan.

    Unless we squarely face the past, we will not be able to talk about the future. Sex in the battlefield has been a taboo subject that has not been discussed openly.

    Japan was wrong to use comfort women. But does that mean that it is alright to use private-sector businesses for such services?

    Because of the influence of Puritanism, the United States and Britain did not allow the respective governments and militaries to become involved in such facilities. However, it is a historical fact that those two nations used local women for sexual services.

    When the United States occupied Japan, the U.S. military used the facilities established by the Japanese government. This is also a historical fact backed by actual evidence.

    What I want to say is that it does not matter if the military was involved or if the facilities were operated by the private sector.

    There is no doubt that the Japanese military was involved in the comfort stations. There are various reasons, but this is an issue that should be left up to historians.

    What occurred in those facilities was very tragic and unfortunate, regardless of whether the military was involved in the facilities or they were operated by private businesses.

    Germany had similar facilities as those used by Japan where comfort women worked. Evidence has also emerged that South Korea also had such facilities during the Korean War.

    The world is trying to put a lid on all of these facts.

    It might be necessary to criticize Japan, but the matter should not be left at that. Today, the rights of women continue to be violated in areas of military conflict. The issue of sex in the battlefield continues to be a taboo.

    It is now time to begin discussing this issue.

    I have no intention of saying that because the world did it, it was alright for Japan.

    Japan did commit wrong, but I hope other nations will also face their pasts squarely.

    The past has to be faced squarely in order to protect the rights of women in conflict areas as well as prevent the violation of the rights of women by a handful of heartless soldiers.

    Q: Do you feel there is a need to revise or retract the Kono statement on comfort women since there is wording that “the then Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of the comfort stations and the transfer of comfort women,” which indicates trafficking was involved?

    A: I have absolutely no intention of denying the Kono statement. I feel that what is written in the statement is generally based on fact.

    However, it is ambiguous about a core issue.

    You brought up the issue of military involvement in the transport of women. Historical evidence shows that private businesses used military ships to transport the women. Most of the employers at the comfort stations were private businesses. There was military involvement in the form of health checks to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

    Because a war was going on, military vehicles were used in the transport of the women.

    The argument of many Japanese historians is that there is no evidence to show that the will of the state was used to systematically abduct or traffic the women. A 2007 government statement, approved by the Cabinet, also concluded there was no evidence to show the will of the state was used for the systematic abduction and trafficking of the women.

    The Kono statement avoided taking a stance on the issue that was of the greatest interest of South Koreans. This is the primary reason relations between the two nations have not improved.

    The Kono statement should be made clearer.

    Historians of the two nations should work together to clarify the details on this point.

    The South Korean argument is that Japan used the will of the state for the systematic abduction and trafficking of the women, while the Japanese position is that there is no evidence for such an argument. This point has to be clarified.

    Separately from what I just said, there is no doubt that an apology has to be made to the comfort women.

    The core argument that the will of state was used for the systematic abducting and trafficking of women is likely behind the criticism from around the world that the Japanese system was unique.

    It was wrong for Japanese soldiers to use comfort women in the past. However, facts have to be clarified as facts. If arguments different from the truth are being spread around the world, then we have to point out the error of those arguments.

    Q: Do you agree with the argument by Shintaro Ishihara (co-leader of the Japan Restoration Party) that Japan should not have to apologize for the war because it was forced to fight by the economic sanctions and other measures imposed by the United States?

    A: Politicians have discussed whether there was military aggression on the part of Japan or colonial domination of the Korean Peninsula. This is an issue that should be discussed by historians.

    Politicians who represent the nation must acknowledge the military aggression and the unforgivable colonial domination of the Korean Peninsula.

    Denying those aspects will never convince the victorious nations in the war because of the terrible loss of life that was involved in achieving that end.

    Politicians who represent the nation have to acknowledge the responsibility for the nation’s actions during World War II. They have to also reflect on and apologize to neighboring nations for causing terrible damage.

    Ishihara does have a different view of the past.

    That is likely a generational difference between those who lived through the war and those of my generation who were born after the war. This is a very difficult issue for nations defeated in the war.

    Those who lived through the war believed that what their government was doing was the right thing.

    The vast majority of Japanese acknowledge the military aggression and colonial domination of the war. However, it is very difficult to have all 120 million Japanese agree on this point since Japan is a democracy.

    Politicians of my generation should not stir up questions of Japan’s responsibility in the war. The duty of politicians of my generation should not be to justify what happened in the war, but work toward creating a better future. Politicians of my generation should face the past squarely and use their political energy for the future.

    However, that does not mean that we have to remain silent about any wrong understanding of the facts of the war just because Japan was a defeated nation.

    Q: Is it your view that what the Japanese military of that time was involved in does not constitute human trafficking in light of the international understanding that any involvement by any individual or organization in any part of the process is defined as human trafficking? Separately, is it your view that the testimony given by women who were forcibly taken by the Japanese military is not credible?

    A: I am not denying Japan’s responsibility. Under current international value standards, it is clear that the use of women by the military is not condoned. So, Japan must reflect on that past.

    I am not arguing about responsibility, but about historical facts.

    I feel the most important aspect of the human trafficking issue is whether there was the will of the state involved. Women were deceived about what kind of work they would do. The poverty situation at that time meant some women had to work there because of the debt they had to shoulder.

    However, such things also occurred at private businesses.

    I think similar human trafficking occurred at the private businesses that were used by the U.S. and British militaries.

    Japan did do something wrong, but human trafficking also occurred at such private businesses.

    I feel the human trafficking that occurred at both places was wrong.

    I want the world to also focus on that issue that involves other nations.

    I am aware that comfort women have given their accounts of what happened. However, there is also historical debate over the credibility of those accounts.

    Q: If the government was aware of what was happening at the comfort stations and did nothing, isn’t that a form of government and military involvement; and who should bear responsibility for that?

    A: Under the present value system, the state must stop human trafficking.

    In that sense, Japan cannot evade responsibility by any means.

    We must think now of what the government should do when confronted by such a situation.

    ***
    ENDS

    29 Responses to “Discussion: Osaka Mayor Hashimoto and GOJ WWII Sexual Slavery System: A brave debate that is suddenly and disingenuously circumspect”

    1. Ast Says:

      I don’t think that there’s much of a political career left for him. Eventually, he will have to resign. Though what killed his career may be that he made comments about American soldiers needing to use (“legal”) brothels to release their sexual energy.

      I don’t get that why he even exists as a prominent figure in the first place. At one time, he was one the most popular politicians, catapulted to sudden fame leading him to become the mayor, and now he is one of the least, or at least the most hated. He is despised both domestically and internationally. The majority of women are unsurprisingly turning against him.

      So my question is, why was he popular in the first place. Now, you may question the sanity of the average Japanese audience, but I don’t think that explains everything. I’m beginning to think that this whole thing is a farce. It’s a complete illusion created by the Japanese media (which is known to frequently do these kind of things) to show AS IF he is popular, whether as a hero or a villain. Just as the media can create Paris Hilton’s fame out of nothing, Hashimoto can also be made famous out of nothing.

      The Japanese media does this all the time: They build up politicians just so that they can bash them and knock them down later. It’s their usual gig. It’s all just an illusion created to make the Japanese think like AS IF they are politically and socially engaged.

    2. Steve McClure Says:

      Ultimately Hashimoto is trying to help the Japanese state and military evade responsibility for a system of sex slavery. Saying the Japanese government has found no evidence of official government involvement is the same as relying on a protestation of innocence by a person accused of a crime.

      And why did no one at the FCCJ ask him to back up his statement that other countries engaged in similar behavior in World War II? The only example I can think of offhand is the SS sex-slave system in the German concentration camps. And has Hashimoto never heard that two wrongs don’t make a right?

    3. j_jobseeker Says:

      I got a “kick” (for lack of a better term) out of how his entire stance—as you point out Debito—is that this sort of thing must have gone on in other parts of the world by other military forces so Japan isn’t unique if not guilty. Yet, he contradicts his own statement that there is no evidence of a comfort women system by making alleged claims about other military forces without providing evidence himself. In other words, he says no one can prove the comfort women system existed while simultaneously accusing other military forces without providing the backing to support his claim; not very apropos for a lawyer, but typical courtroom showmanship.

    4. Bayfield Says:

      #1 Ast says:
      “I don’t get that why he even exists as a prominent figure in the first place. At one time, he was one the most popular politicians, catapulted to sudden fame leading him to become the mayor, and now he is one of the least, or at least the most hated. He is despised both domestically and internationally.”

      You do have an optimistic view there. However you blame the media, at the end of the day it is the voters decision and by their own hands voted Ishihara for mayor (more than once), Hashimoto as mayor and as candidate for the parliament. It also isn’t the first time Hashimoto said stuff like this about their “glorious history” and if these nut-jobs are hated domestically they wouldn’t be elected multiple times into positions of power and even progressively more powerful as years go by.

      And certainly, Hashimoto isn’t “hated” domestically or in same way he is hated internationally. I think it is his “style” of denial that isn’t quite welcomed amongst different varieties of nationalist-revisionists, because different Japanese have a different revision of history. I would say it is more a clash of nationalist-revisionist views amongst domestic nationalist-revisionists than anything else if Hashimoto is losing popularity on the Japanese home front.

      you also said that:
      “It’s a complete illusion created by the Japanese media (which is known to frequently do these kind of things) to show AS IF he is popular”

      Well, if recall, Hashimoto’s JRP boss started the whole Senkaku song and dance party and most of the nation brought into it voting nut-jobs into power left, right, center and wherever more they can place more nut-jobs.

      You are hopeful to think its just the media playing the world, but I still think its the commoner’s responsibility or irresponsibility that have allowed themselves to be dictated by a few elite post-war nut-jobs and not standing up.

      Japan isn’t at the point where you are forced to vote for a nut-job… yet. So the ultimate decision, commitment and responsibility to vote falls on the commoner. The media only persuaded.

    5. Joe Says:

      “I attach the utmost importance to the universal values of human rights, freedom, equality and democracy, whose universality human beings have come to accept in the twenty-first century.”

      Ha! Isn’t this the same Hashimoto who claimed that government employees had no human rights, and forced his staff to disclose whether or not they had tattoos?

      The more he opens his gob, the better. He’s losing votes with every sentence he spews.

    6. James in Nara Says:

      I dislike Hashimoto quite a bit, and disagree with almost everything that comes out of his mouth (same with Ishihara), but I couldn’t believe these reports when they came out (it was a lot farther out there than I thought he was willing to go) so I sought out the video of the press conference where this whole thing happened (Osaka publishes every day’s conferences on youtube) and, after watching it a few times, feel like he was, if not misquoted, had what he said seriously cherry-picked. Just as an example, it was a 12 minute conference where almost the entire time was spent talking about the former comfort women who were supposed to talk to him as well as his views on the system. The below is my transcription of about 1:20 worth (from 3:40-5:05 or so) with my equally suspect translation (based on the context).

      Following the discussion of what he was going to discuss with the former comfort women, the reporter remarked that that morning Hashimoto had supposedly said, looking at the military of the time, that the ianfu system was necessary. But he hadn’t said anything like that previously. (it was an open-ended question).

      A. いや、そのことなくて、聞かれなかったから言わなかっただけで、ま。。。
      当時の状況ではそういう事を活用しては事実ですからね、当時の状況としては。
      でもそれを良しとするかどうかというのは別でね。やっぱ意に反してそういう職業に務なければならない、意に反してですよ。
      あの自らの意思でそういう職業についての人も中の居たでしょう、現代社会だって風俗業はしっかり職業としてあるわけですから。
      自らの意思でやった場合には。。。まそれは自らの意思でそういう仕事になりますけど、意に反してそうせざはいけなかったという人に対しては
      これは。。。あの。。。___が必要と思います。 (I can’t make out what he said here)

      No, it’s not that, I just haven’t been asked before which is why I haven’t said that.

      At the time, in those circumstances, that sort of thing happened. That is a fact, in those circumstances. But, leaving aside the issue of whether it is good or not, I mean, for the people who were forced into that work, for the people who were forced. Um, there were people who also were doing it voluntarily, right? I mean, even in our current society prostitution (JP version) is still a valid industry. In the case where it was voluntary… well, I mean it was voluntary. But in the case of where it was involuntary, for those people, um, ______ is necessary. (I really with I could make out that word, seems important).

      Q. 意に反してというところがあってね。。。ま必要ではあったということ、あの、いいそうがしないですけれども、あのその状況として必要ということなー

      Regarding the involuntary part, you mean it was still necessary? Even if it wasn’t good, but in those circumstances it was necessary–

      A. いや、意に反して意に反しなく。意に反してか意に即してかというのは別で慰安婦制度というのは必要だったということですよ。
      それは意に反するかどうかに関わらず、軍を維持するとか軍の規律を維持する為にそのことはその当時は必要だったんでしょうね。

      No, Whether it was voluntary or involuntary, leaving that aside, the ianfu system was necessary. Regardless of whether the people were there voluntarily or not, to maintain the military, or maintain military discipline that system, at that time was necessary.

      Q. 今は違うということですか

      What about now?

      A. 今はそれは認めないでしょう。でもあの慰安婦制度じゃなくても風俗業というのは必要と思いますよ。それは

      Of course that wouldn’t be approved now. But even if we don’t have an ianfu system I still think prostitution (JP version) is necessary. That was…. after this he goes off into talking about the Okinawan base…

      So, What it felt like to me, listening to the tone and how he was talking about it, was that he wasn’t attempting to do any sort of denial regarding the forced nature some of the comfort women were in, in fact it felt like he didn’t want to get into that at all (which might indicate something about his personal feelings). What he was saying was that militaries, especially in wartime, are tough to control and sex has been an important part of that.

      Tangent: This is why every army in the history of the world has had some sort of sex system, whether it’s camp followers, rape and pillage, around the base prostitution, comfort women. It might not be right, but it happens.

      Later on comes the part where he expresses dissatisfaction that Japan has been singled out regarding this issue. As he says in his statement in the main post, pretty much every other military in the 20th century had some sort of system, and no one talks about those (unless they’re glamorized in movies like the US military in Korea/Vietnam, me love you long time? anybody?). But Japan is continually persecuted on it.

      I think it’s a combination of the fact that Japan doesn’t want to talk about it (would we? We don’t like to talk about the Native Americans, and that was much longer ago), that there was a lot of systematic denial for a long time, and that elements in Korea and China continue to push the issue to maintain anti-Japanese sentiment. I don’t there there is any valid debate on the fact that there was forced prostitution by the Japanese military in WWII. I also think there was some percentage that was doing it voluntarily. But I also don’t think that this issue should be an issue 70 years later.

      tl;dr
      All of the above said, I still don’t like Hashimoto, but I feel like he has had his long conversation seriously cherry-picked in order to create a scandal in the week prior to the meeting he was supposed to have with the former comfort women. It gave them the perfect excuse to cancel the meeting, and also served to destroy his popularity and credibility. If I was a conspiracy theorist I would think it had all been planned (from the initial setup of the meeting, in order to bring up the ianfu discussion). But in this case I think it was just extremely bad luck coupled with not knowing how to keep his mouth shut.

    7. Baudrillard Says:

      “Nothing is more regrettable than a series of media reports on my remarks with regard to the issue of so-called “comfort women.” These reports have created an image of me,… ”

      Oh I like this. Its all about me, me, me. That was the path he chose. That of a charisma politician and his media image.

      Surely nothing is more regrettable than his comments about the comfort women in the first place. Or the regret Japan should have for its wartime actions to these women.

    8. hank Says:

      Funny thing; I saw a sound political van cruising around, blasting about how hashimoto needs to be understood and trying to restore the Japan Restoration Party.

    9. DK Says:

      Just a brief note to congratulate Debito on his measured response to Hashimoto’s recent (and not so recent) statements. This is the way to go: to put him in his proper place and allow his words to speak for themselves. To refuse to play his game.

      Such kind of sensible response is very close to the one Tessa Morris-Suzuki recommended a while ago, when Hashimoto started tweeting his statements on the “comfort women” issue – and I think it’s never enough to remember the recommendation as a caveat for future “performances” and our responses to them:

      Hashimoto politics poses a dilemma for his critics. This is not politics by persuasion but politics by performance. The object of the current performance is obvious. It is to provoke impassioned counter-attacks, preferably from those who can be labeled left-wing and foreign – best of all from those who can be labeled Korean or Chinese nationalists. This will then allow Hashimoto to assume the ‘moral high ground’ as a martyred nationalist hero assailed by ‘anti-Japanese’ forces. In responding to Hashimoto-style politweets, it is important not to act out his predetermined scenario. But it is equally important that the considerable number of relatively sensible people who have seen Hashimoto as a possible beacon of hope for Japan should recognise what sort of person they are dealing with.

      [. . .]

      This makes a careful and considered response to the Hashimoto phenomenon particularly important. Above all, this phenomenon should not be ‘nationalised’. Hashimoto does not speak for Japan, and to condemn Japan because of his comments would only be to boost his demagogic appeal. The best reply from those who hope he never will speak for Japan is to allow his words to speak for themselves. Those outside Japan who are alarmed or offended by these words should seek out and lend support to the embattled peace, human rights and reconciliation groups in Japan which also seek a different future, so that their voices too may be heard at the national level.

      Source: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, “Out with Human Rights, in with Government-Authored History”
      http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/blogs/asiarights/2012/08/26/out-with-human-rights-in-with-government-authored-history/

    10. john k Says:

      I think that the term “comfort women” should also be stopped. It has recently been stopped by the BBC website now correctly calling them “sex slaves”, also by most notably by Hillary Clinton instructing the US State Dept to call them what they were/are…sex slaves, some time ago.

    11. Jim Di Griz Says:

      Since I have made many posts about this topic on a related debito.org thread, I have no intention of repeating myself. I will, however, question the extent to which Hashimo deserves any ‘thanks’ for bringing this issue up for discussion.

      2 UN investigations have concluded that the IJA was complicit in organized sexual-slavery.

      Former IJA soldiers have given sworn testimony to the same effect.

      Only 2 weeks ago, the Abe government (as I posted at the time on an Abe thread here) admitted that it had ‘found’ similar sworn statements taken at the time of the Tokyo War-Crimes Trials over ten years ago, but had concealed those documents from the pubic record.

      I don’t see that any debate over the veracity of the sex-slaves claims is required. It is only in Japan where this crime is denied.

      Hashimoto (who was let off far too easy at the FCCJ on Monday) continues (no doubt due to the fact that 50+ years of LDP revisionist textbook white-washing have made his knowledge of history deficient) to obfuscate the issue of prostitution and sex-slavery.

      I have no doubt at all that soldiers in every army in history have paid prostitutes for sex (we know the Romans did, and the graffiti they left behind shows that prices in the sex industry have remained roughly in line with inflation!), I am also certain that since an army is merely a product of the society from which it’s members are drawn (both good and bad), that all armies in history have had cases of rape committed by a minority of their members.

      However, this is not the same as the institutionalized and systemic organized abduction, coercion, and forced rape of women and girls as young as 12 by the IJA. There is no evidence what-so-ever that armies of other nations have institutionalized such a system as formally endorsed policy.

      Hashimoto is playing the same smoke-and -mirrors trick here that Abe is pulling when he says that ‘Yasakuni is the same as Arlington’. Do not fall for this false logic.

      Anyway, the point of my post is to raise a little speculation.

      As the LDP’s Suga said last week, why did Hashimoto come out with this at such a time? The easy answer is that Hashimoto is seeking to grab a little attention before the summer elections (having reportedly said only a couple of weeks ago that his party was under threat of extinction). I have speculated that Hashimoto was hoping to capitalize on the right-wing being disaffected by Abe’s climb-down (also under-reported) two weeks ago on some of his nationalist agenda following Parks successful visit to the US.

      However, that answer is not completely satisfying. Hashimoto has shown himself to be media savvy in the past, so how did he make such a massive miscalculation? Was it bad advice from his party boss, Ishihara? Maybe he didn’t jump, maybe he was pushed? Maybe Ishihara was there whispering in his ear? I have no doubt at all that Ishihara would agree with Hashimoto’s commenst on this issue, but where is he now? I haven’t heard so much as a peep out of the author of ‘The Japan That Can Say No’ since this whole thing started. Was hashimoto set up by Ishihara, to get him out of the way? The pair of them have both got pretty big egos, maybe the JRP isn’t big enough for the both of them. Why isn’t the domestic press asking Ishihara for a statement?

      Also, what the hell is the Mayor of Osaka doing swanning off to Okinawa and hobb-nobbing with US military brass? How is that his business? Why isn’t the domestic press asking about this?

      Last week a JRP politician Shingo Ishimura was expelled from the party for claiming that many prostitutes in Japan were ethnic Koreans. Yet, his boss, Hashimoto was not expelled. Why isn’t the domestic press asking about this?

      Hashimoto is opening his mouth every day and ruining Japan’s international image, and damaging relations with it’s strongest military ally, at the same time as inflaming Okinawan public opinion. Where is the Prime Minister of Japan? Why hasn’t he come out to defend Japan’s ‘good name’? Why hasn’t he stood up to at least make the effort to hide Japan’s dirty laundry from the worlds gaze? Why isn’t the domestic press asking about this?

      There is much more to this than meets the eye.

    12. Loverilakkuma Says:

      I think Hashimoto is the first one who had an audacity to openly challenge the media and public for the defense of his controversial remark. He used international press conference as an opportunity for his offense to snub the international media for portraying him as a populist right-wing rabble rouser. His political rhetoric of human rights and gender draws Nixonian-paradox. Funny, he said, “I place the greatest importance on the dignity and human rights of women as an essential part of the universal values in today’s world,” in contrast to his argument for utilizing adult entertainment service that subjugates women to dehumanized subject. Kind of a lawyer/politician he is, for advocating the practice of dehumanizing women as the solution to sexual assault by US military in Okinawa and the mainland.

      His deployment of deception with pleading is resounding: “please do not misunderstand, and think that I intend to relativize or justify the issue of comfort women for former Japanese soldiers.” Funny, he is asking his audience to retract his previous statement which was quite opposite, in his accusation of taking his words out of whole context. If it was, then, why did he need bother to ask journalists for pleading? Such behavior reminds me of Ronald Reagan facing Iran-Contra scandal and/or Bill Clinton at Monica Lewinsky affair.

      And here comes the salient character of his apologia:

      “It is not a fair attitude to blame only Japan, as if the violation of human rights of women by soldiers were a problem unique to the Japanese soldiers. This kind of attitude shelves the past offenses that are the very things we must face worldwide if we are truly to aim for a better world where the human rights of women are fully respected.”

      No one is saying that Japan is the only one to blame or the problem is unique to Japanese imperial army whatsoever. But many politicians don’t really care because they don’t have enough capacity in their hearts to tolerate different opinions. “Japanese society must be clean, pristine, sacred, and thus, above a different set of standard immune to any framework common to international community.”They render any voices that address Japan’s problems as an attempt of “Japan bashing.”

      As I said in a different post, I voted him for Todd Akin award of 2013. I find he’s like Oliver North at the Congressional hearings on the Iran-Contra scandal. Get his glib tongue, fellows. Wonder who’s gonna give a pardon speech for him.

    13. johntaylor528 Says:

      Loverilakkuma, I agree with you 100%. Good post

    14. Mike Says:

      Hashimoto will stay. Dont you remember the “What Japan needs is a dictator” remark? Nobody made anything to do about that. Hash will stay, as will Ish, as both men are just tools for the whole right wing system. They know this; Hashimoto has said repeatedly that Japan needs men who are not afraid to speak the truth. Ish and Hash make many Japanese feel protected. These Japanese fear China, and Japans loss of rank in the region. As long as they have people who can spew nationalistic hate for them, they are happy, because they know nothing else. Japan has no real Army, and its a defeated country, its a fact nobody can deny, but they continue to want to be the country that could not be defeated. Have you seen the countries with the best quality of life index? They are mostly north European countries. Japan is at like # 21. Japan could easily be in the top catagory; instead it choses to live in the past with group mentality where the whole suffer/sacrifice for the good. The good is….what? It used to be a #1 or 2 world economy. With its shrinking population, Japan should be more like the Scandanavian countries but you never hear anything like that coming from politicans.

    15. dude Says:

      #2 Steve Mclure: To criticize any part of Japan is to criticize Japan. The Imperial Japanese military, even 70 years ago, is still part of Japan’s ‘resume’. If criticism of wartime Japan were allowed, soon people (read: young, disenfranchised Japanese, and foreigners) would feel free to offer their opinions on all sorts of issues, including modern Japan and even (GASP!) the emperor!

      The current system WORKS! (not for you or me, or millions of Japanese people, but for the people at the top)

      At the core of Japan’s “stability” is that older, influential Japanese men (from the right families) are at the top of the social order. Everyone else needs to accommodate them, not the other way around. Any topic that makes them look bad (even if justified) is not allowed.

      And while some people think sunlight is the best disinfectant, that only works if there is non-infected tissue under the infection. In Japan’s case, the infection IS the tissue.

      Seriously – if public discourse regarding past (and current?) ills were allowed/condoned, where would it stop? And for a nation so unaccustomed to open discourse, how destructive to “public order” (the status quo) would such an exercise prove?

      So I don’t expect the Japanese media, elite or the general public to allow much criticism – even if the act in question happened long ago.

    16. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Mike #14

      I don’t mean to disagree with your comment, but I just want to raise this one point;

      ‘Japan has no real Army’.

      I think we need to be careful because this is another ‘Japan myth’.
      Japan does in fact have a military of similar size and capability to the armed forces of the UK (minus the nuclear deterrent), and the UK got itself into 6 conflicts during the Blair years. The idea that Japan has no means to defend itself (and therefore must normalize and strengthen the SDF) is a right-wing revisionist lie, the purpose of which is to make the Japanese feel good about being a ‘peace state’, and contribute to the sense of fear required to justify changing the constitutions Art.9.

      You can find sources for this in many books, and even check some of the details at Jane’s Defence (if you have the time), but I know that Glenn Hook’s otherwise turgid ‘Japan’s International Relations’ comments on this fact (can’t remember the page number).

      I agree with you whole-heartedly that since the bubble ended, Japan has an obsessive need to revise historical narrative, and there seems to be a kind of expectation that historical fact (such as losing a war of aggression) should be subject to some kind of ‘statute of limitations’.

      It is ironic that the more J-politicians attempt to revise the past, the more they lose the international respect and goodwill that they so desperately are seeking as the goal of historical revisionism. They just can’t see it. I am also concerned that Japanese politicians lack (and the J-public appear to have no expectation of) any kind of international diplomacy skills (this could be a result of having tagged along behind the US for the last 68 years and abdicated responsibility), and appear amateurish, selfish, and churlish on the international stage (Iijima’s recent ‘secret’ visit to Pyongyang is a great example of how Japanese policy makers over simplistic understanding of the world led them to be ‘played’ against the US and ROK on the nuclear missile issue).

      It seems to me that in terms of international relations, the Japanese have two default settings;
      i) When there is any issue to be decided, waste as much time as possible to put off a decision until no longer relevant. or
      ii) Threaten the use of force when others don’t make decisions that suit you.

      My fear is that J-politicians lack of international relations skills and understanding of the outside world will lead them to choose option two every time given the chance to change the constitution. ‘Do what we want or we will thump you’ is a very unsophisticated approach for an export based economy.

    17. Bitter Valley Says:

      I was genuinely impressed by the fact that he had it in him to try to reestablish the debate and, I assume, boost his credibility. If only more politicians would engage world public opinion, coming out and fighting their corner, I think things would be a lot more healthy.

      In a sense I do respect him for coming out and proving he (or his advisors) have the capability to put out relatively clear, direct statements, and knit together arguments to show their case. And, actually, his candor is extremely refreshing, especially compared to the extremely mealy-mouthed and tip-toe over the landmines interview Abe conducted in Foreign Affairs, which seems to have even pissed the editor off!

      But comparing Hashimoto’s relative clarity and ability to string arguments together is like comparing Wolfman to Frankenstein. One enjoys playing to the gallery (howling at the gaijin) while the other, apart from superficially appearing like he’s just been jump started off the mortician’s slab, just growls out the same old messages. And nobody in their right mind would want to have either of them as neighbors.

    18. john k Says:

      #16JDG

      I would also add into that mix, the intention of never learning English (as the current default global language). Simply because if one cannot communicate directly with others in the World stage, when things don’t go their way, it is an easy facade to hide behind.

      “so sorry, I don’t understand your point…we don’t have these words, or you don’t have our ‘unique’ words to translate effectively”

      And so on and on…

      Being able to hide behind the “cannot communicate” with the outside world directly, helps their narrative and remain in control..even more so at home. Since, if the Govt really saw English as a way of getting their message across or being professional and having a greater role on the diplomatic stage, then English would be taught as part of their curriculum from day one to become bilingual as such.

      Just look at President Park of S.Korea…her English may not have been “perfect” (which did not matter one bit), but boy, it sent the message loud and clear and very effectively. She did so with great composure and eloquence too. I can never see a Japanese Prime Minister doing that, since if they can speak so eloquently as she did, they will have to answer such simple questions as “why are you remaining silent on the Hashimoto controversy”, and that would be just the start!

    19. Mike Says:

      Jim,

      You are correct; Japan does have an Army, I think what I meant to say is that its not allowed to use it, or be recongnized as a player internationally. Germany was also defeated, but they are allowed to take on roles outside Germany. Now they have been tasked with leading the mission in Afgan I think. For reasons I wont mention here, you and I both know Japan could never lead such a mission )

      I really dont understand all the amazement at hashimotos behavior. Those of us who were here during Fukushima witnessed the same behavior from Tepco and the goverment- blaming and manipulation. I can never get a straight answer from most Japanese I talk with about WW2, Nanking, Senkaku Islands etc. It is refreshing to see some J media types attack Hashimoto, but I still think they are the minority position here.

    20. DR Says:

      And all the while the country is drowning…http://investmentwatchblog.com/all-eyes-on-japan-theyre-headed-for-the-mother-of-all-crashes/ while Abe fiddles!

    21. being cassandra Says:

      Adding one more torch to the fire: http://michaelsnyder.mensnewsdaily.com/2013/05/the-japanese-financial-system-is-beginning-to-spin-wildly-out-of-control/

      The beginning of the end, but still Abe & Cia fiddle… Indeed!

      – Look, we can probably send in economic doomsaying articles until our keyboards wear out, but let’s not. This is merely conjecture for the most part, and Debito.org really isn’t a blog about these kinds of issues. When an actual collapse happens and it affects NJ minorities in Japan, then we’ll talk. Thanks.

    22. A_Menzel Says:

      Hello, I am new here. I found this site recently which was a revelation to me. I always wanted to do something about the growing Japanese revisionism, but I am nobody. Yet I think I am fairly knowledgeable about history, so I thought I might be able to contribute something here.

      Regarding the rule here “c)” requiring “historical sources”, I think it should also be applied also to arguments aginst Hashimoto and the J-revisionists, not for the sake of fairness which they certainly do not deserve, but because J-revisionists tend to attack trifle details in order to discredit their opponents, and I think we should avoid feeding them in any way. I will try to site my sources as much as possible, but some of them might not be available in English.

      I hope it does not sound like an argument supporting Hashimoto, but I do think sexual crimes in wars had been one of the less researched areas in history. I am not trying to be provocative here, but let me mention an example, there was recently an article on behavior of US troops in France during the war.
      http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/21/books/rape-by-american-soldiers-in-world-war-ii-france.html?pagewanted=all

      Even in Germany where their own war crimes are thoroughly researched, sexual crimes are not yet well documented compare to other atrocities. Although German Wehrmacht troops had far better discipline than IJA, there were cases of forced recruitment for a sort of sexual slavery at least in the Eastern Europe. There was a documentary aired few years ago, titled “Frauen als Beute – Wehrmacht und Prostitution – “(Women as booty – German Armed forces and Prostitution) which can be found in YouTube.
      Even sexual abuse in concentration camps had been a sort of tabu theme, and there was a first exhibition on the theme just five years ago: http://www.zeit.de/2006/30/Mauthausen (Sorry, it’s in German)

      What Hashimoto probably had in mind was that the Japanese military found it “necessary” to set up a system with brothels after seeing their savage soldiers getting brutally out of control in China in late 1937 which caught international attention. But Hashimoto couldn’t point that out, because then he would be admitting another Japanese crime, one of the most unspeakable of all, yet majority of Japanese still deny today: the Rape of Nanking.
      http://d.hatena.ne.jp/keyword/%BD%BE%B7%B3%B0%D6%B0%C2%C9%D8
      http://synodos.jp/faq/4126
      (Few decent ones I could find in Japanese which mention the origin to some extent)

      Another fact Hashimoto and other J-revisionists might also have in mind is the “Wehrmachtsbordelle” or German military brothels. German military did set up a network of brothels throughout the occupied territories, as the Japanese did, except women were mostly recruited from professionals. I say “mostly” because there were exceptions in the East as I mentioned above. German military command felt the “necessity” to set these up, because so many German soldiers were put out of action by venereal disease transmitted by French prostitutes in 1940, not because they ran wild when they entered Paris like IJA in Nanjing. That being the background, those brothels were tightly controlled by medical units.
      So, it might be inaccurate to label Japan as the only nation that had an extensive system run by the state, as I have seen in some of the recent news reports. There are differences, however, most important difference being that Germans are not denying anything as the Japanese are.

      Of course, we can never be sure what Hashimoto and other J-revisionists really have in mind, because they will never be specific about facts. Perhaps they actually know that facts are against them, or they are just plain lazy.

      One thing which disgusts me, besides this populist himself, is the fact that this is already turning into typical Japanese bullying. Many in the J-establishment have been waiting for this moment, because they believe Hashimoto has been in a position he does not deserve, not because he is a knucklehead, but because he is a Burakumin, or an outcaste. Burakumin have been treated savagely by other Japanese as the Koreans or maybe even worse, and certainly for far longer period. I wonder how Hashimoto could be a nationalist in a country which has maltreated his own people for centuries.

      – Because he likes power?

    23. Jim Di Griz Says:

      Censure motion against Hashimoto blocked by junior government coalition partner, New Komeito.
      The political right looking after it’s own? Abe hasn’t made a single statement about Hashimoto’s scandal, yet, here is his coalition partner shielding Hashimoto. Endorsement?

      http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/hashimoto-faces-censure-motion-from-osaka-council

    24. john k Says:

      The beeb has it too:
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22720226

      I wonder how this result will affect Abe and the “image” that is peddled to the masses now….and will more journalist come over and start asking more probing questions?

    25. matty b Says:

      here’s a recent Hashimoto quote:

      Hashimoto told reporters Monday, “Honshu . . . should at least accept Osprey training to alleviate the burden on Okinawa from hosting (the bulk of) U.S. forces.” — The Japan Times

      Actually, the US government representatives have put forth that using the word “burden” with futenma should be halted.

      How would Mr. Hashimoto feel if US news reports emerged which claimed the following: “It is as of yet undecided as to who will have the burden of hosting talks with Mr. Hashimoto.”

    26. matty b Says:

      sorry Debito-san, if you could please remove the “the” in the following: “the US government forces.”

      It should read “US government officials”.

      sorry to be an ass about this.

      btw, enjoyed your editorial in this month’s japan times. although, i think it would’ve been more effective if you put historian Tessa Morris-Suzuki’s quote earlier in the article, as it really gives weight to the poignant points you posture. anywho, sorry again to be an ass.

      . matty b

    27. Michael Says:

      Hashimoto, like many domestic-oriented Japanese, has no idea that in many other countries in the world that prostitution isn’t just another accepted career for women like it is in Japan. People in Japan will tell you when they meet you, “I work in a kind of bar”, “I am a companion,” or “I am an actress”, when you ask what kind, the response sometimes is “AV” (Adult Video). Everyday work in Japan..I have even had Japanese men tell me that their “best and brightest” equivalent are the soap lands women. It just doesn’t occur to them this is primarily a Japan behavior (with a bit of it happening in other Asian countries; however in the other Asian countries, the people engaged in the that business seem to be doing it to survive; in Japan just another middle class career for women.) Would not bring up a daughter in Japan.

    28. john k Says:

      This shall be interesting, the French President confusing China with Japan…probably tired or too much wine on the flight over!.

      Will the Japanese press make a fuss of this minor slip/mistake today? If so..why the deafening silence on Hashimoto?

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-22811106

      “..Referring to the Algerian hostage crisis in January, in which 10 Japanese people were killed, he said he had expressed “the condolences of the French people to the Chinese people”….”

    29. Jim Di Griz Says:

      And here is (yet more) proof that the Japanese Army was directly involved in forcing Korean and Chinese women against their will, by use of violence, to be sex-slaves, that the Ministry of Justice ‘forgot’ it ever had.

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/11/21/national/archive-data-for-years-have-shown-comfort-women-were-taken-by-force-professor/#.Uo49_RwSFMs

      Will Hashimoto issue a full retraction and apology with no caveats or conditions?
      No,
      This news will be seen by few Japanese (just like the last ‘lost’ evidence was upon discovery earlier this year) in the paper tomorrow, and forgotten immediately, never to be referred to again by the press, even if another J-politician makes another offensive outburst on the issue- just as if it was never printed!
      And having not been alerted from the ‘dreamy day’, I have no doubt that all of my wife’s relatives will continue to believe that the whole sex-slaves issue is a Korean lie, and that the Koreans have brainwashed the whole world (yes, I have been told that) on this issue to make people hate Japan.
      The irony is that ‘Japan’ is doing well enough at making people hate it without any need for brain-washing.

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