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US author recounts ‘lecture’ he got about ‘comfort women’ from uninvited Japanese guests”
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
The Japan Times, Just Be Cause column 85, Mar 5 2015
The debate on Japan’s history of wartime sexual slavery (aka the “comfort women” issue) has heated up again, with the Japanese government extending its efforts to revise school textbooks overseas.
In November, McGraw-Hill, publisher of the world history textbook “Traditions and Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past” Vol. 2, by history professors Herbert Ziegler and Jerry Bentley, was contacted by Japan’s Consulate General in New York. The request: that two paragraphs (i.e., the entire entry) on the comfort women be deleted.
On Jan. 15, McGraw-Hill representatives met with Japanese diplomats and refused the request, stating that the scholars had properly established the historical facts. Later that month, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe directly targeted the textbook in a parliamentary session, stating that he was “shocked” to learn that his government had “failed to correct the things it should have.”
In the March issue of the American Historical Association’s newsmagazine “Perspectives on History,” 20 prominent historians, including professor Ziegler, signed a letter to the editor titled “Standing with the historians of Japan.” They stated that they “agree with Herbert Ziegler that no government should have the right to censor history,” and “oppose the efforts of states or special interests to pressure publishers or historians to alter the results of their research for political purposes.”
Professor Ziegler met with JBC on Feb. 17…
Read the interview at The Japan Times at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/03/04/issues/u-s-author-recounts-lecture-got-comfort-women-uninvited-japanese-guests/. A fuller version will be up at The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus (www.japanfocus.org) in a few days, with more information on how the GOJ pressured Dr. Ziegler and how Japan’s neighbors responded.
For the record, what follows is the full text of the textbook entry on the “Comfort Women” issue being targeted by the Japanese Government, courtesy of the University of Hawai’i at Manoa’s Libraries:
From “Traditions and Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past”, by Jerry H. Bentley, Herbert F. Ziegler, and Heather E. Streets-Salter, Third Edition (the most recent version in the UH Library), pp. 624-5.
Comfort Women: Women’s experiences in war were not always ennobling or empowering. The Japanese army forcibly recruited, conscripted, and dragooned as many as two hundred thousand women age fourteen to twenty to serve in military brothels, called “comfort houses” or “consolation centers.” The army presented the women as a gift from the emperor, and the women came from Japanese colonies such as Korea, Taiwan, and Manchuria and from occupied territories in the Philippines and elsewhere in southeast Asia. The majority of the women came from Korea and China.
Once forced into this imperial prostitution service, the “comfort women” catered to between twenty and thirty men each day. Stationed in war zones, the women often confronted the same risks as soldiers, and many became casualties of war. Others were killed by Japanese soldiers, especially if they tried to escape or contracted venereal diseases. At the end of the war, soldiers massacred large numbers of comfort women to cover up the operation. The impetus behind the establishment of comfort houses for Japanese soldiers came from the horrors of Nanjing, where the mass rape of Chinese women had taken place. In trying to avoid such atrocities, the Japanese army created another horror of war. Comfort women who survived the war experienced deep shame and hid their past or faced shunning by their families. They found little comfort or peace after the war.
Also, additional information on the issue found in the “Student Study Guide and Map Exercise Workbook to accompany TRADITIONS AND ENCOUNTERS, VOLUME II” (2000), by Lynda S. Bell, Gary E. Scudder, Jr., and Guangyuan Zhou, pg. 176:
D. Women and War
1. Women’s roles in the war
a) Half a million British women and 350,000 U.S. women joined military services
b) Both countries barred women engaging in combat or carrying weapons
c) Soviet and Chinese women took up arms and joined resistance groups
d) By taking jobs or heading families, women gained independence and confidence
2. Comfort women
a) Japanese armies forcibly recruited 300,000 women to serve in military brothels
b) 80% of comfort women came from Korea
c) A comfort woman had to cater to between 20 and 30 men each day
d) Many were massacred by Japanese soldiers, survivors experienced deep shame