Tag Archives: War Crimes

(Interview) Mr.Shin-Kwon, Ahn, The House of Sharing

롱아일랜드 유태인 사업가에게 책 전달3
Mr.Shin-Kwon Ahn, second from the right, presenting ‘Touch-Me-Nots’ to a resident in Long Island, NY.

Dear Mr. Ahn Shin-kwon,

Thank you very much  for agreeing to the interview with Justiceforcomfortwomen.

We have the following questions. In addition to these questions, if you have anything else you would like to say, please kindly let us know. 

1. What do the surviving comfort women in the House of Sharing think of the ‘Foundation for Reconciliation and Healing’ by Korea & Japan’s governments?

Japanese Army ‘Sex Slavery’ was a war crime committed by Japan, and the worst abuse of women’s rights in the history of mankind. Japan used women as a tool of war. This was a crime against humanity. To regain the honor of these women and reinstate human rights, the victims have held a Wednesday Demonstration every week in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul since February 1, 1992. The women have demanded that the Japanese government to make an official apology and legal reparations by visiting major cities around the world, e.g. the US, Canada, Japan, Germany and France, to give testimony.

The term Japanese Army ‘comfort women’ was coined by the perpetrator Japan. The victims argue that Japanese Army ‘Sex Slavery’ should be used instead. The perpetrator-oriented term should not be used. It’s high time to use the term that correctly expresses the essence of this issue, i.e. victims of Japanese Army ‘Sex Slavery’.

As the agreement between South Korea and Japan, signed on December 28, 2015, was reached without giving any explanation to the victims and obtaining their consent, it lacks legal validity in terms of its procedure. Furthermore, the perpetrator-centric coercive undemocratic procedure infringed on the fundamental rights of the victims. So this agreement, not including an official apology and legal reparations, must be abolished.

The agreement did not state an official apology. It excluded the Japanese Army’s role as the main culprit, and instead used ambiguous words like the involvement of the military without admitting responsibility. To ensure veracity, the prime minister representing Japan must apologize in person. The foreign minister’s apology is not an official apology.

The victims did not consent to the agreement, yet it was presented as a final and irreversible resolution. Over the years, the Abe government has denied the Kono Statement of 1993, which indirectly apologized to the victims under the Murayama government. The Abe government has attempted to distort and modify history.

After the announcement of the agreement, politicians denied coercion, and thoughtlessly called the victims prostitutes. There is nothing we can do when such absurd remarks are made about the victims in Japan. The expression ‘final and irreversible’ pales into insignificance beside these remarks, and it are nothing more than a one-way declaration for the benefit of the perpetrator. It is a pathetic agreement that cannot be fulfilled. Furthermore, we cannot understand why research and education, which were included in the Kono Statement, are missing. This would seem to indicate the intention of Japan to hide the facts of the case forever.

So, the victims are opposed to the agreement, and for that matter, they are also against the establishment of the Foundation for Reconciliation and Healing. Nevertheless, the government has pushed ahead with it, and launched the foundation. The victims did not entrust their individual rights to the claim and the right of representation to the foundation; yet, the foundation received the money that Japan gives to the victims. This was illegal.

It is not a matter of money being given to the victims. No matter which government is in power in Japan, the victims want Japan to take legal responsibility, i.e. not denying or modifying this issue. The victims are seeking legal reparation. The Japanese government’s contributions have come from the government’s reserve funds in the government budgets, i.e. money for international relief.

2. Recently many victims have passed away, and as they are all elderly women, time is limited. What kind of help can you give them?

Japan argues that Korea’s claim to Japan for war damages in 1965 put an end to the issue, and thus the claim expired, and the statute of limitations has expired.

When the Treaty on Basic Relations between the Republic of Korea and Japan was signed in 1965, however, Korea’s claim to Japan for war damages concerned the property rights under colonial rule. It was not therefore a claim against the war crimes committed on the battlefield by Japanese soldiers. The state cannot exercise individuals’ rights of claim on their behalf, and the issue of Japanese Army ‘comfort women’ was known to the international community in the early 1990’s,. Japanese civic groups and conscientious scholars have stated the same. The argument that individuals’ claims were included in Korea’s claim to Japan for war damages in 1965, and thus they are all resolved is an empty Japanese claim and nothing better than sophistry. War crimes do not have a statute of limitations. Do you think the victims will want a humanitarian resolution for these crimes t? Naturally they demand a legal resolution.

We must let the citizens of the world know Japan’s alteration of the true history.

3. Movies were made based on the victims’ stories(e.g. ‘Spirits’ Homecoming,’), and they are introduced in various ways, such as TV dramas, plays and dance, but unfortunately they seem to be concentrated in a certain period around the National Liberation Day. Do you want anything from the media or related organizations?

In 1993 under the Murayama government of Japan, the Kono Statement acknowledged the issue of Japanese Army ‘Sex Slavery,’ and in 1995 Japan established the Asian Women’s Fund to ‘give consolatory payments to Japanese Army ‘Sex Slavery’ victims. In 2007, the US House of Representatives adopted Resolution HR121 to urge Japan to apologize, and various UN organizations tried to record history and educate people so as not to forget the history. This agreement lacks history education, and used the term ‘final and irreversible.’ This was a malicious attempt to erase history forever.

1. Recording in textbooks and education

2. Many researches and distribution of materials

3. Forming a consensus through movies and documentaries

4. There is a saying ‘A history forgotten is a history repeated.’ The Japanese government is continuously trying to erase the history of the victims. Japanese right-wingers send anti-Korean mails to my blog. How do you think we can bridge this gap in history, and concentrate on the real issue of human rights?

Human rights and history issues are important to all states and nations. To resolve this issue, we must demand with one voice that the Japanese government should make legal reparations and an official apology. In particular, individuals must join in with efforts to resolve these issues with a clear understanding of human rights and history. To try and resolve this issue, the civilian sector must work tirelessly to erect the Statue of Peace. This is the best thing we can do to resolve the issue. Korea and Japan must make a joint textbook and resolve this human rights issue together.

Again, thank you so much for sharing your time and thoughts with us. We wish the very best of everything for surviving comfort women at the House of Sharing, and we will keep supporting them in anyways.

5. References

12 Japanese Army ‘Sex Slavery’ victims 12 sued the Korean government for compensation worth KRW100 million each. They say that they would not accept a single penny from the Japanese government if it is not legal reparations.

The Korean government must provide compensation for the damages they inflicted on Japanese Army ‘comfort women’ as it did not carry out the decision of the Constitutional Court in 2011. 12 Japanese Army ‘Sex Slavery’ victims, including 6 in the House of Sharing, filed a compensation suit in the court of the Republic of Korea against the Korean government on August 30 (Tuesday) 1:00pm. They claimed KRW100 million in damages per person.

What Japanese Army ‘Sex Slavery’ victims demanded was the Japanese government’s ‘legal responsibility,’ i.e. that Japan should clearly acknowledge their crimes, make an official apology and legal reparations, continuously work to acknowledge the truth, remember the victims, provide history education and punish criminals. The victims refused the ‘Asian Women’s Fund,’ which Japan established in 1995 to give KRW50 million per person, even though they were badly off and needed money. They refused this fund because it expressly denied ‘Japan’s legal responsibility.’

The Japanese government and court argued that the Korea’s claim to Japan for war damages in 1965 resolved all issues. As the Korean government did not make an authoritative interpretation of the victims’ rights of claim, 109 victims urged the Korean government on June 5, 2007 to resolve the issue of Japanese Army Sex Slavery’ according to the dispute resolution procedure set forth in the Settlement Agreement between South Korea and Japan of 1965, and filed a constitutional appeal.

On August 30, 2011, the Constitutional Court said, “There is a Constitutional demand to help Korean nationals, whose human dignity and value were seriously harmed by the organized and continuous illegal acts perpetrated by Japan, to exercise their right to demand compensation, and protect them.” It ruled that the Korean government’s failure to follow the dispute resolution procedure set forth in Article 3 of theTreaty on Basic Relations between the Republic of Korea and Japan of 1965 to hold the Japanese government liable for damages infringes on the victims’ fundamental rights of the Constitution.

According to the decision of the Constitutional Court, the victims requested that the Korean government resolve the issue of Japanese Army ‘comfort women’ in accordance with the procedure set forth in Article 3 of the Settlement Agreement between South Korea and Japan, including the arbitration procedure. On December 28, 2015, however, the Korean government agreed to ‘a final and irreversible resolution,’ ‘refraining from reproaching and criticizing Japan in the international community,’ and ‘efforts to address Japanese government’s concerns about the Statue of Peace.’ Nevertheless, the Japanese government refused to acknowledge its ‘legal responsibility’. The victims believed that the Korean government signed an agreement in violation of the decision of the Constitutional Court, and caused additional mental and physical damage to them, and filed a lawsuit against the Korean government.

On August 30 (Sunday), 6 Japanese Army‘Sex Slavery’ victims in the House of Sharing refused to receive KRW100 million in consolation money that the Japanese government said it would pay in accordance with the agreement between Korea and Japan. 10 of the 40 surviving comfort women are living together in the House of Sharing. Their ages range between 87 and 101, and their average age exceeds 90. They suffer from geriatric diseases, and the trauma of having been gang raped at an early age. To resolve this issue, they visited Tokyo and Osaka, Japan in January 2017, New York and Dallas, US in April, and are set to visit Okinawa and Fukuoka, Japan in October to provide testimony.

The Japanese government remitted¥1 billion, i.e. about KRW10.87 billion to the foundation for supporting comfort women, i.e. the ‘’Foundation for Reconciliation and Healing.’ It has been 25 years since the comfort women issue was first publicized in 1991 by the testimony of the late Kim Hak-soon. However, a humanitarian support fund, not legal reparations, will not help resolve this issue at all. It is not until the victims receive a single penny in legal reparations that the Japanese government acknowledges legal responsibility and no Japanese government will make reckless remarks like prostitution.

The Abe government has sought to nullify the Kono Statement of 1993 which admitted this issue. The actions of the Abe government have met with strong resistance from historians around the world. As this distortion and alteration of history continue, Japan must make legal reparations. Japan’s unilateral remittance is nothing but a trick to erase history. That’s why the 6 victims in the House of Sharing refuse to receive KRW100 million in cash.

When it comes to human rights, particularly the issue of history, the ruling and opposition parties cannot be different. Past governments tried many things to resolve this issue, but as Japan did not make legal reparations and an official apology that the victims want, they could not reach an agreement. The National Assembly must now demand with one voice that the agreement should be nullified and renegotiated. In particular, the National Assembly members must work together with an awareness of human rights and history. The private sector cannot but continuously erect the Statute of Peace at home and abroad to resolve this issue. In summary, then, the Statute of Peace is the best thing we can do to resolve this issue.

 

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‘Balsamina: Touch-Me-Not’ now in Kindle version

‘Balsamina:Touch-Me-Not’ is now at the Kindle book store. You can click the bottom link to have a free give away  download.  Please kindly share the link so the voice of surviving comfort women can reach broader audience over the world. Thank you.

‘Balsamina:Touch-Me-Not’ Kindle Version

‘Guihyang'(Spirit’s homecoming), a movie about an abducted girl’s journey as a comfort woman

Teaser of ‘Guihyang’ on Youtube

Official movie website: http://www.guihyang.com

Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/makingguihyang

tposter_spirits_homecoming

The film ‘Spirits’ Homecoming’ is based on the true story of Kang Il-chul , who was forced to become sex slave for the Imperial Japanese Army during the 1940s.

Born in 1928, she was taken by force to Comfort Stations by Japanese army in 1943, when she was only sixteen years old. This movie portrays a teenage girl’s struggle who was stripped of her human rights and dignity in the name of war and the militarism.

Unlike Germany, modern day Japan government has not made amends for their war crimes of the past. Rather, the Rightist faction, which influences great control over Japanese politics insists on unacceptable arguments as they deny the forced conscription of Comfort Women along with other historically known war crime facts.

The film does not seek simply to criticize the Japanese government nor does it seek to provide shallow comfort for the victims. Instead it aims to highlight the devastation and tragedy of the history caused by the military of Imperial Japan, and to heartily send out the message that this cannot be repeated. So, we dare say that this is not the story of the ‘past’ but of the ‘future’ for all. Furthermore, this is a ‘healing movie’ that focuses on alleviating the pain of the past.

Today, only a small number of victims remain alive. It is imperative that their stories be recorded and told to the world.

The Reason to Never Forget – origins of our tale
In the winter of 2002, when Director Cho visited ‘The House of Sharing’ to perform as a traditional Korean drummer for ‘Japanese Military Comfort Women’ victims who reside there, he met Kang Il-chul.

Ms. Kang, one of the Comfort Women victims, born in 1928, was only 16 when she was forcefully ‘recruited’ by a Japanese officer. She was taken to a Comfort Station in Mundanjiang, China, and was forced to work as a ‘sex slave’ for Japanese Soldiers.

Towards the end of war, after years of indescribable torment and abuse, she was diagnosed with typhoid. She was then, transferred outside the army camp, along with other girls who were also considered ‘useless’, to be thrown into a fire pit for disposal.

Right before she was thrown into the fire pit, she was able to make a dramatic escape thanks to a surprise attack from the Korean Independence Army at the time. From then on, she dwelled in China, with no way to go home but longing to return. In 1998, after years of waiting she was able to come home, and decided to reside in ‘the House of Sharing’ along with other victims.

In 2001, during an art psychotherapy conducted at ‘the House of Sharing’, she drew ‘Burning Virgins’ which depicts her own experience. After encountering her picture, Director Cho, shocked by the horrible truth and tragedy young girls’ lives trampled brutally, grieved deeply and wrote a scenario which gave life to the movie – Spirits’ Homecoming.

From the ‘Guihyang’, official site.

187 prestigious historians all over the world urged Japanese government to recognize the comfort women issues.

The undersigned scholars of Japanese studies express our unity with the many courageous historians in Japan seeking an accurate and just history of World War II in Asia. Because Japan is a second home as well as a field of research for many of us, we write with a shared concern for the way that the history of Japan and East Asia is studied and commemorated.

In this important commemorative year, we also write to celebrate seventy years of peace between Japan and its neighbors. Postwar Japan’s history of democracy, civilian control of the military, police restraint, and political tolerance, together with contributions to science and generous aid to other countries, are all things to celebrate as well.

Yet problems of historical interpretation pose an impediment to celebrating these achievements. One of the most divisive historical issues is the so-called “comfort women” system. This issue has become so distorted by nationalist invective in Japan as well as in Korea and China that many scholars, along with journalists and politicians, have lost
sight of the fundamental goal of historical inquiry, which should be to understand the human condition and aspire to improve it.

Exploitation of the suffering of former “comfort women” for nationalist ends in the countries of the victims makes an international resolution more difficult and further insults the dignity of the women themselves. Yet denying or trivializing what happened to them is equally unacceptable. Among the many instances of wartime sexual violence and military prostitution in the twentieth century, the “comfort women” system was distinguished by its large scale and systematic management under the military, and by its exploitation of young, poor, and vulnerable women in areas colonized or occupied by Japan.

There is no easy path to a “correct history.” Much of the archive of the Japanese imperial military was destroyed. The actions of local procurers who provided women to the military may never have been recorded. But historians have unearthed numerous documents demonstrating the military’s involvement in the transfer of women and oversight of brothels. Important evidence also comes from the testimony of victims. Although their stories are diverse and affected by the inconsistencies of memory, the aggregate record they offer is compelling and supported by official documents as well as by the accounts of soldiers and others.

Historians disagree over the precise number of “comfort women,” which will probably never be known for certain. Establishing sound estimates of victims is important. But ultimately, whether the numbers are judged to have been in the tens of thousands or the hundreds of thousands will not alter the fact of the exploitation carried out throughout the Japanese empire and its war zones.

Some historians also dispute how directly the Japanese military was involved, and whether women were coerced to become “comfort women.” Yet the evidence makes

clear that large numbers of women were held against their will and subjected to horrific brutality. Employing legalistic arguments focused on particular terms or isolated documents to challenge the victims’ testimony both misses the fundamental issue of their brutalization and ignores the larger context of the inhumane system that exploited them.

Like our colleagues in Japan, we believe that only careful weighing and contextual evaluation of every trace of the past can produce a just history. Such work must resist national and gender bias, and be free from government manipulation, censorship, and private intimidation. We defend the freedom of historical inquiry, and we call upon all governments to do the same.

Many countries still struggle to acknowledge past injustices. It took over forty years for the United States government to compensate Japanese-Americans for their internment during World War II. The promise of equality for African Americans was not realized in US law until a century after the abolition of slavery, and the reality of racism remains ingrained in American society. None of the imperial powers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including the United States, the European nations, and Japan, can claim to have sufficiently reckoned with their histories of racism, colonialism, and war, or with the suffering they inflicted on countless civilians around the world.

Japan today values the life and rights of every individual, including the most vulnerable. The Japanese government would not tolerate the exploitation of women in a system like the military “comfort stations” now, either overseas or at home. Even at the time, some officials protested on moral grounds. But the wartime regime compelled absolute sacrifice of the individual to serve the state, causing great suffering to the Japanese people themselves as well as to other Asians. No one should have to suffer such conditions again.

This year presents an opportunity for the government of Japan to show leadership by addressing Japan’s history of colonial rule and wartime aggression in both words and action. In his April address to the US Congress, Prime Minister Abe spoke of the universal value of human rights, of the importance of human security, and of facing the suffering that Japan caused other countries. We applaud these sentiments and urge the Prime Minister to act boldly on all of them.

The process of acknowledging past wrongs strengthens a democratic society and fosters cooperation among nations. Since the equal rights and dignity of women lie at the core of the “comfort women” issue, its resolution would be a historic step toward the equality of women and men in Japan, East Asia and the world.

In our classrooms, students from Japan, Korea, China and elsewhere discuss these difficult issues with mutual respect and probity. Their generation will live with the record of the past that we bequeath them. To help them build a world free of sexual violence and human trafficking, and to promote peace and friendship in Asia, we must leave as full and unbiased an accounting of past wrongs as possible.

SIGNED,

  • l  Daniel Aldrich, Professor of Political Science, Purdue University.
  • l  Jeffrey Alexander, Associate Professor of History, University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
  • l  Anne Allison, Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Duke University.
  • l  Marnie Anderson, Associate Professor of History, Smith College.
  • l  E. Taylor Atkins, Presidential Teaching Professor of History, Northern Illinois University.
  • l  Paul D. Barclay, Associate Professor of History and Asian Studies Program Chair, Lafayette College.
  • l  Jan Bardsley, Associate Professor of Asian Studies, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
  • l  James R. Bartholomew, Professor, Department of History, The Ohio State University.
  • l  Brett de Bary, Professor, Asian Studies and Comparative Literature, Cornell University.
  • l  Michael Baskett, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Film and Media Studies, University of Kansas
  • l  Alan Baumler, Professor of History, Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
  • l  Alexander R. Bay, Associate Professor, History Department, Chapman University.
  • l  Theodore C. Bestor, Professor of Social Anthropology, Harvard University.
  • l  Victoria Bestor, Director of the North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources.
  • l  Davinder Bhowmik, Associate Professor of Asian Languages and Literature, University of Washington.
  • l  Herbert Bix, Professor Emeritus of History and Sociology, Binghamton University.
  • l  Daniel Botsman, Professor of History, Yale University.
  • l  Michael Bourdaghs, Professor of Japanese Literature, East Asian Languages and

    Civilizations, University of Chicago.

  • l  Thomas Burkman, Research Professor of Asian Studies Emeritus, SUNY Buffalo.
  • l  Susan L. Burns, Associate Professor of History, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago.
  • l  Eric Cazdyn, Distinguished Professor of Aesthetics and Politics, Department of East Asian Studies & Centre for Comparative Literature, University of Toronto.
  • l  Parks M. Coble, Professor of History, University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
  • l  Haruko Taya Cook, Instructor of Languages and Cultures, William Paterson

    University.

  • l  Theodore F. Cook, Professor of History, William Paterson University.
  • l  Bruce Cumings, Professor of History, University of Chicago.
  • l  Katarzyna Cwiertka, Professor of Modern Japanese Studies, Universiteit Leiden.
  • l  Charo D’Etcheverry, Associate Professor of Japanese Literature, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • l  Eric Dinmore, Associate Professor of History, Hampden-Sydney College.
  • l  Lucia Dolce, Chair, Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions, University of

    London, SOAS.

  • l  Ronald P. Dore, Honorary Fellow, London School of Economics.
  • l  John W. Dower, Professor Emeritus of History, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • l  Mark Driscoll, Professor of East Asian Studies, UNC, Chapel Hill.
  • l  Prasenjit Duara, Raffles Professor of Humanities, National University of Singapore.
  • l  Alexis Dudden, Professor of History, University of Connecticut.
  • l  Martin Dusinberre, Professor of Global History, University of Zürich.
  • l  Peter Duus, Professor of History (Emeritus), Stanford University.
  • l  Steve Ericson, Associate Professor of History, Dartmouth College.
  • l  Elyssa Faison, Associate Professor, University of Oklahoma.
  • l  Norma Field, Professor Emerita of East Asian Studies, University of Chicago.
  • l  W. Miles Fletcher, Professor of History, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
  • l  Petrice R. Flowers, Associate Professor Political Science, University of Hawaii.
  • l  Joshua A. Fogel, Professor of History, York University, Toronto.
  • l  Sarah Frederick, Associate Professor of Japanese and Comparative Literature, Boston University.
  • l  Dennis J. Frost, Wen Chao Chen Associate Professor of East Asian Studies, Kalamazoo College.
  • l  Sabine Fruhstuck, Professor of Modern Japanese Cultural Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara.
  • l  James Fujii, Associate Professor, East Asian Languages and Literatures, University of California, Irvine.
  • l  Takashi Fujitani, Professor of History, University of Toronto.
  • l  Sheldon M. Garon, Professor of History and East Asian Studies, Princeton

    University.

  • l  Timothy S. George, Professor of History, University of Rhode Island.
  • l  Christopher Gerteis, Chair, Japan Research Centre, SOAS, University of London.
  • l  Carol Gluck, Professor of History, Columbia University.
  • l  Andrew Gordon, Professor of History, Harvard University.
  • l  Helen Hardacre, Professor of Religions and Society, Harvard University.
  • l  Harry Harootunian, Emeritus Professor of History, New York University; Adjunct Professor of Japanese History, Columbia University.
  • l  Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, Professor of History, University of California at Santa Barbara.
  • l  Akiko Hashimoto, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Pittsburgh.
  • l  Sally A. Hastings, Associate Professor of History, Purdue University.
  • l  Tom Havens, Professor of History, Northeastern University.
  • l  Kenji Hayao, Associate Professor, Political Science Department, Boston College.
  • l  Laura Hein, Professor of History, Northwestern University.
  • l  Robert Hellyer, Associate Professor of History, Wake Forest College.
  • l  Manfred Henningsen, Professor of Political Science, University of Hawaii at Manoa.
  • l  Christopher L. Hill, Assistant Professor of Japanese Literature, University of Michigan.
  • l  Katsuya Hirano, Associate Professor of History, UCLA.
  • l  David L. Howell, Professor of Japanese History, Harvard University.
  • l  Douglas Howland, Professor of History, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
  • l  James L. Huffman, H. Orth Hirt Professor of History Emeritus, Wittenberg University.
  • l  Janet Hunter, Saji Professor of Economic History, London School of Economics and Political Science.
  • l  Akira Iriye, Professor Emeritus, Harvard University.
  • l  Rebecca Jennison, Professor, Department of Humanities, Kyoto Seika University.
  • l  William Johnston, Professor of History, Wesleyan University.
  • l  John Junkerman, Documentary Filmmaker.
  • l  Ikumi Kaminishi, Associate Professor of Art and Art History, Tufts University.
  • l  Ken Kawashima, Associate Professor of East Asian Studies, University of Toronto.
  • l  William W. Kelly, Professor of Anthropology, Yale University.
  • l  James Ketelaar, Professor of History, University of Chicago.
  • l  R. Keller Kimbrough, Associate Professor, University of Colorado at Boulder.
  • l  Miriam Kingsberg, Assistant Professor of History, University of Colorado.
  • l  Jeff Kingston, Director of Asian Studies and Professor of History, Temple

    University Japan.

  • l  Victor Koschmann, Professor of History, Cornell University.
  • l  Emi Koyama, Independent Scholar, Japan-U.S. Feminist Network for Decolonization (FeND).
  • l  Ellis S. Krauss, Professor Emeritus, University of California, San Diego.
  • l  Josef Kreiner, Professor Emeritus, Rheinische Freidrich-Wilhelms Universität Bonn.
  • l  Shigehisa Kuriyama, Reischauer Institute Professor of Cultural History, Harvard University.
  • l  Peter Kuznick, Professor of History and Director, Nuclear Studies Institute, American University.
  • l  Thomas Lamarre, James McGill Professor, East Asian Studies , Art History and Communications Studies, McGill University
  • l  Andrew Levidis, Fellow, Reischauer Institute, Harvard University.
  • l  Ilse Lenz, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Ruhr University Bochum, Germany.
  • l  Mark Lincicome, Associate Professor, Department of History, College of the Holy Cross.
  • l  Sepp Linhart, Professor Emeritus of Japanese Studies and Sociology, University of Vienna.
  • l  Yukio Lippit, Professor of History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University.
  • l  Angus Lockyer, Lecturer in the History of Japan, Department of History, SOAS,

    University of London.

  • l  Susan Orpett Long, Professor of Anthropology, John Carroll University.
  • l  David B. Lurie, Associate Professor of Japanese History and Literature, Columbia University.
  • l  Vera Mackie, Professor of Asian Studies, University of Wollongong.

l Wolfram Manzenreiter, Professor of Japanese Studies, University of Vienna.

  • l  William Marotti, Associate Professor of History, UCLA.
  • l  Y. Tak Matsusaka, Professor of History, Wellesley College.
  • l  Trent Maxey, Associate Professor of Asian Languages and Civilizations and History, Amherst College.
  • l  James L. McClain Professor of History, Brown University.
  • l  Gavan McCormack, Professor Emeritus of History, Australian National University.
  • l  Melissa McCormick, Professor, Harvard University.
  • l  David McNeill, Journalist and Professor, Sophia University.
  • l  Mark Metzler, Professor of History, University of Texas at Austin.
  • l  Ian J. Miller, Professor of History, Harvard University.
  • l  Laura Miller, Ei’ichi Shibusawa-Seigo Arai Endowed Professor of Japanese Studies, University of Missouri-St. Louis.
  • l  Janis Mimura, Associate Professor, State University of New York, Stony Brook.
  • l  Richard H. Minear, Professor of History (Emeritus), University of Massachusetts

    Amherst.

  • l  Yuki Miyamoto, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, DePaul University.
  • l  Barbara Molony, Professor of History, Santa Clara University.
  • l  Yumi Moon, Associate Professor of History, Stanford.
  • l  Aaron Moore, Lecturer in East Asian History, The University of Manchester.
  • l  Tessa Morris-Suzuki, Professor of Japanese History, Australian National University.
  • l  Aurelia George Mulgan, Professor of Japanese Politics, University of New South Wales.
  • l  R. Taggart Murphy, Professor, International Political Economy, University of Tsukuba, Tokyo Campus.
  • l  Tetsuo Najita, Professor Emeritus of History, University of Chicago.
  • l  Miri Nakamura, Associate Professor of Japanese Literature, College of East Asian Studies, Wesleyan University.
  • l  John Nathan, Takashima Professor of Japanese Cultural Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara.
  • l  Christopher Nelson, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • l  Satoko Oka Norimatsu, Editor, Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus.
  • l  Markus Nornes, Professor of Asian Cinema, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
  • l  David Tobaru Obermiller, Associate Professor, Department of History & Japanese Studies Program, Gustavus Adolphus College.
  • l  Eiko Otake, Visiting artist, Wesleyan University.
  • l  Simon Partner, Professor of History, Duke University.
  • l  T.J. Pempel, Jack M. Forcey Professor of Political Science for Study of East Asian Politics, University of California, Berkeley.
  • l  Matthew Penney, Associate Professor, Concordia University.
  • l  Samuel E. Perry, Associate Professor of East Asian Studies, Brown University.
  • l  Catherine Phipps, Associate Professor, University of Memphis
  • l  Leslie Pincus, Associate Professor of History, University of Michigan.
  • l  Morgan Pitelka, Associate Professor and Director of the Carolina Asia Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • l  Janet Poole, Associate Professor of East Asian Studies, University of Toronto.
  • l  Roger Pulvers, Author and Translator, Sydney, Australia.
  • l  Steve Rabson, Professor Emeritus of East Asian Studies, Brown University.
  • l  Fabio Rambelli, Chair, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies and Professor of Japanese Religions and Cultural History, University of California, Santa Barbara.
  • l  Mark Ravina, Professor of History, Emory University.
  • l  Steffi Richter, Professor of East Asian Studies, Universität Leipzig.
  • l  Luke Roberts, Professor of History, University of California Santa Barbara.
  • l  Jennifer Robertson, Professor of Anthropology and History of Art, University of Michigan.
  • l  Jay Rubin, Professor Emeritus, Harvard University.
  • l  Ken Ruoff, Professor of History and Director of the Center for Japanese Studies,

    Portland State University.

  • l  Jordan Sand, Professor of History, Georgetown University.
  • l  Wesley Sasaki-Uemura, Associate Professor of Japanese History, University of Utah.
  • l  Ellen Schattschneider, Associate Professor of Anthropology and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Brandeis University.
  • l  Andre Schmid, Associate Professor of East Asian Studies, University of Toronto.
  • l  Amanda C. Seaman, Associate Professor of Japanese and Director of Comparative

    Literature, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

  • l  Ethan Segal, Associate Professor of History, Michigan State University.
  • l  Wolfgang Seifert, Professor Emeritus of Japanese Studies, University of Heidelberg.
  • l  Mark Selden, Senior Research Associate, Cornell University; Editor, Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus.
  • l  Franziska Seraphim, Associate Professor of History, Boston College.
  • l  Sayuri Guthrie Shimizu, Professor of History, Rice University.
  • l  Eiko Maruko Siniawer, Associate Professor of History, Williams College.
  • l  Patricia Sippel, Professor, Toyo Eiwa University.
  • l  Richard Smethurst, Professor Emeritus of History, University of Pittsburgh.
  • l  Kerry Smith, Associate Professor of History, Brown University.
  • l  Daniel Sneider, Associate Director for Research, Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, Stanford University.
  • l  M. William Steele, Professor of History, International Christian University.
  • l  Brigitte Steger, Senior Lecturer in Modern Japanese Studies, University of

    Cambridge.

  • l  Stefan Tanaka, Professor of Communication, University of California, San Diego.
  • l  Alan Tansman, Professor of Japanese Literature, University of California Berkeley.
  • l  Sarah Thal, Associate Professor of History, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • l  Michael F. Thies, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, UCLA
  • l  Mark Tilton, Associate Professor of Political Science, Purdue University.
  • l  Julia Adeney Thomas, Associate Professor of History, University of Notre Dame.
  • l  John Whittier Treat, Emeritus Professor, Yale University; Professor, Ewha Womans University.
  • l  Hitomi Tonomura, Professor of History, University of Michigan
  • l  Jun Uchida, Associate Professor of History, Stanford University.
  • l  J. Keith Vincent, Associate Professor of Japanese and Comparative Literature, Boston University.
  • l  Stephen Vlastos, Professor of History, University of Iowa.
  • l  Ezra F. Vogel, Professor Emeritus, Harvard University.
  • l  Klaus Vollmer, Professor of Japanese Studies, LMU Munich University.
  • l  Anne Walthall, Professor Emerita of History, University of California, Irvine.
  • l  Max Ward, Assistant Professor of History, Middlebury College.
  • l  Lori Watt, Associate Professor of History, Washington University in St. Louis.
  • l  Gennifer Weisenfeld, Professor, Duke University.
  • l  Michael Wert, Associate Professor, Marquette University.
  • l  Kären Wigen, Professor of History, Stanford University.
  • l  Tomomi Yamaguchi, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Montana State University.
  • l  Samuel H. Yamashita, Henry E. Sheffield Professor of History, Pomona College.
  • l  Daqing Yang, Associate Professor, George Washington University.
  • l  Christine Yano, Professor of Anthropology, University of Hawaii at Manoa.
  • l  Marcia Yonemoto, Associate Professor of History, University of Colorado Boulder.
  • l  Lisa Yoneyama, Professor of East Asian Studies, University of Toronto.
  • l  Theodore Jun Yoo, Associate Professor of History, University of Hawaii.
  • l  Takashi Yoshida, Professor, Western Michigan University.
  • l  Louise Young, Professor of History, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • l  Eve Zimmerman, Barbara Morris Caspersen Associate Professor of Humanities & Associate Professor of Japanese, Wellesley University.
  • l  Reinhard Zöllner, Professor of Japanese and Korean Studies, University of Bonn. —

This statement emerged from an open forum held at the Association for Asian Studies annual meeting held in Chicago during March 2015, and from subsequent discussions on line among a wide range of Japan scholars. It represents the opinions only of those who have signed it and not of any organization or institution.

The surviving comfort women at the House of Sharing thank Mike Honda, California Congressman

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The surviving comfort women, residing at the House of Sharing in Korea, thank Mr.Honda for his sincere support on the issue.

They also endorse the book, ‘Touch-Me-Not’, and hope the book will be widely read and recognized with English speaking audiences so their truthful story can be heard world wide.

House lawmakers urge Japanese PM to ‘face history’ during US visit

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A bipartisan group of House lawmakers is calling on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to “squarely face history” during his scheduled visit to the United States next week.

Abe on Tuesday sent a token plant to a Japanese war shrine in a ritual cheered by the country’s nationalists but condemned by neighboring nation’s like South Korea and China, which view the move as an aggressive denial of atrocities committed by the Japanese during World War II.

In a letter sent Thursday to Kenichiro Sasae, Japan’s ambassador to the United States, the House lawmakers note that this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII, and are urging Abe to “lay the foundation for healing and humble reconciliation by addressing the historical issues.”

“[W]e fervently hope Prime Minister Abe will take advantage of this auspicious milestone during his visit to Washington to enhance Japan’s relationships with its neighbors through a vision of long overdue healing and reconciliation which will contribute to future-oriented cooperation,” the lawmakers wrote.

Spearheaded by Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), former head of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, the letter is endorsed by 24 other lawmakers, including Reps. Edward Royce (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), head of the Democrats’ messaging arm; Blake Farenthold (R-Texas); and Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Abe has long-been criticized for not going far enough in apologizing for Japan’s activities during the Second World War, particularly the use of “comfort women” from neighboring countries who were forced to service the Japanese troops.

This week’s gift, an evergreen plant, from Abe to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine has only furthered those criticisms. The shrine is a memorial to the Japanese troops who died in the war, but also includes military officers and political officials later found guilty of war crimes.

Attempting to make amends, Abe has signaled that he’ll visit the World War II memorial on the National Mall during next week’s visit to Washington. The House lawmakers, though, suggested they also want him to address the thorny historical issues during his speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday – a speech that comes amid a high-stakes congressional debate over trade deals with Japan and other Asian nations.

“We are at a critical juncture in America’s rebalance to Asia,” the lawmakers wrote, “and we firmly believe that enhanced cooperation between the United States, Japan, and Korea will serve as a linchpin of peace and prosperity throughout the Asia-Pacific region and the broader global community.”

U.S. envoy denounces Japan’s wartime sex slavery as ‘grave human rights violation’

The U.S. ambassador to Seoul said Thursday Japan’s sexual enslavement of Korean women during World War II is “a grave human rights violation,” expressing hope for Tokyo to take steps to ease the pains of victims.

Sung Kim made the remarks at a forum hosted by the Kwanhun Club, a senior journalists’ association, in Seoul, echoing Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se’s criticism the previous day in Geneva of Japan’s attempts to deny its wartime atrocities.

“Yes, I agree (with Yun),” Kim said. “The comfort women issue, or the sex slavery issue, is a grave human rights violation.”

Historians say up to 200,000 women, mostly Koreans, were coerced into sexual slavery for Japanese soldiers during World War II. Japan ruled the Korean Peninsula as a colony from 1910-45.

Tokyo, however, has been trying to whitewash its history of the sexual atrocities, with the Shinzo Abe government vowing to re-examine a 1993 statement where the country acknowledged and apologized for its war crimes.

Stressing his own and his country’s understanding of “the pains of the surviving women,” the U.S. diplomat said, “We very much hope that the Japanese leadership addresses this important issue in a way that eases the pain of the victims.”

The soured Seoul-Tokyo relations “are not only bad for the two countries but harm the U.S. interests and the peace and stability of the whole region,” Kim said.

While guarding against any “mediating role” by the U.S., he said Washington can “encourage the leadership of the two countries to address the issue in a way that satisfies concerns and eases pain.”

“We very much hope that we can see some positive momentum in the relations between South Korea and Japan.”

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun delivered a tough message to Japan in his speech at the 25th regular session of the U.N. Human Rights Council, saying Japan has shown an attitude of “affronting humanity and disregarding the historical truth” and “challenging recommendations to Japan by U.N. mechanisms” by not repenting for its past behaviors.

Yun said taking the international stage to raise the comfort women issue was to raise awareness around the world and seek solutions to these “universal human rights issues.”

Asked about ways to resolve the North Korean nuclear weapons program, the U.S. diplomat said he believes that the six-party talks “are still a useful forum” and stressed Washington’s will to resume the stalled meeting.

The multilateral talks, which involve both Koreas, the U.S., Japan, China and Russia, have been dormant since late 2008.

“The North Korean nuclear issue is still very much at the top of the foreign policy of the U.S.,” the ambassador said. “People often equate lack of progress with lack of interests in Washington. That’s not the case at all in this case.”

Pointing to current circumstances as a reason for its “prudent” approach, he said the U.S. “will continue to work very hard with South Korea and China to try to come up with the resumption of the talks” with a goal to make “a serious lasting progress” in the denuclearization matter.

Especially following the stunning execution of leader Kim Jong-un’s uncle and No. 2 man, Jang Song-thaek, political uncertainty and instability in the reclusive country have grown, according to watchers.

“Many questions and many answers exist about the situation in North Korea. This is why it is so critical, so important for us to continue to maintain the strongest possible deterrent capability so that we will be prepared for whatever happens in North Korea,” he said.