It is commonly said that a neighbour is better than a faraway cousin.
Quite contrary to this saying, however, there is a country in close proximity to us that rubs salt into the wounds of pent-up grudges.
That is none other than Japan, a war criminal state which had dispossessed our peaceful, fertile land and plunged the Asian continent into the holocaust by war, trampling them underfoot as a heinously voracious predator during the first half of the 20th century.
The impudent attempt by the Japanese authorities for justifying and covering up the crimes of sexual slavery committed by the Imperial Japanese Army is becoming increasingly undisguised up to the present when the world has entered an era of modern civilization. For this reason, the Japanese crimes remain yet a pending issue, not the issue of the past.
Sexual slavery system established in around 1920s
Along with the history of humankind, wars of aggression by the ruling classes have been incessantly waged. But none of the wars have ever recorded such a case where hundreds of thousands of women had been forced into sexual slavery.
Such vicious act – a crime – of reducing numerous women of the world, including 200 000 Korean women, to sex slaves by means of coercive drafting under the pretext of “volunteer corps” could only be committed by the Japanese militarists who had left no stone unturned for invasion of the Asian continent and realization of its ambition for world hegemony.
According to data available, Japan came to realize, in the aftermath of the “troop dispatch to Siberia” in 1918 when the Japanese soldiers were plagued with venereal diseases caused by indecent sexual behaviour, that it should set up the system of “comfort women for the army” in order to prevent the loss of fighting efficiency caused by venereal disease in its long war of aggression, and started to put the idea into practice.
Japan actually started in around the 1920s to set up and operate the “comfort stations” within its “Imperial Army”, and institutionalized the use of “comfort women” as one of the indispensable war supplies at the time of invading the Asian continent in the 1930s, and put them under the direct control, management and operation of its military.
Accordingly, “comfort stations” came to be set up and operated wherever the “Imperial Japanese Army” set their feet, including China, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and the South Seas, not to speak of Korea and the mainland of Japan.
These facts have been fully revealed by the testimonies of victims of the sexual slavery in the 1920s and the 1930s and of perpetrators of the forced drafting, as well as the confidential documents of that time, and the writings and attestations by the Japanese concerned.
Some of them are the following:
Directive and note of caution by the Japanese military dated March 4 1938 which was discovered by a professor of Chuo University in January 10 1992.
Wartime telegram of March 12 1942 wired by a former commander of the Imperial Japanese Army stationed in Taiwan, showing the direct involvement of the then Japanese Prime Minister Tojo Hideki in the establishment of “comfort stations”. The telegram was found by a member of the Japanese Diet from the archive of the Japanese Defence Agency (at that time).
Documents and diaries found by a professor of Showa University of Japan.
Testimony of a staff officer in charge of supply service in the Kwantung Army contained in a book entitled “Comfort Women for Imperial Army” written by a Japanese.
Article contributed by a Japanese woman to the September 1992 issue of the Sekai magazine.
What do all these imply?
These imply that the recruitment of “comfort women” was not “voluntary” done by civilians but the forced drafting implemented under the directive of the Japanese government and military authorities, and that it was Japan’s policy to set Korean women as its main target in filling up the required numbers.
The Japanese imperialists mainly targeted Korean women as they calculated they could achieve different purposes at the same time. They could recruit Korean women in large numbers without spending money because Korea was the colony of Japan, prevent venereal disease and keep military secrets, and furthermore pursue the policy of obliterating the Korean nation.
Fully disclosed crimes of sexual slavery committed by Imperial Japanese Army
The point in question is why the sexual slavery committed by the Imperial Japanese Army came to be revealed only with the turn of the 1980s.
The first reason is that all the documents related to the “comfort women” were incinerated by the order from the top authorities of the Japanese Army.
Immediately after their defeat, the Japanese military authorities gave instructions to all their aggression forces in other countries and governments-general in Korea and Taiwan to incinerate the documents relating to their war crimes.
The incineration was carried out so thoroughly that scholars, the public and media could not know at all about the factual truth behind “comfort stations” and “comfort women”.
To take an example, 100 000 rolls of documents now kept in the Jilin Province Archive located in Changchun, which had been buried in the yard of the military police headquarters of Kwantung Army of the Japanese Imperialists (now the office of People’s Government of Jilin Province), were unearthed during construction work. These confidential documents are just a tiny part of the remains from the incineration in mid-August 1945 following the Japanese defeat.
The second reason is that the surviving victims of sexual slavery felt too shy to step forward and betray their shameful past life.
Who would willingly tell about shameful life, their elementary rights and dignity having been stained because they were treated as pieces of sexual tools?
They managed to save their lives after their integrity as social beings, dignities as women and minds and bodies as youth had been violated and destroyed into pieces. It is too natural, therefore, that they could not easily tell about their personal sufferings of the past.
The third reason is that that the Japanese themselves – offenders of sex slavery – kept their mouths tight shut.
Millions of Japanese who had been conscripted into the aggressor army made it their business to commit murder, arson and rape. And they frequented “comfort stations.”
But their crimes had been buried, as the offenders themselves kept their mouths tight shut and denied the crimes, driven by the Japanese peculiar way of reasoning that “dirt and stink should be covered up.”
Nevertheless, the conscientious figures, journalists and female activists came forward, and the sexual slavery committed by the Japanese army came to be consequently laid bare to the whole world.
Simultaneously, an official document suggesting that the sexual slavery for Japanese military was directly ordered by the military authorities was found inside Japan. Overpowered by the increasing denunciation and pressure from the international society, the Japanese government that had kept pretending complete ignorance could no longer hold out.
On August 4 1993, Kono Yohei, spokesperson for the Japanese government and chief Cabinet secretary, second person after prime minister, issued an official statement. He admitted the coercive nature of the sexual slavery for Japanese military by saying “the military was directly involved”, and he made an apology, saying “Japan remembers it for a long time.”
Approach of current Japanese authorities to crimes of sexual slavery committed by Japanese imperial army constitutes open challenge to international society and humanity
Over 70 years have passed since the defeat of Japanese imperialism. And it is also over 20 years since the crimes of sexual slavery committed by the Japanese Imperial Army attracted worldwide attention.
However, the attempts by the Japanese authorities to distort the history, aimed at covering up the facts of crimes of sexual slavery and forced drafting of the Koreans committed by Japanese militarism, are now becoming outrageous.
In the so-called “written answer” endorsed at the Cabinet meeting held last April, the Japanese government clearly stated its position of totally negating all the facts, insisting that terming the victims of sexual slavery as “comfort women for the army” is not appropriate as it might lead to misunderstanding and should therefore be merely termed “comfort women” and that the forced drafting of the Koreans should not be described as “forced labour.”
Political figures including the chief Cabinet secretary and Foreign Minister also let loose reckless remarks during their public appearances including at Diet meeting that “the report that recruitment of comfort women had been done coercively contradicts the fact” and “in time of emergency, unfair actions against women and children are unavoidable and these are normal happenings around the world”.
Such demeanour of the Japanese government constitutes an intolerable challenge designed to instil the distorted view on history and revanchism into the coming generations and repeat the thrice-cursed demoniac predation by wriggling out of its state responsibility and embellishing its bloodstained past crimes at any cost.
This challenge is now further augmented by the latest moves such as visits by the Japanese politicians to Yasukuni Shrine, distortion of history textbooks, attempts to revise its constitution, and relocation of the Self-Defence Forces and arms build-up to dispossess the territories of neighbouring countries.
Asahi Journal dated January 30 1992 wrote that “in the post-Cold War world, it is necessary for Japan and its people to make compensations for war responsibility as well as post-war responsibility in order to gain recognition from the international society” and it put a question “why will only Japan remain in isolation indefinitely in the trend of the world history?”
The world is casting a stern eye at the unjust attitude of the Japanese government which has laid bare its immorality and shamelessness by repeatedly deriding the justice of the international society and the conscience of humankind.
Girl statues and memorials accusing the sexual slavery have been built even in major cities of the US, an ally of Japan, to say nothing of other countries and regions of the world including Germany and Canada, and the international campaigns to condemn the crimes of violation of women’s rights committed by Japan are expanding across the world.
During the debate of the agenda item “Contemporary Forms of Slavery” at the 44th Meeting of the United Nations Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities held in August 1992, the delegate from the International Association of Educational Development pointed out in her speech that the issue of “comfort women” is the one related to the 200 000 Korean women and girls forced into sexual slavery as a result of abduction or forced drafting by the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second World War.
The unprecedented crimes of sexual slavery perpetrated by the Imperial Japanese Army that led to ruthlessly violating the dignity of 200 000 Korean women are super-class crimes against humanity which can neither be hidden nor erased forever, and therefore, heavy costs should be imposed upon these crimes through generations according to the international convention on applying no statutory limitations to the war crimes and the crimes against humanity.
Cha Hye Gyong, researcher at the Institute for Studies of Japan,