Former anchors pressure board of directors

Ex-NHK staffers seek Momii’s ouster

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

Claiming that NHK Chairman Katsuto Momii demonstrated subservience to the government and lack of repentance for Japan’s wartime use of “comfort women,” 172 former employees of the public broadcaster submitted a petition Friday calling on its board of governors to advise him to resign or strip him of power.

“We decided to take this action because we wanted to stress once again that NHK is supposed to be a news organization independent of government authorities and exists to foster Japan’s development of democracy,” it said.

The list of former employees included some prominent names, notably former news anchors and announcers.

The move follows similar campaigns launched by at least two citizens’ groups in May to demand Momii’s resignation.

In his inaugural news conference in January, Momii touched off a firestorm by stating that NHK should toe the government line on Japan’s territorial issues with China and South Korea in its international programs. The petition, criticizing this remark as belying the broadcaster’s supposed immunity from political power, said: “If Momii stays at the helm any longer, that will pose a significant threat to NHK’s independence.”

At the same conference, Momii also justified the use of “comfort women,” Japan’s euphemism for the mostly Korean women and girls coerced into sexual servitude by the Imperial Japanese Army, according to the petition. Such a comment is tantamount to a “fabrication of history” and reflects “his inability to imagine as a human being the devastating plight those women went through,” the petition said.

Momii was appointed by the broadcaster’s 12-member board of governors, who were handpicked by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is no stranger to NHK’s affairs.

One of the directors, writer Naoki Hyakuta, drew widespread ire in June when he reportedly said in a speech in Shizuoka Prefecture that the 1937 Nanking Massacre never took place.

The petition lamented these gaffes have made it harder for NHK’s staff, including reporters, to do their jobs as they wrestle with the heated public backlash and viewers increasingly refuse to pay their subscription fees.

Keiichi Kubota, who stepped down as a governing board member in April, said in his resignation speech that morale at NHK has deteriorated since Momii took the helm and that their “efforts to maintain pride in undertaking public broadcasting are now on the verge of collapse.”

“We hope the governing board will make a wise decision (to dismiss Momii), or the current phase of NHK will forever be remembered as an embarrassment in its history,” the petition said.

An NHK spokesman said the broadcaster will pass the petition to the board of directors.

  • bombkiller007

    The article is a bit of a stretch of both logic and sadly, facts. Tomoshiro Osaki has actually committed what the article towards attempted to place on Mr. Momii: That of denying history.

    Osaki states: “At the same conference, Momii also justified wartime Japan’s use of “comfort women,” Japan’s euphemism for the mostly Korean women and girls coerced into sexual servitude by the Imperial Japanese Army, and tried to downplay the nation’s warmongering past. Such a comment is tantamount to a “fabrication of history” and reflects “his inability to imagine as a human being the devastating plight those women went through,” the petition said.”

    This is an egregious denial of history and facts. First, the term Comfort Women is not as Osaki attempts to portray “Japans euphemism” but the accepted term not only by the international community and historical researchers (to include Korean scholars), but a literal translation of the word used at the time and the word the group self identifies with. But clever use of wordplay by Osaki if somewhat amateurish.

    Second, “mostly Korean women and girls” is again incorrect as less than 40% of the women were non Japanese. Osaki obviously failed math (maybe why he writes for the Japan Times) as less than 40% is not “a majority”. But wait, there are still more errors!

    The facts behind coercion and sexual servitude are allegation and not facts. Therefore under any except fascist standards the people (yes including Mr. Morii) have the right to question and challenge those accusations which are far from proven. In fact, all evidence actually points to the opposite, which is the women were highly paid contract prostitutes that were not coerced nor put in a “devastating plight”.

    At best perhaps Osaki was carried away with emotion and the visceral and irrational need some fascists have to demonize anyone connected with Abe, but perhaps (and I do hope this is the case) Osaki is merely guilty of a bit of lazy “cut and paste” journalism which the Japan Times let slip through in the editing / fact checking process. But there is always room for improvement.

    • midnightbrewer

      It is a fact that the term “comfort women” is a euphemism, regardless of how widespread its acceptance. You yourself refer to them as prostitutes.

      It is also a fact that the Japanese government has long since acknowledged that they pressed these women into service. That would be an acknowledgement of facts, not allegation.

      You should cite some references to those 40% figures and the allegation that they were highly paid and under contract before you try to attack that mountain.

      • bombkiller007

        Im sorry but your incorrect. The text in the article implies servitude or sex slavery to which the Japanese government has not admitted to. Even the Kono statement, now shown to have been drafted by the Korean Comfort Women lobby, states that the Japanese feel remorse for the inconvenience the women experienced as a result of hardships.

        So no; the Japanese government has NOT acknowledged it “pressed these women into service”.

        Which even if at some point in the future it did, would not change the fact that again its an allegation, as the facts point to the opposite.

        The Dutch Comfort Women Survery (MoFA Bart van Poelgeest, 1993), US OWI PoW Report No 49 (CBI Theater 1944), and of course the former PoW Testimony of Sgt Thomas as provided in Hank Nelsons study on Korean Comfort Women in Borneo. I’d like to reprint the excerpt from his diary here (again first person account from an actual witness that was hostile to the Japanese (Australian PoW) so the fact that it doesn’t speak of force, cruelty etc lines up with the other source documents and directly contradicts the fascist assertions to the opposite:

        “A few of the comfort women, Thomas claimed, also catered for private clients for cash or other rewards.[38]”

        In the second week of his internment, Thomas was shifted from New Britain Timber’s saw mill in Malaguna to the wharf, and he was there when over 200 Korean women landed. He too noted the coloured kimonos, the ‘fancy “hair dos”’ and the clatter of the wooden shoes. The ‘Ladies of a Thousand Delights’ were:

        Gay, chattering little bodies, laughing and running around like children. In fact many of them were little more than children. Our task consisted of loading their bundles and suit-cases from the deck of the vessel to lorries waiting near the wharf.

        We carried out our task with our usual levity; laughing and joking like the proverbial clown, even though our hearts were breaking. The guards were experiencing quite a kick from seeing the lordly whites waiting upon women, which was about the lowest possible task for anyone in the East to be called upon to do.

        My comrade in the line of prisoners carrying the luggage was a well-known and popular priest who, it was easy to see, was cracking hardy. The task over, we stood beside the lorries, wiping our brows when I heard the priest speaking in his broad Irish voice:

        ‘I wonder what His Holiness would say if he knew I was portering for prostitutes!’

        The delightful brogue, the serious tone of his voice and the general situation tickled my fancy, and I burst out laughing…. For some time the ‘portering for prostitutes’ was the joke of the crowd.[33]

        Within three weeks, there were over 3000 of these ‘little ladies’ ashore and they were working at ‘top pressure’.[34] It might have been expected, Thomas speculated, that with most of the women working in Chinatown night and day, there would be brawling and rowdiness, but in fact queues and times were carefully regulated. Navy, air force and army were each allocated their separate establishments, the limit of one visit a fortnight was accepted and military police ensured good order. The one fight that Thomas saw and described in detail was between the women of neighbouring buildings in Chinatown. Several had their clothes torn off, and the brawl was eventually stopped by the military police who poured water on the fiery ‘Amazons’.[35]”

        So even when the Comfort Women were fighting among themselves in public the Japanese military police only poured water on them. I dare say even civilian police in the US would do more force that that to break up a fight. The reality is these women were NOT sex slaves. Get over it and face facts. The facts are coming out as more responsible Western researchers are looking into it (not political fascist advocates who try to warp the facts and have little to no historical background, only political advocacy (Yoshimi Yoshiaki for example…horrid researcher, no wonder he was fired from Tokyo University).

        The mountain, my dear colleague is being revealed now, but on the opposite side. The mountain is the evidence sited and much more above that the Comfort Women were contract prostitutes. End of story.