Tokyo ‘comfort women’ exhibition targets youths

by Keiji Hirano

Kyodo

Following a series of remarks by influential people playing down Japan’s wartime sex slavery, a Tokyo museum has launched a five-month exhibition aimed at young people to provide a basic picture of the atrocity.

Many panels in the “Exhibition of ‘Comfort Women’ for Junior High School Students” explain how sex slavery started in many parts of Asia where the Japanese military advanced and how the system operated.

“Comfort woman” is a euphemism used to refer to wartime sex slaves.

Visitors to the Women’s Active Museum in Shinjuku Ward can also read the testimonies of former sex slaves as well as Japanese soldiers.

Among the victims is Remedios Felias, who was born on Leyte Island in the Philippines in 1928. She failed to escape during a counterinsurgency operation and was caught at the age of 14 by Japanese soldiers who raped her.

Detained by the Japanese military, she was forced to do household chores during the daytime and was repeatedly raped at night, “living a slavish life,” according to an exhibit panel.

A condom and an ointment to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, both of which were used by Japanese soldiers at the wartime brothels, are also on display.

“We hope to provide basic information, as references to the sex slavery have almost disappeared from junior high school textbooks, eliminating opportunities to learn about it in classrooms,” said Eriko Ikeda, director of the museum, known as WAM. “We have also been stirred by the attempts of public figures, including politicians, to gloss over it.”

Ikeda referred to a remark last year by outspoken Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, who said Japan’s wartime system of sexual servitude was considered necessary before and during World War II, and to another remark by the president of public broadcaster NHK, Katsuto Momii.

During his inaugural press conference in January, Momii said sexual servitude existed in “every country,” and is only considered wrong by “today’s morality.”

WAM immediately issued a statement of protest saying Momii’s comments “deeply hurt the victims who are still suffering even now and struggling to restore human dignity.” The statement also said, “It is unacceptable and shameful for a person who affirms the war crime to assume the top post of a news media organization,” calling for Momii to resign.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stirred controversy in 2007 during his first stint as prime minister, saying there was no evidence to back claims that the Imperial Japanese Army procured women to work in the military brothels.

Abe has also faced criticism more recently, particularly from neighboring countries, over the Japanese government’s examination of the background of its 1993 landmark apology to the former sex slaves, known as the Kono Statement.

The move to review the statement was viewed as another attempt to downplay past atrocities Japan has inflicted on its Asian neighbors, although Tokyo has since vowed to uphold the spirit of the statement.

  • Nancy Bright

    Many KOREAN employment agencies had lured, kidnapped, and forced some Korean girls to become comfort women before and during WWII, but most of the Korean girls were highly paid prostitutes! They were paid about 30 times to 100 times of the salaries earned by the Korean and Japanese soldiers during the WWII. Don’t you know that KOREAN soldiers and Japanese soldiers fought together in the Imperial Army of Japan against the US, etc. during WWII?

    During the KOREAN War, there were more than 1 million comfort women who served KOREAN soldiers, UN soldiers, and American soldiers, and many of the comfort women during the Koean War were lured and forced by S. Korean Government (especially by the Father of the current S. Korean President Park) and Korean employment agencies to become SEX SLAVES, since many of the Korean girls were forced to become sex slaves while all the money went to S. Korean Gov’t!

    Please Google search:
    “S. Korean Prostitutes”
    “S. Korean sex slaves”
    “S. Korean sex trades”

    S. Korean people are still exporting more than 1 million prostitutes to the US, Japan, and Australia in the recent years.

    Let’s be very careful about Korean people, since they only blame Japanese military, while KOREAN people and S. Korean Gov’t have been committing these sex slave crimes for many many years!

    United Nations, you should know about these true facts, but why you are very quiet about the Korean Government’s lont-term big Crimes?

    UN, Let’s reveal the true facts to the world as soon as possible!
    UN, you should not force Japanese Government to confess the crimes that have actually been committed by Korean people and S. Korean Gov’t for more than 2,000 years!

    S. Korean people will Not stop the human trafficking and prostitutes activities, since they have been the S. Korean Culture for more than 2,000!!

  • Nancy Bright

    How did the comfort women (or victim of the rapes) before and during the WWII could distinguish between pure Japanese soldiers and KOREAN soldiers who were participated in the Japanese Army around the WWII (note: all of the Korean soldiers could speak Japanese)?

    Of course, they could Not distinguish between Japanese and Koreans, because even in the modern world, some Korean pretend to be Japanese persons whenever Korean people commit crimes, so they can hide their own identity as Koreans.

    In case of the writing on the piece of wood, “Takeshima Island is the Japanese territory” which was putted near the comfort women memorial in New Jersey, I am 100% sure that the writing was done by KOREANS who can speak and write Japanese language.

    Korean people frame Japanese people very often for the crimes that are actually committed by KOREAN people. This is the case for the comfort women before and during the WWII.
    The comfort women were actually sex slaves during the Korean War.

    Thus, please be careful about many Korean people, because they often pretend that they are Japanese persons (I am not saying that all of Korean peoples are bad though).

  • Toshiaki Haginoya

    Hey Americans! Your daddies also used comfort stations in Korea.

  • whuddyasack

    With programs like this in place, who can really say that the Japanese aren’t taught about the past. Who can really say that they have not apologized? Unfortunately, this is the side China never sees.

    No Westerner has the right to use history as a tool to bash the country seeing as America has yet to apologize to the native Americans, to Vietnam, Latin America and the Middle East for their own war crimes.

  • bombkiller007

    Unfortunately the museum is promoting revisionist history. The Philippine case is known and the girl is not a Comfort Women, but a victim of Illegal Confinement and Rape. Again NOT a Comfort Women. Pretty sick that Ikeda attempts to degrade and demean real victims like the Filipino girls with the false accusations of the Comfort Women trying to become victims. Disgusting.

  • wada

    There is no proof of coercion.

    After reading at least the investigation report of the Japanese government(*1, *2), I want you to read a newspaper article. The comfort-women verification report of subject is here these days. The thing with still few English-language edition reports is regrettable.

    *1: Details of Exchanges Between Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) Regarding the Comfort Women Issue
    *2: 慰安婦問題を巡る日韓間のやりとりの経緯~河野談話作成からアジア女性基金まで~(日本語)
    *3: 朝日「慰安婦」報道特集
    *4: 検証朝日「慰安婦」報道 (1) 虚構の「強制連行」拡散
    *5: 検証朝日「慰安婦」報道 (2) 記事と証言に食い違い
    *6: 検証朝日「慰安婦」報道 (3)「軍関与」首相の訪韓を意識
    *7: 検証朝日「慰安婦」報道 (4) 韓国メディアと「共鳴」
    *8: SPECIAL REVIEW of The Asahi Shimbun’s “Comfort Women” Reporting / The paper slow to correct its errors
    *9: Unraveling the ‘comfort women’ issue ? Asahi under probe ? / Suspicions over Yoshida statements ignored
    *10: Unraveling the ‘comfort women’ issue ? Asahi under probe ? / ‘Forcibly taken away’ reports spread widely
    *11: Unraveling the ‘comfort women’ issue ? Asahi under probe ? / Inconsistencies in articles, testimony
    *12: Unraveling the ‘comfort women’ issue ? Asahi under probe ? / Report’s timing complicated Miyazawa’s S. Korea visit
    *13: Unraveling the ‘comfort women’ issue ?Asahi under probe ? Asahi, South Korean media shared sympathy
    *14:【歴史戦 第5部 「朝日検証」の波紋(上)1】朝日新聞 22年前から女子挺身隊と慰安婦の混同に気付く ソウル発記事で疑義
    *15:【歴史戦 第5部 「朝日検証」の波紋(上)2】社内からの指摘を放置
    *16:【歴史戦 第5部 「朝日検証」の波紋(上)3】信じたくない「吉田の嘘」
    *17:【歴史戦 第5部 「朝日検証」の波紋(中)1】「歴史教育議連」を狙い撃ち 「常識発言」撤回に追い込む
    *18:【歴史戦 第5部 「朝日検証」の波紋(中)2】慰安婦強制への疑問も批判対象
    *19:【歴史戦 第5部 「朝日検証」の波紋(下)1】慰安婦問題「オールコリア態勢」 クマラスワミ氏取材を韓国外務省サポート
    *20:【歴史戦 第5部 「朝日検証」の波紋(下)2】韓国紙が「朝日助ける方法あるはず」とまで擁護するのはなぜか
    *21:【歴史戦 第6部 「主戦場」米国】サンフランシスコ市に新たな慰安婦像計画 中国系が準備委設置
    *22:【歴史戦 第6部 「主戦場」米国(1)前半】サンフランシスコに反日拠点の衝撃、中華街舞台に記念館9月オープン
    *23:【歴史戦 第6部 「主戦場」米国(1)後半】朝日訂正も無視、首都で「強制連行」宣伝 中韓連携で同時多発的設置の恐れ
    *24:【歴史戦 第6部 「主戦場」米国(2)】朝日報道後に米国でも火が付いた慰安婦問題
    *25:【歴史戦 第6部 「主戦場」米国(3)前半】被告は「河野洋平」 司法にも持ち込まれた強制連行 談話を巧妙利用
    *26:【歴史戦 第6部 「主戦場」米国(3)後半】慰安婦訴訟、米司法・行政は「決着済み」 次の標的は議会
    *27:【歴史戦 第6部 「主戦場」米国(4)上】米下院での慰安婦決議、先兵ホンダ氏支えた反日団体
    *28:【歴史戦 第6部 「主戦場」米国(4)下】「20世紀最大の人身売買」と断罪した米下院慰安婦決議、世紀の冤罪に
    *29:【歴史戦 第6部 「主戦場」米国(5)】 中国が正面に 狙いは「日米離反」 終わらない「慰安婦」糾弾
    *30: How Asahi Shimbun assessed its coverage of ‘comfort women’ issue
    *31: Editorial: Asahi Shimbun should explain coverage of ‘comfort women’ issue
    *32: 朝日の慰安婦検証記事への疑問 日本文化大学学長・大森義夫