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Fifty Japanese scholars attack McGraw-Hill, U.S. academics on ‘comfort women’ issue

by and

Staff Writers

In the latest salvo in an ongoing battle over history, a group of 50 Japanese scholars has chided the author of a U.S. textbook and his backers in academia for “factual errors” that the group claims no Japanese scholar would support.

In a letter in the December edition of Perspectives on History, a scholarly journal published by the American Historical Association, the group defends a government move to request revisions to a high school history textbook published by U.S. publisher McGraw-Hill.

The book contains a section covering the “comfort women” issue, which the group dissects. The move is a rebuttal to a March statement by 20 American historians slamming a push to “censor history” by the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The term comfort women is a Japanese euphemism referring to women and girls who were forced to work at Japanese military brothels before and during World War II.

The December letter calls out the American academics and claims that they would have difficulty finding a single Japanese scholar to support their position.

“The title of the statement of the 20 American historians . . . is ‘Standing with Historians of Japan.’ However, even Professor Yoshiaki Yoshimi, whom the 20 American historians hold in high regard in their statement, could identify multiple factual errors in the McGraw-Hill textbook, if he were asked to do so,” the statement says. “We are afraid that, in point of fact, the 20 American historians would never be able to find a single Japanese academician with whom they could stand. It would be as if they were standing with Japanese ghosts.”

Asked to respond, Yoshimi, a professor of history at Chuo University in Tokyo and a leading researcher on the issue, declined comment, saying he is unfamiliar with the content of the textbook and in what context the disputed phrases occur.

Eiji Yamashita, a professor emeritus at Osaka City University who spearheaded the group’s rebuttal, alleges that the textbook’s section on comfort women, comprising just 26 lines, contains eight mistakes. These include the phrases “the army presented the women to the troops as a gift from the Emperor” and “At the end of the war, (Japanese) soldiers massacred large numbers of comfort women to cover up the operation.”

“These two episodes are unsupported and fictional,” Yamashita told The Japan Times, adding that he believes the phrase “A Gift from the Emperor” might have been based on a novel titled “A Gift from the Emperor,” written by Therese Park, an author of Korean descent.

He also criticized the 20 American historians for the nature of their reaction: Instead of responding to the Japanese government’s call to correct the information, they took it to task for trying to do so.

“As scholars, they should have verified (the information) when they were informed of those mistakes,” Yamashita said.

Michiko Hasegawa, a professor emeritus at Saitama University and a governor at public broadcaster NHK, said she signed the protest letter because it was “meticulously” researched.

However, she said, the statement was not an attempt to impose her group’s views about comfort women on the American side. Rather, it was aimed at pointing out and criticizing the textbook’s mistakes, while also urging the American historians to correct errors in the historical record.

“Conveying information that contains even one mistake to younger generations is just inappropriate,” Hasegawa said. “There’s nothing more or nothing less to it.”

The American side, on the other hand, says its focus — as well as that of the letter — has always been on the larger issue of academic freedom in Japan and what some see as attempts to whitewash history.

“We do not make claims about the content of the textbook,” Alexis Dudden, a professor of history at the University of Connecticut and the main organizer of the group, said in an email. “Our concern was and remains with two basic features of historical research in an open society such as Japan.

“First, academic freedom; and second, the repression and denial of a proven international history — the brutal mid-20th century system of state-sponsored sexual slavery throughout the Empire of Japan.”

In January this year, textbook co-author Herbert F. Ziegler said representatives of the Japanese government had contacted him to demand a rewrite.

Andrew Gordon, a professor of history at Harvard University’s Edwin O. Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies and a signatory to the March statement, said this is what the U.S. statement centered on.

“(It) objected to the intervention of the Japanese government, which sent its officials directly/uninvited/unannounced to the office of the textbook author, demanding deletion or correction,” Gordon said in an email.

Meanwhile, the Japanese statement goes on to say that the American side has “never mentioned” the U.S. government’s Interagency Working Group, which worked for years to locate and recommend for declassification secret U.S. records relating to Nazi and Japanese war crimes, paying special attention to records related to areas such as the comfort women issue.

The IWG’s April 2007 final report stated that it could not find any documentation among the formerly classified papers it researched to show that the Japanese government had committed war crimes with respect to the comfort women issue.

However, a set of introductory essays entitled “Researching Japanese War Crimes” released by the IWG in 2006 just ahead of the final report makes specific note that “at the close of the war, Japanese authorities hid or destroyed much evidence of the country’s war crimes.” In this, it cited the vast disparity in the numbers of surviving documents that relate to war crimes committed by Nazi Germany as opposed to those of Imperial Japan.

According to the IWG’s findings, while there were nearly 8.5 million documents relating to Nazi war crimes, there were a mere 142,000 deemed relevant to Japanese war crimes.

“While it is standard practice for governments to destroy evidence in times of defeat, in the two weeks before the Allies arrived in Japan, various Japanese agencies — the military in particular — systematically destroyed sensitive documents to a degree perhaps unprecedented in history,” Daqing Yang, one of several independent historians employed by the IWG, wrote in an introductory essay.

Still, Yoshimi, the Chuo University professor, stressed that not all the documents related to the issues have been destroyed.

“There are many records that have been left and they may serve as evidence,” Yoshimi said. Victims’ testimonies as well as memoirs written by former soldiers should also be considered as historical evidence, he added.

Yamashita, however, argued that victims’ testimonies are often unreliable, citing a widely criticized practice in Japan where court rulings are highly dependent on suspects’ confessions, often made under made duress, which in turn often lead to false accusations of crimes.

Yamashita said while the victims have not sued any specific perpetrators, they have used their public statements to try to impose “responsibility” on a foreign government. This, he claimed, makes their testimony “even less reliable.”

“Some of those who have testified might be telling the truth, but how can it be confirmed?” Yamashita asked.

Dudden disputed this, calling the group’s latest push an effort to “will away the living victims of history.”

“There are 46 remaining registered South Korean survivors of the Empire of Japan’s state sponsorship of an egregious human rights crime: sexual slavery,” Dudden said. “These surviving women have been acknowledged as ‘real’ by prior Japanese administrations as well as countless Japanese historians, journalists, and others concerned with this history.

“These women are not ghosts; rather, they are human beings who bear physical witnesses to the history they endured.”

As for the Japanese group’s claims that the U.S. scholars may have wilfully ignored the IWG report’s final findings, Dudden called this a nonstarter.

“This report had nothing to do with our discussion — it is alarmingly apparent that the ‘Gang of 50’ did not even bother to learn that some of our signatories were part of that 2007 commission’s expert assistance,” she said, describing the Japanese historians who put their names to the statement.

Today, Dudden said, the plight of the comfort women has particular relevance.

“Under what conditions they became involved, in whose name and for what purpose, and how they disappeared are issues that continue to hold deep significance precisely because we need to learn from this history in order to stem its recurrence today and in the future,” she said.

“I think of Boko Haram and (the Islamic State group’s) current use of sexual slavery as a weapon of war critical to why denying away historical evidence is so deeply retrograde.”

Dudden said the current climate in Japan raises questions about continued access to the historical record.

“Will these materials and these historians be declared ‘state secrets’ under Abe administration-related efforts such as this letter? Will it become possible in today’s Japan to declare that this history did not happen, when many of us in Japan and around the world possess historical materials that prove it took place?”

  • Liars N. Fools

    This is yet another history denial move by the rightist historical revisionist movement, enabled by the revionist Abe Shinzo and the Nippon Kaigi. Far from restoring Japan’s honor, these people dishonor Japan.

    • 大千釜 創雷

      Yes, they must all be lying in a foolish attempt to rewrite history. Let us keep bashing them and not look into their claims. Everyone who disputes the Comfort Woman issue is a right winger sent from the Japanese government. There is no need to check out their claims to see if they are true.

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        Yes. Right-wing but jobs only. Like you.

      • 大千釜 創雷

        It would appear that things are so simple around you. Toss around words such as “racist” and “right winger” and everything will be fine. Hahaha.

      • Steve Jackman

        “Yes. Right-wing but jobs only. Like you.” I agree with your comment. But just for clarification, did you mean “Right-wing BUTT jobs”, or “Right-wing NUT jobs” ?

      • 大千釜 創雷

        Here comes another person who cannot even argue based on facts.

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        Yes. Right-wing but jobs only. Like you.

      • Masako Lilly

        Everybody knows that back then, anti-Semitic feeling was not only
        limited to Germany. There were many anti-Semitic people around the
        world, including many in power, and a lot of people thought Hitler had
        the right idea, but just went too far.
        There were also a lot of Jews who worked at the concentration camps, killing fellow Jewish people.
        The question is, so what? Does that change anything that Germany did? Does the Final Solution become moot?
        Most importantly, after the war, did the German people themselves get hung up on those details and try to defend what they did?
        No, they only educated their own people and encouraged them to face their bitter history.
        Do you understand the difference? Do you understand why other people may have a problem with how Japanese deal with our history?

      • 大千釜 創雷

        Details? No. Disputing the claim that tens of thousands of Korean women were abducted and coerced into prostitution by the Japanese Army is not in any way getting hung up on “details”. How would it be even possible for the Japanese Army to abduct that many Korean women without any Korean politician or man noticing? Did they use some kind of magic like Harry Potter? Is that why no Korean man stood up against them and the Korean government made no mention of it when they signed the peace treaty to settle all issues concerning the occupation period?

      • mayday

        “…. is not in any way getting hung up on “details”.

        The only problem I have with this move is that it can lead to a back-and-forth attrition nickpicking between two allies. What’s next, a group of US historians petitioning on a particular Japanese textbook on Pearl Harbor ? This is unnecessary to involve the US.

      • annupri

        It was unnecessary that Us got involed in this issue in the first place

      • 大千釜 創雷

        The American schools using the textbook have Japanese students. It is only natural that Japanese people are protesting against the false explanations of the comfort women system. The textbook even says that the Japanese military provided soldiers with comfort women as a gift from the Emperor, which is a transparent lie and an absolute insult.

      • mayday

        “….The American schools using the textbook have Japanese students. It is only natural that Japanese people are protesting against the false explanations of the comfort women system.”

        There are many immigrants/exchange students from many different countries in US. If they are the only group nickpicking on American textbook, it may not lead to a positive perception among the Americans.

      • 大千釜 創雷

        Not “nitpicking” as the explanations are nothing but transparent lies. Even South Korean textbooks don’t say the Japanese military deemed comfort women as a gift from the Emperor, if I remember correctly.

      • mayday

        It’s actually how the comfort women’s lawyer described it when they tried to sue Japan. So technically speaking, it does refer to a “source” as far as the history text is concerned, even though it’s obviously a one-sided story. But tbh, one-sided story(usually by the victor) is pretty common in history text. And as I said before, there are better way to contest this one-sided story than protesting American text directly.

      • 大千釜 創雷

        I understand your point, but what would the better ways be? To protest against the U.S. government would be pointless…

      • mayday

        well, here’s my 2 cents:

        1. Japan can try to appeal to historians around the world to discuss the issue without singling US out.

        2. Try to cooperate with universities and book publishers (in US or elsewhere), but avoid calling them out even when they refuse, because otherwise you may be perceived as being forceful as an outsider. In general, if you want others to side with you, then you should show them your positive traits and/or attack your opponents, however the latter would not work when you are an outsider, therefore, it’s better to be just focus on the 1st approach.

      • Masako Lilly

        Obviously, Koreans cooperated with Japanese. You must know there were a lot of JAPANESE comfort women, too.
        Do you even know what it was like in Asia back then?
        There was no such thing as women’s rights in Asia.

        Anyway, Koreans did coerce and kidnap their own people for the master( Japanese.) Just like Jews did for Germany.

        Once again, that doesn’t mean we have no responsibility for our wrongdoings.

      • 大千釜 創雷

        When did I ever say there is nothing wrong with the management of comfort women stations by the Japanese Army? Those brave scholars and I are simply pointing out factual inaccuracies in the Comfort Women issue.

      • Masako Lilly

        So what inaccuracy is there? Because of the fact they didn’t actually intentionally slaughterer those poor women?
        Or we didn’t randomly kidnap innocent women? Or the fact they were all whores? That makes it right?

        How do Germans try to argue about Auschwitz?
        What’s
        kind of inaccuracies do they bring up to help to convince the rest of
        the world they were not that bad? Answer: they don’t.

        Did you
        also know that all the Japanese women who came back from Occupied Asia
        to Japan were forced to have abortions, right in the port? This was
        because of the possibility the baby may not be Japanese.

        Think of how the Japanese government treated their own people.
        Now try to imagine, how did they treat their enemies?

        By
        the way, since you try to deny Japanese crimes, let me remind you there
        are a whole lot of other crimes to study or to back up her history.
        Please don’t make me point out those, too.

      • annupri

        “Did you also know that all the Japanese women who came back from Occupied Asia to Japan were forced to have abortions, right in the port? This was because of the possibility the baby may not be Japanese.”
        Yeah, they were such attrocities commited by Russians and Koreans
        All those ad-hoc hospitals lined up waiting for emergency operations .
        and ?
        for your note, koreans those days were not enemies, they were Japanese as well

      • 大千釜 創雷

        One of the factual inaccuracies in the textbook is the description about the treatment of comfort women by the Japanese military. It says that they provided soldiers with comfort women as a GIFT from the Emperor, which is a transparent lie and an absolute insult. Needless to say, there is no record for it. Even South Korean textbooks don’t have such a description. Another is the number of comfort women. There is no evidence whatsoever that tens of thousands of Korean women were abducted by the Japanese Army. How would it be even possible for the Japanese Army to conduct such a large scale abduction without any Korean politician or man noticing? Impossible, unless they were a bunch of wizards like Harry Potter. You keep speaking of how the Germans deal with the Holocaust, but the claim that 200,000 Asian women, mostly Korean, were abducted and coerced into prostitution only came out several years ago. The Holocaust, on the other hand, has been told since the end of WWII. These two happenings are incomparable. Regarding the Japanese government forcing ALL Japanese women who returned to Japan from Japanese colonies, do you have any solid evidence for that? What I don’t understand about people such as yourself is that they all go with the logic of “Japan committed these horrible war crimes. Thus, claims about comfort women must be true”. This is not logical at all. If you attempt to prove something that happened in the past, you have to show some evidence such as records and documents. Lastly, I am not attempting to “deny” Japan’s wartime behavior. I am simply pointing out factual inaccuracies.

      • Masako Lilly

        So all comes down to whose responsibility it is?
        That’s most important for you? Well, obviously, somebody is paying to try to make it all go away.
        I guess covering up their name is maybe worth paying for.

        Do you know we never try to question who’s responsible, who caused all the tragedy. Who started everything.

        You don’t care what we did or what we are responsible for.

        You only care that the Japanese government shouldn’t admit to or pay for their mistakes.

        That’s
        the big different between Western nations and us. They have nothing to
        hide, and nobody to protect. They just want to learn from their mistakes
        and move on.

      • 大千釜 創雷

        What on earth are you talking about? Did you even read my comments? Judging by your usage of English words and your name, you are most likely Japanese. Thus, it might be understandable that you failed to comprehend the point of my comments, so I will repeat myself. I am not attempting to justify Japan’s wartime behavior. Although comfort women brokers were mostly Korean, most of the responsibility lies with the Japanese government, which is why they established the Asian Women’s Fund and handed former comfort women compensation money and apology letters written by the then Japanese prime minister. I have no intention of denying any of Imperial Japan’s wrongdoings, and neither should other Japanese people. However, that does not mean that no Japanese is allowed to dispute baseless claims about what Imperial Japan did. They have the right to refute false accusations against their forefathers. You completely misunderstand me. When did I ever say something like, “There is nothing wrong with Imperial Japan! They have no responsibility for what happened in WWII!”? Here, the brave Japanese scholars and I are correcting false descriptions about the Imperial Japanese Army, not attempting to whitewash their wrongdoings. Lastly, you said that Western nations have nothing to hide, but is that really so? The whole world is now in great danger owing to ISIS. Who colonized those Arabian countries? The West. Have they ever apologized to them? No. Have they ever admitted that the emergence of the inhuman terrorist group is due to their colonial rule? No. What about other former colonies of theirs? Have the West, such as the U.K., the U.S. and France, ever apologized to them like Japan? No. In my humble opinion, you should brush up on your history.

      • annupri

        “Anyway, Koreans did coerce and kidnap their own people for the master( Japanese.) Just like Jews did for Germany.”

        Exactly. except for they did so on their own country young girls for money.

        So, on behalf of those korean pipmps, brokers, houseowners, local chiefs, local polices, I apologize. I am so sorry. I apologize also on behalf of Korean Government to the victims of Class V supply using instituionalized system inherited from Imperial Japan
        I am so sorry but please forgive Japan and it’s people as it once apologized and paid reparations.

      • Masako Lilly

        “Exactly. except for they did so on their own country young girls for money.”

        Why
        exactly does it make any difference? Yes, those Korean were as bad as
        Japanese government. But it doesn’t make Japanese responsibility any
        less. Is Stalin excused for killing many people just because Hitler did
        it, too?

        “but please forgive Japan and it’s people as it once apologized and paid reparations.”

        You
        do know the fact that there are many Japanese people who believe they
        were all whores and paid well, so they shouldn’t complain, right?
        Like German apologists would say Auschwitz was promising company and all those workers were paid well.

      • annupri

        “Why exactly does it make any difference? Yes, those Korean were as bad as Japanese government.”
        Japan aplogized already correct? Did Japan make excuse that Koreans were also deeply involved? No right? Kono stated, Japan, directly or indirectly involved right? and aplogized. Right?
        Now turn to what are inscribed into memorial staues all over the places. or the way McGraw-Hils text book are written.
        What were main driving forces to coerce, decieve, kidnap, human-traffic, pay upfront to release debt? And think narratives how S.K government and Chong Dae Hyup are accusing Japan even now.
        Are they recognizing the existence of Koreans? I don’t think so. Yes It makes huge difference in this dispute and once again, Japan apologized and if they want to drag Japan on, Kono statement should be revised saying IJA was just bunch of customers.

      • Masako Lilly

        Are you serious? (Obviously you are, which is disturbing….)

        Anyway, we had so many slaughters and rape incidents throughout World War 2. Not limited to Asia, I assure you.

        I would say, not even a tenth of what we did was known among Japanese public.
        The comfort women were just one of a long list, most of which is well hidden from the public.

        You
        want to say that Japanese were simply well-paid customers? Fine. Then
        the US would say, they just wanted to protect Japanese-Americans from
        the public by placing them in internment camps. The Japanese should just
        thank the US for protecting them.

        But as you know, American
        don’t. Not only did they apologize and compensate them, they regard that
        history as extremely shameful, a reminder of something never to repeat.

        Can
        you even see the difference? Why don’t you drag the German people into
        your argument? Why do they have to keep apologizing and keep taking
        criticism? Shouldn’t they be wise up and stand up like Japanese people
        and try to revise their history, too?

      • annupri

        Japanese American in iternment camps? You jump too
        far. Do you realize you are making incoherent argument?
        What part of my post makes you wonder I am serious and disturbs you anyway?

      • annupri

        “You do know the fact that there are many Japanese people who believe they were all whores and paid well, so they shouldn’t complain, right?”
        So WHAT? I would not blame them , getting to know how much of shift those victims have been making on their VERY dubious testimonies along with the change of discussin points through passage of times. Plus all of those hard evidences available.
        But still, did Japan say that they were all whores? did Abe say that?
        Do you happen to think all of so-called 200,000 comfort women were all real genuine victims of sex slavery?
        I don’t have a clue what you want to argue with such questions?
        Come back when you can make your point more clear

    • Kobo Inamura

      I have no connection to Mr. Abe, Prime MInister and his political party and even to the Nippon Kaigi that you speculated. I am one of the 50 scholars who signed the letter to the editor of the Amierican hisoty Associations Magazine.
      I am interested in the correction of mistakes and stick to the facts and evidences.

  • Steve Jackman

    As an American and having lived in Japan as an expat for over a decade, I find the Japanese attempts to create its own reality in many areas, not just limited to sexual slavery during WWII, extremely disturbing.

    It takes a huge ego, arrogance and hubris for anyone to think that they can just go ahead and create their own reality just because they think so, regardless of facts and plenty of evidence to the contrary.

    • kyushuphil

      Please, let’s open the context a bit, Steve.
      The world sees many conflicts now, both simmering and more murderously more active, too, where nationalities and cultural groups “create their own reality” in response to stereotyping they do of others.
      How many school system in the entire world make some effort for students to learn to write essays to go to cultural neighbors, inviting further exchange with them?
      The answer is zero. The Japanese historians here thus invite ridicule upon themselves as they, too, join the status quo of those doing nothing to heal the wounds of hurt others.
      Students with their teachers could learn to introduce themselves in essays that show how each lives as an individual in a larger home culture choosing one’s cultural instruments in some cases, in other cases just following what one is given (“sadamerarete iru”).
      Before essays to out to a peer group in neighboring culture, students in their home class can discuss and revise initial essays — adding specific reference to peers in the home group who gave them some insight especially into how we all follow what we’ve given to some dangerous extent.
      The essays, when ready, could really invite good contact with “others,” who could be wonderfully honest as people — and better skilled in communication — as to their own human predicaments and cultural contexts.
      The Japanese historians who bridle at Koreans, Chinese, and other who feel grievance are all, as you say, investing in fairyland powders and elixirs. But, too, there’s not a school system in the world prepared to engage students in better engaging “others.”

      • Steve Jackman

        Yes, there are other countries where the government tries to create their own reality – North Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia come to mind. In some other countries, there may be limited attempts by groups to create their own reality to promote their agendas.

        What sets Japan apart however is how well it accomplishes this goal on its own population. For this, it needs to have a closed, homogenous, insular and parochial population which is culturally programmed to act as interchangable widgets. This process of creating interchangable widgets starts in school and lasts throughout peoples lives in Japan.

        This is also why the Japanese are so paranoid of diversity or independent thinking, since it would spell the collapse of Japanese society as we know it.

      • kyushuphil

        I have story, Steve, towards what you say.
        The director of the school where I teacher, now in his mid-seventies, had 15 years before spent some years diligently making himself a top-level translator/interpreter of English.
        This included one trip to the U.S., and reading widely in English-language literature.
        What I realize, however, in the seven years I’ve taught at his school in the mountains of Kyushu, is that he’s never once drawn on these interests, these accomplishments, in his teaching.
        In the speeches he gives to a wider public throughout the school year, and in talks he gives to the faculty (twice a year, on occasion of bonuses), he also spurns everything from the English cultures that he might well draw on.
        And I’ve realized now why he cannot do this.
        When we seek any perspective on anything, we are automatically to some degree questioning that first thing. Seeing it in a new light affords us chance to see more, other dimensions, further complications.
        Japanese men are so deeply trained never to question anything — preserve the patriarchy! prop up the hierarchy! — they have also learned to avoid seeking any perspectives on anything. So my director here totally demeans and belittles the expertise he acquired by his refusal ever since to apply it to any issues or concerns anywhere in the school system.
        And, worse, he sends a signal to all — all teachers, all students — that all will only follow the approved texts, the approved formulae, approved thinking, exactly as given. All will become infantilized, because that’s what the Japanese “sadamerarete iru” term demands in terms of unquestioning following.
        Thus the cycles of mindless, helpless overwork follow as the infantilized men enter the workplace. Suicides surpass those of most other nations. Severe medical issues ensue in those capable of no objections ever but to mindless following.
        The textbooks reach down lower and lower to be dumber and dumber. “Historians” across the country cannot engage the world except in cover-up, Peter Pan Neverland sanctuary for minds that never learned to question anything.
        So great this is for the vultures of American predator materialism to cash in big time on so many delusional in their nationalism conceits even while they buy into all the consumerism like so many “kawaii,” mindless followers of AKB-48.

      • Steve Jackman

        I think your experience at the school is quite representative of the type of Pre-Modern thinking which is so common in Japan and one that long-term foreign residents of Japan will readily recognize.

        There are far too many people in Japan who are just like the director of your school. They have a tendency to see everything as two opposites – right or wrong, black or white, day or night, Japanese or foreign, etc. Unfortunately, they lack the intellectual capacity and sophistication to realize that most things in life do not fit neatly into just two opposite categories.

      • Blair

        In other news today, two Japanese scientists receive Nobel prizes in medicine and physics…while Haruki Murakami posts yet another photo of himself shirtless while jogging on Facebook, soon after to return home to pen a story about buying cat food at Kinokuniya

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        It’s all an ‘anti-Japan conspiracy’ for sure!

      • kyushuphil

        “It is great that three Japanese got the Nobel Prize. However, Japanese corporations have problems in globalization. Even when the Japanese make a great invention, they cannot win in the market. In technologies of the cell phone and solar battery, Japanese products excelled in the beginning. But they failed in the global market. Same for the LED. The LED was invented in
        Japan. But the Japanese lost the market.”

        — Shuji Nakamura, one of the 3 who won Nobel in 2014

      • Blair

        The automobile was invented in America. But the Americans lost the market. In that sector the Japanese are doing just fine in globalisation. I guess it’s all about perception and what one chooses to cherry pick

      • kyushuphil

        You’ve no idea what it means to lose a market.

        Americans dominated the market in automobiles for generations. Even after losing dominance, sales have increased continuously worldwide. They’ve lost in market share, but have lost nowhere near as severely as Nakamura cited when he referred to Japan’s much more self-crippling limitations.

        Cool it on Nakamura. He has always appreciated — never denigrated — his education in Japan in science and math. If you could read what he actually said, it’s not against science and math in Japan. It’s about something else, a whole area he sees clearly, and you cannot.

      • Blair

        Great then…the education system is producing, Nobel physicists and writers on about cats and jazz as well as an economy that is third in the world despite being roughly the size of California and having very low English results. Seems to me we could use a few more physicists and a few less shirtless joggers

      • kyushuphil

        Have you checked the national debt floating the Japanese economy?

        Or how about the continued rise of part-time labor, without benefits, exposing greater percentages of workers each year to unsustainable vulnerability?

        Have you checked on the birth rates in Japan (falling) and held them against the rising numbers of elderly in need of greater services as they age?

        How about increases in autism? ADHD? Suicide?

        I know, Dr. Pangloss, that you see Japan as best of all possible worlds, but did you not know that the book of 250 years ago that gave us those memes has long since been considered apex of myopic, self-deluded black comedy?

      • Blair

        Birthrates have been falling steadily in all developed nations. The 5 child family is a thing of the past (excluding yours truly however). Increases in autism can be contributed to an increase in diagnosis of autism, ditto for ADHD…as medical advances continue in this medically advanced nation. As for debt…a new economic model that doesn’t rely on an unsustainable reliance on ever increasing population growth on a planet that is showing signs of rejecting the cancer that is eating it away…I think the maths and sciences are where we should turn to for answers rather than the jazz bar shirtless joggers with an appetite for 13 year old girls

      • kyushuphil

        Sorry, Dr. Pangloss, but I’ve been teaching at a school for recovering “hikikomori” for seven years now.

        “Hikikomori,” ADHA, autism, and suicidal dangers (Japan among worst in the world, and worsening).

        I’ve read the literature, consulted at length in a clinic. Love the non-human all you like — all your math and sciences — but there are real problems across Japan — growing problems, seriously growing problems, gloss them over, Dr. Pangloss, put your materialism, your snarky insensitivity as you might.

      • Blair

        mock maths and sciences all you like…they’ve done a heck of a lot more for humanity than writers…There are growing problems all over the world, Phil. You’re the one who has mocked the Japanese for not cashing in on their technologies abroad…while advances in medicine and technology in this country have made this the country with the highest life expectancy in the world…try reading that Catalonia speech next time you get seriously ill instead of going to the hospital

      • kyushuphil

        I’ve reviled imbalance — never mocked math or science.

        You err grievously when you suppose me regretting Japanese not “cashing in” on some of the markets they’ve lost — when you suppose it’s the cash reward I miss (or over which Nobel chemist Nakamura salivates).

        This is the problem with the imbalanced, with persons such as you gone too far to too great a priority only for one side, that of math, science, numbers, materialism.

        What you fail to see is how these belong to larger cultures, larger contexts. In today’s highest level math and physics (as I know better than you can suppose), cross discipline skills allow our best mathematicians and physicists to chart greater perspectives, to imagine and open larger contexts — with great reward for all of us.

        But in the social sciences, too many so exaggerate numbers and hard facts as you do that virtually all have become wonks, exponents of literacy void of reference to any humanities. They spurn all perspectives from larger human culture just as you reduce all Japanese literature to the antics of one juvenile-obsessed Murakami.

        The Japanese lost those economic markets because, like the wonks in America, they totally missed connection with the human in other societies, the human in both local corporate and larger human culture.

        Japanese schools continue to worsen these failures as they, like you, prioritize math and science too much to the exclusion of all else. The schools infantilize history, languages, and literature just as you do in your wildly wide analogies to Murakami.

        Remember, the originating article by which we have our little exchange now was about 50 so-called Japanese historians, all still exhibiting continued Japanese blindness to the cultures of others.

      • Blair

        Materialism? Yes, that’s the bane of the modern world and the unfortunate bi-product of the engine of the economy. My valued “material” here has been experience. The experience of community, family and team that I share within the culture that emphasises human inter connection. A culture emphasised and reinforced by the education system I’m happy my kids have been privileged to experience. No, sir, not merely math and science…art, music, literature, sport, health, teamwork, patience, discipline, responsibility…and more are emphasised

      • Steve Jackman

        The other day I saw a guy get into an accident because he was driving recklessly and erratically. His mistake was that he was driving while looking only at the rearview mirror at the road behind him the entire time, instead if looking at the road ahead through the windshield

      • Blair

        must have been looking at that old economic model and smashed into a pile of debt

      • Blair

        must have been looking at that old economic model and smashed into a pile of debt

      • Jeffrey

        “When we seek any perspective on anything, we are automatically to some degree questioning that first thing. Seeing it in a new light lets us see more, other dimensions, further complications.”

        Further, language acquisition always involves a degree acculturation, which I’ve always felt was an anathema to many Japanese who have been well-represented in the national government over the last couple of decades. Many of these men (and a smaller number of women) were just children when the war ended or borne very shortly thereafter. It’s really hard to understand what they hope to “regain” by trying to ignore the outside world and deny what was done in the emperor’s name in the first half of the last century.

      • kyushuphil

        I have just read Kōbō Abe’s “Song of a Dead Girl” (Shinda musume ga utatta).

        Although I’d read widely in Japanese literature prior to this, nothing so highlighted the extreme suffering from the remnants of feudal thinking still infesting Japan even into the post-war era.

        So you’re not only nicely correct from the vantage of your seeing Japanese people now fantasizing perhaps too much of the glories of earlier nationalist eras,
        but you invite more inquiry into why schools neglect deeper questions about those eras.

        Are all the pretty lies built into today’s happy materialism key to keeping people blindfolded, and schools mindlessly serving only the current corporate status
        quo?

      • annupri

        You sound like Japan is worse than China, not to menton S.Korea, and almost equal to N.Korea. You are probably forgetting everything associated with comfort women issues and Nanking Incidents got ignited by Japanese leftists/liberalists/war survivors from inside of Japan itself whom those american/korean academias heavily relying on for their works.

      • Masako Lilly

        How could you even compare Japan to China?
        Or do you actually believe we Japanese are in the same league as China regarding human rights?

        I don’t know much about South Korea, but no need to mention North Korea.

        Japan supposedly knows better than that. We are supposedly the leaders of Asia.

        That is why people around the world are aghast about how the Japanese are currently dealing with historical facts.

        I
        simply can’t understand why so many Japanese enjoying finger-pointing
        at each other. Why the hell can’t we grow up and own up to our
        responsibility?

      • annupri

        Excuse me? Ask Steve Jackman will you.
        He mentioned as following
        “Yes, there are other countries where the government tries to create their own reality – North Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia come to mind. In some other countries, there may be limited attempts by groups to create their own reality to promote their agendas.”

        What sets Japan apart however is how well it accomplishes this goal on its own population….”

      • Steve Jackman

        Here’s the difference. Everyone recognizes that countries like N. Korea, SA and Iran are repressive and non-democratic. The problem with Japan is that it pretends to be something it is not. Japan is in many ways an extremely authoritarian and totalitarion country masquerading as a democracy. It is such hypocracy which is most troubling.

        Additionally, even in countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia, there are dissidents and activists who are working diligently to change the status quo and their flawed systems. Unfortunately, Japan is so repressive that it does not tolerate any criticism or efforts to improve the system, hence there is an almost total absence of dissenting voices.

      • annupri

        I dunno how have you been spending last 10 years in Japan or
        are you talking about your won company? you read , speak Japanese?

      • Steve Jackman

        I’m not the topic of the article we’re discussing. Stay on topic.

      • annupri

        You got that rigt

      • annupri

        What what? :D

      • Steve Jackman

        Here’s the difference. Everyone recognizes that countries like N. Korea, SA and Iran are repressive and non-democratic. The problem with Japan is that it pretends to be something it is not. Japan is in many ways an extremely authoritarian and totalitarion country masquerading as a democracy. It is such hypocracy which is most troubling.

        Additionally, even in countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia, there are dissidents and activists who are working diligently to change the status quo and their flawed systems. Unfortunately, Japan is so repressive that it does not tolerate any criticism or efforts to improve the system, hence there is an almost total absence of dissenting voices.

      • Steve Jackman

        Here’s the difference. Everyone recognizes that countries like N. Korea, SA and Iran are repressive and non-democratic. The problem with Japan is that it pretends to be something it is not. Japan is in many ways an extremely authoritarian and totalitarion country masquerading as a democracy. It is such hypocracy which is most troubling.

        Additionally, even in countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia, there are dissidents and activists who are working diligently to change the status quo and their flawed systems. Unfortunately, Japan is so repressive that it does not tolerate any criticism or efforts to improve the system, hence there is an almost total absence of dissenting voices.

      • kyushuphil

        “.Why . . . can’t we grow up . . .?”

        Answer is in Minae Mizumura, “The Fall of Language in the Age of English.” In Japanese, original title was (is) “The Fall of Japanese in the Age of English.”

        Answer is also in Shoji Kaori, in the pages of this, “The Japan Times.” She cited studies and surveys by Japanese researchers which find 70% of Japanese men in their 20s have zero personal lives outside of the insular, murderously-over-worked rounds of group activities in which all submerge, reduce themselves at work.

        That is, school infantilizes. May be great for math and science, but for everything human — history, languages, literature, social studies — infantilizing only.

    • Raansu

      Have you read a US History book? We are pretty guilty of doing similar things.

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        So what? THIS story is about Jaoanese historical revision.

    • 大千釜 創雷

      Facts? What facts are you talking about? The fact that the Korean government made no mention of so called “Comfort Woman” when they signed the peace treaty with Japan so as to settle all issues concerning the Japanese occupation of Korea? Or the fact that there is no record of any Korean man standing up against the Japanese Army when tens of thousands of Korean women were abducted?

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        Accept your guilt!
        No more excuses!

      • 大千釜 創雷

        You are making yourself sound more immature with every comment.

  • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

    The more these people try to bully historians of the free world, the more attention they draw to japan’s shameful revisionism, white-washing, denials, and lack of contrition over the exceptionally brutal crimes committed by Imperial Japanese forces. These is no reasoning with these type of people, they are not interested in actual facts and reality, but rather brow-beating the world into giving Japan respect (which is counter-productive)- in fact, their ‘pride’ can only come from successful bullying of the international community to be complicit in their willful amnesia.
    Fortunately for everyone, the more these bullies stamp and stomp and whine, the more negative attention they draw to Japan precisely when Japan is hoping that record numbers of NJ tourists and the Olympics and Rugby World Cup will help their ailing economy, means that they can only sour Japan’s international image and put people off visiting and spending money.
    Pride doesn’t put food on the table.
    Whatever they say, the memory of The Greatest Generation and The Good War is inviolable, and precludes any backing down to Japanese right-wing bullies who don’t even understand their own country’s history.

  • Richard Solomon

    What an unfortunate, albeit with some reflection not surprising, attempt by Japanese scholars who are more invested in rewriting the history of the Comfort Women than they are in supporting the truth. They claim that Professor Yoshimi could find factual errors in the textbooks if he chose to. However, he refuses to comment on this when asked to. Perhaps this is because he sees the folly of these 50 scholars’ thinking?

    All of this seems to me to be a case of the following: shoot the messenger (the American scholars) if you don’t like and cannot really disprove their message. This is not scholarship based on the inclusion of ALL the facts. It is politically motivated character assassination!

    • annupri

      Within first 26lines in the 1st paragraph, 8 errors were found. Yoshimi knew those are errors, something he devoted his life to prove but failed after all. Sure he could not make any comment.

  • Vixzer

    There was no “comfort women”, there was “raped, violated women.”

    • 大千釜 創雷

      Even South Korean professors admitted that some Korean women were voluntarily working at comfort women stations, yet you claim “there was no comfort woman”?

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        ‘Some Korean professors’?
        No!
        One Korean professor only.

      • 大千釜 創雷

        Turning a blind eye to facts that are not in favor of you as always, I see.

      • Jeffrey

        Are you a climate change denier as well?

  • annupri

    “First, academic freedom; and second, the repression and denial of a proven international history”
    Says Alexis Dudden. So much for this american boss who didn’t even join the protest to protect Park Yu-ha for academic freedom.
    Yoshimi didnot comment simply because he knew those factual errors.
    Just a Coward.
    It’s much more difficult to prove what didnot take place. Hold on! Gang of 50

  • Meg Nakano

    “It takes a huge ego, arrogance and hubris for anyone to think that they can just go ahead and create their own reality just because they think so, regardless of facts and plenty of evidence to the contrary.”

    • Masako Lilly

      Former Japanese prime minister Nakasone proudly explained about his establishment of “comfort stations”. He was glad and proud he did. Of course that was then, and this is now.
      He was asked about them by the US officials while he was PM. I believe he just simply denied it or just ignored them.
      The point is, it is a fact, his written statement is on record. There are so many facts and so many documents to back up the horrific treatment of those poor people.
      Whatever Japanese government or so called scholars are doing is just nothing but an embarrassment.

    • Steve Jackman

      The thing which strikes me the most living in Japan is that there is a pattern of Japan creating its own reality in many other areas also, not just sexual slavery. Hence, when I hear about Japan’s attempts to rewrite history about sexual slavery, it is consistent with this broader problem I have noticed in Japan. Let me give you a few more examples of what I mean.

      The Japanese have created their own (false) reality that Japan was the victim in WWII, whereas, the actual fact is that Japan was the aggressor. But, many Japanese people have created this alternate reality and it is so ingrained in their minds that they did nothing wrong and feel victimized.

      Another example is Japan defying the world and its legal system by continuing to needlessly slaughter thousands of whales by creating its own reality that its whaling is somehow related to research or that it is an ancient Japanese tradition, whereas this is clearly not the case.

      Yet another example is the extremely widespread and institutionalized racism, xenophobia and racial discrimination faced by foreign residents in Japan on a regular basis in almost all aspects of life. However, the Japanese have created their own reality that there is no racial discrimination in Japan and that this is not a problem. This is why Japan keeps insisting that it does not need a law against racial discrimination.

      Working at Japanese companies here in Japan, I have also noticed a corporate culture where Japanese companies routinely create their own reality by ignoring some pretty unethical and illegal business practices, because it’s OK to do these things as long as these problems are not caught. In their alternate reality there is nothing wrong with such actions, unless of course they get caught.

      So, I look at the totality of my experiences in Japan when I refer to the Japanese tendency to create their own reality. It makes me think, why would it be any different when it comes to Japan’s attitudes towards sexual slavery during WWII?

      Furthermore, I have repeatedly seen Japanese society and those in power in Japan routinely dehumanize foreigners and women, as if they are less than human. In the minds of many Japanese men, foreigners and women are inherently inferior to them and they deserve very few rights. If such thinking is still so widespread in Japan even today in the 21st century, it is easy for me to believe that it was even worse some seventy years ago during WWII.

      People who have watched Angelina Jolie’s movie “Unbroken”, which is based on real facts, can see how badly the Japanese army treated even strong American soldiers who it captured during WWII. If the Japanese army had no qualms treating American soldiers in such an inhumane manner, it is easy to see how it would have used poor helpless foreign women from its former colonies and other countries as sexual slaves and treated them in an even more inhumane way.

      • Steve Martin

        Well said.

        I would add a few more examples to your list of Japan Inc. feeding on its own … the black companies’ working conditions that have forced students who are part-time workers to unionize, the abysmal standards of education which allow one to become a medical practitioner, the shift from decentralization to shipping the retired and elderly to the countryside, MEXT’s call for national universities to completely eliminate departments of humanities and social sciences, writing and approving English textbooks as a media to instill pride (and market) Japanese cultural exceptionalism, punishing teachers who refuse to stand at the raising of the Hinomaru and sing the Kimigayo, and two of my favorites … the national government’s pride in prohibiting an American military rescue team from helping potential survivors of the JAL 123 crash in Gumma 30 years ago — and the same pride that prevented American military from dumping water on the Fukushima reactors and shortly thereafter, prevented U.S. military from providing backup generators when it became evident that things had gone to hell in a handbasket.

        Steve, have you written for Quora? The wider world needs to know what is really lurking behind the eyes of ‘Hello Kitty’. Been here over 30 years myself, and I don’t really know how to heal the cultural rot except through Chomsky’s common sense advice of grass roots activism. But at least exposing some of the scams of this ‘ore-ore’ culture will keep a lid down on the worst offenders.

      • 大千釜 創雷

        Sorry to break your bubble, but there are a lot of factual inaccuracies in “Unbroken”. Before you judge and brand me as a “right wing revisionist”, read the following part of an article.

        Beam Holding & 220 Punches

        Louie Zamperini endures 220 punches and he holds a beam for 37 minutes. These are the most memorable scenes of the book “Unbroken” and the movie by Angelina Jolie.

        According to Louie Zamperini’s own book “Devil at my Heels”, here is what happened;

        Zamperini gets injured in the leg during heavy work (p178). Being unable to work, his ration is now cut in half. He begs Corporal Kano for work to get the full ration (p179).

        The Bird (Watanabe) offers him a job of taking care of a goat, saying “If goat die, you die!”. Unfortunately, the goat dies, and Zamperini, disregarding his fellow men’s advice to escape, goes straight to the Bird and tells what happened.

        The Bird gets mad, punches him and tells him to pick up a timber and hold it over his head. He grits his teeth to hold the wood, and at some point, the Bird comes over and punches him in the stomach with all his might, which ended the ordeal.

        Tom Wade, his mate, tells him he was holding it for 37 minutes.

        A week later, Zamperini asks the Bird for another job. The Bird gives him a job of taking care of pigs without any tools. (p180)

        Then, let’s take a look at the narrative of “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand.

        First about 220 punches;

        During a heavy work in barge duty, Zamperini gets injured in the leg. Being unable to work, his ration is now cut in half. Being desperate, he begs the Bird for work. The Bird offers him a job of taking care of a pig without any tools (p286).

        Louie’s leg is healed and he is now back to barge duty. One day, it is discovered that fish has been stolen. Thieves confess. The Bird, being furious, orders Wade, Tinker, Zamperini and two other officers to stand in line with the thieves. (p289)

        The Bird then orders enlisted men to punch each officer and thief in the face as hard as possible. During the punching, Zamperini goes unconscious and soon regain consciousness. The punching goes on. After all the punching is done, the Bird orders the guard to club each victim twice in the head with a kendo stick. (p290) Wade estimates each man received 220 punches.

        Then comes the beam holding.

        Louie’s job of taking care of a pig is over and barge loading job is also cancelled, because so many of the Japanese ships have been sunken by the Allied planes, that there is no ship coming to and sailing from Naoetsu.

        The ration is cut again in half. Zamperini begs the Bird for work. The Bird offers him a job of taking care of a weakened goat, saying “If goat die, you die”. (p294) Unfortunately, the goat dies.

        Terrified, Louie tries to hide from the Bird. But, suffering so much from dysentery, he goes to see a doc. The Bird finds him and reprimands him for going to the doc without permission.

        The Bird orders him to pick up a wooden beam and hold it over his head. Louie keeps holding it, regardless of nearly losing consciousness. The Bird comes over in fury and rams his fist into Louie’s stomach. Louie collapses and loses consciousness.

        After he wakes up, Wade tells him he was holding it for 37 minutes. (p296)

        Whoa! With Laura Hillenbrand’s masterful writing skill, a story gets more dramatic!
        So, who is this man Wade? Tom Henling Wade is a former British POW in Japan. He wrote a book “Prisoner of the Japanese: From Changi to Tokyo” (link), describing his experiences in POW camps in Japan during WWII.

        In the Wade’s book, the story goes as follows.

        One morning, men are caught stealing boiled rice and get hit. Men still keep stealing and get caught. Japanese guards get enraged when they find that “specially treated vegetable” has been stolen. They demand that the thieves to come out. Eight men admit. Watanabe, the Bird, comes over and demands that “more” to come out. No one comes out. The Bird orders Wade and Tinker to join those eight men and line up before the rest of the POWs. The Bird orders POWs to slap them in the face – once left, once right “bery hard”. There are 96 POWs on the slapping side, and Wade estimates he and others received 220 times of slapping.

        One day in mid-July, the Bird receives an order to move from Naoetsu to some other camp. Before he moves, the Bird punishes Zamperini for his alleged laziness in some building work. He makes Zamperini pick up a beam of wood and orders to hold it above his head. The Bird looks on, chatting to passer-by. Finally, the Bird allows him to put down the beam. Wade who was nearby and was checking the clock confirms that he was holding it for 37 minutes.

        So, in the memory of Tom Wade, it was 220 slapping instead of punching. Slapping and punching are very different things. And there is no mentioning of Louie Zamperini’s name in the slapping event.

        And at the end of the beam holding, as Tom Wade remembers, the Bird did not punch Zamperini, but just “allowed him to put it down”.

      • Jeffrey

        Was there a point your were trying to make?

      • johnniewhite

        What you argue is based on your own wishful thinking of what you want Japanese society to be. The position of women in Japan, for example, is totally misrepresented. You just need to speak to ordinary people in Japan. At home the house wives normally control the home finance, and the husbands get small ‘pocket money. I feel very uncomfortable for a foreigner with his/her own ethical values from their own country to judge Japanese cultural value. It is unhelpful, and not welcome if not appreciated.

      • kyushuphil

        “Out,” by Natsuo Kirino.

        “All She was Worth,” by Miyuki Miyabe.

        These are Japanese women through noir-fiction reporting some of the reality of women in Japan.

      • Steve Jackman

        “The position of women in Japan, for example, is totally misrepresented.”. Oh, sorry, my bad !! I just checked and found out that Japan ranks a very respectable 101 out of 145 countries in the World Economic Forum’s gender equality ranking. I did not know women were regarded so highly in Japan, since I would have quessed Japan to rank closer to 130 or 140 in this ranking. My apologies for having been so ignorant.

  • manilamac

    I fail to understand the presumption of hostility the 50 scholars & the gov’t of Japan seem so invested in. Who do they think (in the English speaking world, where the textbooks would be in use) has anything to gain by falsely accusing Japan? Why would historians of international standing risk their academic credibility & entire careers by making unsubstantiated claims? For the simple purpose of humiliating Japan? I hardly think so. To triumph over Japan in the Globalized marketplace? Don’t think that would work—transnationals do plenty of business in countries that are *current*
    hot-spots of sex-slavery.

  • skattan

    Eiji Yamashita is an economist, not a historian. B.A. in economics from Keio Gijuku University in 1970, and Ph.D in Economics from Osaka City University in 2003. His publications include “The Regime Transformation of International Monetary System: the Case against Floating Exchange Rates Revisited” (Toyokeizai-shinposha in Tokyo in September 2010) and “The European Economic and Monetary Union; Its Making and Lessons for Asia” (Keiso Shobo, July 2002).

    Michiko Hasegawa, 67, is a professor emeritus at Saitama University who specializes in comparative ideology and Japanese cultural studies. In an essay distributed in 2013, Hasegawa praised Shusuke Nomura, an extreme nationalist who committed ritual suicide in the offices of the liberal Asahi newspaper in 1993 in protest at its mockery of his rightwing group. Hasegawa has also contributed an article to the Institute for Historical Review, an organisation known for its denial of the Holocaust and shoddy research and use of pseudo-science to bolster its assertions.

    Neither are historians; the question of whether or not they are scholars is open to debate.

  • Michele Marcolin

    I agree with Steve Jackman statement. Japanese tend to live in their own world, with their own self-supported value and vision, expecting everybody to appreciate them. And when they are correctly criticized, they get mad. It is true for tourism and omotenashi, where they do not minimally consider what guests are after, but tend to impose their view of what a customer/guest should be receiving (and when not appreciated are deleted and offended) and it hold true for history. This one in particular is a nonsense rebuttal, since it does not denie the fact. It just question some statements about a fact otherwise sustained by other evidence. The Japanese historians criticizes the lack of evidence for some statements, but they themselves bring no evidence for their opposite position. Argumenta ex silentio are never good in history.

  • Al_Martinez

    The December letter calls out the American academics and claims that they would have difficulty finding a single Japanese scholar to support their position.

    A comment on the freedom of expression in Japanese academia rather than support for the comfort women deniers.

    “As scholars, they should have verified (the information) when they were informed of those mistakes,” Yamashita said.

    Wow! How arrogantly presumptuous.

    “Conveying information that contains even one mistake to younger generations is just inappropriate,” Hasegawa said. “There’s nothing more or nothing less to it.”

    Then, I guess, Hasegawa would allow American scholars to pore over and carry out extensive change in the current works of fiction that pose as texts in the J-school system.

  • skattan

    “Fifty Japanese scholars…”
    Scholars my patootie.

  • skattan

    “Fifty Japanese scholars…”
    Scholars my patootie.

  • Jamie Bakeridge

    Regardless of who is correct here, the damage this argument is doing to the international image of Japan is incalculable. How has the Japanese government allowed this to get so out of control? They are being made to look foolish by the South Koreans who are light years ahead in terms of messaging and commanding the media debate. This comes down to diplomacy – and Japanese diplomacy is infantile at best.

    • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

      Whoah! Slow down there fella. The Japanese government has brought this upon themselves; Nippon Kaigi ‘special advisor’ Abe was elected by the people of Japan who were willfully ignorant of his distorted historical views. People like Abe and Nippon Kaigi have a different understanding of what constitutes a ‘win’ in this case. For example, we would see Japan as ‘winning’ if proper apologies were offered as per Germany towards it’s victims, and see Japan as ‘losing’ by doing what it is now; damaging it’s international ‘Brand value’ when it should be cashing in on tourism and the Olympics.
      However, Nippon Kaigi see ‘winning’ as bullying the the west into saying that Japan wasn’t brutal and oppressive during the war, thus ‘proving’ that it’s all a ‘Chinese and Korean anti-Japanese lie’.
      In addition, if they fail in their attempts at bullying, they still ‘win’ since they can turn around to themselves and say ‘Japan is the victim, they are all ganging up on us, the Chinese and Koreans are working very hard to spread lies’ etc.
      Their world-view doesn’t permit them to see their actions as detrimental to Japan in any way, because they believe that they are ‘true patriots’ who can do no wrong.

      • thedudeabidez

        Well said.

      • thedudeabidez

        Well said.

    • annupri

      Exactly. That’s because US has been requesting Japan NOT to make this issue POLITICAL issue, whereas S.K, and nowadays China, have been fully utilizing this as political weapons.

  • J.P. Bunny

    “How dare those Americans try and distort Japanese history. That’s our job.”

    • 大千釜 創雷

      Yes, American historians are always right. Never doubt them. Japanese historians? All Japanese historians who dare to dispute claims by American are right wingers sent from the Japanese government. Thus, none them are worth listening to.

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        Yes.

      • 大千釜 創雷

        I was surprised to hear that you are Japanese. What on earth turned you into such a person? Slagging off your own country literally every day…

      • skattan

        The majority of these “scholars” are NOT historians.

      • 大千釜 創雷

        And that does not mean they are all lying.

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        Yes it does.

      • 大千釜 創雷

        Prove it.

      • skattan

        While they may not all be lying, they are not all credible.

      • 大千釜 創雷

        How “credible” they are does not matter. What their claims are does. We are not talking about aliens, but about history. All you have to do is look into their claims and see if they are true based on historical facts.

      • J.P. Bunny

        You got it on the first try. Please feel free to reply in a knee-jerk manner.

      • 大千釜 創雷

        Says the person who just posted a knee-jerk comment and don’t even try to look into their claims. You have such a great personality.

    • 大千釜 創雷

      Yes, American historians are always right. Never doubt them. Japanese historians? All Japanese historians who dare to dispute claims by American are right wingers sent from the Japanese government. Thus, none them are worth listening to.

  • skattan

    The “scholars” who signed the letter are a parcel of rogues. They include:

    Hidetsugu Yagi, a professor of constitutional law at Reitaku University, former chair of the Japan Society for History Textbook Reform, a group that criticised many existing Japanese school texts claiming they had a “masochistic view of history.”

    Shiro Takahashi, former deputy chairman of the same Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform.

    Tadae Takubo who is Vice President of Nanjing Massacre denier Yoshiko Sakurai’s Japan Institute for National Fundamentals.
    Other “scholars” signing the letter who are associated with Sakurai’s institute include Yasuo Oh-Hara (Ohara), Takashi Ito, Minoru Kitamura, Shiroh Takahashi, Taikin Tei, Akira Momochi, Toshio Watanabe, Yoichi Shimada, and Tsutomu Nishioka,

  • Ariko Honda

    Americans try to take the moral high ground here, but conveniently forget the way they justify dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the way they tried to whitewash history by not presenting the facts to the public at the Smithsonian on the 50th anniversary of the bombs being dropped on civilians.

    • Steve Jackman

      You seem to forget that Japan was the aggressor since it is the one who launched a sneak attack on the U.S. at Pearl Harbor, which dragged America into the Pacific War.

      The atomic bombs were the culmination of this war and could have been avoided if the Japanese imperial army had enough common sense to see that it would never win the war with America. Those in power in Japan at the time were so stubborn, arrogant and divorced from reality that they did not surrender even after the first bomb was dropped at Hiroshima, which left the U.S. no other choice but to drop a second bomb on Nagasaki.

      The Japanese elite had no problem sacrificing Japanese civilians by the thousands in order to keep fighting a war they had no chance of winning. They are the ones who bear the real responsibility for the atomic bombs.

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        Steve, the japanese were asked to surrender in’44, and refused. That was before bombing of Japanese home islands, killing over a million. Entirely avoidable had people like Abe’s grandfather held Japanese lives in esteem.
        The Japanese were asked again to surrender before the Hiroshima bomb- again they refused. They were asked again before Nagasaki, but this time refused to even formally acknowledge receipt of surrender demand.
        The Japanese government beora sole responsibility for all Japanese deaths since it was within their power to surrender and cease hostilities. They chose not to because literally millions of Japanese lives were less important to them than remaining in power.
        It is a master stroke of revisionism that they and their descendants have successfully portrayed Japan as the victim and at the same time dodged what should have been the vicious backlash of their own exploited people seeking to forever remove their hands from the levers of power. Japan’s right-wingers have both remained in control of Japan, and avoided responsibility for the suffering they inflicted on the Japanese people.

      • annupri

        Because you started, because you didnt surreder, Mass-massacres of hundreds of thousands innocent civilians who evaporated in a second are justified and you donot talk anything how history led Japan to Pearl Harbor.

      • annupri

        Because you started, because you didnt surreder, Mass-massacres of hundreds of thousands innocent civilians who evaporated in a second are justified and you donot talk anything how history led Japan to Pearl Harbor.

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        The Japanese position of dodging all responsibility is childish and doesn’t reflect reality.

    • jcbinok

      I’m not sure which facts were supposedly held back from the public at the Smithsonian, but as one who grew up in America, I assure you that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were topics discussed deeply and seriously during high school social studies class. I wonder if Japanese high schoolers are asked to consider Pearl Harbor as deeply.

    • J.P. Bunny

      Agree with jcbinok. Don’t know what may have been omitted, but in school nothing was left out about the atomic bombings, the conditions that led up to the war, and even the Americans using Napalm to burn soldiers in their caves. Please to think about whitewashing issues.

  • Ariko Honda

    Americans try to take the moral high ground here, but conveniently forget the way they justify dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the way they tried to whitewash history by not presenting the facts to the public at the Smithsonian on the 50th anniversary of the bombs being dropped on civilians.

  • thedudeabidez

    ““(It) objected to the intervention of the Japanese government, which sent its officials directly/uninvited/unannounced to the office of the textbook author, demanding deletion or correction,” Gordon said in an email.”

    The same tactics of intimidation they are using against the press in Japan.

  • annupri

    Reading majority opinions posted so far, I cannot help thinking those posters have actually nither read, nor even interested in knowing what 50 gangs tried to point out…
    Just like Alexis Dudden and 19 other american historians who completely rejected opening constructive dialogue, they are no interested in details whatsoever.
    American high school students would probably try to remember 200k teenage mostly Korean, young girls abducted, raped and killed by IJA to mark high score in history exams.

    • jcbinok

      What do writing a history textbook and engaging in “constructive dialogue” have to do with each other?

      • annupri

        McGraw-Hill, and co-authors Herbert Ziegler, JellryBentl ( and supporting 20 historians led by Alexis Dudden) ,should have constructive dialogues to correct factual errors in text books,
        rather than rejecting their claims outright. What not

    • jcbinok

      What do writing a history textbook and engaging in “constructive dialogue” have to do with each other?

  • johnniewhite

    I am disappointed to read this piece as the authors have astonishing fantasic misconceptions about the Abe administration (re: censorship on historical issues) as well as the whole concept of the so-called ‘comfort women’ (re: great majority of them were not forced to serve as such).

    I cannot understand why some historians conclude that Japan destroyed the evidence for CW-related documents. The non-existence normally and naturally indicates non-existence. But to me their view was based on their fantasic interpretation that has no historical and factual basis. Ms Dudden’s activities have often been seen from the supporter of activists in ROC as if her role is to fan the flame of hatred towards Japan. There should be close scrutiny of the surviving comfort women — there have been a number of reports pointing out that they are abused by the political activists, and forced to say lies. Historians must remain impartial when interpreting historical facts and evidence. They must not be abused by political propaganda.

    • 大千釜 創雷

      What do you expect from the Japan Times?

      • skattan

        More than from the Yomiuri or Sankei.

      • 大千釜 創雷

        As if you can read Japanese.

      • skattan

        How the hell would you know, you arrogant berk.

      • 大千釜 創雷

        I don’t know if you are capable of reading Japanese. If you are, why don’t you just say so? Do you have any problems with this kind of question? :D

    • skattan

      Impartial historians unabused by political propaganda? Perhaps from the Japan Society for History Textbook Reform? Or the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals? Or Nippon Kaigi? Or Zaitokukai?

  • johnniewhite

    I am disappointed to read this piece as the authors have astonishing fantasic misconceptions about the Abe administration (re: censorship on historical issues) as well as the whole concept of the so-called ‘comfort women’ (re: great majority of them were not forced to serve as such).

    I cannot understand why some historians conclude that Japan destroyed the evidence for CW-related documents. The non-existence normally and naturally indicates non-existence. But to me their view was based on their fantasic interpretation that has no historical and factual basis. Ms Dudden’s activities have often been seen from the supporter of activists in ROC as if her role is to fan the flame of hatred towards Japan. There should be close scrutiny of the surviving comfort women — there have been a number of reports pointing out that they are abused by the political activists, and forced to say lies. Historians must remain impartial when interpreting historical facts and evidence. They must not be abused by political propaganda.

  • Jam Awns

    Basic 13 questions about comfort women issue related with Japan.
    (1)What Korean men were doing if their wives or daughters were abducted for sex slaves? Why did NOT those men defend women and protest against criminals?
    (2)Mayors of ALL villages in Korea were ALL Korean, NO EXCEPTION.
    What were mayors doing if so many women in their towns were abducted, raped and to be forced sex slaves?
    (3)The military police in Korea who clamp down military soldier’s misconduct were ALL Korean, NO EXCEPTION because Korean language was necessary for duty.
    What Korean military police were doing if Japanese military in Korea came to a village and took women?
    (4)About 40% of governors of prefectures (equivalent to state in the U.S.) were Korean.
    What were Korean governors doing if so many women in their prefectures were abducted, raped and to be forced sex slaves?
    (5)There was a Korean lawmaker of the House of Representatives in Tokyo.
    What was he doing and why didn’t he complain if so many women in Korea were abducted, raped and to be forced sex slaves?
    (6)There were many Korean members of the House of Loads. Their power was so strong and cannot be compared to current member of the House of Council (Similar to the U.S. Senators).
    Why didn’t they say anything if so many women in Korea were abducted, raped and to be forced sex slaves?
    (7)There were so many Korean dukes and counts as Nobleman.
    What were they doing if so many women in Korea were abducted, raped and to be forced sex slaves?
    (8)Furthermore, there were so many Korean in the Japan’s imperial family. They were Yi imperial family whose rank was higher than Japan’s imperial prince. The rank was (1) Japanese emperor, (2) Yi imperial family, (3)Japan’s crown prince.
    Why didn’t they complain if so many women in Korea were abducted, raped and to be forced sex slaves?
    (9)Just after the Asia-Pacific war, Syngman Ree came back from the U.S. He started anti-Japan campaign in the fierce manner. He started to demand money for Korean People who fought for Japan. Notwithstanding, Syngman Ree did not mention comfort women at all, even a word. Why?
    (10)Toward the Japan-Korea Basic Relation Treaty in 1965, both Japan and Korea had negotiated for 14 years. During 14 years, Korean government did not mention comfort women at all, even a word. Why?
    (Here, a disclosed confidential document mentioned that South Korea had explained Comfort Women issues to Japan and settled it on the treaty.)
    (11)From 1965 to 1991 for 26 years, Korean government and Korean mass media did not mention comfort women at all, even a word. Why?
    (12)The person started abduction story was Japanese. The abduction story was fabricated by a Japanese, Seiji Yoshida. Later he admitted his fabrication. Also, Cheju Newspaper in Korea, August 14, 1989 had revealed“Coerced comfort women by Japan is fiction” U.N. Coomaraswamy report E/CN.4/1996/53 in 1996 and United States House of Representatives proposed House Resolution 121 in 2007 were based on such Seiji Yoshida’s perjury. Revised U.S. resolution 121 report removed Yoshida’s perjury on April 3 2007 but its public hearing on Feb 25 2007 was based on the Yoshida’s perjury.
    Why does Korea still want to stick the Yoshida’s perjury?
    (13)Korea accepted the apology of Kono DANGO but still require further apology. Therefore, Japan tried to review Kono DANGO due to insufficient. However Korea criticized Japan in order not to review the Kono DANGO.
    Why does Korea criticize making the past to be recognized honestly and fairly and to be accounted clearly?

    Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese and people in Sakhalin were considered as people evenly protected/embraced by Japanese Emperor. If Korean women and children were taken forcibly to be sex slaves, Emperor Showa would never have allowed that.

    • jcbinok

      I should become more educated on this topic. Perhaps I will start with Jan Ruff O’Herne’s book called 50 Years of Silence.

    • skattan

      Is The Recreation and Amusement Association (特殊慰安施設協会) also fiction?

  • jcbinok

    Can’t disagree with you there. Started school in USA, mid-70’s, yet the first time I really considered the Vietnam War was after seeing Stallone’s: First Blood. That just wasn’t a topic discussed in school at the time.

  • 大千釜 創雷

    I love how nearly none of these Japan Times readers branding the Japanese historians as “revisionists” or “right wingers” are making no mention of their claims. They firmly believe that everyone who disputes the Comfort Women issue is a right winger and that none of his claims is worth looking into.

    • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

      Because everyone who disputes the sex-slave issue IS a right-winger.

      • 大千釜 創雷

        To dismiss everyone who disputes the Comfort Women issue as a right winger and refuse to even see if their claims are true is utterly absurd.

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        No it isn’t. Legitimizing right-wingers absurd historical revisionism by listening to it, dignifies their position, when in fact denial of war-crimes should be an offence punishable by incarceration.

      • 大千釜 創雷

        How could you possibly know that their claims are based on “absurd historical revisionism”, when you have not even looked into any of them yet? How judgmental and discriminative of you.

    • skattan

      How many of the 50 “scholars” who signed the letter are actually professional historians?

      • 大千釜 創雷

        How many of the scholars are professional historians does not matter. What their claims are does.

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        Blah blah blah desperate right-winger sock-puppet.

      • 大千釜 創雷

        What a simple and shallow thought process you have there. Dismissing everyone who disputes the Comfort Women issue as a right winger and refusing to even look into any of their claims – You are one of the most discriminative people I’ve ever had the misfortune to come across.

      • skattan

        Claims made about history made by historians typically carry more weight than assertions made by a hodgepodge mix of partisan hacks.

      • 大千釜 創雷

        And? How does that mean they are lying? Any logical explanation? Any evidence that the Imperial Japanese Armed Forces provided soldiers with comfort women as a gift from the Emperor? Any explanation as to why no Korean man stood up against the Japanese Army when tens of thousands of Korean women were abducted, and why the Korean government made no mention of the large scale abduction when they signed the peace treaty with Japan?

      • annupri

        I trust Michael Yon, Park yu-ha, Sara Soh, Hata, Yoshimi, Tanaka, Nishioka, Hayashi, An Jong, who actually moved their as* and talked to victims and worked on every primary sources than so-called historians who just signed off with their namecards. Oh No Dudden is out of questions

  • surya

    In a war situation atrocities get committed by all sides. German women were raped by allied forces, where is the apology. See the movies FURY, a recent movie to have an idea. Japanese soldiers were also massacred with no sympathy. Nuclear bombs were unnecessary, already Japan had lost the war by that time, but still not one but two atomic bombs were exploded in cities. That is the worst atrocity in modern history to speak of.

    • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

      No, you are wrong. ‘All sides’ do not commit war crimes.

      • 大千釜 創雷

        Why not? If a soldier does something against international law in war, it means he committed a war crime, regardless of which side he is on. Just because your country has been invaded, does not mean your soldiers can do whatever they want to the innocent civilians of the hostile nation.

  • Toolonggone

    Is it any wonder that overwhelming majority of these ’50 Shades of Grey’ are right-wing academic pundits pledging allegiance to Abe and LDP? Amazing their desperate attempt to give credit to themselves by quoting Yoshiaki Yoshimi–even though he is NOT on the issue.

  • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

    I hope this gang of 50 get lots of press coverage! G7 in Ise, Rugby World Cup, Olympics; Japan has got everything to lose and nothing to gain from this revisionism! Go revisionist but-jobs! Show the whole world that Japan has been faking all along!

  • johnniewhite

    I noticed that The Japan Times published his letter today (18 December) as well.

  • Kobo Inamura

    Professional scholar wll start discussions or debate with an open mind, and it is unfair to begin the one sided attack by calling “Gang of 50” labalelling insults and politicking assault without any substantial findings. Japanese are usually quiet people but we are proposing the revision of a baldly compiled American high school text book for the betterment of understandings based on the historical facts. The Japan times is very much slanted and biased as if it is only politicking or kind of war propaganda which totally neglects facts and sincerity. I am one of those Academicians in Japan who signed the letter to the editor of the Amierican HIsoty Associations magazine together with Professor emeritus Eiji Yamashita as a rebuttal to the arrogant villainity shown by the American twenty herd (even if not Gangs). At least I am comitted to plant the trees of facts and evidences along the shores of civilizations and countries.

  • Naoko Koike

    We are so much looking forward that Korean government show us what they call the robust evidences that prove hundreds of thousands of Korean women were kidnapped and coerced to become comfort women by Japanese Army. The evidences that Korean government disclosed so far are a payroll slip, bank transaction details and some advertisement of recruiting by agents. Unfortunately, this year, Korean government abandoned the registration of “Korean Comfort Women Issue” to the UNESCO Memory of the World because they did not have any documentation to submit. What they have is only testimonies.
    We are really really looking forward to see the documentation that prove what Korean government has been insisting is correct.
    We don’t want to see a Korean professor facing prosecution due to her research on Comfort Women. We don’t want to see Korean government export hundreds of thousands of Korean women for prostitution overseas.
    What we want to see is the documented evidences, so that this kind of dispute will never be brought by Japanese scholars.