I was most interested to read Paul de Vries’ scathing comments (May 30 letter, “Myth of the ‘willing’ prostitute“) about my “insensitivity” on the “comfort women” controversy. He says my comments “may provide a reason to believe that Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto is not the most insensitive resident of Japan.”
Really! Does de Vries know me?
He will undoubtedly be surprised to know that I agree with much of what he says but not where he wanders wildly off the mark. And the mark is a plain and simple question: Did the Imperial Japanese Army force women against their will, at home or in occupied countries, to provide sexual services?
Obscuring the issue by expanding the subject matter to prostitution in general is not helpful. Nor is de Vries’ exhortation that I should watch a work of fiction, Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables” (which I have read!), to weep over a single prostitute.
I can tell him, in all sincerity and “sensitivity,” that I feel a profound sorrow over the exploitation of any human because of sex, power, race, creed, age or anything else. I have perhaps lived a lot longer than de Vries (I sense that from his style of writing) and seen a lot more of this world, the good and the bad. Those experiences have bestowed on me a great humility and a deep sense of brotherhood toward all.
One more point: Readers who sit in judgment of our letters will be interested to note that de Vries uses the Japanese misnomer “the East Asian War.” Why? Most historians and old Western combatants refer to that conflict as “the Pacific War”?
Is de Vries hiding his true colors behind a smoke screen and actually defending Japan’s record in that war and, inter alia, defending Hashimoto? He should tell us.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.