FUKUOKA - Newly discovered official documents show the wartime Japanese military forcibly recruited females abroad into sexual servitude as “comfort women,” a Japanese professor who discovered the materials said Thursday, questioning why the evidence wasn’t revealed at the time of Tokyo’s 1993 apology.
Hirofumi Hayashi, a professor of modern Japanese history at Kanto Gakuin University, found trial documents at the National Archives of Japan relating to six cases heard before tribunals set up for Class-B and Class-C war criminals after the end of World War II by China’s Nationalist Party and the Netherlands, then the colonial ruler of the Dutch East Indies (present-day Indonesia).
The materials had been kept by the Justice Ministry, but were transferred to the archives in 1999 or later.
They did not form part of the evidence the government collected before issuing the 1993 statement by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono in which Japan acknowledged and apologized for its military’s involvement in the recruitment of women into sexual slavery.
An indictment for case No. 12 in Nanjing, in which a lieutenant general of the Imperial Japanese Army was accused of rape and abduction of females, said the officer “searched out girls with violence and made them provide physical comfort.”
The lieutenant general, whose name wasn’t provided, was convicted in the trial despite pleading not guilty, claiming another army division committed the crimes.
A ruling in case No. 13 in Pontianak, Indonesia, in which a lieutenant of the Imperial Japanese Navy and 12 other officers were accused of forcing women into prostitution, said many women were “threatened by violent measures and forced” into sexual servitude.
The materials need to be further scrutinized, Hayashi said, adding that he does not understand why the Justice Ministry did not submit them as evidence at the time the Kono statement was drafted.
The professor said he believes research conducted by the government for compiling the 1993 document was “insufficient” and urged Tokyo to present a new view based on data discovered after the Kono statement was issued.