• Kyodo


The Asahi Shimbun newspaper said Wednesday that it will publish a column by journalist Akira Ikegami about the major daily’s recent extensive review of its past “comfort women” reports — reversing its earlier rejection of the article.

The column in question was printed in the newspaper’s morning edition on Thursday.

Ikegami, a sought-after freelance journalist on television and print media, has been writing the monthly column for the paper for years, assessing its reporting — as well as that of other newspapers — on a range of topics.

In a review published in August, Asahi retracted some of its articles from the 1980s and 1990s, acknowledging as false a man’s statements that women on the South Korean island of Jeju were forcibly and violently taken to serve at brothels for the Imperial Japanese Army during the war. The man, Seiji Yoshida, has since died.

In response to Asahi’s earlier rejection of Ikegami’s column on the sex slave review, the journalist said Wednesday that he had asked the newspaper to terminate his serialized commentaries.

But Asahi’s public relations office said in a statement later that day that the firm had decided to run the column after consulting with Ikegami.

Asahi also rejected running advertisements by two major weekly magazines last week, the magazine publishers — Bungeishunju Ltd. and Shinchosha Publishing Co. — said. But the paper ran a censored version of the ads on Thursday. Both weeklies carried articles criticizing Asahi’s reporting of comfort women issues.

Doubts over the credibility of Yoshida’s statements have been raised by several experts since around 1992.

In a 1993 statement issued by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, the government admitted that the Japanese military had been complicit in the establishment and management of “comfort stations” before and during World War II, and that its study had shown that many women were recruited against their own will.

But the government has not yet acknowledged the existence of evidence suggesting that women were forcibly and violently taken away like Yoshida said in his testimony.

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