• Kyodo

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Hokusei Gakuen University in Sapporo says it plans to renew the contract of a part-time lecturer and former Asahi Shimbun reporter despite threats to the school demanding he be fired over his past reporting on the wartime sex slavery issue.

The university’s president, Shinichi Tamura, said in a statement about the decision to rehire the lecturer for the school year starting in April that there is a “growing movement not to tolerate violence and intimidation” that is providing “some level of deterrence against cowardly acts.”

Between May and mid-November, the university said it had received nearly 2,000 instances of threats and protests related to the lecturer’s employ at the school.

At issue is a series of articles the lecturer wrote for the Asahi about women who were forced to work in wartime Japanese military brothels.

A man was indicted last month for allegedly making a phone call to the university in September in which he threatened to plant a bomb unless the lecturer was pressured to quit.

The call was made after the Asahi retracted a series of articles published in the 1980s and 1990s on “comfort women,” a euphemism for those who were forced to work in Japan’s military brothels system before and during World War II.

In retracting the articles, the major daily said one of its sources, a man named Seiji Yoshida, had provided false accounts claiming women on the South Korean island of Jeju had been taken violently to serve in the brothels. Yoshida’s account was later discredited.

At a press conference on Oct. 31, Tamura said the school was considering not renewing the lecturer’s contract. Tamura cited the costs of stepping up security to deal with the threats.

However, university board members subsequently discussed the issue, after which the president consulted with the university board’s chairman in making the final decision, the statement said.

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