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Abe pledges to ‘correct’ the record on wartime sex slaves

by Mizuho Aoki

Staff Writer

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged Thursday to increase efforts to alter views abroad on Japan’s actions in World War II by disseminating the “correct” view, as he put it.

He cited a U.S. textbook that informs its readers of the thousands of women and girls who were forced to work in Japan’s wartime military brothels. This, he said, shows Japan must fight allegations that are not true. He said meekness is not valued in international society.

“I just looked at a document, (U.S. publisher) McGraw Hill’s textbook, and I was shocked,” Abe said during the Lower House Budget Committee. “This kind of textbook is being used in the U.S., as we did not protest the things we should have, or we failed to correct the things we should have.

“Being modest does not receive recognition in the international community, and we must argue points when necessary,” he said, answering to a question from Tomomi Inada, the right-wing policy chief of the Liberal Democratic Party and a close ideological confidant of Abe.

Inada quoted from the book, which she said is used in California public high schools, a passage about the “comfort women,” Japan’s euphemism for the females forced to provide sex to Imperial Japanese soldiers before and during the war.

She said it reads: “The Japanese army forcibly recruited, conscripted and dragooned as many as 200,000 women ages 14 to 20 to serve in military brothels.”

The text goes on to report, she said, that the Japanese military massacred large numbers of comfort women to “cover up the operation.”

Inada expressed outrage that students in the U.S. are being taught things that are “completely against fact, that our ancestors were a group of rapists, murderers, and kidnappers.”

She added, “This is not an issue of the past. I believe this is an ongoing issue that, for example, violates the human rights of Japanese children living in the U.S.”

Earlier this year, the Foreign Ministry said the Japanese government asked the publisher to remove “inaccurate” descriptions, according to media reports.

Japan’s mainstream historians say no historical records survived the war that can pin down “the exact” number of women forced to work in the wartime military brothels Japan set up during its wars in the 1930s and ’40s, but their estimates range from 20,000 to 200,000.