Ex-Asahi reporter who wrote ‘comfort woman’ story to teach in South Korea

Kyodo

A former Asahi Shimbun newspaper reporter who wrote a story about a former Korean “comfort woman” has resigned as a part-time lecturer at a Japanese university and will start teaching at a university in South Korea next March, the Japanese university said Thursday.

Takashi Uemura, 57, will leave Hokusei Gakuen University in Hokkaido at the end of the current academic year in March and become a visiting professor at the Catholic University of Korea, which has a student exchange agreement with the university in Sapporo, it said.

During his one-year term, he will teach on the history of exchanges between Japan and South Korea once or twice a week, Hokusei Gakuen said.

Uemura was involved in the Asahi Shimbun’s reporting in 1991 of accounts provided by a South Korean woman procured for a Japanese military brothel during Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula between 1910 and 1945.

The Asahi Shimbun reviewed the report and concluded in August last year that no facts had been fabricated in the reporting although some expressions were inappropriate. At the time, the newspaper retracted some of its past reports on the comfort women at the brothels.

Hokusei Gakuen University has received threats and calls of protest against Uemura’s employment.

University President Shinichi Tamura said he “intends to share the experience” of being threatened and “raise questions” over the matter.

Uemura told a news conference he is grateful that the university continued to employ him as a lecturer even in the face of the attacks. He also said, “My fight against the groundless claims that I am a ‘fabricator’ will continue through speech and in court.”

The former reporter has filed libel suits against publishers and individuals, claiming they groundlessly labeled him a fabricator of the decades-old report and their criticism triggered threats and other serious violations of his rights.

Uemura became a lecturer at Hokusei Gakuen University in April 2012 and had been renewing his contract annually.