NHK, Japan’s semi-public broadcaster, has launched a new series of dramas with fanfare during prime time on Thursdays.

The samurai drama “Yoshiwara Uradoshin” (Back-alley justice in Yoshiwara) is set in Yoshiwara, the gaudy, government-sanctioned prostitution quarters of old Edo (now Tokyo), where women and girls were sold and bought every day.

Could the scenes of the horrendous institution of controlled prostitution, as a mere color backdrop to this drama, contribute to solving the seemingly irreconcilable gap between how some Japanese nationalists and the rest of the world view the “comfort women” issue? And does it help nurture the concept of gender equality when, week after week, women and girls are presented as commodities decked out for sale?

name withheld by request

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