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Georges Clemenceau, who, as France’s prime minister, led his country to victory in World War I, famously said that “war is too important to be left to the generals.” Japan is now discovering that history is too important to be left to newspaper editors.

In the 1990s, the newspaper Asahi Shimbun caused a firestorm at home in Japan and in South Korea by publishing a series of articles, based upon testimony by the former Japanese soldier Seiji Yoshida, on “comfort women” — Koreans forced to provide sexual services to the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. It has now been more than a month since Asahi admitted that the soldier’s confessions were unfounded, and has disavowed the core supporting evidence for the articles.

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