In mid-July, in Sugar Loaf, an idyllic village northwest of Manhattan, during a group lunch, someone asked, "How about comfort women?"

I started saying, "If the question is whether or not the Japanese government forced women to prostitution for the military, probably it didn't." But when I saw a thin smile on the questioner's face, I gave up.

Like "the Nanjing Massacre," anything less than an outright admission by a Japanese — I am a Japanese-American — of the worst assessment of the wrongs that Japan committed during World War II merely raises eyebrows.