"It's an old habit....I spent my whole life trying not to be careless....Women and children can afford to be careless but not men."Now replace "men" with "liberals" and "women and children" with "conservatives and libertarians" and you have a pretty accurate picture of the world we live in.
Vito Corleone, The Godfather (1972)
After decades of resistance, The Asahi Shimbun three days ago began the painful process of retracting a series of articles it had published over the years containing the undocumentable and likely false statements of a former civilian labor recruiter. The late Yoshida Seiji had claimed he had organized a forcible round up of 200 women on the island of Cheju-do for service as prostitutes in "comfort stations" for the Imperial Japanese Army. Unfortunately for the Asahi and news organizations quoting the Asahi on the story, investigations into the accuracy of Yoshida's claims found no evidence of their being true.
Conservative publications and commentators have been going to town on The Asahi Shibun's about face (Link). The humiliation of the right's "Class A War Criminal" as regards the comfort women and the Kono Statement has stimulated some...oh let us say "opportunistic" leaders of certain parties...to demand Diet investigation of the Asahi's reversal. (Link and Link J video)
The overdue repudiation of Yoshida's claims has of course hurt the cause of those urging an East Asian entente on the comfort women issue. Yoshida's claims and their debunking have focused attention in Japan on the issue of whether the comfort women were recruited "forcibly in the narrow sense" --, i.e. kidnapped by government employees or their direct agents -- leaving underexamined the larger issue of the impossible-to-defend trafficking of women from colonized or occupied areas to provide sexual services to soldiers, sailors and officers at or near Imperial Army and Imperial Navy installations. It is an absurd assertion of Japanese revisionist circles that the only reason the comfort women issue has existed as an element of international relations has been The Asahi Shimbun's printing of articles on the subject. The idiotic domestic debate on "coercion in the narrow sense" has, of course, made the Japanese government and people look like a creepy bunch of sniveling, moon-eyed automatons obsessed with the avoidance of blame or the appearance of remorse.
When latest matsuri sawagi of hooting, hollering and "I told you so" dies down, of course, Japanese of all stripes will find that the Asahi's retractions matter not one jot in the way the world perceives the issue (Link). The world outside Japan's borders focuses, unsurprisingly, on coercion in the broader sense, which is:
Recruitment of non-national women or boys to provide sexual services for an occupying or colonial government's employees, whether through cash inducements, deceit or abduction, whether by government personnel or agents, in colonized or occupied territories, is a coerced act, no matter the legal status of prostitution in the occupying country.
That brutal reality, one of the many brutal, horrifying realities of the way the Japanese Imperial forces operated, has not changed in the aftermath of the Asahi's publication of retractions of some of its stories.
Later - Did not see this until now but it seems the good folks at JapanRealTime clicked in with a report yesterday. (Link)