Sunday, March 04, 2007

Abe backtracking on 1995 apology

Here's an article relevant to this week's discussion. Some of this week's readings have suggested that a number of positive steps have been made to address the "comfort women" atrocity, including a domestically controversial official apology issued in 1995.

Prime Minister Abe recently expressed his view that no evidence has been found suggesting that comfort women were coerced into "service," or at least as far as the current definition of "coercion" would stipulate. Apparently the controversial remark was a response to pressure from U.S. Congressional resolution that called on the new PM to apologize for the country's past atrocities regarding the sexual enslavement of Asian women.

This article is interesting for a number of reasons. First, it highlights the ongoing domestic debate in Japan about if/how to address the many troubling elements of its imperialistic militaristic past. The "comfort women" controversy is certainly at the heart of that. Second, I think it's interesting that in the midst of a well-publicized diplomatic campaign to mend fences with Japan's Northeast Asian neighbors, Prime Minister Abe would make such a potentially polarizing comment. Finally, for those of us who've advocated putting more pressure on Japan to address these issues, it's interesting to see how such actions could potentially backfire.

The prevalence of nationalist sentiment in all of these issues is not surprising.

1 comment:

Will Buck said...

After reading the articles Prof. Larsen e-mailed this morning, and finishing the rest of the readings for Wednesday, this is pretty reprehensible. Just wanted to clarify. I felt my initial post was a little too tame.