Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Warning from Japanese historian

The Asian edition of Newsweek carried an article by Hideaki Kase on the pending U.S. resolution regarding comfort women. He is a nationalistic historian who has defended Japan's engagement in WWII and the kamikaze pilots (he also served as advisor to PM Fukuda and Nakasone).

I found his comment interesting: "Intoxicated by its unprecedented affluence, Japan was willing to ask forgiveness of its neighbors if this proved good for business." This then gives credibility to the accusations of Japanese insincerity in their apologies.

Kase then goes on to say, "The fact is that the brothels were commercial establishments. U.S. Army records explicitly declare that the comfort women were prostitutes, and found no instances of "kidnapping" by the Japanese authorities. It's also worth noting that some 40 percent of these women were of Japanese origin."

Were 40% of the women in these comfort stations Japanese? We've heard about the number of non-Japanese women taken but I don't think the articles we read mentioned the number of Japanese women, except that they were treated better.

In regards to the Rape of Nanking, "Many Japanese politicians have also come to believe that the Nanking Massacre was a fabrication of the Chinese, who are using it to pressure Japan into granting concessions in other areas."

Noting the rise of nationalism, Kase ends with saying that further apologies are unlikely and warns the U.S. from pushing Japan to do so. So, what do you guys think? Will U.S. politicians heed this warning or ignore it and push the resolution through?


Erin Robinson said...

Well, on the matter of percentages, I wonder what figure he's saying 40% of were Japanese. Because Japan did (if I remember correctly) have legalized and regulated prostitution throughout this period, so maybe if you add those abroad and those at home (still prostitutes?) you could get to a figure like that? I have no idea, it's just a thought, but I would be interested to know figures in that sense.

His quoting of US Army records is interesting as well. Did the US Army investigate these claims? Why did none of our readings reference this?

On the surface, his pressing for more investigation is reasonable, but the tone of his article makes it difficult for me to take his assertions seriously, simply because my kneejerk reaction to statements like this is critical.

His statements at the end, though, about Japan being a normal nation are part of a long debate. Given continuing broad-based support for Article IX and the difficulties of managing constitutional change in the Japanese government, I think Japan becoming a "normal" nation is far off. However, he might be right about the lack of serious apologies.

snowume said...

I think he just looked at the only one side of the story regarding the Japanese attitude. He mentioned that "These are small but telling signs of how Japan's sentiments have changed. The country is eager to resume its place in the world as a normal nation, with a normal defense and foreign policy." Yet, the nation of Japan may have constructed nationalism or nationalist sentiment by imposing a number of legistions.
Also, who define that Japan is a normal country? Japan itself? I think the international community plays an importatn role in this matter. by excluding Korea and China, I think Japan can't be acknowledged as a normal country.