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A Nasty Trick 'The Main Battleground of The Comfort Women Issue'

 

Author: Tetsuhide Yamaoka

President of the Australia-Japan Community Network Inc.

 

 

■A Young Man Who Called Himself 'Miki Dezaki'

 

About three years ago, a young man who called himself "Miki Dezaki" approached several well-known conservative opinion leaders, introducing himself as a graduate student of Sophia University. He asked for interviews with them in order to make a documentary film, he said, focused on the comfort women issue. He alleged the project was to complete his master's degree.

 

One of Dezaki's emails said:

 

"As I researched, I found the comfort women issue was more complex than I had read in the Western liberal media. In my research I found there was no evidence that the women were coerced to become comfort women, and that the lives of the comfort women were not as bad as some activists or experts insisted. I have to admit that I had believed the media reports, but now I have doubts. […] As a graduate student, I have the ethical duty to introduce interviews with you with respect and fairness. Also, this is academic research and there are certain academic standards and conditions which must be met, so it will not be biased journalism."

 

He approached Kent Gilbert, Yoshiko Sakurai, Nobukatsu Fujioka, Mio Sugita, Yumiko Yamamoto, Tony Malano (also known as "Texas Daddy") and Shun'ichi Fujiki (the manager of Texas Daddy's Japan Secretariat), among others. All of them took Dezaki at his word and expected he would make a fair and neutral documentary film as promised. On that basis, they agreed to interviews with him.

 

■Not the Film that was Promised

 

Time passed. On March 27, 2019 I headed for a small theater in Shibuya where I had heard a preview of the film would be screened.

 

By then I had also heard that all of the above-mentioned interview subjects regretted cooperating with Dezaki on the film which, contrary to their expectations, turned out to be just another propaganda film about the comfort women.

 

I wondered what had gone wrong. The film was supposed to present a fair debate between advocates of the comfort women as sex slaves theory and those who believe comfort women were not sex slaves.

 

Information indicated that advocates of the "sex slaves" point of view who appeared in the film included Yoshiaki Yoshimi, Etsuro Totsuka, Hirofumi Hayashi, Koichi Nakano and Takashi Uemura.

 

Two prominent South Koreans were also said to appear in the film. The first was Mihyang Yun, a representative of The Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan. The second was Park Yu-ha, a professor at Sejong University in Seoul and author of the book, The Comfort Women of the Empire (published 2013 in South Korea, now banned) who was prosecuted in South Korea for publishing her book.

 

All of those mentioned were influential people.The title of the film, Shusenjo: The Main Battleground of The Comfort Women Issue, (Independent, 2019) was provocative, and I wanted to see what the film was like.

 

■Strange Catchphrases on the Flyer

 

The flyer for the film included some very strange catchphrases. It said:

 

"Surprisingly thrilling!!!! This is the most aggressive documentary film today."

 

"You probably you don't know Miki Dezaki, a Japanese American YouTuber, unless you are one of the Japanese online right-wingers who was made very angry by him. Dezaki was all the more curious to know about Japanese online right-wingers and their repetitive threats against him. So he threw himself into the comfort women issue, which most Japanese people don't want to discuss anymore."

 

The catchphrases clearly showed Dezaki had no intention of making a fair and neutral documentary film.

 

The flyer added that he was a YouTuber and that his movies (plural) had made many people angry.

 

It made me wonder what in his movies has provoked anger, and beyond that, what his movies are like. I felt compelled to check his previous work. Two of his films are introduced here.

 

■Vulgarity, Shock and Derision

 

The first movie is titled, Racism in Japan. It was said to be based on his experience teaching English at Itoman High School in Okinawa.

 

Dezaki spoke to the students in Japanese and asked: "Is there is racism in Japan? If you think so, raise your hand." Only a few students raised their hands. He asked the same question in other classes and again, only a few students raised their hand each time.

 

Dezaki then looked dissatisfied and turned to speak to the camera in English. "I know there is a lot of racism in America. And I am not saying that America is better than Japan." He then continued his monologue:

 

"But there is racial discrimination in Japan. In the Edo era [about three hundred years ago] a caste system was put in place with Burakumin at the bottom. These people are still discriminated against today. And in Japanese there is a word for disposable cameras, called baka-chon camera. Baka means stupid, and chon is a derogatory term used for Korean people. Furthermore, even though they are the same Japanese, Okinawans were discriminated against. During World War II, when Japanese soldiers pushed them to the front to use as human shields. And a few years back, a good friend of mine tried to get an apartment in Tokyo and was denied by landlord because he was Okinawan."

 

The second movie is titled, Shit Japanese Girls Say.

 

Surprisingly, Dezaki appears in the video in female dress and a wig, without shaving off his mustache and beard. Posing with lewd undulations and uttering silly phrases, he pretends to imitate cute young Japanese girls:

 

"She said she lost 5 kg on the banana diet."

"Hey. Who are you emailing?"

"I got this on sale."

"Eew. He's blood type B."

"Have you met any good guys lately?"

"Stop it! You're embarrassing me."

"I heard if you massage like this your boobs will grow."

"Uza! (annoying)."

"Let's go to Korea. I've been learning Korean lately. Kamsahamnida (Thank you very much)."

 

He goes on and on, seemingly endlessly.

 

Suddenly, the words, "The End" appeared. A moment later, a man in a woman's dress entered again, this time with braids and blond hair. He looked out toward the sea and shouted the vulgarity, "I want a penis!"

 

What in the world did he want to say in the movie? The title included the word "shit." The content ridicules Japanese women and Japanese culture. It seems to have been made for non-Japanese and has already been watched by as many as 680,000 people

 

■What of the Movie, The Main Battleground of The Comfort Women Issue?

 

"Hello, folks!" The film began with a scene, in which three men, Tony Malano (Texas Daddy), Shun'ichi Fujiki (Texas Daddy Japan Secretariat) and Mitsuhiko Fujii (head of the Rompa Project), visited the statue of a seated comfort woman in a park in Glendale California. A video by "Texas Daddy" duplicating the scene played in the background, with narration added by Dezaki. The scene seemed to have been selected because Malano introduced Dezaki in his video.Then speakers appeared one after another, making their various claims.

 

But was it "surprisingly thrilling" as Dezaki's flyer had promised? No, and the reason is clear. This film was far from fair.

 

Dezaki promised the film would explore the issue from a neutral position. However, he immediately expressed disdain for those whose perspective was that the comfort women were not sex slaves, calling them "revisionists" and "denialists." Instead, from the beginning it was clear that the film was made from the perspective of proponents of the sex-slave argument.

 

His tone was very rude to those who cooperated with him on the film, raising questions about his motives, among other things. I could not help but suspect that his email promises to those whose views he disdained were simply a trap to induce them into appearing in the film.  

 

■Missing Experts like Tsutomu Nishioka

 

A point that caught my attention was that Dezaki avoided interviewing the most prominent scholars on the comfort women issue when their views did not fit with his conclusion. Instead, the film proceeded in a manner that propelled the "sex slave" view.

 

He featured interviews with prominent Yoshiaki Yoshimi and Hirofumi Hayashi who have long advocated the sex slave story. He should have interviewed scholars with comparable qualifications on the other side

 

Instead, two very important scholars, Ikuhiko Hata and Tsutomu Nishioka, were left out of the film. Hata's name was mentioned (though he was not interviewed), but Nishioka was completely ignored. This failure alone demonstrated the lack of balance in Dezaki's work.

 

I was able to ask Dezaki in person about this point on April 4 when the film was previewed at The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan. Dezaki answered: "I had wanted to have interviews with Hata and telephoned him. He was absent then and his wife told me to telephone again that night. But as an American I thought it rude to telephone someone at night. I telephoned him next morning. Then he scolded me and refused to be interviewed. As for Nishioka, I saw his views on the Internet. He was just like other antis. I thought he was not important and did not contact him."

 

I thought he must have been joking - how could he call himself a fair filmmaker? Presenting an argument with the experts all on one side would be like watching a baseball game missing alternating offense and defense. Nishioka has researched the issue for 25 years and he is the most knowledgeable scholar and persuasive expert critical of the sex slave theory. Most of those opposing the theory have read his books, so it is quite natural that his views overlap with others who learned from his work.

 

■Film's Poor Organization

 

Speakers in the film were organized in a peculiar fashion. Among those critical of the sex slave perspective, the interview with Kent Gilbert went on at great length – as if he was the most important speaker from that perspective. On the other hand, Yoshiko Sakurai, who is more prominent and influential, was featured for a very short time. Nobukatsu Fujioka, the only scholar opposing the sex slave theory in this film, spoke a little longer, but little of it was about the comfort women issue.

 

On the other side, many scholars who are advocates of the sex slave viewpoint spoke in the film. They included Yoshiaki Yoshimi (historian, Chuo University), Hirofumi Hayashi (historian, Kanto Gakuin), Koichi Nakano (political scientist, Sofia University), Kohki Abe (faculty of international studies, Meiji University) and Setsu Kobayashi, (constitution scholar and professor emeritus, Keo University).

 

Korean scholars Lee Nayoung (sociologist), Kim Changnok (jurist) and many others also appeared in the film as advocates of the sex slave position. South Korean scholar

 

Lee Yonghun of Seoul University, who holds the view comfort women were not sex slaves, was ignored. It was a very unbalanced choice.

 

■How Many Comfort Women?

 

Gilbert and Fujiki asked Dezaki about the allegations bandied about by proponents of the sex slave viewpoint. Based on the sheer number of soldiers, "If there had been 200,000 comfort women [as sex slave proponents allege] and they had been forced to have sex ten times a day, then Japanese soldiers would have had to have sex six times a day,"

 

Dezaki answered, "OK. Let's discuss your calculation later." He then he moved on to Yoshimi, asking "How did you calculate the number, 200,000?"

 

Yoshimi explained,"The number of Japanese soldiers was 3.5 million at most. It should be assumed that there were no brothels on the front line and that there were 3 million soldiers. At the time, one comfort woman to every 100 soldiers was needed. So the number of comfort women would have been 30,000. Then if you suppose half of them worked in shifts, the number would have been 45, 000. If instead you assume all of them worked in shifts, then there would have been 60,000 comfort women. On this basis, I think the number was at least 50,000."

 

Mihyang Yun of The Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan didn't bother to explain how she calculated the number. Instead, she defended the number 200,000 by saying: "We are only using the number which was calculated by scholars."

 

In other words, there was no evidence to support Dezaki's allegation that there were 200,000 comfort women.

 

Mina Watanabe, executive director of the Women's Active Museum on War and Peace said: "When human rights organizations reporting on the comfort women ask us how many there were, we always suggest being careful about using specific numbers and avoiding use of the number 200,000 in particular. To be honest, if those organizations hear a number such as 400,000, then they claim there were 400,000 victims without considering accuracy. While we don't know the actual number, there are still people who think, "the more, the better".

 

   One thing is clear: the number 200,000 comfort women is groundless. Speakers such as Yoshimi use too many assumptions in their calculation. At the same time, the number, "at least 50,000" used by some others reflects only the assumed demand, not the supply of comfort women. Even if there was a demand for 50,000 comfort women, there is no guarantee a sufficient number could be supplied in the middle of the war.  

 

■Dezaki Doesn't Listen

 

Instead of considering the testimony of those he interviewed, Dezaki instead proceeded to reach a peculiar conclusion.

 

Based on the interviews, his conclusion should have been that one must be careful because there is no basis for the 200,000 comfort women number. Rather than doing so, however, Dezaki gave credence to the sex slave advocates' position.

 

First, he said the number of comfort women was increased or decreased for political reasons by the two sides. Second, he concluded those he called revisionists did not know how to calculate the number (suggesting the other side did). Finally, he said objective data on the actual number of the comfort women did not exist.

 

He ignored the patient explanation of those who disagreed with him in the movie and their criticism of Yoshimi's calculation. His argument doesn't make sense, but Dezaki has no intention of listening to what they have to say.

 

■Origins of Alleged 200,000 Comfort Women

 

The number 200,000 began to appear everywhere on the day after January 11, 1992. On that day, the Asahi Shimbun morning edition published an article saying:

 

"Military comfort woman: In the 1930's, there were frequent rape cases by Japanese soldiers in China. So, in order to soothe the anti-Japanese sentiment and prevent sexually transmitted diseases, brothels were provided. According to the testimony of former soldiers and former military doctors, at the beginning, about eighty percent of the women in the brothels seemed to be Koreans. After the Pacific War broke out, in the name of women's volunteer corps, many Korean women were gathered and forced to provide sex. Some say the number was 80,000. Others say it was 200,000."

 

The article confused two very different things – comfort women and the Women's Volunteer Corps which had nothing to do with comfort women – in calculating the number, 80,000 or 200,000.

 

One very important point is that the term "military comfort woman" was coined by Kako Senda, a writer, in the 1970's. Actually, "comfort women" did exist. But there was no such occupation as "military comfort women." In his book, Senda wrote that he had read an article of the Seoul Shinmun which said, "From 1943 to 1945, about 200,000 young Korean women were gathered in the name of the Women's Volunteer Corps and between 50,000 and 70,000 of them were forced to become comfort women."

 

A researcher doubted Senda's work and sought out the article he referenced. He found it had nothing to do with comfort women. Instead, it said:

 

"About 200,000 women from Japan and Korea were gathered for the Women's Volunteer Corps. Between 50,000 and 70,000 of them were Koreans."

 

In August 2014 the Asahi Shimbun admitted it had confused comfort women with the women's volunteer corps and withdrew the relevant articles.

 

It is a fact that advocates of the "sex slave" theory used these unfounded large numbers in order to make the comfort women issue look very big so they could use it politically and diplomatically. Had Dezaki interviewed a scholar such as Tsutomu Nishioka, author of the book, Asahi Shimbun: Great Crimes Against the Japanese (Goku Publishing, 2014, in Japanese), this would have been readily pointed out.

 

■Coercive Recruitment

 

At one point the film shows a circa 2007 clip of Prime Minister Abe answering questions in the Diet. He said, "There were no such cases as government authorities intruding into private houses and forcibly taking women away. There was no coercion."

 

The film then produced a clip of Etsuro Totsuka for the purpose of criticizing Abe. Totsuka was the lawyer who coined the word "sex-slave" and spread it throughout the United Nations. In the film, he said: "Abe claims that the women were not coerced because they were not forcibly taken away against their will and tied with ropes. But, legally speaking, 'coercive' means 'against their will.' Then, 'being deceived' is categorized as 'coercive' because it is 'against their will.' Most Korean women at that time were deceived."

 

In other words, since there was no coercion and there were no reported cases of forcible removal of women on the Korean Peninsula under Japanese governance, Totsuka expanded the definition of coerced to include the sense of "being deceived."

 

Gilbert and Fujiki were brought in and said: "The [comfort] women were recruited mainly by Korean dealers. There would have been cases in which women were deceived by the private dealers."

 

Mio Sugita added, "Newspapers at that time reported on many cases in which malicious dealers were arrested by the Japanese military, governor-general of Korea or the police."

 

The film then brought in Hirofumi Hayashi to refute. He argued, "Reports in newspapers at that time had nothing to do with the coercive recruitment of the comfort women. Certainly the police arrested malicious dealers who deceived women and prostituted them. But the police overlooked dealers who were requested to do so by the military."

 

All the same, I wish Hayashi had provided evidence for his statement. How could the police tell so-called malicious dealers from dealers who had allegedly been requested by the military?

 

Similar claims I was aware of had all been found to be groundless. If the police had been so discriminatory, it would have been very difficult to maintain security at the time.

 

■The Semarang Incident

 

Suddenly, the film brings in the Semarang Comfort Station incident in which 35 women including some Dutch women were forced to be comfort women. Japanese military officials in charge of the region at the time immediately investigated after learning of the incident, freed the women and ordered the comfort station closed.

 

Gilbert claimed the case was evidence that coercive recruitment was illegal at that time. But Yoshimi refuted, saying: "In that incident, victims were white women and Japanese military feared being blamed by the allied forces. I have heard no story about freed Asian women. White women and Asian women must have been treated differently."

 

Yoshimi's claim was merely an assumption. Dezaki, however, engaged in further conjecture and concluded, "The case in Indonesia is very strong evidence. There might be no evidence that Korean women were coercively recruited, but the Japanese military was reckless enough to force white women to be comfort women at the risk of being blamed internationally, so they must have done the same things to Korean women."

 

Throughout the film, advocates of the sex-slave theory speak in hypotheticals and reach conclusions by inference. They don't have facts.

 

It is a fact that the Semarang Comfort Station incident was a criminal case brought by Japanese authorities at that time, just as it would be had it occurred today. One might theorize that there were incidents like this on the Korean Peninsula or other places. But this incident provided no evidence that any Korean women were coercively recruited by the military as a matter of official practice.

 

Totsuka clearly knew this but engaged in the circular argument anyway that "coercive" and the sense of "being deceived" are the same. However, the bottom line is that advocates of the sex-slave theory in the film fail to prove that coercive recruitment by the military ever existed.

 

■Sex Slaves

 

Those who believe the comfort women were not sex slaves appeared next in the movie. They offered evidence that the "comfort women were well paid and able to save and send money to their families. When their contract came to an end, they were free to go home. They enjoyed shopping. They went to sports events and parties with Japanese soldiers. They were far from sex slaves."

 

But advocates of the sex-slave theory countered the argument by claiming that, "According to international law today, they were slaves."

 

Sex-slave advocate Yoshiaki Yoshimi's claim was particularly interesting. He refuted the evidence that the comfort women had time for recreation by using a convoluted reference to American Negro slaves, saying: "I think their daily lives were so hopeless that they couldn't live without such recreation. For example, American Negro slaves gathered and had concerts or dance parties on Saturdays and Sundays. They also went hunting. They were so hopeless that slave owners had to allow them to do so to survive."

 

He and other sex-slave advocates failed to mention, however, that some Japanese soldiers fell in love with comfort women and married them, and that there were former comfort women who cherished the memory of Japanese soldiers who were their former lovers. The sex-slave advocates in the film instead appear simply to want to disgrace Japanese by all means possible.

 

Kohki Abe, a member of the faculty of international studies at Meiji Gakuin, then appeared in the film. He claimed that based on international law the comfort women are defined as "sex slaves".

 

Kohki Abe said, "Slavery is a situation in which someone is utterly under the control of another. Even if the comfort women were able to earn lots of money and go out for pleasure, they were under another's control and had to get permission to do so. Therefore, they were slaves."

 

If that was true, then today's ordinary salaried workers are all slaves!

 

If he wanted to make a claim based on international law, the claim should have been either "it is technically possible to define them as slaves according to today's international law," or "all prostitutes throughout history, not only the wartime comfort women serving the Japanese military, would be defined as sex slaves according to international law."

 

   In the end, The Main Battleground of The Comfort Women Issue failed to deepen the argument on the comfort women because Dezaki did not bring together experts from both sides to discuss the issue and he approached the issue with bias and very shallow knowledge in the first place,

 

■Off the Rails in the Second Half

 

In the film, the most unexpected voice among the sex-slave advocates was Hisae Kennedy, whom I have never met. She was once a popular advocate against the sex-slave theory, but as narrated in the film she suddenly disappeared from public view. Surprisingly, in the film she began by criticizing her former friends and supporters, explaining that her views were changed by scholar Ikuhiko Hata's argument that the Nanjing Massacre actually happened, though on a small scale.

 

She then brought up a report addressing the comfort women issue by the U.S. government's IWG (Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group). The IWG was established by the Clinton administration and took eight years to scrutinize classified documents at a cost of $30 million USD. In the end, it found no new or incriminating information on Japan's wartime comfort women system.

 

Kennedy herself had introduced the IWG report to Japan, as had some American journalists. However, in the film she dismissed the conclusions of the report, saying: "The purpose of the IWG was to investigate Nazi war crimes. They didn't find anything new about the Japanese comfort woman system because it was like looking for socks in the kitchen cabinet."

 

An individual is free to change their opinion, but not to bend the facts. The original purpose of the IWG was to investigate Nazi war crimes, as she says. But in response to strong protests by an anti-Japanese federation of Chinese American groups calling itself the "Global Alliance for Preserving the History of WW II in Asia," the official purpose was expanded to include the investigation of alleged war crimes by the Japanese military.

 

The conclusion of the investigation was that the U.S. military at the time found the comfort women to be ordinary prostitutes. Hence the Americans did not pursue the matter.

 

■Bullying with Comfort Women Statues

 

Scatted throughout the film, Dezaki shows several videos of public hearings held by local governments in Glendale and San Francisco California, where anti-Japanese comfort women statues were erected. He uses these to emphasize local acceptance of the claims of the sex-slave advocates.

 

There were efforts of Japanese American parents to stop the statues, which had led to the increased bullying of Japanese American children. Their efforts were all unsuccessful, but Dezaki disputed the bullying itself and argued the claims were made up by a member of the Japanese Diet, Mio Sugita, who he said had never met such parents.

 

In that, Dezaki was very much like many anti-Japanese activists organizations, which have often regarded Japanese claims as groundless and ignored them.

 

I myself met several Japanese American mothers whose children were actually bullied or harassed and had long interviews with them. But they were not fighters and they didn't file complaints with the police or ask hospitals to provide medical certificates on the effects of the bullying. Although they didn't have a leader to help them fight the bullying, they still petitioned Prime Minister Abe on the issue of the statues. This is a big step for ordinary mothers. They would not have done so unless they were deeply concerned.

 

■The Conspiracy Theory

 

This film was two hours and even Dezaki admitted it was too long. If I had been in a position to offer him advice, I would have recommended he cut the latter half of the film, because it was where he lost all logical train of thought.

 

According to the flyer on the film, while he said he was going to make a fair and neutral documentary about the comfort women issue, he intended to reveal "a conspiracy" behind the controversy in the second half. Instead, he failed quite miserably. and ended up introducing a groundless conspiracy theory.

 

The conspiracy theory Dezaki introduced in the film but couldn't prove seemed to be as follows: The aim of the Japan Conference and the Abe administration was to rearm and return to the glory of prewar Japan, based on the Yasukuni view of history in which Japan was infallible. The comfort women issue was a historical stain which they want to erase. So they tried to silence former comfort women and deny the existence of the issue.

 

■Introducing the Japan Conference

 

By the middle of the film I began to feel a little tired. Then unexpectedly, the words "Japan Conference" abruptly appeared on the screen. I was surprised because the Japan Conference had nothing to do with the comfort women.

 

Setsu Kobayashi, professor emeritus at Keio University and a constitutional scholar, began talking He argued the Japan Conference had the power to influence the Abe administration. He said it "intended to revive the constitution of the Empire of Japan" and return the country to an era where basic human rights were denied. And in his view, Yoshiko Sakurai was leading their campaign.

 

He continued speculating: "The Japan Conference is supported by Shinto shrines, including the Yasukuni Shrine. Yoshiko Sakurai probably has a free office within the shrine's grounds."

 

He then came to a very strange conclusion: "The Japan Conference's doctrine of getting back to prewar Japan is terrifying. But I am determined to fight against it, even if I get murdered in the battle.”

 

What a delusion! The Japan Conference and Yoshiko Sakurai have never expressed the slightest intention to revive the constitution of the Empire of Japan.

 

And I have a very good news for Kobayashi. His name has seldom been mentioned among conservatives. There is no one who has a reason to kill him. I can assure him that he is safe.

 

I asked the Japan Conference whether or not Dezaki had asked them for an interview when making the film. The answer was no. The Japan Conference also released a statement denying Dezaki's accusations. Dezaki did not bother to check the facts.

 

Hideaki Kase, a foreign policy critic and chair of the Tokyo headquarters of the Japan Conference appeared next. At one time he wrote and spoke often in political and business circles, and even now his name might be found on the lists of some conservative organizations. He is introduced in the film as a man who orchestrates many conservative organizations from behind the scene.

 

However, the Dezaki account of Kase as the man behind the scene is entirely fictional. Kase has not been actively involved in or spoken on the comfort women issue. Furthermore, he has not been the representative of the Japan Conference itself. So he had little to offer in response to Dezaki's questions.

 

■Bringing Up Constitutional Revision

 

Although the relationship to the comfort women issue was unclear, Dezaki next moved on to warn the Japanese people about revising the constitution. He threatened: "If you Japanese revise the pacifist constitution and rearm Japan, you Japanese will be involved in wars by us Americans!"

 

Dezaki didn't seem to know that Japan has a Self Defense Force and is already armed to defend itself. The Abe administration now wants to revise the constitution in order to improve Japan's security, but at the same time the right to collective defense would remain partly restricted so that Japan would not fight in wars unrelated to its own defense.

 

■Biased Motivation from the Beginning

 

Dezaki said in a press conference that he honestly wanted to know why Japanese revisionists were trying to "cover up" the comfort women issue, revealing that his bias goes back to the beginning of his project.

 

Nevertheless, his work, The Main Battleground of The Comfort Women Issue, should be appreciated for what it accomplished. The film clearly showed that the claims of sex-slave theory advocates are all groundless and that their aim was simply to keep the comfort women issue unsettled forever.

 

■Internationalizing the Comfort Women Issue

 

Why has the comfort women issue aroused such an international interest? It is necessary to examine the original accusation against the Japanese government in order to understand internationalization of the issue.

 

The Asahi Shimbun, together with Yoshida Seiji, a story-teller, spread the story like this:

"On the Korean peninsula, Japanese soldiers forcibly dragged young Korean women out of their homes and made them sex slaves and, in the name of the Women's Volunteer Corps, the Japanese military gathered Korean women and made them comfort women. There were as many as 200,000 victims."

 

For a while, Japanese people (and even the American Kent Gilbert) believed the story because they couldn't imagine at the time that The Asahi Shimbun, one of the biggest newspaper in Japan, would publish a completely fabricated story.

 

Later, the entire story was proven to be an absurd fiction, which angered Japanese people. When The Asahi Shimbun found it impossible to ignore critical public opinion, the newspaper admitted the falsehoods, retracted the story and its president resigned. The paper was not pressured by the government, as Dezaki wrongly claimed in the film.

 

But the fabricated story had already spread to many countries. Comfort woman statues were erected here and there with the fake story carved onto the monuments. When some people pointed out the dearth of witnesses, another falsehood was spread, alleging the witnesses were all killed by the Japanese military in order to destroy evidence. Obviously, some groups wanted to make a political football out of the issue.

 

At first, Japanese people were sympathetic to the former comfort women. But as the truth was revealed, many became fed up with the falsehoods being proliferated.

 

As the movie, The Main Battleground of The Comfort Women Issue showed, advocates of the -sex-slave theory, including Yoshimi, clearly knew such exaggerated stories and accusations by anti-Japan activists were untrue. But, in spite of that, they never acknowledged the truth.

 

Instead, they persisted in backing up anti-Japan activists and condemning Japan with arguments such as, "it could be technically interpreted that the women were coercively recruited and technically they were sex slaves". Their aim seemed to be to keep the comfort women issue unsettled forever.

 

■Perpetuating a One-Sided Perspective

 

The comfort women issue will never be settled if the South Korean government, anti-Japanese activists and advocates of the sex-slave argument such as Dezaki persist in the simplistic one-sided view that Japan is the perpetrator and South Korea the victim.

 

Recently, two scholars, Thomas J. Ward and William D. Lay from the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA, published a thesis exploring the issue titled Park Statue Politics: World War II Comfort Women Memorials in the United States. The following is an excerpt from the abstract of the book:

 

"They recount only the Korean version of this history, which this text finds incomplete. They do not mention that, immediately following World War II, American soldiers also frequented Japan’s comfort women stations. They say nothing of how, to the present day, GIs continue to patronize Asian women and girls organized in brothels near their barracks. The Korean narrative also ignores the significant role that Koreans played in recruiting women and girls into the system. Intentionally or not, comfort women memorials in the United States promote a political agenda rather than transparency, accountability and reconciliation."

 

Dezaki's movie, The Main Battleground of The Comfort Women Issue, do no more than play the same role as the comfort woman statues. It is simply another example of malicious propaganda and biased journalism that is useless as a tool to resolve the issue.

 

In conclusion, should I have an opportunity to address conservative opinion leaders, I would like to offer the following advice. In the future when someone asks for an interview, please check their identity before you agree – even if they have introduced themselves as a graduate student. If that someone is a YouTuber who appears in his own video as a man in female dress shouting sexually tinged vulgarities, then you should probably decline the request.

 

Special thank you to Masaaki Shimizu for preliminary translation. 

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