Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Imperial Japan's sex slaves were "necessary"

Behind Mr Hashimoto is Ruff the WWII-era Comfort Station mascot, reminding soldiers that "doggie style" is the most efficient way to keep the line moving because there are others waiting.

Toru Hashimoto, the mayor of Japan's second largest city, has caused quite a stir over remarks that the sex slaves (euphemistically called "Comfort Women") who were kidnapped, coerced or otherwise duped into sex slavery on the front lines of Japan's war of aggression in Asia and the Pacific, were necessary to maintain order and provide comfort to Imperial soldiers at the time.

From the BBC:
A prominent Japanese politician has described as "necessary" the system by which women were forced to become prostitutes for World War II troops.

Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto said on Monday that the "comfort women" gave Japanese soldiers a chance "to rest".

On Tuesday, Japanese ministers tried to distance themselves from his remarks.

Some 200,000 women in territories occupied by Japan during WWII are estimated to have been forced to become sex slaves for troops.

Many of the women came from China and South Korea, but also from the Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan.

Japan's treatment of its wartime role has been a frequent source of tension with its neighbours, and South Korea expressed "deep disappointment" at Mr Hashimoto's words.

"There is a worldwide recognition... that the issue of comfort women amounts to a war-time rape committed by Japan during its past imperial period in a serious breach of human rights," a South Korean foreign ministry spokesman told news agency AFP.
Well, at least he's admitting that the sex slaves exist and were mobilized by Imperial Japan. Some right-wing politicians would simply deny they existed or call them whores who willingly took the work (because it's every fourteen-year-old's dream to leave home, live in squalid conditions near the front lines, and be forced to get fucked by dozens of men a day with a battle raging not far away).

A great many of the women died there on those front-line outposts, from disease, beatings, the strain of repeated rape, war itself, and perhaps even suicide. You say "necessary evil," Mr Hashimoto; I say that if you think that was "necessary," then you are the one who is evil.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why so many people in countries victimized by Imperial Japan prior to 1945 have trouble taking Japan's "apologies" seriously. When politicians on the right visit shrines that are designed to honor the architects of a war that slaughtered some 25 million civilians outside Japan, because they are think those men were unfairly branded war criminals, it's like every expression of "regret" comes with their fingers crossed. The only regret, it seems, is having lost the war.

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2 comments:

  1. "at least he's admitting that the sex slaves exist..."

    I don't recall any Japanese publication which quoted Hashimoto directly using the term "sex slaves", "comfort women", yes, "sex slaves", no. I've seen articles use the term "sex slaves" but never quoting him directly. Rightist, like Hashimoto, believe the term "sex slaves" is a wrong translation of the word, ianfu (comfort women). Please correct me if you have seen him use the phrase "sex slaves" directly.

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous, I can't say I've read deeply enough into this latest rash of rational irrationality to be able to answer your questions.

      I suspect that it is a hair-splitting exercise: the actual word ianfu (wianbu in Korean, I believe) may not carry that meaning, in a strict lexicological sense, so he thinks he's making a valid point, but the women called ianfu, through whatever ruse, violence, coercion, duping, etc., that got them there, were sex slaves once they were there.

      The Japanese right-wing has tried to cleanse Japan of its historic wrongdoings with a dictionary. In the end, though, it shouldn't be allowed to work. It would be wrong for, say, America's "internment camps" to be seen as on par with Nazi Germany's "concentration camps," even though the American term is, in a strict lexicological sense, worse than the German term.

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