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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

February 27, 2007

Written by C.N.

Japan Still in Denial About Comfort Women

Most Asians and Asian Americans know by now (or at least should) that during World War II, the Japanese military forced an estimated 200,000 women from lands that it invaded and occupied to serve as sex slaves, or what the Japanese euphemistically call “comfort women.” More than 60 years after the fact, Japan’s government is still in denial about their actions, most recently illustrated by their opposition to a resolution recently passed in Congress:

Japan has expressed its displeasure at a resolution before the US Congress calling on Tokyo to apologise for the country’s use of sex slaves in wartime. Foreign Minister Taro Aso said the resolution was not based on facts. Sponsored by several members of the US House of Representatives, the proposed text urges Tokyo to formally resolve the issue of so-called “comfort women”. Japan admits its army forced women to be sex slaves during World War II but has rejected compensation claims. . . .

Mr Aso described the non-binding resolution, which was introduced in Congress earlier this month, as “extremely regrettable”. “It was not based on objective facts,” he told a parliamentary committee meeting. The resolution calls on Japan’s prime minister to “formally acknowledge, apologise and accept historical responsibility” for the comfort women. The House of Representatives heard last week from three former comfort women who described the rape and torture they endured at the hands of the Japanese soldiers.

Japan acknowledged in 1993 that the imperial army set up and ran brothels for its troops during the war. The government set up a special fund in 1995, which relies on private donations to provide compensation. But many former comfort women reject the fund and want formal compensation from the government.

This is getting ridiculous — despite Japan officially acknowledging that their military did in fact set up and run brothels for its troops during the war, their Foreign Minister still says that the basis for this current resolution is “not based on objective facts?” What the hell is this guy smoking? For that matter, what has Japan’s government been smoking all these years to allow them to be in such complete denial about their actions?

If there were any instance in which a country needed a collective slap across the face to help them wake up and join the rest of us in the 21st century, this would be it.


Update: As further evidence that Japan’s government not only still has its head up its ass, but is actually jamming it in even further, recently, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denied that Japan ever coerced women into serving as sex slaves during World War II. Wow . . . absolutely amazing.

Another Update: Predictably, Abe’s denial that Japan ever coerced an estimated 200,000 women into sexual slavery provoked outrage around the world, particularly among many of its Asian neighbors. Now, Abe says that he “basically stands by the 1993 apology” in which a high ranking Japanese official acknowledged such allegations were valid. Abe is now calling for a new investigation into the atrocities.

I suppose this is a sign of progress and encouragement. However, until Japan officially acknowledges and apologizes for what it did, nothing will change nor will my opinion of Japan’s position on this issue.


Another Update: On March 16, 2007, Japan has once again and not surprisingly concluded that there is no evidence that the Japanese military forced women to serve as sex slaves during World War II. What’s the name of that river in Egypt again? Oh yeah, “Denial.”

Author Citation

Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Japan Still in Denial About Comfort Women" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <> ().

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