Tuesday, July 17, 2012

UPI Reoorts - "Seoul ponders 'comfort women' name change"

United Press International (UPI) reports "Seoul ponders 'comfort women' name change." The name "comfort woman" was both a Korean and Japanese euphemism for "military prostitute."

Considering all the anti-Japanese feelings in South Korea, why would the Korean Government be "pondering" an opportunity to really stick it to the Japanese?

Because the Korean government set up its own "comfort woman" system after the Japanese left Korea and provided "comfort women" for Korean and UN servicemen from the time of the Korean War until sometime in the 1980s, so they probably fear that their government's "comfort women" will also be labeled "sex slave" instead of "military prostitute."

An October 19, 1959 article in the South Korea newspaper Donga Ilbo HERE, for example, reported that 261,089 "comfort women" had been tested for venereal disease and that 66.4% of them had tested positive. If the definition for "comfort woman" is changed, then that would mean that the Korean government was providing 261,089 "sex slaves" to service Korean and UN servicemen in 1959.

Aidan Foster-Carter - "Why can't Koreans see Japan straight?

Aidan Foster-Carter has a new article up on the Web site Asia Times entitled "Why can't Koreans see Japan straight?" It talks about how Korea's obssession with the past is clouding its future. He starts out his article by suggesting that Korea might need to see a psychiatrist to help it put its past behide it.
Why might you need it [therapy]? When there is stuff in your life, past or present, that holds you back. So, deal with it, or bury it; that's often the problem. But you want to get over it: put it in a place where it not longer hurts so much, or stops you seeing straight and getting on with your life. You can't change the past - but you can put it behind you and move on.

As with individuals, so with nations. At the risk of losing friends in my favorite country, I shall stick my neck out and bluntly ask: Why can't South Koreans see Japan straight? (The same goes for North Koreans, for that matter.) Shouldn't they, dare I say, get help on this?
Notice how Aidan Foster-Carter seems worried about how Koreans might react to his mentioning the obvious, which suggests to me that Korean watchers and historians are often not free to speak their minds when it comes to Korean history because they know how easily Koreans get their feelings hurt, which may result in their lose of career-enhancing friends and supporters in Korea. That also suggests to me that we are getting a Korea-friendly version of history from our Korean historians.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

"A night out at Yasukuni Shine"

The following photo from REUTERS shows Japanese women looking at paper lanterns hung at the Yasukkuna Shine in Tokyo for the annual Mitama Festival. The caption to the photo says that about 3,000 lanterns were lit to comfort the souls of more than 2.4 million war dead.LINK

Thursday, July 12, 2012

News Report on Comfort Women Memorial in N.J.

New York News | New York Breaking News | NYC Headlines LINK

261,089 Enforced Korean Sex Slaves Serviced US Troops in 1959?

A July 12 article in Stars and Stripes entitled "Ending the 'comfort women' euphemism" reports on a rumor that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has ordered her department to use "enforced sex slave" instead of "comfort woman."

The term "comfort woman" was once used by both Koreans and Japanese as a euphemism for prostitute, especially a military prostitute.

The article says that the term "comfort women" is widely used in Korea, both by the government and the victims themselves, but it quotes "an official in Seoul" as saying the following:

"It is an established term in Korea and is also used in laws. But if victims and their supporters want it to be changed, we will consider it."

If Korea decides to follow US Secretary of State Clinton's lead and use "enforced sex slaves" instead of "comfort women," then that would mean that more than 261,000 "enforced sex slaves" were servicing US and Korean troops in Korea in 1959, according to an October 1959 article in the Korean newspaper Donga Ilbo entitled, "66% of Comfort Women Infected--Results of a Nationwide Check-up of Female Entertainers."

The article says that besides the 261,089 "comfort women" that were checked for veneral disease (VD), 63,635 hostesses, 51,119 unlicensed prostitutes, and 16,864 dancers were also checked for a total of 392,707 women. The comfort women had the largest percentage of VD at 66%, but 16.2% of the hostesses, 13% of unlicensed prostitutes, and 4.4% of the dancers also tested positive for VD.

Koreans Fear Candidate for New KEI Head

A July 11 Hankook Ilbo article entitled "Uproar Over 'Comfort Women' Comments of Candidate for New Head of US Think Tank on Korea" says that Koreans are worried that the Board of Directors for the Korea Economic Institute (KEI) in the United States will select Illinois Representative Donald Manzullo to be the new President of the institute. Former president, Ambassador Jack Pritchard, stepped down on June 29, and Abraham Kim is currently acting as the interim President. (LINK).

The article explains that the uproar is because Representative Manzullo was one of the congressmen who spoke out against the 2007 US House of Representatives Resolution 121, which asked the Japanese government to apologize to former comfort women and to include curriculum about them in Japanese schools. The article quotes Representative Manzullo as having said the following:
Why must the US House of Representatives act as a jury to decide if a Japanese apology is sufficient for Koreans to accept? We are not the United Nations, and we are not a court.
The above quote is simply my translation of the quote in the Korean article. I am not sure of the exact quote, but I did find the following written quote from Mr. Manzullo HERE.
I question whether the United States House of Representatives is the proper forum to address historical grievancess between third parties. While House Resolution 121 is well intentioned, I fail to see how it will do anything to provide closure to the survivors of this situation, and I fear this resolution could pit ally against ally and American citizens against each other.
The Hankook Ilbo article says that someone with the Korean Embassy in the US said he had heard that Representative Manzullo would be the next President of the KEI.

Palisades Park Monument to "Comfort Women"

The New Jersey newspaper, The Record, has posted HERE a July 12 article entitled "Palisades Park monument to 'comfort women' stirs support, anger" that is a generally fair report on the issue, but I do have one or two problems with it.

The article does a good job of describing the current controversy with good background and information, and it also makes a very important point that many other articles on the topic neglect to mention, which is that not all the comfort women were "aducted," as the monument claims.
Inflammatory word
Mindy Kotler, director of the Washington, D.C.-based non-profit Asia Policy Point, said the word “abducted” can inflame the Japanese and that “coerced” is a better word. “Not all the women were abducted,” she said.
However, even the word "coerced" is not true for "all" the comfort women. NO ONE knows how many women were "abducted," "coered," or who simply did it for the money. It cannot be claimed that 200,000 women were this or that. In fact, it cannot even be claimed there were 200,000 comfort women since the number of women is not known.

Another problem I have with the article is the following statement:
Kotler, who has studied the comfort women issue, said the Japanese elite feel the monument is an attack on them. She said it’s “standard thinking” among businessmen, government officials and politicians that Japan was tricked into the war and that the country isn’t culpable of any war crimes.
How does Ms. Kotler know it is "standard thinking" among Japanese businessmen, government officials, and politicians that "Japan was tricked into the war and that the country isn't culpable of any war crimes"? That implies that a majority of Japanese believe such a thing, of which I have not seen any evidence. On the contrary, most Japanese seem to believe that Japan did commit war crimes. Japanese history books, for example, mention the Nanking Massacre, Unit 731, and even the Comfort Women.

One final problem I have with the article is that it does not mention anything about Korea's own "Comfort Woman" program, which provided Korean women to Korean and UN troops after the the Japanese had left Korea. Koreans even referred to the women as "comfort women," which was a Korean and Japanese euphemism for prostitute, especially prostitutes for the military. An October 1959 article HERE in the Korean newspaper Dong-a Ilbo said there were 261,089 "comfort women" working in Korea in 1959 and that 66% of them had a veneral disease.

The 1959 Dong-a Ilbo article also mentions 63,635 hostesses, of which 16.2% had VD; 51,119 unregisted prostitutes, of which 13% had VD, and 16,864 dancers, of which 4.4% had VD.

Why doesn't the monument in Palisades Park, New York mention anything about South Korea's own "comfort women" system and the fact that American and Korean troops were regular customers?

The Web site "Japan Probe" describes HERE the main problems with the monument:
The New Jersey monument does not promote a better understanding of history. The hearts of its creators may have been in the right place, but the wording on the monument conforms with a Korean nationalist narrative of history. In this nationalist narrative, Japan’s military is blamed for “abducting” hundreds of thousands of women. It invokes imagery of Japanese soldiers busting into Korean villages and forcibly kidnapping women at gunpoint. 
While there were definitely women who were abducted by the military in newly-conquered territories, the situation within more integrated parts of the Japanese empire was different. Many of the Korean Comfort Women were recruited, tricked, or sold by fellow Koreans. The same goes for Japanese women, a lot of whom were sold by impoverished or debt-ridden family members. Under a legal system that allowed poor girls to be sold into prostitution, civilians within the Japan/Korea/Taiwan imperial state were the ones who provided Comfort Women to brothels. Military abduction was not the norm. 
By simplifying the issue into one of 200,000 women and girls being abducted by the Japanese military, the New Jersey monument allows visitors to “remember” the Comfort Women without facing uncomfortable historical truths. There is no need to remember Korean collaboration in the system. Nor is there a need to remember that the widespread exploitation of Korean women continued after the war, when the South Korean government provided brothels for the U.S. military. Human rights violations are to be remembered, but only within a context that narrowly focuses on the Japanese.
And below is a photo of the monument to the Comfort Women that Korean-Americans have set up at the Veterans Memorial at Eisenhower Park in Westbury, New York. This monument also makes the unsupported claim that "more than 200,000 women and girls...were abducted for the use of sexual slavery by the armed forces of the government of Imperial Japan." Robert Koehler of the Martmot's Hole has decribed the Japanese who have protested such an unfair description as "wankers."

 Is it the Japanese who are protesting these factually inaccurate monuments who are the "wankers," or is it the Koreans who are setting them up to incite the Japanese who are the "wankers"? Afterall, why haven't these concerned citizens set up monuments for the more than 261,000 Korean "comfort women" mobilized by the South Korean government to service Korean and UN troops in Korea after the Japanese left?

"The Marmot's Hole" Shows Off Its Anti-Japanese Bias

Wikipedia discribes "The Marmot's Hole" HERE as a popular weblog by American Robert J. Koehler that focuses on topics dealing with Korean politics and society. Wikipedia also writes that the blog "can serve as a good introduction to Korea, but the neutrality of the content is debatable."

In a July 12 post entitled, "Wanna buy a 'Takeshima belongs to Japan' stake?," Robert Koehler writes about a Japanese man who is selling on the Internet meter-long, stake-like sticks that read, "Takeshima is Japanese Territory." Takeshima is the Japanese name for Liancourt Rocks, a small grouping of barren rocks in the Sea of Japan that is the object of a territorial dispute between Korea and Japan. Koreans call them "Dokdo."

Robert writes the following:
Nobuyuki Suzuki, everybody’s favorite Japanese right-wing ASSHAT, is apparently selling “Takeshima belongs to Japan” stakes at his blog:
"Asshat" is a pejorative, slang word used to refer to an "obnoxiously ingnorant person." It implies that the person is wearing his ass as a hat.

Robert also writes--
Anyway, the ASSHAT also mentioned the guy who recently attempted a short cut through the Japanese embassy’s security by driving his truck through the front gate:
Notice that Robert refers to the Japanese man who is selling sticks with "Takeshima is Japanese territory" on them as an "asshat," but refers to a Korean man who rams his 1-ton, "Dokdo-is-Korean-Territory" truck into the Japanese Embassy as "the guy."

By the way, Robert did not even mention the incident of the Korean man ramming his truck into the Japanese Embassy until this post of the Japanese man selling his Takeshima sticks.

Anyway, "asshat" seems to be Robert's new favorite word because he also used it in a June 27 post entitled "Well, at least you're being asshats in your own country this time," which reports on Japanese protesting an exhibit of Comfort Women photos in Tokyo.

Before that, on June 22, Robert posted "Japanese Right-wing Asshat Records Himself Messing with Comfort Woman Statue, which reported on the man selling "Takeshima" sticks above showing off his sticks in a video of himself next to the "Comfort Woman" statue in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, which Korean activist erected to taunt Japan.

Here is the video:

However, when a group of twenty Koreans went to the Japanese island of Tsushima and protested in front of Tsuhima City Hall that both Dokdo and Tsushima were Korean territory, Robert reported on that incident with a post simply entitled, "Well, I've Heard Tsushima Is Pretty This Time of Year."

Here is the video of that protest:

Japan Probe reported on the Korean protest in Tsushima HERE.

So, is the neutrality of The Marmot's Hole really debatable, especially when the man behind the blog wanders Korea wearing the traditional Korean clothing hanbok and brags about his eating of dogmeat?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Man Rams Truck into Gate of Japan's Seoul Embassy

At 4:55 a.m. on July 9th, a 62-year-old man from Seongnam City, South Korea drove a 1-ton truck into the front gate of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, South Korea. Attached to the truck was a sign that read, "Dokdo Is Our Land." The man has been arrested.

(Photo from Joong-ang Ilbo Article HERE)

According to Seoul police, there were no injuries, but the front gate of the embassy has been pushed in about one meter.

The man told police that he was protesting a recent incident in which a Japanese man videotaped himself standing next to a "Comfort Women" memorial in front of the embassy with a stick that read, "Takeshima is Japanese Territory." Takeshima is the Japanese name for Dokdo, a small group of rocky islets that is the subject of a territorial dispute between Japan and South Korea. South Korea has illegally occupied the islets since the 1950s.

According to THIS Wall Street Journal blog article, police said the man had a hand-written note in his pocket that read as follows:
“... driving a stake at the comfort woman’s statue is doomed to God’s wrath. If I die please cremate me and scatter my ashes in the waters near Dokdo.”
The name "Comfort Women" was a euphemism that was once used by both Koreans and Japanese to refer to prostitutes, especially prostitutes for the military. Japan provided comfort women for its troops during World War II, and South Korea provided them for Korean and UN troops during the Korean War and beyond. The Korean newspaper Dong-a Ilbo reported in an October 1959 article HERE that there were 261,089 "comfort women" working in Korea in 1959 and that 66% of them were infected with a venereal disease.

UPDATE 1: In its report on the story HERE, United Press International (UPI) reports the Japanese protester videotaped himself with a sign reading "Dokdo is Japanese territory" when, in fact, the sign read, "Takeshima is Japanese territory." UPI also mistakenly reported the disputed islets are in the South China Sea when they are, in fact, in the Sea of Japan. Did UPI simply make a stupid mistake, or did they do it to avoid using the name Sea of Japan?
Nobuyuki later posted a video clip on his blog showing him setting up his protest, which read "Dokdo is Japanese territory," a reference to Japan's claim to the disputed islands in the South China Sea.
UPDATE 2: Korea's Yonhap News Agency reports HERE that the man who rammed his 1-ton truck into the gate of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, South Korea was put under arrest on July 12. That means he is now in jail because the judge fears he would try to repeat the crime since the man, himself said he would do so until his will was fulfilled.

One problem with the Yonhap News article is that it implies that it is only "Japan's extreme rightists" who claim "Dokdo is Japanese territory," when, in fact, the Japanese government makes the same claim and has the historical evidence to back it up, unlike Korea. Also, Yonhap also said the stick read "Dokdo is Japanese territory" when, in fact, it said, "Takeshima is Japanese territory." Takeshima is the Japanese name for Liancourt Rocks, which Koreans call "Dokdo." Here is the problem sentence from the Yonhap article:
The slim white post tied to the statue read "Dokdo is Japanese territory," a claim in line with those by Japan's extreme rightists.
UPDATE 3: THIS LINK has a YTN video of the Korean man ramming his truck into the front gate of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul.