Japanese Nationalists Call South Korean State Dinner an Anti-Japanese Banquet

It figures that the Moon Jae-in administration would find a way to stick to the Japanese during President Trump’s visit:

U.S. President Donald Trump hugs sex slavery victim Lee Yong-soo at a state dinner at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Tuesday. /Yonhap

The rightwing government in Tokyo was duly incensed when Korea served U.S. President Donald Trump shrimp caught near Korea’s easternmost islets of Dokdo, to which Japan maintains a flimsy colonial claim.

Worse in the eyes of the nationalists in Japan was the invitation to a state dinner for Trump on Tuesday of a victim of imperial Japan’s sexual enslavement of women during World War II.

Tokyo protested through diplomatic channels that Cheong Wa Dae’s invitation of sex slavery victim Lee Yong-soo to the state dinner is “against the purport” of a 2015 agreement to compensate the women, which was once described as “a final and irreversible resolution,” according to the Yomiuri Shimbun on Wednesday.

The controversial deal, which trades indirect compensation for a promise to remove memorials for the victims from the vicinity of Japanese diplomatic missions, makes no mention of what events the victims of the atrocity can or cannot be invited to.

The new government of President Moon Jae-in wants to reverse it.   [Chosun Ilbo]

You can read more at the link, but why were the victims of Chinese and North Korean atrocities not invited to the state dinner?

Korean Appeals Court Overturns Acquittal of Academic Who Wrote Balanced History of the Comfort Women

Just another example that South Korea is a “rule by law” not a “rule of law” country:

Professor Park Yu-ha (C) at Seoul-based Sejong University leaves the Seoul Eastern District Court on Jan. 25, 2017, after the court acquitted her of defaming women who were sexually enslaved by Tokyo during World War II. (Yonhap)

An appeals court in Seoul overturned a lower-court acquittal of a professor and fined her on Friday, finding her guilty of charges that she defamed victims of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery with her book.

The Seoul High Court handed down a fine of 10 million won ($8,846) to Park Yu-ha, a Sejong University professor, who was charged with defaming sexual slavery victims, known as “comfort women,” with her controversial book “Comfort Women of the Empire.”

Victims and other critics claimed the book disputes the coerciveness of the “comfort women” system.

Friday’s verdict overturned the lower court’s decision in January that she is not guilty because academic freedom is a basic right guaranteed by the Constitution.  [Korea Times]

This whole controversy shows that in South Korea if you say or write something unpopular the government can use the defamation law to prosecute you to shut you up even if what you right is true.

In regards to the comfort women issue I recommend reading my prior post on this subject.

University Professor Fired for Making Comments Critical of the Comfort Women Narrative

This guy should have known better than to make these type of comments in South Korea:

Sunchon National University

Sunchon National University has dismissed one of its professors for making derogatory comments about Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese military during World War II.

Six out of seven members of the university’s disciplinary committee in the city of Sunchon, South Jeolla Province, chose the severest level of punishment for the professor, whose name is withheld, on Wednesday. He was charged with failing to fulfill his duty faithfully and failing to preserve his vocational dignity.

University President Park Jin-sung apologized for “those hurt by the blasphemous comments made by our school professor, especially the women who had gone through the ordeal in Japan.”

He said the school suspended the professor after the incident was reported in April and formed a task force to investigate the matter.

The professor, 56, from the university’s teachers’ college, made the comments during a lecture. He said many of the women, also known as “comfort women,” “probably knew that they were going to sexually serve the Japanese soldiers and thus voluntarily left for Japan. He also said all the women were “crazy about Japan and would not have gone there if it weren’t for their (sexual) passion.”   [Korea Times]

You can read the rest at the link, but he is not the first academic fired for making comments against the comfort women dogma. Professor Park Yu-ha at Sejong University was arrested for defamation for writing a book that takes a balanced look at the comfort women issue.  She was fortunately found innocent.

The Korean public likes to think that all the comfort women were girls sleeping in bed and kidnapped by evil Japanese soldiers while the Japanese rightists like to think they were all willing prostitutes.  Both historical narratives are untrue if one really looks at the history.

What Professor Park wrote about is the same historical narrative that American Sarah Soh wrote about in her book “The Comfort Women: Sexual Violence and Postcolonial Memory in Korea and Japan“.  In the book Soh provides documented evidence that most of the Korean women put into the comfort women system were sold by Korean brokers.  The actual kidnapping of Korean women by Japanese soldiers would be a very rare occurrence when the broker system made so many of these women readily available.  This does not absolve the Imperial Japanese from responsibility since they ran the comfort woman system that provided the demand for the Korean brokers to meet.  To make even worse is that many of these girls were teenagers when sold into prostitution.  I see no way that a young teenager should be considered a willing prostitute.  Especially when many girls were sold by their families into prostitution for money due to the extreme poverty.  This was actually a practice that was going on well into the US military era in South Korea.

It is pretty clear that the comfort women issue is not black and white, but has more nuance to it then each side is willing to admit.  Ultimately the Imperial Japanese government was responsible for the actions of the Korean brokers that supplied the majority of the Korean girls.  The Imperial Japanese had to have known how young the girls were and the unethical and deceptive actions the Korean brokers were taking to make them available to the Japanese military.  There is no need to rewrite the history of what happened to the comfort women when the truth is bad enough.

Picture of the Day: The Comfort Women Bus

Comfort women statues in front of Japanese Embassy

Statues symbolizing comfort women are being moved from a bus to their temporary location in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul on Oct. 2, 2017, prior to their transportation to regional towns to signify their homecoming for the Chuseok holiday. Donga, a bus company, has been operating five buses since mid-August that carry the statues symbolizing Korean women who were sexually enslaved by Japanese soldiers during World War II. The statues will be taken to different towns, including Suwon, Daejeon and Jeonju, on the occasion of World Comfort Women’s Day. (Yonhap)

Picture of the Day: South Korea’s World Comfort Women Day

Comfort women statues in front of Japanese Embassy

Statues symbolizing comfort women are temporarily set up in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul on Oct. 2, 2017, prior to their transportation to regional towns to signify their homecoming for the Chuseok holiday. Donga, a bus company, has been operating five buses since mid-August that carry the statues symbolizing Korean women who were sexually enslaved by Japanese soldiers during World War II. The statues will be taken to different towns, including Suwon, Daejeon and Jeonju, on the occasion of World Comfort Women’s Day. (Yonhap)

South Korea Has Its Own Comfort Women Problem with Vietnam

Maybe Mike Honda can put a Vietnamese comfort women statue next to the Korean one that was put up in San Francisco:

But for a significant number of children fathered as a result of rape by South Korean soldiers, it was the start of a living hell.

Mr Nhat recalled: “Before April 1975, I had been treated well by the South Korean troops who lived on the base near my home in Phu Yen Province, central Vietnam. I was still too young to have any real sense of my identity and hadn’t yet questioned my mother about why I looked different to other Vietnamese children.

“But when the Communists declared victory, everything changed for me. Suddenly, I knew I was dangerously different.”

A period of painful bullying ensued in school. Mr Nhat said: “I was bullied repeatedly. The other children kept asking who my father was and called him a ‘dog’. I just kept suffering in silence.

“I was 18 when my mother finally sat me down and told me she had been raped by Korean soldiers – not once but three times. My two sisters are also mixed blood or Lai Dai Han as we are known in Vietnam.”  (…..)

South Korean troops were not alone in their exploitation of civilian women but their country has never acknowledged the allegations or taken steps to investigate.  (…..)

Mrs Ngai felt confused in the fog of war but now she is very clear about what she wants now. “I think the South Korean government should apologise for everything they did to women in Vietnam. [The Independent]

You can read more at the link.

San Francisco Dedicates Comfort Women Statue in St. Mary’s Square

Here is the latest comfort woman statue to be erected:

A statue for victims of Japan’s wartime sexual enslavement will be dedicated in San Francisco this week, South Korean officials here said Sunday.

The House of Sharing, a shelter for the former sex slaves, in Gwangju, east of Seoul, said that a monument will be unveiled at St. Mary’s Square in San Francisco on Thursday.

The ceremony will be attended by former comfort woman Lee Yong-soo, and former Congressman Mike Honda, who led the U.S. House of Representatives to pass House Resolution 121 that urges the Japanese government to apologize and compensate victims, it added.

The statue was established with funds raised by the nonprofit Comfort Women Justice Coalition led by Chinese-Americans and ethnic Korean civic groups in northern California, it said.

The sculpture depicts three girls holding hands on top of a cylindrical pedestal with a grandmother figure watching them from the ground.

A plaque is placed in front of it explaining that thousands of women from 13 Asian Pacific nations, including Korea and China, were forced into sexual slavery for Japanese troops between 1931 and 1945.

The monument also includes a message that urges the Japanese government to “acknowledge its responsibility and formally apologize.” It also shows testimony from a former comfort woman who expressed her fear that a painful history might be forgotten in the future.  [Yonhap]

My only problem with these statues being put up in the US is why should a public park be used to push a political agenda?  Especially a political agenda that is not true when its say the Japanese government has not apologized when the Prime Minister himself has apologized multiple times.

In Seoul on Monday, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Abe “expresses anew sincere apologies and remorse from the bottom of his heart to all those who suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds as ‘comfort women.’” Abe later called Park to apologize, and she called for a new era of trust between the countries. [Seattle Times]

Just because some people in Korea don’t accept the apology doesn’t mean it did not happen.

Picture of the Day: Comfort Women Monument in New Jersey

Monument for victims of Japan's sexual slavery

This photo, taken on July 19, 2017, shows a monument dedicated to victims of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery erected in front of Trinity Episcopal Church in Bergen County in the U.S. state of New Jersey. A group of South Korean residents in Bergen installed the monument the same day in remembrance of “comfort women,” referring to those who were forced into sexual slavery by Japan’s military during World War II. (Yonhap)

Will President Moon Cancel Comfort Women Agreement with Japan?

If President Moon scraps the comfort women agreement with Japan it will be very interesting to see what the Japanese reaction will be.  It seems to me the Japanese government would be furious if it was to happen considering the political capital Shinzo Abe used to get the deal completed:

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday hinted at possibly scrapping an agreement with Tokyo over Japan’s sexual enslavement of Korean women during World War II, insisting that most South Koreans could not accept the deal reached by the former Seoul government.

“President Moon noted the reality was that most of his people could not accept the agreement over the sexual slavery issue,” Moon’s chief press secretary Yoon Young-chan said of the president’s telephone conversation with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The conversation came as Abe sought to congratulate the new South Korean leader on his election this week. Moon came into office Wednesday, only one day after winning the presidential by-election caused by the March 10 ouster of his predecessor Park Geun-hye over a massive corruption scandal.

The thorny issue of sexual slavery apparently took center stage of the conversation after the Japanese premier urged the new liberal Seoul government to honor the agreement signed by its conservative predecessor.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.