From Truth about Japan
Dear Mr. Fackler,
I met you twice when you asked me about Japanese economy. Our opinion largely coincided. But this time you are not frank as you were. Your NYT article pretends to be neutral, but you try to defend your coleague’s erroneous articles. As I wrote, Mr. Onishi’s articles are full of historical errors. You would hurt yourself by protecting such errors.
But you are cautious than Onishi when you attack Japanese government by quoting a Korean official saying “However hard the Japanese government tries to distort the true nature of the comfort women issue and play down or hide the past wrongdoings, it will never be able to whitewash history.”
What’s the “true nature”? The Army kidnapped women from Korea?
To be sorry, the Asahi confessed it was their mistake. Not only Yoshida but “No official documents were found that directly showed forcible taking away by the military on the Korean Peninsula and Taiwan, where the people living there were made “subjects” of the Japanese Empire under Japanese colonial rule.”
They claim there were official documents in Indonesia, but they were the evidences that the Army had forbidden the coercion of women. There were human trafficking by private agents as Ms. Tabuchi said, but it was illegal. The Army was not resposible for illegal conducts of private parties. You write,
Calls by right-wing politicians and activists to challenge the women’s stories have increased sharply since August, when a major liberal newspaper, the Asahi Shimbun, printed a front-page retraction of several articles it published on the issue in the 1980s and 1990s.
It’s not unusual for you to label your critics as “right wing”, but this time it includes overwhelming majority of Japanese journalists, politicians, and academics including me. Very few people defend the Asahi. Even ex-Asahi journalists such as Ms. Shimomura criticized the incorrect articles and editors who covered up the errors. If all of us were “right wing”, the NYT would be the far left. You write,
Many mainstream Japanese scholars and most non-Japanese researchers reject those claims, saying Mr. Yoshida’s testimony was never a major piece of historical evidence that women were coerced. They cite other evidence, mainly the testimonies of many of the women, who in the 1990s broke decades of silence.
If you mean Mr. Yoshimi as “mainstream Japanese scholar”, he is not a supporter of the NYT’s claim of military coercion any more. He only insist that there were “coersion in the broad sense” i.e. everything in colonies – even if it was done by private agents – is coercion. He can say nothing by such tautology.
It’s ridiculous to believe “the women who in the 1990s broke decades of silence” with no evidence. When I met them in 1991, none of them talked about military coercion. They simply claimed that they were sold by their parents. It’s lawyers such as Ms. Fukushima that distorted their testimony.
Since there were military brothels maintained by the Army, Japanese government apologized for moral responsibility in 1993 and compensated it unofficially by the Asian Women Fund. They are no longer responsible for “comfort women issue” after 70 years.
I suppose you have hesitated to write about the Asahi’s scandal for more than two months because you noticed your colleague’s mistakes. But NYT editorials have accused “sex slaves” repeatedly. If you apologized the errors, the managers of the NYT should take responsibility as the Asahi.
So you wrote this vague article to deceive yourself. But the Asahi was forced to apologize in the end after such trials of escape. Their error is not limited to Yoshida’s lie but their all reporting as a whole. An independent committee is investigating the issue in the Asahi. I recommend the NYT to inspect this issue by the inside committee.