Yes! Atrocious crimes often were committed during wars, but justice ultimately should prevail. After a war was ended, the war criminals should have been punished and their government should have apologized and their fellow country men and women should have shown remorse and accepted the guilt. The historical facts should have been passed down to their future generations so everyone would remember the shameful past and would never repeat it again. No! Not the Japanese government, it denies the atrocious war crimes had ever happened during WW II despite of volumes of photographic and video evidence. The Japanese authority denies 'comfort women', 'massacres', 'chemical and bacteria weapons experiments on human', 'live human for surgical experiments', and ruthless 'speed contests in slaughtering of innocent people'. The Japanese government denies them all. The Japanese officials only make veiled and half-hearted apology and they twisted the facts and whitewashed the history in their national textbooks. This is done not just to their war crimes in China, but also to the war crimes in Korea, Philippines, Singapore, and many other Asian nations.
Why?! You may ask. After the ending of WW II, Hitler committed suicide, the Nazi surrendered and the post-war German government accepted the guilty verdict and apologized to the countries the Nazi army invaded. The German authority builds memorial monuments for the victims (including the holocaust) on its homeland and pays tribute to war memorials everywhere showing sincere remorse. The post-war Japanese government, however, behaves entirely differently which angers all of the countries Japan invaded during WW II. The Japanese Prime Ministers, knowing the consequences of their words (lacking sincerity in accepting the war responsibility and making an apology) and deeds (worshipping the Japanese war criminals instead paying tribute to the war victims slaughtered by the Japanese Army), yet repeatedly made inaccurate, inflammatory and insincere remarks concerning the war history and war crimes. This year as the world is commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Ending of WW II, some efforts are also made to raise the public conscience about the ‘Comfort Women’ issue.
For example, a local news in California reports: “Toru Hashimoto, the mayor of Osaka, the sister city of San Francisco, feuds with supervisors of San Francisco, in objecting the establishment of a memorial of comfort women”. Led by supervisors, Jane Kim and Eric Mar, the board passed resolutions to condemn Hashimoto's objection and to build a memorial similar to the one already erected in Glendale and Rohnert Park in California. In March this year, two comfort women statues were being erected in a South Korean city, Pusan. The project was jointly promoted by the South Korean Civic Group and the Association of Chinese Living in the U.S. The purpose of the memorial statues is to elicit genuine remorse from the Japanese authority. Unfortunately, so far only the remarks like Hashimoto's statements: "Comfort Women were necessary to maintain discipline in the Army" and "the Japanese Army was not the only army committed war crimes" were heard, which, of course, infuriate the war victims and the public, even some caring Japanese citizens.
A couple of other events related to the comfort women are also noteworthy. Ms Kazuko Yokoi, a daughter of a WW II Japanese War Criminal, courageously and admirably performed in a one-woman show in New York City, this September (and earlier in Bay Area of San Francisco this year) about the experiences of comfort women. The show, named Hitoma (meaning Seeing Is Believing), sifts through the consequences and legacy of the Japanese sex slave program in WW II. Featuring the stories of Korean women and Chinese women, their children, Japanese men and testimonials of comfort women survivals, the show offers a different perspective, broken away from the consciousness of the Japanese public. Another Art Show, named 'Intimate Transgression' cosponsored by the Asian-Pacific Center in Flushing, NY, curates art pieces to portray and remember Comfort Women. It is so appropriate that these art shows are exhibited in a year that all over the world are commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Victory of WW II in one form or another. We hope these art images and activities can awaken people's conscience to recognize that there was indeed 'Comfort Women', some still alive living in pain and shame. There are some Japanese like Kazuko Yokoi who are not ignorant or insensitive to the atrocious facts in the war history. But sadly, the Japanese authority still refuses to accept the truth and still consciously to fool the Japanese youth.
How can anyone justify Japan's official response to the Comfort Women issue? By reading through some historical reports about the Japanese Imperial Army, I could piece together the following scenario: When the Japanese had a piece of Shanghai (joining seven other Western nations) in 1932, there were too many rape cases in Shanghai involving Japanese soldiers. The Japanese commander then sent request to Nagasaki city to send prostitutes (Ianfu) to Shanghai which eventually evolved into a government coordinated effort to offer “comfort women” to raise the military moral. When Japan later obtained control of Korea, the program became a systematic process from "recruiting" (kidnapping and luring) to "military support operation" (installed at military bases even moving with the army with strict freedom control and medical examinations to reduce venereal disease). As the Japanese aggression progresses, so expanded the comfort women program. Hence hundreds of thousands of women like the above Taiwan girl were captured and sent to other countries as sex slaves to serve the Japanese army; the comfort women had no way to escape in a foreign land.
The Japanese army might have started the comfort women program with Japanese prostitutes, but that is no excuse for the Japanese authority to justify the inhumane program or to stubbornly deny the Comfort Women issue involving other Asian countries. With further studies, I venture to offer the following logic for explaining the Japanese authority’s behavior towards the ‘Comfort Women’ issue:
1. The post-war Japanese authority is essentially controlled by the descendants of the Japanese war criminals (Thanks to the generosity of the U.S. occupation command in Japan)
2. The militarism never went away in Japan despite of her peace constitution; restoring Japan's Imperial glory is still deep in the minds of powerful Japanese politicians such as Abe Shinzo and Toru Hashimoto.
3. Honoring the Imperial Army and its mission to conquer the weak nations justifies all efforts (including using comfort women) to support the Imperial Army. The desire to restore the honor of the Japanese Imperial Army mandates continued denying their past war crimes.
4. A belief of sending prostitutes to serve soldiers as a patriotic act is used to justify forcing innocent women to serve the Japanese army as sex slaves as “necessary” military support.
5. All the denials are rooted in the philosophy that the Imperial army’s honor and spirit must be restored in order for Japan to become ‘normal’ again. The Japanese authority hence decides that they will not allow anything to shame the Japanese army.
The above is just one scenario, perhaps, there are other interpretations. I urge people to have an open dialogue to help the Japanese authority to reconcile with the war crimes like the Germans have done. The world would have a brighter future.