We won't accept a whitewash on Japan's comfort women

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 March, 2007, 12:00am

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said this month that there was no valid evidence the Imperial Army forced Asian women to work as sex slaves during the second world war. Some right-wing Japanese politicians have suggested that these 'comfort women' were recruited by individual businessmen, and thus it was the same as soldiers visiting prostitutes in normal brothels. Now, Mr Abe has announced a new investigation ('Abe says ruling party to probe wartime brothels', March 9).

We should be furious that the next generation may never know the truth. Fewer and fewer victims survive to tell their horrific accounts of being raped dozens of times a day. Fewer Imperial Army veterans remain to confess their crimes. The Japanese government has already removed all references to the comfort women in history textbooks. The only semi-official Japanese organisation dedicated to the issue, the Asian Women Fund, is disbanding this month. If the Japanese government takes back its 1993 apology - the only formal one it has ever made - this horrendous history will be wiped out in Japanese society.

This is why the German government has never stopped cracking down on neo-Nazism, and has made moves to criminalise denial of the Holocaust. Japan should not deny its crimes, even though it has successfully emerged from the shadow of the war and become the second largest economy in the world.


If the Japanese government wants to end the debate on the Asian women forced into sexual slavery during the second world war, it's perfectly clear what it has to do: offer a genuine apology and provide compensation to the few remaining survivors. The Japanese prime minister and his cronies have stirred this up and so it's time for the Japanese people to face up to the fact that we won't accept a whitewash of their wartime atrocities.


May I remind readers how much the Imperial Army's comfort women got paid by the Japanese during the second world war? Four-star generals were paid 52 yen, comfort women earned 80 yen. That is the bottom line, whether or not those women were forcibly hauled in.

In their joint statement restoring diplomatic relations in 1972, China abandoned any demand for compensation from Japan for the second world war. The Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea was concluded in 1965, settling all unsettled matters.

Now, why does China not demand an apology from Britain for deliberately circulating a dangerous drug among its population in the 1800s, in the run-up to the Opium wars?


Conservative Japanese lawmakers have called for a probe into the second world war comfort women. I suggest Japan should also set up an investigation into the wartime role of Emperor Hirohito. He is the No 1 war criminal but those silly Americans spared him.

SIMON HO, Tsuen Wan