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Japan’s Statement on the Kono Statement

Within the past hour Japan issued its statement on the Kono Statement.

Issued in August, 1993, the Kono Statement acknowledged for the first time “the then Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of the comfort stations and the transfer of comfort women.”  In a contemporaneous news article,  the New York Times reported on South Korea’s reaction:

South Korea, where most of the women were seized, expressed qualified approval for Tokyo’s admission. “We appreciate the fact that in its latest report, the Japanese Government now acknowledges that coercion was involved in the entire process of recruiting, transporting and managing ‘comfort women,’ ” the South Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “We also appreciate the fact that the Japanese offered an apology.”

As late as June 17, 2014, Seoul’s Foreign ministry reiterated (according to Yonhap News) “that Japan’s 1993 statement acknowledging the Japanese imperial army’s mobilization of wartime sex slaves was made based on Tokyo’s own investigations and judgment.”  From the cited Yonhap News article,

The Kono statement was written based on Japan’s own judgment on the issue, (foreign ministry spokesman Noh Kwang-il said in a briefing), adding that the Korean government made clear that it is not a document needed for prior consultation or agreement with another country.

Arirang News released the following,

Japan announced in its findings today that according to latest Japanese reports the review says the Korean government also played a role in the wording of the Kono statement. Japan’s Jiji News Agency reports that Seoul and Tokyo held discussions on what the statement will look like, under the condition that their dealings be kept a secret. This will definitely trigger heavy criticism from South Korea.

All this leaves observers asking “why?

UPDATE:   In addition to the statement that the Korean government played a role in the wording of the Kono Statement,  Japanese media is reporting  the report claims the Japanese government did not verify the validity of testimonies given by 16 Korean comfort women who were the basis of the Kono Statement.

UPDATE 2:  Although Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference  that Japan will continue to uphold the statement and not seek to revise it or change the government’s official stance, China’s Shanghai Daily connected the dots:

In essence, the panel has suggested that the findings were inaccurate, if not fallacious, and the final statement itself unsubstantiated, in a move that quickly drew the ire of the South Korean Foreign Ministry who blasted the Japanese government saying its action were “deeply regrettable” and a “contradictory and pointless act.”

Unfortunately, I agree.  Japan’s panel’s 21 page report on the Kono Statement seems to have pulled much of the punch behind the Kono Statement by questioning the validity of statements, findings, and testimonies underlying the Kono Statement.

Korea’s Joong Ang Daily reported that Japan’s panel found “in the drafting of the Kono Statement, ‘there was intensive and detailed mediation with the Korean government’….”

The Japan Times, which described the crafting of the statement as a “tug of war”, went into more of the contentious details of the negotiation.  Among them, “the report further states that Seoul indicated that if Japan did not comply with the revisions, it would not accept the Kono apology in a positive way” and “the Korean side told Tokyo that ‘it has a policy not to seek financial compensation.’ ”

From a practical standpoint, I find Japan’s panel’s finding that Korea had significant input credible for the simple reason that Japan could not risk issuing a statement that Korea would reject; however,  I find Japan’s revelation of such nonetheless duplicitous.

Regardless of the extent of Korea’s input, Japan signed it.

UPDATE 3:  For those straining to hear the voice of reason and the  supposed silent majority in Japan, The Japan Times published an editorial on its English website, Stop Undermining the Kono Statement.  The following is an excerpt:

If the government is to uphold the 1993 statement, as it says it will, then the Abe administration needs to do what the statement says Japan will do and make proactive efforts to settle the long-running dispute, instead of repeatedly attempting to play down the nation’s responsibility for the ordeal of the women forced into wartime sexual slavery.

…Following the release of the review’s outcome, the Abe administration repeated that it would not change the Kono statement. If that’s the case, then the administration should wholly commit itself to what Japan said in the statement, and seek to repair ties with South Korea that have been strained at least in part by its attempt to question the stance of past Japanese governments on this matter.

Shameless, lying whores!

That, essentially, is what Japanese lawmaker Nariaki Nakayama called the Comfort Women during a recent, lecture in Hyogo, Japan.

Noting that Japanese women, too, had served as Comfort Women, he said, “But there are no Japanese women who say themselves that they were a Comfort Women. They are ashamed. Korean women aren’t this way. They only lie. One can’t help but think they are a different race.”

Continuing his anthropological analysis, he said, “Koreans are completely different from Japanese. They have no concept of shame.”

For added amusement, re-read that, this time keeping in mind that Nakayama served as Prime Minister Koizumi’s Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

The Japan Times called Nakayama “gaffe-prone,” which I guess is technically true, if one consider a string of racist, historically revisionist statements “gaffes.” As TK alludes to in the comments, these sorts of statements would ordinarily end a person’s political career in pretty much any other country in the developed world. Not in Japan, however, and I think a lot of the responsibility lays with Japan’s media, which refuses to call extremist speech extremist, hence giving the impression that such ideas are part of the mainstream.

Japanese-Americans sue Glendale for comfort women statue

And this morning, I threw up a little bit in my mouth (HT to Stephen):

Now Japanese-American plaintiffs, served by American megafirm Mayer Brown, are pursuing the agenda of reactionary Japanese politicians through despicable litigation.

Glendale, California is a suburb of Los Angeles. I grew up next door and still live there. It’s incredibly diverse with many thriving ethnic communities. In 2013 the City of Glendale erected a modest memorial to the comfort women of World War II in a public park next to the library. Japanese politicians were enraged and have repeatedly demanded that the memorial be removed. The federal lawsuit filed by Mayer Brown seeks to have the memorial removed by force of law.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit — which I have uploaded here — are Glendale resident Michiko Shiota Gingery, Los Angeles resident Koichi Mera, and GAHT-US Corporation, which says it is in the business of providing “accurate and fact-based educational resources to the public in the U.S., including within California and Glendale, concerning the history of World War II and related events, with an emphasis on Japan’s role.” (MARMOT’S NOTE: Just out of curiosity, is its office next to the German American Bund‘s?) The plaintiffs complain that the presence of the comfort women memorial in Glendale causes them to suffer “feelings of exclusion, discomfort, and anger because of the position espoused by her city of residence through its display and endorsement” of the monument, and that they avoid the park because it shows a “pointed expression of disapproval of Japan and the Japanese people” and diminishes their enjoyment of the park. Though the lawsuit discusses a controversy over what the Empire of Japan did to women in the war, the complaint unsubtly conveys a position: “These women are often referred to as comfort women, a loose translation of the Japanese word for prostitute.”

Read the complain here.

Unsurprisingly, the lawsuit has the support of the Japanese government:

In Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga clearly empathized with the lawsuit in a news conference held Feb. 21.

“It is extremely regrettable that the statue was erected,” he said. “Japanese residents in America felt the same way as the Japanese government over the statue and resorted to the lawsuit.”

역시…

Interestingly, one of the plaintiffs is a former professor at USC.

Comfort Women statue sparks competing White House petitions

We mentioned Tony Marano’s petion at the White House earlier. Now it seems somebody has started a counter-petition:

On Saturday, a blogger identified with initial S.H. submitted a petition to counter Marano’s claim, asking for the protection of the monument.

In the petition, the initiator said, “The Peace Monument is symbolizing the victims of sexual slavery by the Japanese imperial military during World War II. And we have to know history correctly.”

So far, the petition has received more than 200 signatures.

You can find the petition here.

Personally, I think petitions are a waste of time, but anything that counters Tony Marano’s asshatery is probably worth doing. LA’s CBS affiliate described Marano’s Youtube video thusly:

The petition was started by a Texas man by the name of Tony Marano. On his YouTube channel, he states, “these women were recruited and they volunteered to serve in these comfort women houses for the Japanese Imperial Army.”

Yes, he did say that. But that’s not all he said. I hate to link to this reprehensible douchebag’s video again, but it really deserves its own Two Minutes Hate—scroll to about 55 seconds in. As a matter of theology, I don’t really believe in hell, but if I did, I’d like to believe anyone who goes on video to call the victims of gang rape by the Imperial Japanese Army “ugly prostitutes” has a place reserved for him in Damnation.

Glendale mayor regrets comfort women statue

Glendale mayor Dave Weaver apparently regrets the decision to put a memorial to the Comfort Women in his town:

Glendale was wrong to install a controversial monument honoring Korean sex slaves taken by the Japanese Army during World War II, Mayor Dave Weaver said during an interview published Monday on a Japanese television station’s YouTube channel.

“We opened a beehive, a hornet’s nest,” he told Channel Sakura. “We just shouldn’t have done it.”

As an added bonus, he said this in an interview with a right-wing Japanese TV station.

Anyway, it seems the Japanese trolls have been getting to him:

He told Japanese reporters from the far-right-wing channel, though, that in addition to opposing the statue because he believed the park where it’s located needs a master plan, he disliked the statue because he didn’t want Glendale involved in an international fight.

“I understand we’re the most hated city in Japan now, which I deeply regret,” Weaver said, adding that he’s received more than 1,000 emails about the memorial, the most correspondence he’s gotten on an issue in the 17 years he’s been on City Council.

Turkish readers, take note—send Mayor Weaver some angry emails, and maybe you can get him to express regret about Glendale’s Armenian Holocaust remembrances.

To make matters worse for Glendale, the mayor of Higashiōsaka sent Weaver a very angry letter, and Higashiōsaka officials are threatening to end its cultural and exchange relationship with Glendale. Oh, how will Glendale ever recover…

Anyway, if you wanted to counterbalance the 2ch trolls, feel free to send an email to Mayor Weaver at dweaver@ci.glendale.ca.us.

Japan tells the UN to eff off. Wish I could say I was surprised.

So, Japan is telling the UN to go screw itself and its recommendation that Japanese officials stop being asses to the Comfort Women:

Japan has no interest in following a United Nations recommendation that its politicians stop abusing former sex slaves forced to serve Japanese soldiers during World War II.

Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper quoted the Tokyo government as saying Wednesday it has no intention to abide by the suggestion by the U.N. Committee Against Torture (CAT), saying that it was “not legally binding” and therefore it was “not obligated to abide by it.”

If you’d like to read the UN recommendation for yourself, you’ll find it here.

Japan’s decision is quite in keeping with Japanese diplomatic tradition. The Asahi recently looked at a Japanese diplomatic document from 1953 in which a special assistant to the foreign minister of Japan calls the Koreans “arrogant” for failing to recognize the benefits of Japanese colonial rule:

A Japanese official in diplomatic normalization talks with South Korea in 1953 accused the country of “arrogance,” five days after negotiations broke off because of his remarks justifying Japan’s colonial rule, a document showed.

“A solution is impossible unless they come down from their height above the clouds of arrogance,” Kanichiro Kubota, special assistant to the foreign minister, wrote in a 20-page declassified official document titled, “How to mend the breakoff in Japan-South Korea talks.”
[…]
In the document, Kubota described his South Korean counterparts as believing that Japan’s colonial rule only did harm to Korea. He also described them as believing that the most important and new principle of international law after World War II was the emancipation and independence of oppressed peoples, whereby Japan lost all of its properties on the Korean Peninsula.

Kubota said the South Koreans were “servile to the powerful and high-handed to the weak,” adding that “efforts should be started to bring down” the South Korean administration of President Rhee Syng-man.

Servile to the powerful and high-handed to the weak, eh? Well, if anyone would know, it would be a Japanese Foreign Ministry official.

When the Japanese right get an idea in their heads…

I’m not really sure what the Comfort Women have to do with Osaka city affairs, but mayor Toru Hashimoto really likes to talk about them. Or Tweet about them, as it were:

“Japan was bad,” he told a party meeting on Monday, the Asahi Shimbun reported. “It is true that we used women to solve the problem of sex on the battlefield.

“Having said that, America, Britain, Germany and France, and even the South Korean military in Vietnam after WWII, they all used women to address the issue.

“Japan was bad, but you all should face up to history. This is what Japanese politicians must say,” the Asahi quoted him as saying.

Hashimoto’s use of Twitter has even got The Ish—who recently blasted Hashimoto for calling Japan’s surprise visits to its Asian neighbors in the 1930s and 1940s “aggression”—advising caution—really difficult to express right-wing historical revisionism in 140 characters or less.

To be fair to Hashimoto, at least he’s saying rude things politely. The same could not be said about his until-recently party colleague Shingo Nishimura, who made quite possibly the most disgusting statement about the Comfort Women I’ve ever read coming from the mouth of a public official:

During his speech, Nishimura also defended compatriot Hashimoto’s statement, saying that ‘comfort women’ had been incorrectly translated to ‘sex slaves,’ according to USA Today.

“‘Comfort women’ is erroneously translated as ‘sex slaves,’ which might encourage anti-Japanese riots and conspiracies,” he said. “We better fight back by telling them that the words ‘comfort women’ and ‘sex slaves’ are completely different and that there are numerous South Korean prostitutes roaming around Japan.”

He then put the final nail in the controversial commentary coffin, joking that he might visit his hometown of Osaka, venture into red-light districts and yell, “Hey, you South Korean comfort women!”

I believe the actual comment was something more along the lines of “Japan is swarming with Korean prostitutes.” He did get expelled from his party for that statement, and even Hashimoto was apparently appalled by it. Still, I suppose we should be thankful in a way—the feeling I’ve gotten is that these guys really believe that not only was Japan blameless for the Comfort Women, but also that the Comfort Women were essentially a Korean problem, that Korea is a nation of whores. At least Nishimura was being honest.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is now comparing the Yasukuni Shrine to Arlington National Cemetery:

Abe cited a Japanese history professor, Kevin Doak of Georgetown University, who said that visiting the Arlington National Cemetery, where Confederate soldiers are buried “does not mean endorsing slavery.”

Fair dinkum, but then again, I’m unaware of anything like the Yūshūkan on the grounds of Arlington. Excuse me if I’m mistaken.

The UN’s Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is reportedly calling on Japan to take measures to prevent hate speech directed at the Comfort Women. I like the altered Korean flag in the protest photo—who said the Japanese right doesn’t do irony?

Comfort Women-related News

- In Flushing (go figure!), a street will be named in honor of the Comfort Women. And they’ll get a Comfort Women memorial, too.

– One place that won’t be getting a Comfort Women memorial is Singapore:

Singapore said on Wednesday it has rejected plans by South Korean activists to erect a statue in the city-state commemorating women forced into sexual slavery by Japan during World War II.

The culture ministry denied claims by the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery that there had been talks about plans to put up such a statue.
[…]
“There are no ongoing meetings or discussions between the Singapore government and the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery on this issue. Nor will we allow such a statue to be erected in Singapore.”

(HT to readers)

Comfort Women: Uncle Shinzo feels your pain

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says he feels the Comfort Women’s pain, but he doesn’t feel they should be a political or diplomatic problem:

Facing questions from an opposition lawmaker Thursday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe refused to comment on the government’s position on wartime sex slaves, but he did say he feels “heart-breaking pain” when he thinks of how their human rights were violated.

“In this sense, I’m no different than all of the prime ministers of the past. I don’t think this issue should be made into a political or diplomatic problem,” Abe told a Lower House session, answering questions from Japanese Communist Party chief Kazuo Shii about the “comfort women” issue.

“In history, there have been many wars and the human rights of women have been violated. It’s necessary to make the 21st century a century without human right violations,” he said.

So true. I mean, really, who among us hasn’t overseen a massive military-run human trafficking and sexual slavery racket?

When asked about the Kono Statement, Abe passed, saying, “The Kono statement was expressed by Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono. So I, as prime minister, would like to refrain from commenting further… I believe it’s appropriate for the (current) chief Cabinet secretary to deal with the issue.”

And you wonder why people doubt the sincerity of Japanese apologies?

New York state passes Comfort Women resolution as Japanese email campaign backfires

Two weeks after it was first introduced, the New York State Senate unanimously passed a resolution recognizing the pain and suffering of the Comfort Women.

This is the second state legislative body to adopt such a resolution. The California State Assembly adopted one in 1999.

You can read the resolution below:

Comfort by

Here’s a press conference by Queens lawmaker Sen. Tony Avella, who sponsored the resolution. He mentions the email campaign by certain Japanese elements, which predictably backfired:

Japanese in America write to NY lawmakers, call Comfort Women ‘prostitutes’

Newsis reports that the Japanese community in the United States is conducting an organized promotional operation—using mass emails to American politicians and Youtube—to distort the history of the comfort women.

And this has got the Korean community in the United States on edge. Or so Newsis reports.

The Japanese community has gotten even more vehement since news broke that both houses of the New York legislature had introduced a resolution calling on Japan to apologize for the Comfort Women.

Japanese in the States have since been conducting through a website a campaign to write and call American politicians. The irony, notes Newsis, is that their grass roots approach seems to have benchmarked the successful decade-long lobbying efforts of Korean-American groups, with some observers wondering whether the campaign intends to “water down” the Korean-American effort.

The two New York lawmakers who sponsored the resolution—Queen’s Tony Avella and Long Island’s Charles Lavine–are reportedly getting flooded with protest emails from Japanese—Sen. Avella says he’s getting over 200 a day. He said most of the emails say the Comfort Women were prostitutes who did it for the money and that the lawmakers shouldn’t be fooled by the Korean community’s lies.

Even (or should we say, naturally) Assemblyman Ron Kim, New York’s first Korean politician, is getting hit with bulk emails. One his folk told Newsis that while emails campaigns like this pose no problem to the Korean community who know all too well the history between Korea and Japan, one cannot rule out that other American politicians might be swayed by the Japanese community’s organized emails.

According to the New York JoongAng Ilbo, the lawmakers are getting two emails, samples of both of which are posted at the ironically named website Japanese Women for Justice and Peace. As I fear that site might not be long for this world, I repost them here for your collective outrage:

To the senators and representatives of New York state legislature

I am writing this mail on behalf of all the Japanese who are concerned with the current U.S.-Japan relations.

On January 8, NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) broadcast a news program in which they reported, under the topic title of “NY assembly to hear ‘Comfort Women’ resolution”, that State Senator Tony Avella and Assemblyman Charles Lavine demanded Japan’s government to apologize for the forced prostitution of women serving the Japanese military during World War II and that they were going to submit their demand in the form of a resolution to the New York legislature. And, according to Jan 17th edition of Sankei, one of the Japanese leading newspapers, they have submitted the concurrent resolution.

As you may know, so-called comfort women are the women who worked during World War II as prostitutes for the Japanese military. This fact might sound immoral by present-day standards, but prostitution was a legal business in those days in many countries. Even around U.S. military bases, prostitution agents must also have existed during the periods of Japan occupation, Korean War, and Vietnam War.

However, as many as fifty years after the War, a bogus story was suddenly spread in Korea and Japan — a story that Japanese military abducted many women and forced into prostitution during the War. Nowadays, many Koreans living in the U.S. propagate fabricated stories that more than 200 thousand Korean women were abducted and worked as “sex slaves” during the wartime and that it was equivalent to the Holocaust. These stories have been proven to be completely fictitious as a result of many researches by scholars and experts. In spite of their longstanding efforts, there has been absolutely no evidence of Japanese military’s coercing Korean women into prostitution against their will.

We cannot allow this kind of propaganda that insults Japan; their pretense hurts our pride and dishonors our ancestors. To protest this malicious gossip, we submitted two petitions to the White House, each with more than 30 thousand signatures, as follows:

“WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO: Remove the monument and not to support any international harassment related to this issue against the people of Japan”

http://wh.gov/yrR

“Repeal the House of Representatives Resolution 121 to stop aggravating int’l harassment by Korean propaganda & lies!”

http://wh.gov/lBwa

U.S.-Japan alliance is the cornerstone of peace, security, and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. Anti-Japan propaganda activities based on the fictitious ‘comfort women’ issue do nothing but deteriorate the relationship among U.S., Korea, and Japan. Such movement only alters the situation to the advantage of North Korea and China.

We Japanese, who place a high value on the importance of historical facts as well as U.S.-Japan relationship, therefore protest decisively against the resolution regarding comfort women that is to be submitted to the New York state legislature.

We know that American people cherish and esteem fairness, justice, and truth. We hope that you will make a truthful, fair, and objective judgment on this issue.

Sincerely yours,
差出人の名前

———————————–
<本文 サンプルB>
To the senators and representatives of New York state legislature

I am writing this message to you on behalf of many concerned Japanese.

I read a Korean internet news that “State Senator Tony Avella and Assemblyman Charles Lavine want Japanese government to apologize for the forced prostitution of women , or “comfort women”, serving the Japanese military during World War Ⅱ, and will submit their demand in a resolution to the New York legislature.” And, according to Jan 17th edition of Sankei, one of the Japanese leading newspapers, they have submitted the concurrent resolution.

The term “comfort women” refers simply to prostitutes in wartime. But Koreans have long been promoting a false version of history that Japan abducted hundreds of thousands of Korean women and coerced them into sexual services for Japanese soldiers outside of Japan during World War Ⅱ. This is, for practical and logical reasons, a fictitious version of history.

Japanese government conducted careful investigations and examination of the related documents and listened to the testimony of witnesses from both Japanese and Korean. Based on their careful research, Japanese government officially denied enforceability. And still, Japanese government made public apologies for former comfort women’s hard experiences.

Despite apologies taken places privately and by the Japanese government, the compensation for former comfort women, or other efforts such as Asian Women’s Fund, Koreans has no intention of forgiveness.

Koreans’ activities such as building comfort women memorials lead to unnecessary racial conflict and suffering of people of Japanese ancestry, and perpetrate the distorted truth to American citizens who are not familiar with this controversial issue between Japan and Korea.

I would like you to know these two petitions to the White House have reached more than 30,000 signatures and still getting more.

Remove the monument and not to support any international harassment related to this issue against the people of Japan.

http://wh.gov/yrR

Repeal the House of Representatives Resolution 121 to stop aggravating int’l harassment by Korean propaganda & lies!

http://wh.gov/lBwa

To know more about the comfort women issue, please visit the following websites.

What is the “Comfort Women Issue?”

http://sakura.a.la9.jp/japan/?page_id=2015

Mr. Komori of Japanese newspaper being interviewed on the comfort women issue for the PBS series

http://sakura.a.la9.jp/japan/?page_id=2535

GEISHA, TONY BLAIR & COMFORT WOMEN

http://sakura.a.la9.jp/japan/?page_id=2556

We Japanese are strongly against NY state comfort women resolution. We believe that the American people cherish and enthusiastically defend fairness, justice and the truth. We hope that you will make a truthful, fair and objective judgment in regards to this issue.

Sincerely yours,
差出人の名前

The Japanese have taken to Youtube, too. Newsis especially points out the videos by this guy, a one Yujiro Taniyama (I appreciated the Bruce Cumings quote—must have been Revisionist Solidarity Week at Youtube).

They also point to a video to this charming fellow, who calls the Comfort Women memorial in Long Island a desecration of the nearby Korean War memorial:

Treat others as you would like yourself to be treated, eh? Lead by example, eh?

Fine with me—who wants to start sending mass emails to American politicians condemning the Civil Liberties Act of 1988? Maybe hit up a National Assemblyman or two to see if we can get an ad into the New York Times claiming Japanese-Americans voluntarily moved to the desert during World War II, where they were encouraged to move by Japanese-American real estate agents.

Come on, as an American, my ancestors are being dishonored!

Anyway, Newsis suggests this is not entirely unrelated to the rightward shift in Japan, including the recent start of Shinzo Abe 2.0.

Korean groups in the United States are remaining calm—the head of one such group told Newsis that the Japanese were digging their own graves with this sort of stuff. Which is probably true.

Marmot’s Note: I’m not sure what the “Japanese community” in the United States thinks about all this, but I do know it was a Japanese-American, Mike Honda, who sponsored the House resolution calling on Japan to accept responsibility for the Comfort Women.

This won’t help Korea—Japan relations

Note to Korean courts: I wouldn’t expect Japanese courts to be especially cooperative in the future if you can’t even bring yourself to extradite a serial arsonist:

A South Korean court sided with China on Thursday in a fight between Beijing and Tokyo over the custody of a Chinese man accused of an arson attack at the Yasukuni Shrine for Japan’s war dead.

The man, Liu Qiang, 38, completed a 10-month prison term in South Korea in November after hurling four gasoline bombs at the Japanese Embassy in central Seoul. His attack in January last year left burn marks on the embassy wall but hurt no one.

Mr. Liu had told South Korean police that his late maternal grandmother, a Korean, was one of Asia’s “comfort women,” who were forced into sexual slavery for Japan’s Imperial Army during World War II. He said that he attacked the Japanese Embassy to show his anger at Tokyo’s refusal to apologize and compensate properly for the wrongs done against the women.

Korean prosecutors—who, after all, had once mulled seeking the extradition of the asshat who defaced the Comfort Woman memorial in Seoul—had sought to extradite Liu to Japan, much to their credit. Seoul High Court, however, saw things differently. Very differently:

“We cannot approve the extradition of Liu to Japan because his crime was a political crime,” the court said in a statement yesterday. “In other words, Liu committed a crime with the aim to protest against [Japan’s] political order. And in a case where a political criminal makes an escape to another country [Korea], the criminal can be protected.”

Don’t be surprised if Japanese rightwing nutjobs start showing up to lob firebombs at the Comfort Women museum, then running back to Japan where the courts will protect them against punishment for their “political act.”

China’s also pleased:

Tokyo requested Seoul hand over Liu after he is released based on a bilateral treaty signed in 2002 regarding criminal transfers, while Beijing appealed to Seoul that Liu be sent back home based on a “humanitarian approach.”

It also requested that Korea consider Liu a political prisoner – saying his crimes were a political reaction to Japan’s misdeeds.

To be fair, if there’s a country that would recognize a political prisoner when it saw one, it’s China.

Meanwhile, the Seoul Shinmun ran some interesting poll data on Korea—Japan relations, collected in conjunction with Japan’s Tokyo Shimbun. For starters, only 23.6% of Koreans felt a sense of closeness to Japan, while 50.1% of Japanese felt a sense of closeness to Korea. Both numbers have come down a few percentage points since a 2005 poll.

Younger Koreans and younger Japanese felt closer to one another’s countries than did older Koreans and Japanese. Slight more Korean women than men felt a sense of closeness for Japan (24.2% to 22.9%), while in Japan, many more women than men felt a sense of closeness to Korea (55.8% to 44.1%).

Interestingly, only 37% of Koreans said Korea needs Japan, while 52.6% of Japanese said Japan needs Korea. In 2005, 53.5% of Koreans said Korea needs Japan, while the Japanese number fell of by less than 2 percentage points.

Meanwhile, nine out of 10 Koreans thought Japan doesn’t reflect on its past, while 63.4% of Japanese can’t understand why Koreans think Japan doesn’t apologize for its past.

77.1% of Koreans think the Japanese government should back down on its claims to Dokdo, while 47.0% of Japanese think the problem should be solved at the ICJ, and 37.4% think both countries should exercise joint sovereignty over the islets.

Finally, only 8.7% of Koreans and 14.6% of Japanese through bilateral ties were improving; 74.3% and 68.7%, respectively, thought they were deteriorating. This was a huge drop-off from 2005, when 44.1% of Koreans and 51.2% of Japanese thought ties were improving.

Abe begins provocations from Day 1: Ye Olde Chosun

In an analysis piece entitled, “Nationalism takes back seat to the economy,” the Japan Times writes, “The lineup of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet seems to underline his determination to learn from his mistakes.”

Somehow, I don’t believe that’s how folk on our side of the East Sea will see it.

In a piece entitled “Japanese PM Abe Starts Provocations from Day 1,” the Chosun Ilbo notes that Abe’s cabinet includes Yoshitaka Shindo and Tomomi Inada, the two lawmakers who tried to enter Korea in August of last year to claim Dokdo for Japan.

Shindo and Inada are right wingers.The politically nationalist kind, not the Mike Bossy kind.

Also included was Keiji Furuya, who was appointed chairman of the National Public Safety Commission and state minister in charge of the abduction issue. That he was placed in charge of the abduction issue is particularly ironic given his role in the comfort women issue (see also here). Christ, it almost makes you sympathize with the North Koreans.

And then there’s Hakubun Shimomura, the new education minister. As chief cabinet secretary in 2007, Shimomura had this to say about the comfort women—“It is true that there were comfort women. I believe some parents may have sold their daughters. But it does not mean the Japanese army was involved.”

Palisades Park comfort woman statue vandalism a hate crime? Really?

The Hankyoreh, quoting Palisades Park city council chairman Jong Chul Lee, reports that police are investigating five members of a Japanese right-wing group for the Oct 27 desecration of a comfort women memorial.

The Hani also notes that if the suspects are arrested, they could be charged with a hate crime. Palisades Park mayor James Rotundo reportedly called it a hate crime, and “most experts” apparently share his opinion. An official with a Korean group in Palisades Park said the dominant opinion was that the incident was, at the very least, vandalism, but it was close to be a hate crime when you consider the historical relationship between Korea and Japan.

The Korean American Voters’ Council’s Kim Dong-suk said the statue was property of the US government, erected through the power of American citizens including the Korean-American community, and the attack was reckless criminal act attacking American citizens. He said punishing the offenders was important, but they also needed to hold the Japanese government, which is distorting and denying history, to account in the name of American civic society.

Senator Bob Menendez (D, NJ) took some time off from (allegedly) banging hookers in the Dominican Republic to offer a couple of words about the comfort women statue attack as well.

Japanese rightwing asshat defaces New Jersey comfort women memorial

And in Palisades Park:

A Korean civic group says a memorial dedicated to the memory of women forced into sexual slavery during World War II was defaced on Friday.

The group, Korean American Civic Empowerment (KACE) said in a statement that the “comfort women” memorial was “defiled with a stake by an unidentified perpetrator.” Police were notified and are conducting an investigation, the statement said.

Why yes, it appears to be the work of Nobuyuki Suzuki, the guy who tied a stake to the comfort women memorial in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul earlier this year. You’ve got to give the fucker credit—at least he’s persistent.

Also on the New Jersey front, Bergen County is planning to erect its own comfort women memorial:

Officials announced over the weekend that a memorial to Korean “comfort women” — who were forced into sexual slavery by Japanese soldiers during WWII — will be placed outside the Bergen County courthouse.

The monument, paying tribute to the estimated 200,000 victims of the practice, will be placed inside the county’s “Ring of Honor,” which includes memorials for the Holocaust, Armenian Genocide and the Irish “Great Hunger.”

New Jersey is famous for tomatoes, smokestacks, auto theft and, of course, Kalmuck Mongolian Buddhist Center.

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