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Saturday, January 7, 2017

South Korea Angers Japan With Comfort Woman Memorial Statue

Again with Japan getting upset over its WWII use of foreign women as sex slaves.

Called “comfort women”, civilian women from countries captured by Japan during World War II were essentially used as sex slaves for its rank and file officer and soldiers to relax with on ‘shore leave’.

Japan had tried to deny its military personnel ever used comfort women – it wasn’t something the Japanese government said it shouldn’t do… then again, it wasn’t something the Japanese government said it shouldn’t – and for decades following the conclusion of Japan’s surrender, Japan refused to admit to its use of ‘comfort

When it finally acknowledged that it had and gave an apology for it (regretting its actions – always “regret”), Japan had though the matter over.

For other countries who had taken part in horrific war crimes, like the German’s and that whole Holocaust thing, an apology, some payments to victim countries and families, and the maintaining of the former death camps as museums was sufficient in letting everyone know that Germany was ashamed of its misdeeds… with the museums a constant reminder to the German nation as a whole that it had screwed up in allowing its own xenophobic fears to create such a scenario.

Of course… if you want to point fingers, we could also look at how the Allied nations at the conclusion of WWI had decided to punish the crap out of the aggressor Germany… so much so that forced reparation payments to other countries caused Germany to go virtually bankrupt… creating a hyper-inflation within the country where it was actually cheaper to burn millions of marks rather than pay for wood… and the same for wiping one’s butt. The hyper inflation and a bitter and beaten German people to allow rampant nationalism to take root in Germany… leading to national socialism where Adolph Hitler and his Nazi Party could lay the blame for everything that was wrong with Germany at the feet of everyone who wasn’t a true German.

Japan and its aggressive actions in the years leading up to WWII against China and Korea… well… that was just Japan trying take over Asia and be its de facto leader. Being a bully.

So… we have a very contrite Germany not avoiding its own nasty past with the Nazi party and being accepted by its neighbors and the world.

And we have Japan who had to have an apology pretty much beaten out of it, and never coming to accept its own nasty past against anyone… and never really being forgiven by its neighbors.

I know this was 25 years ago… but when I traveled to Singapore, to Saipan, to Malaysia and Thailand and saw their WWII war memorials and museums, I talked to the locals there – and even though it was 50 years later… they still hated Japan… because Japan refused to talk about the past.

I’m a firm believer that if you fug up, and apologize for it – it the injured party still wants to talk about issues, you better allow them to talk about it. Trying to never talk about one’s past leads others to think you aren’t really anything but ashamed… and are only ashamed because you lost or got caught.

That’s what the rest of Asia thinks about Japan and its shady actions during WWII.

Japan doesn’t teach very much about its pre-WWII and WWII history to its student population.

Well… it’s something every school confronts: We start doing our history class at the earliest point in our country’s history – and we run out of time when we get near the modern era.

That happened to me growing up… still… in high school we were offered multiple history options: Canadian History, European History, American History… and since I am Canadian… that Canadian history class could be offered in grades 9-13 (we had 13 in the province of Ontario when I was younger… now it’s just 12)… so there were five years in which later aspects of Canadian history could be taught. They just didn’t.

Japan should offer a high school course that deals with its history from post Edo-jidai (Edo era) … after 1868AD… and properly teach its young men and women about WHY Japan was an aggressor nation… and why it went to war, why it bombed Pearl Harbor, why it tried to subjugate China, Korea, Burma et al. Why it was bombed with not one, but two atomic bombs and why a third one was going to be dropped if the Emperor had not acted out of line and surrendered when his own military would not. Discuss WHY the Japanese were so fervent in their belief in the Emperor and why it was better to die than surrender.

Which leads me to the very, very recent action undertaken by the Japanese Government and its decision to remove two Japanese diplomats from its consulate in South Korea’s city of Busan.

Not only that, but Tokyo will stop talks with South Korea on a planned currency swap, and even delay a high-level economic talk.

Yes… Japan is angry and upset at something South Korea has done.

What did South Korea do to get Japan angry with it?

It erected a memorial statue for Korean Comfort Women.

Japan chief cabinet secretary Suga Yoshihide (surname first) say: “The fact that the girl’s statue was set up has an unfavorable influence on relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea (South Korea), and is extremely regrettable.”

Everything is ‘regrettable, eh Japan.

Japan and South Korea only officially reached an agreement on the whole Comfort Woman thing on December of 2015… 70 tears, I mean years after WWII ended.

At the time, Japan agreed to donate ‎¥1-billion (US$8.6 million) to a South Korea fund designed to help survivors of being a comfort women.

Approximately 200,000 women were said to have been forced to act as comfort women… most from Korea… others from China, Taiwan and Indonesia… and even one Dutch woman.

How many women were still alive?

South Korea said that if Japan paid the money, it would consider the issue “irreversibly resolved.”

Apparently a South Korean civil group tried to install the statue on December 28, 2016… a civil group… not the South Korean government. But, they were denied by ward officials and local police who took the statue and kept it in the ward office.

On December 30, after much public demand, the ward officials apologized to the civil group and allowed them to erect it on the road in front of the Japanese Consulate in Bosun, South Korea.

Japan… all in a huff about this obvious slight to its apology and monetary fine for its evil treatment of women… well… that why they are angry.

It's like Japan is screaming and rolling on the dirt, bawling it's eyes out: "But you promised the issue was resolved!!!!"

Yes... South Korea has resolved the issue with Japan... but its citizens  - private citizens - are allowed to carry their own anger, saddness or whatever over the treatment of loved ones for however long they feel like.

Japan should have not have any official issues with the Republic of Korea over this. It needs to take the higher ground and show that anger citizens have towards Japan will not sour relations between the two countries.

But no... Japan is being a big baby over it.

So where does it end? You’ll recall I said that even if the governments officially recognize Japan’s apology for WWII and earlier misdeeds, its population… many of whom weren’t yet born when these actions took place – haven’t forgiven and certainly haven’t forgotten.

The South Korea Foreign Ministry issued this statement in light of Japan’s hissy fit:

"Our government stresses once again, that even if there are difficult issues between the two countries, both governments, based on trust, need to continuously develop the relationship.”

Just like Japanese officials don’t see that there is anything wrong in visiting a war memorial in Tokyo that has known War Crimes convicts dedicated to them in it… or conversely, have Japan prime minister Abe Shinzo (surname) visit Pearl Harbor – site of Japan’s initial attack against the U.S. that precipitated the American involvement in WWII – on December 27, 2016 visiting the sunken USS Arizona… then it needs to be able to get over the fact that other countries may want to honor their own victims of war… even if it is cheekily placed directly across the street from its own Consulate.

Andrew Joseph

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