When time shall have softened passion and prejudice, when Reason shall have stripped the mask from misrepresentation, then justice, holding evenly her scales, will require much of past censure and praise to change places.  -  Justice Radhabinod Pal  
Kiam la tempo moligos la pasion kaj la antaŭjuĝon, kiam la Racio forigos la maskon for de misreprezento, tiam la justeco, tenante ekvilibre sian pesilon, postulos ke multaj el la pasintaj malaproboj kaj laŭdoj ŝanĝu sian lokon.  -  Juĝisto Radhabinod Pal


A Letter to The Japan Times: "Truth" about the Comfort Women  (21 January, 2001)
Last December (i.e. in 2000) I sent a letter to The Japan Times as below:

<< Dear Editor,
  I read your Dec. 13 articles about the mock trial held in Tokyo on the liabilities of the Japanese government in relation to the "comfort women" (a euphemism for those women who had to serve as prostitutes for Japanese militaries in WWII).

     It might be true that there were a number of cases where certain soldiers behaved like brutal tyrants in front of the comfort women.  Such cases, if any, would have been unexcusable crimes and deserve condemnation.
Think about, however, the broad range of cruelty of war. Illegal bombings aiming at residential quarters, fires, stray bullets, maltreatment of refugees... a myriad of sorts of tragedies were caused during the war.  Millions of people lost their parents, children, friends -- this all left uncurable traumas.  Millions lost their lives.

     All those civilians, dead or alive, were not individually compensated.  If the supporters of the comfort women were to claim that theirs were exceptionally miserable tragedies, I am afraid they are even rendering a distorted picture of the whole complex disaster called "war".
     If the Emperor Showa were to be blamed for neglecting the comfort women, so should be the press.  The press could have reported and appealed for the elimination of the comfort women system.  The comfort women were no secret during the war.

     Among the books I read, I would like to recommend "Comfort Women and Sex in the Battlefield", an objective review made by Dr. HATA Ikuhiko (published in Japanese by Shinchosha Publishers in 1999). 
     According to Dr. Hata's detailed study and assumption, the comfort women numbered approximately twenty thousand (20,000) in total, out of which 40% were women from Japan proper and 30% were ethnic Koreans (at that time having Japanese nationality).  90% of the comfort women presumably returned home alive after the war.
This letter did not appear in The Japan Times. Instead the Editor selected a letter written by Ms. Jennifer Sauer, living in Yamanashi Prefecture, which was printed in its Dec. 27 issue.
The Japan Times titled it "Sex-slave issue remains relevant".
Ms Sauer wrote, among others, "I do sincerely hope that the total truth may be known about the history of World War II, including the use of comfort stations by my own country, the United States, after the war.... By illuminating the truth of war, we, as humanity, are closer to becoming a truly civil world."
Agreed. The public is misled by very limited, sometimes fake, information about the comfort women. I also sincerely hope that this issue will be reviewed from various directions.
When you would really like to talk about the fate of the comfort women, be so courageous as to touch the sensitive issues of who "sold" the young girls and ladies to the comfort station agents. No evidence has ever been found that any Japanese police or army mobilized by order any young girls for having comfort women.
Life in poverty is full of things undesired but inevitable. Typically it was the parents or relatives who "sold" their daughters to brothel agents. In Japan, you had Japanese parents and Japanese agents; in Korea, Korean parents and Korean agents. If you wish, the "total truth" may be sought. Or would you choose the easy way of blaming the Emperor of Japan to avoid opening up Pandora's box...?
The comfort women were paid. Their jobs were painful, of course. But they were not slaves by definition. I cannot trust those reports which choose to use the word "sex slave", a shrewd term invented to mislead the general public and extremely derogatory to the former comfort women themselves. I myself choose to use the euphemism "comfort women" to show my sense of respect to them.
The study made by Dr. Hata Ikuhiko that I mentioned above deserves an English translation. I would be happy to give certain donation to realize it.
The political groups that use the issue of comfort women for the denunciation of the Japanese government are skillfully utilizing the hidden sense of discrimination found among the general public against the prostitutes. If you are successful to make a story where the government were involved in forcing an innocent girl to become a prostitute, you may exaggerate it as if it were one of the greatest tragedies of the World War II.
I can only say words of deep thanks to the former comfort women, who I do believe were from time to time the last comfort to our soldiers, whom The Japan Times should choose to call "military slaves".
If we are courageous enough to see the mechanism of this tragedy and uses the power of reason for fair comparison with various other tragedies, there will be a day when the comfort women have reasonable places in a footnote to comprehensive histories and in unbiased chapters of some specialized books like that of Dr. Hata.
Comfort women issue remains relevant.

 この催しは、きっと『朝日新聞』が大報道するだろうと思った。ところが、社会面の一般報道記事は思いのほか地味な扱われ方だった。(見出しはいかにも朝日らしく、《「昭和天皇にも責任」指摘 政府に謝罪を勧告》 であったが。)
 そんな中で浮かれているのが The Japan Times だ。12月13日号では、第2面の約4割を割いて報道している。大見出しに曰く 'Comfort women' mock trial finds Emperor Showa guilty. 記事本文も、いきなり昭和天皇への言及で始まる。
《The late Emperor Showa was "guilty of crimes against humanity," judges ruled Tuesday at the end of a mock trial on Japan's role in forcing women into sexual slavery for its military before and during World War II.》
 あまりの悪趣味に、ひょっとして共同通信配信記事ではないかと、念のため The Japan Times 報道部に確認したら、「客観報道の自社記事」だそうである。
さげすみや嫌悪が渦を巻くばかりではないか。(なお、The Japan Times には投稿を送った。来年になったらこのホームページでもご紹介したい。)
 それにしても、例の模擬裁判、昭和天皇を断罪するより先に、その時代のマスコミの沈黙ぶりをなぜ断罪しないのか。The Japan Times も、「天皇有罪」の見出しをつけて浮かれる前に、まず自らのかつての沈黙を責めるがよい。そういう、ひしひしとした断罪なら、納得がいく。
 何だ、この「慰安婦」というのは? うぶな中学生だったコラム子には、何のことかさっぱり分からなかった。そうしたら、父が血相を変えてやってきて、いきなりテレビのスイッチを切るではないか。
■客観的事実は? 実態は?
秦 郁彦はた・いくひこ博士の『慰安婦と戦場の性』(新潮選書)がもっとも信頼できる。
日本人(内地人) 4割
    現地人       3割
    朝鮮人       2割
    その他       1割
 空襲で鉄柱に腕をはさまれ、どうしても逃げられない人。火がそこまで迫ってくる。「この腕を切ってくれぇ!」と絶叫が響く。しかし、どうすることもできなかった。その人は火にあぶられ、いかなる苦しみのなかで死んでいったことか… そんな話を、母校愛光学園(松山市)の国語の先生から聞いたことがある。
まみえることなく、電車に身を投げた…  これもその国語の先生の話である。
慰安婦の女性たちの せめてもの尊厳をダシにして、善人を演ずる運動家や弁護士・マスコミ関係者こそ、償いの道から最も遠い人々と言わなければならない。