Remarks by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto on Japan’s wartime military sex slave system have once again raised serious questions about his nationalistic views and his understanding of human rights. Hashimoto claimed that the sex slave system was necessary to maintain discipline in the Imperial Japanese armed forces and stressed that there was no proof that the Japanese state kidnapped women and forced them to become sex slaves. This statement flies in the face of the indisputable fact that the most fundamental human rights of tens of thousands of Asian women were violated by the Japanese military. His “logic” is that frontline soldiers and young servicemen stationed abroad need women’s sexual services for rest and relaxation so discipline can be maintained. He clearly believes that the war effort justified the subjugation of women as sex slaves. This view of women being first and foremost sex objects for men not only rubs salt in the wounds of former sex slaves but is an insult to the dignity of all women. Japan should realize that their nationalistic agenda and moves to weaken constitutional democracy will only serve to undermine international trust in Japan and inflame regional tensions.
Bae, a US citizen of Korean descent, was arrested for attempting to overthrow the state. He entered the “special” prison on Tuesday. A statement from North Korea accused Bae of giving anti-Pyongyang lectures in China and having infiltrated about 250 students into the city of Rason, in north-eastern North Korea. Pyongyang claims that Bae has confessed, and did not want a lawyer present during sentencing. Bae is reported by friends to have worked as a Christian missionary in Dalian, a Chinese city near North Korean, and to have crossed the border to distribute food to orphans. He is alleged to have distributed inflammatory literature. Christianity is banned by the North Korean state, and the circulation of Bibles is strictly punished.
Because North Korea shutdown the Kaesong Industrial Complex, South Korean investors lost a lot of money. However, North Korea also received a lot of damages. One of the risks North Korea face now in withdrawing everybody is the 50,000 people who left their jobs two weeks ago are very unhappy. The North Korean workers have become used to a discipline of having a good job, going to work every day, getting a nice lunch and health services, and Chocopies which you can sell in the market for some extra money. By denying these people those benefits and their current lifestyle, I can’t imagine they would be happy. The change in mindset of the people in Pyongyang becoming more engaged in market trading and market economies, and making money from entrepreneurship has become a threat to the regime’s longer-term interests. North Korea must have shutdown Kaesong in order to prevent the “ideological contamination” to continue.
In their search for justice that has endured for decades, the biggest challenge Nazi hunters face is time. The knowledge that war criminals are escaping prosecution through death by natural causes means their task has never been more pressing. German state police arrested a 93-year-old man accused of being a guard at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Hans Lipschis is the first suspect to be facing charges as part of a drive launched earlier this year to track down 50 suspected Auschwitz guards who are believed to be living in Germany. Most of those involved in the murder of about 6 million Jews in the Holocaust and still alive will now be in their 90s, a ripe old age for people who carried out one the most heinous crimes in the history of humanity. This is very different from Japan. Japan is restoring the use of the Rising Sun Flag, a symbolism of invasions by Imperial Japanese Army. This is basically the equivalent of Germans using the Nazi Germany Flag. This is proof that Japan still craves the desire for the failed Japanese imperialism. It’s almost as if Japan is reenact the past invasions anytime soon. We can see Japan’s fascism from their arguments that Korea’s Dokdo is Japanese territory.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye and US President Barack Obama agreed never to tolerate North Korean threats and provocations, stressing that such bad behavior will only deepen Pyongyang’s own isolation. Park made the remarks during a joint news conference after her first summit talks with Obama since taking office in February. The meeting came as the North has shown signs of softening its war rhetoric after threatening nuclear attacks against the South and the US for weeks. Seoul and Washington will work jointly to encourage North Korea to make the right choice through multifaceted efforts, including the implementation of the “Korean Peninsula trust process.” Park and Obama also discussed a need to forge multinational approach to bring peace and stability in the region, such as through Park’s proposal to establish the Northeast Asia initiative similar to the Helsinki process of Europe in the 1970s. Dubbed the “Northeast Asia peace and cooperation initiative,” the plan calls for Asian nations to enhance cooperation, first on nonpolitical issues such as climate change and counterterrorism, before expanding the trust that was built through such cooperation to other areas.
A Conscientious voice in Japan
Despite Japan’s recent efforts to distort history and deny the sexual slavery of comfort women, there are conscientious voice in Japan opposing these efforts. At a church in the Fukushima prefecture, there is a comfort women statue. This is a replica of the one located in front of the Japanese embassy in Korea. Muto Kiyoshi, the pastor of this church, learned about the comfort women and felt that Japan should repent for their past crimes. When Abe explicitly denied the sexual enslavement of the comfort women, Muto Kiyoshi could no longer stand by. I hope to see more conscientious voice in Japan.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye arrived in Washington on Monday for her first summit with President Barack Obama and a speech before a joint session of Congress. Park flew in from New York, where she held talks with South Korean-born U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and met with South Korean residents. Upon arrival in Washington, she headed directly to Arlington National Cemetery and paid her respects. The White House summit, set Today, is expected to focus on how to deal with North Korea. The meeting comes as Pyongyang has toned down war rhetoric and begun talking about the possibility of dialogue with Washington after weeks of nuclear strike threats and other menacing bombast against South Korea and the United States. But in inter-Korean relations, no signs of a breakthrough are in sight as Pyongyang has spurned Seoul’s calls for talks about saving the suspended joint industrial complex in its border city of Kaesong from permanent closure. I hope that Park and Obama use the summit to try to forge a united front on the North.
Japan marked for the first time Sunday the end of the allied occupation of the country following its defeat in World War II. The Japanese imperial couple, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and about 390 lawmakers, prefectural governors and government officials were present at the ceremony. On April 28, 1952, Japan recovered its sovereignty, except for Okinawa prefecture. The San Francisco Peace Treaty ended the seven-year occupation of Japan by United States-led forces. Japan’s sovereignty commemoration is truly incomprehensible because Japan celebrated its restoration of sovereignty while saying that its history of forced occupations and invasions into other countries can look different depending on which side views them.
In North Korea, the Constitution provides for “freedom of religious belief”; the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is an atheist state. North Korea is officially an atheist state, and government policy continues to interfere with the individual’s ability to choose and to manifest his or her religious belief. The regime continues to repress the religious activities of unauthorized religious groups. The government deals harshly with all opponents, including those who engage in religious practices deemed unacceptable by the regime. An estimated 150,000 to 200,000 persons were believed to be held in political prison camps (Kwalliso) in remote areas, many for religious and political reasons. North Korea sees organised religious activity as a potential challenge to the leadership.
Each country has its own stance on different issues. We should not let these things affect diplomatic relations?
Yoshihide Suga, the Japanese government spokesperson said that the shrine visits and donations are private and should not affect diplomacy. Japanese students are taught that Japan was a victim of atomic bombs but not a major perpetrator of the war. This is the reason why Japan’s denial contrasts with Germany’s atonement. Unfortunately, many Japanese as well as the Japanese media, seem reluctant to reflect on this issue.
The nail that sticks out gets pounded. If Japan maintains its stance, it will one day be pounded.