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Comfort Women
September 15, 2006 8:18 AM   Subscribe

On Wednesday, the US House of Representatives' Committee on International Relations adopted a bipartisan resolution to ask the Japanese government to formally apologize for sexually enslaving up to 200,000 "comfort women" in Imperial brothels during its colonial occupation of Asia from 1932 through the end of World War II. Many were tortured and raped, and only about 30% survived WWII. Japan has stated repeatedly that even though the brothels were established by military policy, the imperial government was not directly involved in operating them. Taking responsibility would be an admission that they committed war crimes -- slavery and trafficking in women and children -- and could give victims a legal basis to sue for reparations.

H Res. 759 does not ask Japan to provide reparations, but it does push them to unambiguously acknowledge what happened and educate future generations, (full text) rather than continue the current practice of denying what really happened. Previously on MeFi.
posted by zarq (56 comments total)

 
Oh, and if this doesn't work, maybe the recently announced Rape of Nanking movie will shame Japan into making amends.
posted by zarq at 8:19 AM on September 15, 2006


I found this link to the "Global V-Day Campaign for Justice to 'Comfort Women'" while researching this post, but didn't want to make the darn thing longer than it already is. Links on that page point to a teacher's guide as well as organizations devoted to raising awareness and lobbying the Japanese government.
posted by zarq at 8:26 AM on September 15, 2006


The United States is complaining about war crimes committed by another country? Ho-ho-ho. Hate to burst the bubble, but right about the time that it became clear that the U.S.A. was routinely torturing prisoners, and that this was occurring as ordered by the country's leadership, the U.S.A. lost all moral authority to complain about war crimes. That moral authority isn't coming back any time soon (and certainly not while that same House of Representatives just passed a bill to allow the U.S. to legally torture prisoners, and to not have that be considered a war crime in the U.S.A.) Do as we say, not as we do? That's a very compelling argument, I'm sure Japan will be very moved by it.
posted by jellicle at 8:31 AM on September 15, 2006


Not to derail, but a branch of US govt is asking Japan to apologize for war crimes, when the same people voted to commit war crimes [ 1 | 2 ] in Iraq?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:32 AM on September 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


Or Vietnam?
posted by NinjaTadpole at 8:35 AM on September 15, 2006


Actually, that line of argument is a derail. The fact that the US has committed what might be war crimes in Iraq and the War on Terror doesn't make Japanese war crimes less awful, and to the extent that the US has a special relationship with Japan, we may be able to influence them despite our perhaps diminished moral authority.
posted by grobstein at 8:36 AM on September 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


I'm astounded by the tragic irony of this.
posted by anomie at 8:36 AM on September 15, 2006


Jellicle and Blazecock, I never said it wasn't hypocritical of the House to do so... but our own human rights violations (real and alleged) shouldn't diminish Japan's atrocities, either. Those women were tortured and repeatedly raped and abused on a daily basis for years. They deserve acknowledgement of what was done to them, an apology and at least a little justice.
posted by zarq at 8:37 AM on September 15, 2006


(not that this same group of people voted, I meant the same branch, apologies for any confusion and for any half-written flames now redundant)
posted by NinjaTadpole at 8:38 AM on September 15, 2006


Okay, I only skimmed the "denying what really happened" link, but if I got the right sense of it, they're not saying that the event didn't really occur...

Nonetheless, in response to mounting international pressure to compensate former comfort women, the government has acknowledged its moral responsibility for the suffering imposed on them and it helped establish the Asian Women's Fund (AWF) to express "a sense of national atonement from the Japanese people to the former 'comfort women,' and to work to address contemporary issues regarding the honor and dignity of women."

...so much as they're trying to get out of accepting any legal or financial consequences for it.

The distinction's as if somebody said "Slavery never happened" vs. somebody saying "Reparations? Tsshyeahright"; the trouble with "deny" is it can mean different but related things.
posted by pax digita at 8:40 AM on September 15, 2006


Let's see. It's been more than 60 years. Yeah, I think it's a safe bet that there's really no original decision-makers left to apologize. If Japan as a country wants to apologize for actions it took back when it was almost entirely a different country, that'd be quite honorable but they should not be a) forced to and b) subjected to "Ha! Now we can sue you" when and if they do.

It's not too late for America though.
posted by hoborg at 8:42 AM on September 15, 2006


As am I, anomie.

The timing of this resolution is suspect. This isn't a "new" issue; it's been known for decades that this occurred. grobstein, influence them how? It's more than a half-century later. The question you should be asking is "why is a House resolution being passed now condemning the practice?"
posted by FormlessOne at 8:43 AM on September 15, 2006


The fact that the US has committed what might be war crimes in Iraq and the War on Terror doesn't make Japanese war crimes less awful

I don't deny the crime's inhumanity. However, the US asking Japan to apologize is like swallowing a diet rich in irony.

If the goal is to get the Japanese to make amends, perhaps the request would have more moral legitimacy coming from another party?

If only we hadn't burned so many bridges with the United Nations. Perhaps a request from the world community would have carried more weight.

Instead, the Japanese people can easily — and rightfully — tell the US to clean their own (H)ouses before sticking their noses in others' dirty laundry; as long as that happens, Nanking and other war crime survivors and victims fail to get the justice they deserve, which is a crime in itself.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:44 AM on September 15, 2006


zarq,

You've been at MeFi enough to know the cardinal rules:
- Any post about America, is about America
- Any post that's primarily about another country, but mentions America, is about America
- Any post that's entirely about other countries, is an opportunity to discuss America, and its similarities or differences

Now, add to that a situation involving American hypocrisy, and it's virtually impossible for the discussion to not be about America.
posted by Bugbread at 8:50 AM on September 15, 2006 [3 favorites]


Fat chance that this will go over well in Tokyo, especially if Shintaro Abe gets into office.
posted by blucevalo at 8:53 AM on September 15, 2006


Perhaps the US should likewise apologize for the 'severities' perpetrated on the Phillipines in the early 20th Century.


"There is no question that our men do 'shoot niggers' somewhat in the sporting spirit, but that is because war and their environments have rubbed off the thin veneer of civilization...Undoubtedly, they do not regard the shooting of Filipinos just as they would the shooting of white troops. This is partly because they are "only niggers," and partly because they despise them for their treacherous servility...The soldiers feel they are fighting with savages, not with soldiers."--H.L. Wells New York Evening Post.

Jeez. What a bunch of hypocritical assholes.
posted by sfts2 at 8:55 AM on September 15, 2006


FormlessOne writes "The question you should be asking is 'why is a House resolution being passed now condemning the practice?'"

Probably related to tensions with North Korea, and the big anti-Japanese protests last year.

Blazecock Pileon writes "If only we hadn't burned so many bridges with the United Nations. Perhaps a request from the world community would have carried more weight."

Nah. I understand the argument that the US isn't in a moral position to make the argument, but Japan isn't making the decision based on the morality of the requesting party. There's no country moral enough to make Japan apologize if it doesn't want to. Now, if the Emperor himself put pressure on, then it might happen, but I don't think he's exactly in the loop as far as most of these political issues go, and the Kunaicho (Imperial Bureau? I don't know what it's called in English) keeps the Imperial family on a relatively short rein.
posted by Bugbread at 8:55 AM on September 15, 2006


Sorry, "the big anti-Japanese protests last year" -> "the big anti-Japanese protests in China last year"
posted by Bugbread at 8:56 AM on September 15, 2006


Japan, do as we say, not as we do.

bugbread writes "Kunaicho (Imperial Bureau? I don't know what it's called in English)"

Imperial Household Agency, usually.
posted by orthogonality at 8:59 AM on September 15, 2006


Pax digita, Yes and no. The wikipedia link above mentions that "The Japanese government does not fully recognize allegations of large scale forced prostitution." In addition, during a 1970's Tokyo War Crimes trial regarding the Rape of Nanking, the government claimed that the majority of evidence presented was falsified by an overly-nationalistic Chinese goverment. Wikipedia has more.

That's why I said "what really happened." They admit something did... just not the scope or who was responsible.
posted by zarq at 9:00 AM on September 15, 2006


FormlessOne and BugBread, They've been trying to get this passed for five years. The introduction of the bill has little or nothing to do with last year's protests. It's successful passage might have been helped by them, though.

From the first link of this post, 3rd paragraph:
"Two previous resolutions on comfort women, submitted in 2001 and last year, had been shelved mainly due to Japanese lobbying."
posted by zarq at 9:06 AM on September 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


There's no country moral enough to make Japan apologize if it doesn't want to

I don't know that this point really adds anything. There's no country or organization moral enough to make any country do something on the basis of a simple diplomatic request.

To get to the ultimate level of pedantry, if we really wanted to get this done, we'd invade Japan by force, put various Japanese through war crime tribunals and hang the guilty, using their assets and those of the state to make just reparations to victims' families. If we really wanted action on this, with or without the Japanese people involved.

Back in the real world, a xenophobic culture can easily use the requestor's behavior to confirm its biases and decline the request. That's harder, though not impossible to do when the requestor's behavior is not an elephant in the room.

This resolution come from a corrupt government with no legitimacy behind it, and so the Japanese have another excuse not to act. It's as simple and as tragic as that.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:10 AM on September 15, 2006


Blazecock,
If the goal is to get the Japanese to make amends, perhaps the request would have more moral legitimacy coming from another party?

You'd think so... but that hasn't worked for the last 35+ years. Lawsuits from organizations and individuals as well as pressure applied by the governments of Korea and China have proved useless. The links in the original post have more. As grobstein says, we have a special relationship with Japan that might help in applying pressure effectively. Probably not, but it can't hurt to try.
posted by zarq at 9:12 AM on September 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


bugbread, Yeah, I figured.) Was hoping I could prevent (HA!) the thread from going too far off-topic, though :)
posted by zarq at 9:19 AM on September 15, 2006


we have a special relationship with Japan

If we can impose no threat of military or economic force, what exactly about our relationship is special that would make it easier to get this done through the US?

The US maintains a military presence Japan doesn't want and a massive debt and trade imbalance that favors Japan's economy.

Save for defaulting on loans or invading their country, I honestly don't see how we could have much of an impact on an issue about which their culture has so clearly already made up its mind.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:21 AM on September 15, 2006


And if the Japanese don't comply, we will start renaming sushi "Freedom Rice" and teriyaki chicken "Liberty Chicken." Much woe will be upon Japan then.
posted by moonbiter at 9:22 AM on September 15, 2006


I do not understand the point of this either. All of these pre-WWII and WWII atrocities were supposedly cleansed without direct implication of the Japanese Royal family by MacArthur's war crimes trials in a way that left honor for the Japanese emperor, which was implicit in the surrender agreement - to have not done so would probably caused the resumption of warfare. In any event this is my understanding of the back room politicing that went on post-war with the MacArthur's military occupation authority and the Japanese government.
posted by sfts2 at 9:26 AM on September 15, 2006


Liberty Chicken

Nah, they'd only counter with a movie starring Mel Gibson as Rocky the flying Liberty Chicken, who'd deny the Holocaust brothels ever existed. :)
posted by zarq at 9:36 AM on September 15, 2006


Doesn't the treaty we signed with them prevent stuff like this? Also, what difference does it make if we pass a bill or not, it's up to the Japanese to implement it, which they won't.

If you ask me, I think the U.S. government should pay reparations to Americans enslaved by the Japanese during the war, since our treaty prevents victims from suing Japan or Japanese companies that profited from their labor.
posted by delmoi at 10:30 AM on September 15, 2006


How much is enough?

PM Kiichi Miyazawa, 1992 - I would like to once again express a heartful remorse and apology for the unbearable suffering and sorrow that you experienced during this period because of our nation's act." Recently the issue of the so-called 'wartime comfort women' is being brought up. I think that incidents like this are seriously heartbreaking, and I am truly sorry.

Chief Cabinet Minister Koichi Kato, 1992 - The Government again would like to express its sincere apology and remorse to all those who have suffered indescribable hardship as so-called 'wartime comfort women,' irrespective of their nationality or place of birth. With profound remorse and determination that such a mistake must never be repeated, Japan will maintain its stance as a pacifist nation and will endeavor to build up new future-oriented relations with the Republic of Korea and with other countries and regions in Asia. As I listen to many people, I feel truly grieved for this issue.

PM Tomiichi Murayama, 1994 - On the issue of wartime 'comfort women,' which seriously stained the honor and dignity of many women, I would like to take this opportunity once again to express my profound and sincere remorse and apologies. With regard to this issue as well, I believe that one way of demonstrating such feelings of apologies and remorse is to work to further promote mutual understanding with the countries and areas concerned as well as to face squarely to the past and ensure that it is rightly conveyed to future generations.

PM Ryutaro Hashimoto, 1996 - Nothing injured the honor and dignity of women more than this and I would like to extend words of deep remorse and the heartfelt apology.

PM Junichiro Koizumi, 2001 - As Prime Minister of Japan, I thus extend anew my most sincere apologies and remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences and suffered incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women. We must not evade the weight of the past, nor should we evade our responsibilities for the future. I believe that our country, painfully aware of its moral responsibilities, with feelings of apology and remorse, should face up squarely to its past history and accurately convey it to future generations

Just a few of them, but I guess that's not enough yet.
posted by splice at 10:51 AM on September 15, 2006


Although now that I see we're talking about reparations, not an apology, I'm probably off-base here. Carry on.
posted by splice at 10:55 AM on September 15, 2006


Although now that I see we're talking about reparations, not an apology, I'm probably off-base here.

I'm not sure I would call this a serious attempt at an apology.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:58 AM on September 15, 2006


The author of Flyboys does an excellent (horrific) job of describing what happened to comfort women and many others in the Rape of Nanking. Some of these women were raped upwards of 50 times a day.

How much is enough? Maybe a little more.
posted by allkindsoftime at 11:00 AM on September 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


I guess I have to ask why we care about this so much. I mean, if we could find out exactly who was responsible, we would what? Go pee on their graves?

At some point I think we have to admit that the people who committed certain acts have, in fact, gotten away with it. Making people who have since been born in the same country they lived in apologize for those acts isn't really going to do much for anyone. It's like demanding that Billy Graham or Teddy Kennedy aphorized for the Salem Witch Trials.

I'd be a lot more impressed if some of the countries who are allegedly sorry about this or that atrocity commited by their ancestors (and there is certainly plenty of atrocity to go around) got off their collective asses to do something about atrocities that were happening now.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:59 AM on September 15, 2006


Something I think about reading splice's post is that in the West -- well, in the States, at least -- an apology doesn't carry the same sort of gravitas that I'm given to understand it does in Japanese culture. And these have been repeated apologies.

I guess when a Japanese PM commits seppuku on NHK, maybe that'll get the message across.

As with slavery in the US, I don't see how reparations can accomplish anything concrete at this point -- we're talking about survivors who are mostly in their 80s and 90s now, aren't we? Is a checkbook going to assuage a conscience?
posted by pax digita at 12:31 PM on September 15, 2006


I'm not sure I would call this a serious attempt at an apology.

The article you linked to makes the point that Yasukuni Shrine honors 2.5 million war dead. And, among them, less than 1100 war criminals. Would you expect the American president to stop visiting Arlington National Cemetery, if less than one percent of those buried there were branded war criminals by an occupying country?

If anything, the Japanese prime ministers of the last fifty years have been pretty good about not visiting Yasukuni. The recent visits are nothing but Koizumi playing to his conservative base, and as the last of the war conservatives die off, I expect that even the LDP will stop bothering.
posted by vorfeed at 12:50 PM on September 15, 2006


I can't wait until we get a real Congress back and are rid of these gutless time wasters. My civil liberties are swirling down the f'ing toilet, the budget deficit is going to bankrupt the county, the president is screaming that no one will realize he has total authority, the rest of the world is speeding past us in tech/education, and these clowns are lecturing some other country about it's manners.

Me to Congress - "Please fuck off at your earliest convenience."
posted by Daenoora at 12:56 PM on September 15, 2006 [3 favorites]


"But that was in another country;
And besides the wench is dead."
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:24 PM on September 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


All of what I'm about to say can be found in the links I put in this post.

It's not about reparations. It's about making the Japanese government admit that they sanctioned widespread war crimes and human rights violations while occupying parts of Asia. It's also about making them teach their own history in its entirety to their citizens. Japan tried for decades to deny the brothels ever existed. When that failed, they've tried to downplay what happened for decades and, as recently as a decade ago, eliminated all references to brothels or the Rape of Nanking from their textbooks. Many comfort women have stated that they would forego a lawsuit if Japan were to do this.

When will the apologies be enough? When they say something meaningful. The repeated apologies have been vague to the point of insulting to the victims. They neither acknowledge the Japanese Imperial government's role in the running of military brothels, nor do they accept responsibility for what was done.

It's not about punishing the individual rapists, torturers and murderers. As far as I've seen, not one comfort woman has said they want to take revenge on an individual who violated her. (It wouldn't be realistically possible anyway -- some of these women were raped by more than 40 men on a daily basis for months or years.) It's about making sure that Japan doesn't try to continue to lie to the world about what their government sanctioned and allowed to happen.

It's not about America's record. It's about a horrific wrong committed by Japan that needs to be set right. The US may not be the folks to push them to do so, but I notice that none of those on this thread who are (rightfully) attacking America's human rights record are providing viable alternatives that haven't been previously attempted, either.

This is still a relevant issue Many of the surviving comfort women are still alive. As long as Japan continues to deny atrocities were committed, this will continue to be relevant.
posted by zarq at 1:31 PM on September 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


Good post, Zarq, but don't try to moderate your own thread. Once you hit that post button you lose ownership. Frustrating sometimes, but nothing to be done about it.

I agree the surviving comfort women are entitled to some kind of payment from the Japanese government. A payment they are unlikely to receive. Beyond that, I don't see when any kind of apology, "good enough" or not, does for anyone. The men who enslaved those women are dead and beyond our reach, and I don't believe in collective or inherited guilt. And it isn't like Japan is likely to go out and do this again.

Apologizing for one's own sins is important. Apologizing for the sins of one's ancestors is moral posturing.
posted by LarryC at 1:43 PM on September 15, 2006


This.
My day's been waiting for that comment.
posted by NinjaTadpole at 2:09 PM on September 15, 2006


Apologizing for one's own sins is important. Apologizing for the sins of one's ancestors is moral posturing.

Not to mention that it does not politically matter what Japan does about this. They could dress every member of the Diet in hair shirts and hand over their entire GDP to the last surviving comfort women, and the governments of China and Korea would still be making political hay out of their "inadequate apologies" the next afternoon. The political issues here are way more complex than "look at the evil country that won't own up to what happened".
posted by vorfeed at 3:26 PM on September 15, 2006


Daenoora: "I can't wait until we get a real Congress back and are rid of these gutless time wasters."

Here, here. I, too, long for a return to the days of yore, when it rained beer and donuts, and when money was handed out to all who wanted it by happy, smiling clowns.

LarryC: "Apologizing for one's own sins is important. Apologizing for the sins of one's ancestors is moral posturing."


I agree that it's often just a PR move. But given that we inherit the benefits that stem from the virtues of our ancestors, we ought also to inherit the debts incurred by their sins. The only alternative is utter amnesia and complete separation from the past.
posted by koeselitz at 3:28 PM on September 15, 2006


So, let's assume they did apologize? We'd lean back, cross our arms and say, "Good. Now don't let it happen again."

Then what? Let the suing begin, right? I'm not sure why they have to apologize for the suing to being, when they've already said it did occur. It's not like anyone's debating that.
posted by hoborg at 3:44 PM on September 15, 2006


Blazecock Pileon writes "I don't know that this point really adds anything. There's no country or organization moral enough to make any country do something on the basis of a simple diplomatic request. "

Agreed. My argument was just based on how I read this:

Blazecock Pileon writes "If the goal is to get the Japanese to make amends, perhaps the request would have more moral legitimacy coming from another party?"

I think I may have interpreted it differently than you intended, because I thought you were saying that perhaps a request from another party would have more moral legitimacy, and therefore have had the possibility of getting Japan to make an official apology. It looks like I just took what you said the wrong way.

pax digita writes "I guess when a Japanese PM commits seppuku on NHK, maybe that'll get the message across."

Yes, and no. Part of the problem, as I understand it, is that the apologies which have come out and been decent apologies (as opposed to the "I am sorry that you are offended by things which may or may not have happened" apologies) have been personal apologies, and not apologies representing Japan as a whole. So if the Diet makes and passes a resolution that an apology be given by the PM representing the whole Japanese people, and that he commit seppuku, that would be groovy, but if the PM did it on his own, the argument would probably be along the lines of "Why don't the Japanese people apologize? Even their PM admitted this happened and killed himself because of it."
posted by Bugbread at 4:14 PM on September 15, 2006


I think Japan should just apologize again, and then pass a resolution asking the U.S. to apologize for slavery again. Then everybody can pass a resolution asking Germany to apologize for the Holocaust again, Spain can come out of the blue and apologize for the Conquista without anybody having to ask, and we can all decend into a political spiral of ancestral guilt.

That'd be fun.
posted by yeolcoatl at 4:31 PM on September 15, 2006


i'm sorry

I'm sorry.

I said "I'M SORRY!"

(...i'm not sorry)
posted by tkchrist at 7:00 PM on September 15, 2006


Somebody's channelling PeeWee Herman.
posted by koeselitz at 8:05 PM on September 15, 2006


The only alternative is utter amnesia and complete separation from the past.

Surely there are a thousand things in between, starting with teaching the past openly and honestly without pulling any punches.
posted by LarryC at 8:58 PM on September 15, 2006


As far as I am concerned, stopping the current human rights abuses in China take precidence over Japan apologising to China and Korea about crimes comitted over half a century ago. In the news, I see more about Japan's WWII war crimes than I see about the PRC's ongoing brutality towards its own people, and most of what I see about awful, awful Japan comes from Xinhua.

I know there are some serious skeletons in the closet that Japan has been less than forthright in addressing, but I know for a fact that a large portion of the noise about this in the press comes directly from the mouthpiece of a brutal police state.

Forgive me if I am more concerned with the people being tortured RIGHT NOW, as opposed to crimes decades old.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 2:15 AM on September 16, 2006


Just for the record, Xinhua is the destestable mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 2:16 AM on September 16, 2006


Yes, there have been several apologies from Japanese PMs, but they are empty at the core. Let's take a closer look at this comment from Koizumi: "... I believe that our country, painfully aware of its moral responsibilities, with feelings of apology and remorse, should face up squarely to its past history and accurately convey it to future generations."

Sounds all well and good, but Koreans see no evidence of any "painful awareness of moral responsibility". Every court case in Japan brought by former "comfort women" has ended with plaintiffs being denied any compensation whatsoever. Where's the responsibility? They do see that unlike, say, the Germany of today, Japan is in no sense facing up squarely to its past history. They are also very aware that these and other horrific war crimes are certainly not being accurately conveyed to future generations, and that there is no indication they will be so conveyed at any time in the future.

As regards the whole America-has-no-moral-authority-here argument, yes of course the US has a history of ugly doings around the world, and not just in times of war. But if you're going to always go with a let-he-who-is-without-guilt-cast-the-first-stone argument, then no stones would ever be cast, by anyone. And sometimes stones need to be cast. Personally, I applaud the Senate decision, as I would applaud any similarly worded resolution from the Japanese Diet calling for a formal apology to the torture and murder victims of Abu Ghraib, for example.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:03 AM on September 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


Every court case in Japan brought by former "comfort women" has ended with plaintiffs being denied any compensation whatsoever.

Because Japan's courts and its government are the same thing? Or did the government somehow have these cases thrown out? Or do we care about such distinctions?
posted by dreamsign at 9:01 AM on September 16, 2006


Actually, dreamsign, in Japan the courts and the government are, for all practical purposes, the same thing. The courts (not a jury system here, by the way: all decisions are made by judges) are very conservative. They virtually never rule against the government in any kind of grievances case. They are astonishingly consistent in this regard. By the same token, the police are very, very seldom found guilty of wrongdoing. The justice system here (as regards objectivity, fairness, multiplicity of opinion, etc.) pales in comparison with the US justice system. One small indicator: anyone can be held by the police without charges and virtually incommunicado with the outside world for as long as 2 weeks, and even longer if the cops ask for an extension, which is routinely granted by the courts.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:25 AM on September 16, 2006


Perhaps the Japanese government should issue a resolution demanding that the American Government issue an apology to the descendents of all of the black women who were sexually enslaved during the period 1793-1865.
posted by jason's_planet at 6:46 PM on September 16, 2006


America occupied Japan for almost seven years after the war.

How did American military men behave toward Japanese women during this period?

I once saw a collection of cartoons published initially in a paper printed in Japan and catering to the occupying forces; perhaps I can convey some idea of its flavor: one cartoon showed a remarkably statuesque Japanese girl from behind, nude, with her kimono puddled at her heels, answering her door to an astonished young American in a seaman's uniform with a bouquet clasped loosely in suddenly nerveless fingers. The caption said "You say you want see me tonight, Joe." This is a relatively mild example.

I wonder if there's a story to be told here which could make both our countries considerably uncomfortable even after more than fifty years.
posted by jamjam at 9:04 PM on September 16, 2006


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