Friday, June 6, 2014

The “Kono Statement,” valid, incomplete, or misguided?

The “Kono Statement,” 
valid, incomplete, or misguided?

The “Kono Statement” issued on 4 August 1993, by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono in reference to the Comfort Women issue has been interpreted as an official apology by the Japanese government.  The Koreans are claiming it was not a “sincere apology.”  Critics claim it was an apology issued falsely while ignoring the realities of the issue.  I claim the “Kono Statement” is invalid because it seems to be based on information gathered to prove women were forced into becoming Comfort Women.  As oppose to conducting an examination to determine if any of the claims were valid through balance research.    

The impudence for the Kono Statement seems to have gained strength from research conducted by Professor Yoshiaki Yoshimi of Japanese modern history at Chuo University in Tokyo, Japan.  Mr. Yoshimi went on a fishing expedition to uncover war crimes committed by the Imperial Japanese Army and Imperial Japanese Navy during and before World War Two. 

While fishing at the Defense Agency Library of Tokyo he claims to have located documentary evidence the Imperial Japanese Army established and ran Comfort Women Stations.  Mr. Yoshimi cites as evidence a notice written on 4 March 1938 by the adjutants to the Chiefs of Staff of the North China Army and Central China expeditionary Army titled “Concerning the Recruitment of Women for Military Comfort Stations.”      

Shall we examine key sections of this document to uncover support for claims of impropriety by the Imperial Japanese Army?   Certainly!

"Many agents should have required special attention. Some of them accentuated the name of the armies as much as they might hurt the credibility of the armies and cause misunderstanding among the public, others recruited women without control through war correspondents or entertainers, and others selected the wrong agents who took a kidnapping approach to recruit women so that the polices arrested them. In the future, the armies in the field should control recruiting and select the agencies circumspectly and properly, and should build up a closer connection with the local polices and the local military polices in the implementation of recruiting. Take special care not to have problems which have the potential to damage the armies' credibility or are not acceptable to social standards."

This is glowing statement acknowledging that in 1938 the Army recognized there was some miss-deeds in the recruitment of these women AND took steps to correct them.  

On page 8 of the document the following was written:

“There have been a lot of cases as above reported,
therefore, from now on, the dispatch force will carry out screening for the brokers carefully and adequately and will corporate with the police and kenpei in regulating the recruitment so that it won’t cause the social problem and it won’t damage the prestige of the military”

The Army identifying a wrong-doing and taking steps to correct it.  The document was exploited to prove there were forced Comfort Women, however portions illustrating some were identified and measures were implemented in 1938 to eliminate the abuses. 

The Kono Statements acknowledges military involvement in the Comfort Women Stations and mentions:

“The Government study has revealed that in many cases they were recruited against their own will, through coaxing coercion, etc., and that, at times, administrative/military personnel directly took part in the recruitments. They lived in misery at comfort stations under a coercive atmosphere.”

This part of the Kono Statement is questionable.   It did not mention the problem was identified in 1938 corrected and involvement of “many” taxes reality.  Another failure when mentioned “military personnel directly took part,” ignored the fact the military involvement was to stop the abuses.

As for “They lived in misery at comfort stations under a coercive atmosphere,” seems to have been written without reference to a report on this issue written by the United States Army in 1944 titled, “Japanese Prisoner of War Interrogation Report No. 49.”

Notice the “…Prisoner of War…” in the titled.  It was an interrogation report of Comfort Women captured by the U.S. Army as prisoners of war, not as people who were rescued.  The report notes their living conditions:

“They lived in near-luxury in Burma in comparison to other places. This was especially true of their second year in Burma. They lived well because their food and material was not heavily rationed and they had plenty of money with which to purchase desired articles. They were able to buy cloth, shoes, cigarettes, and cosmetics to supplement the many gifts given to them by soldiers who had received ‘comfort bags’ from home.” 

Did that read as if “They lived in misery at comfort stations under a coercive atmosphere,” as claimed in the Kono Statement?    

Another bases for the Kono Statement was the interviewing of around sixteen Korean women who claimed to have been forced into being Comfort Women.  Okay now where is the report where around sixteen former men of the Imperial Japanese Army were interviewed who paid for services at these Comfort Women Stations?  That part of the investigation either never took place or got lost in history.  The investigation into the issue prior to the release of the Kono Statement seems to have been aimed to gather incriminating so-call evidence to warrant an apologetic statement.  There seems to be an absence of any investigation into areas that may have or would have proven claims as invalid or an exaggeration.   

The Kono Statement seems to have been issued more as a political statement than an historical statement.  Many lunatic, Japan-bashing Koreans claim the Kono Statement did not represent a “sincere apology.”  Really?   Here is part of the Kono Statement:

“The Government of Japan would like to take this opportunity once again to extend its sincere apologies and remorse to all those, irrespective of place of origin, who suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.

 It is incumbent upon us, the Government of Japan, to continue to consider seriously, while listening to the views of learned circles, how best we can express this sentiment.
 We shall face squarely the historical facts as described above instead of evading them, and take them to heart as lessons of history.

 We hereby reiterated our firm determination never to repeat the same mistake by forever engraving such issues in our memories through the study and teaching of history.”

What could be more “sincere” than that?  It was a sincere apology based on partial historical facts, while ignoring other facts, and rooted in a political exercise resulting in a failed diplomatic effort.

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