Asahi Shimbun retracts ‘comfort women’ articles
9:11 pm, August 05, 2014 / The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Yomiuri Shimbun The Asahi Shimbun published articles in its Tuesday morning edition that acknowledged there were factual errors in parts of its past coverage of the issue of so-called comfort women.
In a front-page byline piece, Asahi Shimbun Executive Editor Nobuyuki Sugiura wrote, “We’ve concluded that the reports contain factual errors.” The newspaper also carried a two-page spread examining its past coverage of the issue.
According to the articles, The Asahi Shimbun published articles at least 16 times between 1982 and the early 1990s based on witness accounts made by Seiji Yoshida, who claimed to have forcibly taken away local women from Jeju Island, South Korea, to serve as comfort women.
Though The Asahi Shimbun conducted additional fact-gathering activities, it was unable to obtain corroborative evidence to back up Yoshida’s statements. The paper therefore concluded it was unreliable and decided to withdraw the articles.
In response to The Asahi Shimbun’s move, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference on Tuesday morning: “I’d like to continue to explain our nation’s stance on the comfort women issue. I hope correct historical perception will be formed based on objective facts.”
Following archive is the one of the typical "Japan-Discount" articles based on false report which mostly lefty-Asahi newspaper had posted.
Japanese Veteran Presses Wartime-Brothel Issue
By DAVID E. SANGER,
Published: August 8, 1992
From his modest house in this distant Tokyo suburb, Seiji Yoshida, now 78 years old and bent by age, has become something of a nightmare for the Japanese Government: a self-described former war criminal eager to confess in front of the television cameras.
Again and again in recent months Mr. Yoshida has told the story of how he led a group of wartime policemen into rural corners of Korea, surrounded entire villages, and seized women between the ages of 18 and 35. Often, he said, he grabbed screaming infants from the women's arms before forcing the women into trucks and shipping them to the front lines in China to serve in brothels for Japan's invasion force.
Thousands of the women never returned, some killed by Japanese soldiers and many others caught in the crossfire of battle.
"The screaming was terrible, but that was my routine throughout 1943 and 1944," Mr. Yoshida said recently, estimating that he had seized perhaps 2,000 women. "It was just like kidnapping. It may be the worst abuse of human rights in Asia in this century." Clashing Memories For months the Government of Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa has been scrambling to find a way around a diplomatic minefield as elderly Korean women step forward after years of silence to demand reparations for their pain. Apart from their accounts, Mr. Yoshida's memories are the most potent bit of testimony yet that Japan not only ran the brothels but that it also organized kidnapping squads to keep the sites supplied with tens of thousands of "inanfu," or "comfort women."
Mr. Yoshida's story has come under intense attack from historians who describe it as the fictional musings of an old man seeking headlines. No other veterans have told similar stories, they point out, and there is no documentary evidence to back him up.
But the issue of his war experiences, like every argument here over the extent of Japan's war crimes, suggests that more than the facts is at stake. It is one of the constant small skirmishes here between those who say Japan has yet to come to terms with the war, and those who view disputes like this one as part of a campaign to humiliate Japan into a never-ending series of apologies.
Rarely has the struggle become as intense as this year, when every few weeks brings a fresh 50th anniversary of some event in the war. 'The Apologies Are Endless'
"Japan is silent about this, but Japanese are angry," said Prof. Ikuhiko Hata, one of Mr. Yoshida's leading critics. "The apologies are endless."
Confronted with overwhelming evidence gathered by a Japanese history professor who said he was tired of official obfuscation, the Government grudgingly admitted in July that the military had recruited the women and run the brothels. Until recently many officials clung to the explanation that the brothel system was set up by private entrepreneurs.
Still, the Government insisted that there was no evidence the women were forced into the work. Instead, it suggested that the 100,000 to 200,000 women were volunteers, or young women sold to "brokers" by their families, or innocents who had been duped into believing they were going to work at factories. The Government has rejected proposals for public hearings on the issue, saying it would violate the privacy of the women. Hints of Reparations
Others suggest the Government has a different motive: If the women could prove that the Government had a team of kidnappers at work, it might strengthen claims for compensation.
The South Korean Government says it has collected the names of 155 people who say they deserve compensation. Of that number, 74 are women who say they were forced to work in brothels; the remainder are their survivors.
Mr. Miyazawa, apparently eager to see the issue brought to rest, has said that Japan must find a way to "express our feelings of remorse" and has hinted that some form of compensation might be on the way.
Stories like Mr. Yoshida's keep the issue on the front pages. Starting with a book he wrote in 1983, long before the issue became a major political dispute, Mr. Yoshida said that he had been hired in Yamaguchi prefecture, near the Japan Sea, to direct a group of Korean policemen in "recruiting" the women. At the time, Korea was still a Japanese colony. Altered Details
"We would use 5 or 10 trucks, and sweep the villages, choosing two or three young women from each who would be suitable." He describes a number of instances in detail, including a sweep through a factory on Cheju Island, off the southern coast of Korea, where many women were seized at a button factory.
But Mr. Yoshida's story has some problems. He confesses to having changed some details of events he presented as "facts" to avoid bringing shame on men he worked with and their families. Seiji is a pen name he says he used to protect his own family.
Professor Hata and others dismiss the accounts as pure fabrication. "In Korea it was all through official arrangements or it was voluntary," he said. Professor Hata teaches at Takushoku University, which once trained civil servants to administer Japan's colonies.
Mr. Hata has published a lengthy attack on Mr. Yoshida's book. In a recent interview at his home in Tokyo, he suggested that Mr. Yoshida had provided starkly different details of his life in an earlier memoir written in 1977. That book contains little mention of the "comfort women."
"All the mass communications groups have been cheated by Yoshida," Professor Hata said. Memory Lapse or Shame?
Mr. Yoshida's critics cite South Korean newspaper interviews on Cheju Island, where townspeople say that they have no recollection of any "sweep" through the button factory. No one, however, can tell how meaningful such a lapse may be: Work in a brothel for Japanese soldiers has been considered so shameful in Korean society that most survivors say they dared not return to their hometowns or families. And the families often disowned their "inanfu" relatives.
Only recently have some of the women come forward, saying they are now too old to care about the embarrassment.
Roh Chung Cha, now 70 years old, has testified in Tokyo District Court that in March 1938, when she was 16, her mother dressed her like a boy and sent her on foot into the mountains to the distant home of an aunt in Chung Chong Province, on the west coast of what is now South Korea. When she was halfway there, she says, she was captured by seven Japanese military men who threw her into a trunk.
She was shipped to China with 38 other women, Ms. Roh said, and two days later she was No. 27 at a brothel. Some days she was required to have sex with 30 to 40 Japanese soldiers, interrupted at times to witness the beheading of Chinese soldiers, she said.
"I don't believe the story," said Mr. Hata, asserting that few soldiers were in Ms. Roh's part of Korea at that time. "And no one can say, 'I was a victim of Yoshida.' "
Photo: Seiji Yoshida, who said he led a group of wartime policemen to kidnap women and ship them to the front lines in China to serve in brothels for the Japanese forces. (David E. Sanger/The New York Times)
Aug. 12, 1992 Seoul,South Korea (AFP)