Tuesday, December 16, 2003



All history is artificial, in the sense that it's written by the victors. In the old days, that used to be exclusively true; nowadays though, in our new and enlightened world, the vanquished also get to put their spin on the way things were; and now that the USSR is gone, it seems nobody spins history like the Japanese government, perpetually in a state of denial about the country's past history and the uncounted atrocities committed in the name of the Rising Sun: the Nanjing Massacre still never happened in history textbooks here, same way Unit 731 never existed: all those photos are doctored, despite what the perpetrators and victims themselves say, with their bodies and their bones; and the wartime brothels of "comfort women" were organized by private individuals, the government had nothing to do with them.

But regarding the latter, at least, history has just said otherwise, in a recently declassified 36-page report issued by General Headquarters, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, in November 1945. The report, based on statements of Japanese prisoners and documents confiscated by the US military during and after the war, says that brothel operators received licenses from the Japanese military and worked under its direct supervision, and that the Japanese Government was directly involved in developing and operating military brothels where hundreds of thousands of Asian girls and women were forced to work as sex slaves during the war. That report was issued in English on December 5; it reached the English newspaper here a very long 7 days later in this age of instant communication, in the form of an article written for the LA Times.

Guess it's not as important here in Japan as it is everywhere else, like the recent boneheaded Japanese businessmen's historically insensitive sexual orgy in China, which also doesn't make the papers much. Some things never change, do they. That would include the Japanese government, as well as its version of history.

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