Apology for inappropriate expressions used in comfort women articles
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12:00 am, December 16, 2014
The Japan News
An in-house review has found that The Daily Yomiuri (hereafter referred to as the DY, and now The Japan News) used “sex slave” and other inappropriate expressions in a total of 97 articles from February 1992 to January 2013 in its reporting on the issue of so-called comfort women.
The Japan News apologizes for having used these misleading expressions and will add a note stating that they were inappropriate to all the articles in question in our database. We also have a list of the articles on our website (the-japan-news.com).
The Yomiuri Shimbun (Japanese edition) likewise expressed an apology in its Friday edition.
Among articles related to the comfort women issue — those translated from Yomiuri Shimbun stories and DY original stories — there are 85 articles in which “sex slave” and other words with the same meaning were used in an inappropriate manner.
The expression “comfort women” was difficult to understand for non-Japanese who did not have knowledge of the subject. Therefore the DY, based on an inaccurate perception and using foreign news agencies’ reports as reference, added such explanations as “women who were forced into sexual slavery” that did not appear in The Yomiuri Shimbun’s original stories.
For example, the Henshu Techo front page column carried in The Yomiuri Shimbun’s edition for Aug. 30, 1997, contained the words “about descriptions of comfort women and others.” However, “Jottings,” the DY’s translated version of the column, said, “the issue of ‘comfort women,’ who were forced into sexual servitude by the Imperial Japanese Army.”
There were also 12 articles that did not use “sex slave” or other words with that meaning, but defined comfort women in such terms as “forced into prostitution by the military,” as if coercion by the Japanese government or the army was an objective fact.
A statement on comfort women issued in 1993 by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono stated that “.... at times, administrative/military personnel directly took part in the recruitments [of comfort women].” The meaning was accurately presented by the DY initially.
However, the DY later simplified the meaning of the statement into, for example, “The government admitted that the Imperial Japanese Army forcibly recruited women” and used misleading expressions in some cases.
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The following is the list of the DY articles which contain inappropriate expressions (The headlines with the date of publication in the parentheses):
S. Korea Rejects North’s Proposal For Compensation (Feb. 21): Political Pulse (May 11): Korea Probing ‘Comfort Women’ (July 4): 42 Taiwanese Said Served As ‘Comfort Women’ (July 11): Editorial / Need To Resolve A Discomforting Issue (July 14): Sex Slavery Issue Not Settled Yet (Sept. 8): Ramos Defends Rights Record During Years Under Marcos (Sept. 27): Turning Point For Japan-China Relations (Sept. 30): Kim Lists Japan First On Overseas Visit If Elected (Sept. 30): Govt, Red Cross Mull ‘Comfort Women’ Pact (Oct. 10): ‘Comfort Women’ Move Shelved (Nov. 18): International Hearing Set On ‘Comfort Women’ Issue (Nov. 26): In music, films, and on stage, cultural happenings (Dec. 26): Editorial / Scandal Battered Hopes In ’92 (Dec. 31)
18 ‘comfort women’ file suit (April 3): High school teachers wrestle with ‘comfort women’ issue (July 21): Japan to admit ’comfort women’ forced to serve (July 24): Miyazawa making bid to deal with old issues (July 25): SDPJ moves to become ‘realistic’ (Aug. 26): ROK’s Hann to visit Japan (Aug. 30): ‘Comfort women’ settlement sought (Aug. 31): Yamahana sets new path in Seoul (Sept. 8): Comfort women names found on POW list (Oct. 9): Editorial / Hopes for Japan-South Korea summit (Nov. 6): A painful tale about ‘comfort’ women (Nov. 20)
South Koreans protest occupation (March 3): Kim advocates new bilateral partnership in Asia-Pacific age (March 26): Measures planned for comfort women (July 7): Fund plans discussed (Aug. 25): Forging future of Asia/ Murayama finds past not main issue (Aug. 31): 100 billion yen plan unveiled to cover war reparations (Sept. 1): East Asian Women’s Forum set for Tokyo (Sept. 8): Igarashi gets warm response to ‘comfort women’ fund plan (Oct. 31): Coalition panel urges ‘private’ fund to help comfort women (Dec. 7): Funds for students, sex slaves (Dec. 21)
‘Comfort women’ pledge to fight Tokyo (March 1): Cold comfort for war sex slaves (March 13): ‘Comfort women’ fund to be set up in May (April 8): Confab urges ‘comfort women’ probe (April 9): U.S. lawyer blasts foes of war resolution (May 31): Asians say resolution insufficient (June 8): Philippine ‘sex slaves’ reject apology (June 14): Seminar raps govt on ‘comfort women’ issue (July 5): Koreans plan ‘comfort women’ dance (July 12): U.N. investigator to visit Japan (July 14): U.N. ‘comfort women’ team arrives (July 23): ‘Comfort women fund’ explained (July 25): 15 Chinese file suits against govt (Aug. 8): ‘Comfort women’ reflect Japan values (Aug. 15): Murmurs of despair (Oct.12)
Premier to donate for ‘comfort women’ (Feb. 24): ‘Comfort women’ fund to start payout in July (April 8): Words in the News/ comfort women (April 18): ‘Comfort women’ fund-raiser to quit (May 4): Media reports show insensitivity to legal issues (May 29): Words in the News / apology (June 13): Taiwan women urge Toyota boycott (June 16): ‘Comfort women’ OK’d in textbooks (June 28): French priest wins environment award (July 6): 800 mil. yen eyed for ex-comfort women (July 10): Ex-comfort woman steadfast in demand for govt apology (July 12): Former ‘comfort woman’ testifies in court (July 20): Sex slave letter to cite responsibility (July 28): 3 former ‘comfort women’ receive Hashimoto apology (Aug. 15): Modern history has been neglected for too long (Aug. 19): Words in the News / Postwar settlement (Aug. 29): Straight talk on tangled ties (Oct. 2): ‘Comfort women’ hunger strike held (Nov. 26)
South Korea calls on Japan to settle ‘comfort women’ issue (Jan. 14): 7 Philippine ex-sex slaves to get aid (Jan. 16): Compensation suspended for ex-sex slaves in ROK (Jan. 17): Hashimoto, Kim to avoid thorny issues (Jan. 25): Hashimoto, Kim discuss closer ties (Jan. 26): Kajiyama expresses regret over remarks (Jan. 28): Editorial / Protect right of freedom of speech (Jan. 31): Film on WWII ‘comfort women’ to explain restitution plan (March 19): Editorial / Speech restricted in postwar Japan (March 30): S. Korean foreign minister to visit (April 10): Education Ministry rejects 4 ‘defective’ texts (June 28): ‘Comfort women’ fund still drawing criticism (July 21): Jottings (Aug. 31): Reconciling Japan’s past and future (Sept. 24)
‘Comfort women’ fund may change aid strategy (July 7): Nakagawa stirs controversy over ‘comfort women’ textbook description (Aug. 1)
Mock court to rule on WWII sex slave system (Dec. 4)
High court reverses ruling favoring ‘comfort women’ (March 30): Textbook issue will drag on, activist warns (June 6): U.S. hubris makes a comeback (July 22): Women struggling in a new ARENA (Nov. 24)
Former NHK documentarian focuses on the controversial (Jan. 31)
LDP ‘made’ NHK edit emperor, sex slave story (Jan. 14): NHK oversight panel reprimanded executives (Jan. 16): Televiews / New 2005 TV drama gets serious (Jan. 20)
Abe clarifies views on ‘history issue,’ reaffirms government apologies (Oct. 7): Bullying, school subjects to top committee agenda (Oct. 30)
Editorial / Kan statement a fillip for Japan-S. Korea ties (Aug. 12)
Abe diplomacy starts with Southeast Asia (Jan. 15)
Japan Denied Revision of UN Comfort Women Report
The Japanese government’s request to amend a 1996 U.N. special rapporteur’s report on comfort women was denied.
By Ankit Panda
October 17, 2014
According to a statement by government spokesman Yoshihide Suga on Thursday, the Japanese government asked the United Nations to partially retract an old United Nations report detailing abuses against Korean and other women who were forced to work as “comfort women” during the Second World War. The government’s request was rejected by the report’s author. The revelation comes amid a broader trend in Japan where conservative politicians have challenged the veracity of international claims regarding how the Imperial Japanese Army treated women in Korea and elsewhere during the war. Suga did not specify what sections of the report were in question.
The report, authored by former U.N. special rapporteur Radhika Coomaraswamy in 1996, called on Japan to apologize to the victims and pay reparations to survivors who had been forced into sex slavery during the war. The report was authored after Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono issued a statement in 1993 sharing the conclusions of a Japanese government study that declared that the Imperial Japanese Army was culpable of forcing women — mostly Koreans and Chinese — into sexual slavery. Kono’s statement included an apology and has been under criticism by some Japanese conservatives. For example, current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, during his first term in 2007, stated that he did not believe that the women were necessarily forced into sexual slavery, sparking controversy at the time. Though Abe has recently been less willing to explicitly contradict the Kono statement, remarks from within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party suggest that the Kono statement could be amended in the future. That his administration would now try to revise the U.N. special rapporteurs’ report is evidence that Abe’s government is likely pandering to a small but considerably influential conservative political base in Japan.
South Korea condemned the Japanese government’s attempt to revise the report. Noh Kwang-il, spokesman for the South Korean Foreign Ministry, remarked, “However hard the Japanese government tries to distort the true nature of the comfort women issue and play down or hide the past wrongdoings, it will never be able to whitewash history.” The domestic debate on the issue in Japan was transformed this summer when the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, a left-leaning publication, issued a retraction of several articles it had published on the issue of sex slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army that were based on a discredited source. Japanese conservatives took this to vindicate their apprehension about the international consensus on the issue. Despite the Asahi Shimbun‘s retraction, the testimonies of numerous survivors of sexual slavery under the Imperial Japanese Army — particularly South Korean survivors — continue to resonate in the region.
Historical issues are a particular inhibitor to closer ties between Northeast Asian states. In particular, relations between South Korea and Japan have been chilly ever since Shinzo Abe returned to power in December 2012. South Korea continues to demand that Japan resolve the “comfort women” issue ”effectively and in a way that is agreeable to the living victims.” Issues like historical revisionism on the comfort women issue are non-negotiable for the South Korean government. Beyond the government, public opinion of Japan, particularly the government under Abe, is at historic lows in South Korea.