Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Use of "Comfort Women" Is an Insult to Shinto Faith

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Use of "Comfort Women" Is an Insult to Shinto Faith

Article excerpt

Though World War II ended nearly 68 years ago, the stories of that period at times seem distant. The world has improved with regard to human rights or at least we want to believe it has.

I had heard about "comfort women" many years ago, and chalked this painful episode of treating women as property to be part of the past. But the comments made recently by a Japanese mayor proved me wrong.

"Comfort women" is translation of Japanese word "ianfu" which was a euphemism for prostitution. These women were forced or enticed by Japanese Imperial government into prostitution.

Most of the women were taken from Korea, China, Japan, Philippines; some were from Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Indonesia.

The numbers range from 20,000 to 400,000. The lower number mentioned by Japan and higher numbers by human rights advocates.

The Japanese government issued an apology in 1993, though right- wing groups in Japan want to rescind it based on "incorrect assumptions." They say these women went on their own.

Most nations have a hard time accepting and eventually asking for forgiveness for war crimes.

Doing so hurts national pride. And there is a difference of opinion about what exactly happened. But nations taking the high road have, and will, succeed in protecting human rights at national and international levels.

From time to time this unfortunate part of human history is recounted. Controversy arises and then dies down.

This week, the comments made by Toru Hashimoto, the mayor of Osaka were particularly abhorrent and painful for the surviving victims of this tragedy.

Hashimoto told reporters that the comfort women had served a valuable purpose.

"When soldiers are risking their lives by running through storms of bullets, and you want to give these emotionally charged soldiers a rest somewhere, it's clear that you need a comfort women system," he said.

He also recommended soldiers in Japan to "make more use of the island's adult entertainment industry, which he said would reduce the incidence of sexual crimes against local women."

I could not believe what I was reading in the newspaper. A politician defending an atrocity against humanity and even encouraging immoral behavior among troops. …

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