NYT Still Enforcing the Japanese War Guilt Information Program?

An average English reader has probably never heard of this thing called "The Japanese War Guilt Information Program". It was a program developed in the U.S. during the war against Japan in the anticipation of defeating Japan and to destroy it so completely militarily and spiritually that it can never pose a threat to the Allied nations. The basic idea or tone was clearly spelled out in an "educational pamphlet" titled "GI Roundtable: What Shall Be Done about Japan after Victory?" (highly distorted and full of lies) published on 25 June 1945 and distributed among the U.S. soldiers in the eve of Japanese surrender. The major components included the war crime tribunal to establish the guilt, dismantling of the industries and the military, strict censorship under strict secrecy encompassing from the destruction of  published books to daily inspection of news media and private correspondences, war guilt propaganda fed through the mass media and education systems, purging of public officials, bureaucrats, professors, etc. replacing them with "friendly Japanese" (many were leftists and so were the staff of the U.S. lead occupation forces), and so-called "peace constitution" written by the occupation forces, all of which were in violation of one international law or another.

Looking back, there is not much evidence of the Japanese fighting back. Some say that was because the Emperor issued a call to the nation to "bear the unbearable and endure the unendurable" and the Japanese embraced it. But I doubt that the Emperor has ever imagined beating themselves up with made up atrocities would become part of it. "The Japanese War Guilt Information Program" seems to have achieved its goal even to the extent that some Japanese seem to enjoy seeing themselves through the victor's eyes, seeing the Japanese as a nation/people war happy and atrocious, feeling "masochistic" pleasures to remind themselves of their nation's guilt on every occasion whether it is true or not. They even do not trust themselves to have a real military forces (the "peace constitution" does not allow any form of real military force). So, if you see any Japanese who are opposing against having real military forces or real constitution to the detriment of their own country's security, you are seeing a living proof of the program's success, and there are many of them.

A recent NYT article Pressure in Japan to Forget Sins of War has proven that there are groups both inside and outside Japan still trying to enforce that war guilt information program today, and some of them are those "masochistic" Japanese, such as the article's contributor Hisako Ueno. The title says it all, and when you read the article, you get an impression that the villagers could not build any memorial for the Koreans in the old village grave yard because the mayor's office was threatened by "Net Right" radicals sanctioned by Prime Minister Abe. However, if you see the accompanying photo, it already has a memorial dedicated to the Koreans. I guess NYT thought they could get away with that kind of deception and spin since only the Japanese and the Chinese can read those letters. The fact was that the mayor's office has never received the application to build additional memorial with a politically controversial inscription from the local group associated with the Koreans and Communist/Socialist parties, who tried to build it on the village property without the mayor's permission. The mayor had all the rights to stop that kind of sneaky operation. Some people made angry phone calls to the mayor's office believing it was the mayor who was building the additional memorial, based on the articles published in Korean media.

A memorial dedicated to the Korean victims of the war time construction work in an old grave yard of the village, where some Korean workers died and were buried (photo appeared in the NYT article).

Even more ridiculous is the article's claim that 700,000 Koreans were brought to Japan against their will during the 35 years of Japan era (Koreans were Japanese then). 700,000 is 1/3 of the entire Korean population in Japan at the end of that 35 years, all of whom went to Japan in search of better jobs. Actually, there were so many of them, the government had to put a restriction and deported many back to Korea. In a way, it was similar to the Mexican workers in the U.S. today. To say 700,000 Koreans were rounded up and forced to work in Japan is just as ridiculous as saying 1/3 of the Mexican workers in the U.S. are brought here against their will and forced to work.

You may also wonder why NYT is focusing on this story that happened a your ago, especially if you do not know what happened in Japan recently (it started on August 5, 2014).  That was the day Asahi News retracted a series of 32 year old articles that shocked the Japanese people and cemented their war time guilt by reporting a fake story of Japanese military going around Korean villages kidnapping young women by a truck load to ship to the Japanese military camps all around Asia as "sex slaves", which was denied by the Korean villagers themselves as ridiculous. After the Asahi's retraction that disgusted and angered many people, Mr. Abe has made his wish publicly known that Asahi should issue the correction in various languages, considering the damages the articles have caused worldwide over the years.  Since that day, Asahi News has been struggling to come to terms with their guilt in having run distorted anti-Japanese propaganda articles one after another over the years. It is yet to be seen, however, if this Asahi News' admission of their disgraceful past is the beginning of the end of the post war "War Guilt Information Program" regime at long last.  

To me, however, this NYT article is an Asahi and their friends' (including Chinese and Korean media as well as NYT) answer to Mr. Abe, demonstrating their intention that they will not stop anti-Japanese propaganda. They may have to retreat in Japan, but they can still inflict damages to Japan from outside Japan, and enjoy their masochistic pleasures.

Of course, as you might have guessed, there are people who are making money based on all these fabricated accusations and that includes not just Koreans, but also Japanese lawyers and activists who have been helping them coming up with the fabricated stories as well as with the legal procedures, and the Japanese politicians who have agreed to pay the settlement money. 

***************** March 2016 addition ************
You can find those activists in such places as in the committee hearings on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women at United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Those so called leftist Japanese human rights NGOs who have been accusing the Japanese government for not doing enough for the Japanese women's rights, are also accusing the Japanese government for not doing enough for the Korean women who worked as wartime prostitutes for the Japanese military for a good money. Those activists insist that those Korean prostitutes were abducted and forced into sex slavery. The fact is that there were some who were sold by their parents to the prostitution operators/recruiters. Although selling ones own children into indentured services was common among poor people and was not a crime in those days, some were no doubt deceived and did not realize brothel was their destination until they arrived there. The Japanese military authority was not always successful in eliminating those bad operators. It is understandable if they hold the Japanese military accountable for that failure, but they are making fool of themselves by stretching the facts beyond what's warranted.

You also have to remember that the Chinese and the Korean governments have settled with the Japanese government long ago, and were paid for all issues related to the Japanese activities during the WWII for good. Besides, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has no business taking up things that happened before 1985 as the Japanese government repeatedly protested:
"Since  this  Convention  does  not  apply retrospectively to  any  issues  that  occurred  prior  to  Japan’s  conclusion  thereof  (1985), the Government of Japan considers that it is not appropriate for the report to take up the comfort  women  issue  in  terms  of  the  implementation  of  State  Party’s  duties  regarding the Convention." (See the statement issued on 16 Feb. 2016 in CEDAW 63rd Session (Japanese audio; English audio not found. You can find the same document on the UN site, but appears not text searchable).
The implication is that someone in OHCHR is coordinating with the Japanese NGOs to take up this issue of Korean wartime prostitutes (comfort women) in violation of the charter, and it has "Chinese" written all over. Chinese money has also been funneled in to those Japanese and Korean activists. Global Alliance for Preserving the History of World War II in Asia (based in California) is a well known anti-Japanese organization backed by Chinese money. It is mentioned as the organization who expressed high hopes that the U.S. government would find documented evidence of Japanese war crime from the declassified government documents, which were examined specifically to uncover that evidence (see the final report of the Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Inter agency Working Group (IWG)). The final report says:
As researchers pore over this extraordinary collection of important and interesting documents, will they rewrite the history of World War II, the Holocaust, or the Cold War? Probably not...Among the disappointed will be those who had hoped for a voluminous release of U.S. records relating to Japanese war crimes. My understanding of the depth of feeling surrounding this issue changed dramatically in 2001, when I spoke to a meeting of the Global Alliance for Preserving the History of World War II in Asia...To these people, I state unequivocally that the IWG was diligent and thorough in its search for relevant records about war crimes in Asia.
Also, if you go to the National Archives in College Park, Maryland (outside Washington, DC), you can find documents created by the United States military during World War Two. Among them are  Interrogation reports on captured civilian brothel owners. The detailed reports portray how they became  brothel owners, how they recruited what kind of women, who (Japanese, Korean, and Chinese women) were paid how much, how the Japanese military licensed them, etc. 

No matter. Those anti-Japanese alliance groups are forging a head, and recently built anti-Japanese war memorial in San Francisco, just like the one in Nanjing, full of fake facts and fake eyewitness accounts and victims. It is sad that some misguided Japanese are taking part in such anti-Japanese organization that is bordering violation of the Civil Rights Act according to a California lawyer Kent Gilbert.

Then, why does the Japanese government keep apologizing and keep paying money? I will try to make sense in a separate post. For now, let me just point out some possibilities:
  1. The Japanese people may have somewhat different (higher) ethical standards than the rest of the world.
  2. The Japanese government may have been coerced by the U.S. and/or Chinese governments.
  3. There may have been politicians and high officials in the Japanese government who have been "cooperating" with the Americans, Chinese, or Koreans ever since Japan was put under the occupation forces.



Money and the Power of Japanese House Wives

by Etsuko Ueda

Cultural traditions and customs are often reflected in the language. The women's role in a culture is no exception. Japanese culture and customs in most part are still a mystery to the outside world, despite the worldwide popularity of its subcultures such as anime, comics, and video games. One of the most misunderstood is the women's power in the Japanese society. Here are some examples of the words that demonstrate the tradition that is deep enough to be reflected in the language.
Kitchen situation (台所事情 daidokoro-jijoh): euphemism for financial situation. In this case, kitchen signifies where the spending takes place.
Related terminology:
Lady of the kitchen (御台所 midaidokoro): It was a title of sort given to the wife of reigning Shogun or equivalent, and it suggests her role in the control of spending. "An army marches on its stomach" as they say, and the "kitchen" was and is very important to any military leader.
Wife role (女房役 nyohboh-yaku): In a Japanese organization, you usually find someone filling "Wife role". It is not an official designation, but everyone seems to know who that it. To play wife role in an organization means to take care of internal affairs, especially money matters. On the other hand, coordinators (幹事 kanji) are appointed often on a project basis. Some dictionaries translate this "Wife role" as "right-hand-man", however, it does not capture its role in money matters.
Here is a book title that captures the central meaning of "Wife Role". 女房役の心得 松下幸之助流お金の「教科書」by 川上 徹也 [Instructions for Wife Role: Matsushita Kohnosuke Style of Money "Textbook"] by Tatsuya Kawakami, an ex-Vice President of Panasonic. (Matsushita Kohnosuke was the legendary founder and the longtime president of Panasonic.)
All these Japanese terms indicate the traditional role of Japanese house wives, not known to the outside world. Until I came to the US, I did not know girls aren't supposed to be good at math, which is unthinkable in Japan where women take care of family money. You might have heard of Mrs. Watanabe (a name given to mean Japanese investors), and this well kept secret about Japanese house wive's role is the reason why it is not Mr. Watanabe.
This tradition is also reflected in the common practice of handing down family business through daughters rather than sons. Daughters are better trusted to manage family money and business, and she can choose a man well suited for the business as her husband. 

This is also the reason Japanese women are not clamoring to break the glass ceilings: She may not work to earn money outside her home, but the money her husband earns is practically hers because she is the one who controls the purse string.

One more thing. Guess why the Japanese women hold the world record of the longest life expectancy? I will give you a hint. Not by being subjugated to men. 


Sex Strike, a Universal Practice Since Pre-Human Days?

Pray the Devil Back to Hell is a documentary film about Women's peace movement that put an end to a civil war (greedy warlords and their men killing, raping, steeling, destroying everything in sight) that devastated Liberia for 14 years and no end in site at the time when the Women of Liberia started the movement in 2003. I don't know why I was not aware of it at the time, but in terms of successful women's effort to stop a large scale violence and conflicts by thugs, warlords, armies or any other type of militant groups, it was the first, I believe. I saw the film a several years ago (may be 2009) on Bill Moyers Journal, when it was broadcasted along with interviews of the film maker and the leader of the movement Leymah Gbowee.
Sex strike was mentioned in passing as a strategy they incorporated. I could not help but laugh hearing it, and I wondered how it worked (Leymah Gbowee says that it is the first thing a reporter would ask her.)
It turns out that "sex strike" is a very old idea. In Wikipedia, Sex Strike lists historic, prehistoric and modern incidences and tales of sex strikes. Perhaps the most famous is a Greek comedy called Lysistrata (411 BC Greece), in which the leader, Lysistrata organizes women to go on sex strike and withhold sexual privileges from their husbands and lovers as a means of forcing the men to negotiate peace. In 1953, a movie was made based on it. In Nigeria, not very far from Liberia, there was an old tradition of Women's Council which held a power to order mass strikes and demonstrations by all women against men. So, some of the leaders of Liberia's women's peace movement might have known those traditions and stories. Or, it may be an idea any woman would come up with when it is called for, since it can be traced back to pre-human days, as part of the behavioral repertoire we share with monkeys (Chris Knight 1991).
In any case, Leymah Gbowee, the leader of the women's peace movement received Novel Peace Prize in 2011, and her book MightyBe Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War; a Memoir is also available. I finally had a chance to listen to the audio version of the book.
 I love audio books. Were it not for the audio book version, I would not have read/listened this book. I process text all day long as part of my work, I have very little appetite left for reading at the end of the day, especially for English. With audio books, I can close my eyes and just listen (Just one problem. I frequently find myself fallen a sleep and have to rewind to find the place to restart.)
In Lysistrata, women take over Acropolis and barricade themselves in it. They take over the war chest kept in there too. Some women make up excuses to see their men, but Lysistrata manages to keep women united. Men try to break the barricade by force at the beginning, then try to talk them out of it, while women pretend to seduce and toy with them. In the end, men break down and accept women's demand for peace talk.
In Liberia, the condition was very violent. The warlords and their men, practically thugs with guns, knives, explosives, etc. marauding and destroying villages and neighborhoods, killing, raping, kidnapping, steeling as they pleased. In that kind of condition, what good does it do to declarer a sex strike? It would be an invitation for more violence, unless the women can hide themselves in a safe place. Sure enough, one woman was reportedly beaten and raped by mentioning sex strike. The strike wasn't just targeting the men fighting, but it was also targeting the men who were doing nothing to stop the violence and destruction. In some rural villages where the old custom of women only gathering places were still in use, they could carry out the strike successfully and persuaded men to cooperate.
It is a common theme of ancient myths that a goddess gets angry and goes on strike (hide herself in a cave, for example) because of the violent and destructive behaviors of a male god. In Japanese mythology, it's the sun goddess Amaterasu against her brother god Susano-o. In Greek mythology, it's the goddess of the harvest Demeter against her brother god Poseidon. The devastation that ensues the goddess's wrath during her strike is an acknowledgement of women's power.
The similarity between this part of the Japanese mythology and the Greek mythology may not be coincidental, according to some researchers. These mythological themes can be found through out the Eurasian continent and the surrounding areas influenced by herding culture. There are too many matching detail to be coincidental, down to the final event that triggered the goddess's wrath, a rape involving a horse (horse is the source of military power, the defining feature of herding culture).
More importantly, in the Japanese history, the first Japanese ruler ever recorded in ancient Chinese documents is a woman called Himiko (a name suggestive of priestess), and it is said that she was chosen to rule the land because men could not bring order to the land. Even today, this tradition lives on in the Emperor's dedication to the Sun Goddess. (The Japanese Emperor has been, in a sense, the authority of the last resort. He does not exercise worldly power, unless the worldly power breaks down creating a power vacuum and chaos. Since the late 9th century, that has been the function of the Emperor. Before that, Emperors and Empresses actually ruled the land starting about 1500 to 2700 years ago, depending on what evidence you accept.)
Before the herding culture swept across the world with its horses, large cattle, horse led carriages, metal tools and weapons about 5,000 years ago, there was a period when "Venus figurines" were created all around the world. The oldest known is Venus of Hohle Fels, discovered in 2008 in Germany, carbon dated to at least 35,000 years ago. In Japan, countless such figurines have been unearthed from Jomon period (16,500 ~ 3,000 years ago). It was the period of the hunter-gatherers and the early farmers.
Jomon figurine
27cm tall, Japan
4,000~5,000 years old

Venus of Willendorf
about 35,000 years old

However, after being taken over by herding culture, those figurines have disappeared, and the images of powerful animals such as lions, eagles, and horned bulls and rams started appear as symbols of power.
Deir ez-Zor Museum, Syria

At the same time, burial became more elaborate with valued possessions buried along with the dead, reflecting the wealth and the status of the buried, such as pyramids and burial mounds found all around the world. Then, some how they have gone out of style, it seems. Instead, more elaborate temples were built in dedication and as a memorial to the dead. I've not heard of any explanation why this change occurred, though.

Getting back to the herding culture, it is a culture that swept the world with horses, horse led wagons, chariots, metal tools/weapons, and large cattle, and with each invention and innovation of more efficient transportation method and more powerful weaponry, men repeated and expanded invasion, pillage, plunder, rape, and murder to hoard the riches, land, and slaves. That is pretty much how the wealth has been built and lost during the last 5000 years of human history, and still is albeit in more sophisticated forms (although, some Africans and Chinese are still doing it the old way).
The successful peace movement we have witnessed in an African country gives me a hope that the period of human history dominated by the herding culture might finally be in its final chapter. Leymah Gbowee received 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, and expanding the women's peace movement not just in African, but all around the world, and Liberia is now governed by a woman president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, just like Himiko once did in Ancient Japan.
If I were to pick the most impressed part of Leymah Gbowee's MightyBe Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War; a Memoir, it is the dream she had that told her to pray for peace. Carl Jung made an observation that a great leader has a capacity to receive a "big dream" when faced with a big decision that determines the fate of the group. It has often been referred as revelation, divine message, or god's voice. Leymah Gbowee was working as a counselor at the time to help heal the minds and the community torn by the violence and destruction that had been going on for 14 years and no end in sight. The situation was so deteriorated that she had to move her family to a safer place in Nigeria. As a woman, her heart was with women victimized in every imaginable way and more, yet resilient survivors. She believed those women were the key to end the violence. She was working day and night, often sleeping in her office searching for a way to build a women's network for peace. It was one of those nights that she had the dream. She thought she heard the voice of god, and woke up shaking.
Now, if I hear someone say that you can bring peace by just praying for peace, my reaction would be "how naive". Leymah Gbowee, however, took that voice seriously, and consulted her colleagues and elders at her church, where she could get the support she needed to make the "Pray for Peace" movement the symbol of people's will and solidarity the warring factions could not ignore. Soon the movement gathered a momentum and forced the president Charles Taylor and the opposing warlords to the negotiating table.
What she did to get the negotiation moving was also very impressive, but you need to read the book or watch the movie to find out how she handled it.