Japanese scholars call for recognition of 'comfort women' issue
Updated: 2015-05-26 08:51
TOKYO - Sixteen associations of history scholars and educators across Japan issued a joint statement on Monday, urging Japanese politicians and media outlets to squarely face up to Japan's wartime atrocities, especially the "comfort women" who were forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels.
The statement pointed out that the existence of forcibly recruited "comfort women" has been verified by many historical records and extensive research.
"By continuing to take the irresponsible stance of denying the facts of wartime sexual slavery in the Japanese military, certain politicians and sections of the media are essentially conveying to the rest of the world that Japan does not respect human rights," said the statement, requiring an attitude of the Japanese government that seeks, through historical research and education, to remember the issues and never repeat past mistakes.
The statement came after more than 450 scholars from around the world signed an open letter last week, calling on Japan to address issues of its wartime past "with both words and action".
In the open letter, the scholars said "problems of historical interpretation pose an impediment" to celebrating 70 years of peace after WWII, adding that denying or trivializing what happened to former "comfort women" is unacceptable.
At least 200,000 women, mostly from the Korean Peninsula, were forced into sexual slavery for Japanese military brothels before and during WWII.
Toru Kubo, chairman of the Japanese Historical Council, said Monday at a press conference in Tokyo that "the Japanese politicians claimed to hand historical issues over to the historians and scholars, but their speeches disregard their researches. This is so irresponsible".
The 16 associations, including the Japanese Historical Council, the Association of Historical Science, the Osaka Historical Association and the History Educationalists Conference of Japan, have over 10,000 members, with most of them renowned modern history scholars in Japan.