Mariko Okada-Collins

Mariko Okada-Collins (岡田コリンズまり子) is a Japanese language lecturer at Central Washington University and comfort women denier. In published statements, Okada-Collins disclosed that she lectures about modern Japanese history “exposing the lies” of comfort women and Nanking atrocities, which have led to her being negatively reviewed by students and reprimanded by the supervisor.

In Spring 2015, Okada-Collins invited Yujiro Taniyama from Japan to screen his comfort women denier film, “The Scottsboro Girls.” The campus community put on multiple public events on the actual history of comfort women in protest, which were attended by hundreds of students and community members. See a series of articles about these events in the June 1, 2015 issue of the Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter.

In that Summer, Okada-Collins traveled to San Francisco to testify against the establishment of comfort women memorial there along with Koichi Mera, Yoshi Taguchi, and others.

Memory of the World Register

Memory of the World Register is a project of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that was founded to “facilitate preservation […] of the world’s documentary heritage,” “assist universal access to documentary heritage,” and “increase awareness worldwide of the existence and significance of documentary heritage.”

In 2014, People’s Republic of China submitted “Documents of Nanjing Massacre” for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register and they were inscribed in 2015. Japanese nationalists, many of whom consider Nanking atrocities to be a hoax or vastly exaggerated, became enraged and began calling for the government of Japan to suspend its financial obligation to UNESCO or to withdraw from it altogether. Bowing to their pressure, the Shinzo Abe administration announced in October 2016 that Japan had suspended its payment to UNESCO.

The Japanese government has criticized that the Memory of the World Registry had become too politicized and strayed away from its original goal of fostering dialogue and cooperation. However, Japan has itself nominated and inscribed documents related to the internment of Japanese nationals by the Soviet Union after the WWII and their repatriation to Japan in the same year China submitted documents on Nanking atrocities.

In the 2016-2017 cycle, a coalition of 14 civic groups from Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan, The Netherlands, The Philippines, Indonesia, East Timor, and the United Kingdom submitted “voices of comfort women,” a collection of materials from private and public archives that document Japanese military comfort women system and the postwar struggles by its victims to demand justice. Predictably, Japanese right-wing nationalists protested UNESCO and coalition members, and at least one Japanese organization involved in the effort have received a bomb threat.

Anticipating the submission of “voices of comfort women,” a coalition of right-wing comfort women denier organizations also submitted their own set of documents, “Documentation on ‘Comfort Women’ and Japanese Army discipline.” Members of the right-wing coalition are the Alliance for Truth About Comfort Women, the Study Group for Japan’s Rebirth (Koichi Mera), and Nadeshiko Action (a.k.a. Japanese Women for Justice and Peace). In the submission, they claim (as they always do): “[C]omfort women enjoyed a certain amount of freedom, even in battle zones, and were paid handsomely. They were decidedly not sex slaves.”

Each country is allowed up to two submission per cycle, but this restriction is waived for joint submissions involving groups from multiple countries. The right-wing submission was permitted because one of the sponsors, the Study Group for Japan’s Rebirth, is technically located in the United States, even though all of its businesses are conducted in Japanese by and for Japanese residents in Los Angeles. Both parties’ submissions are pending review.

Michael Yon

Michael Yon is a former member of the U.S. Special Forces, military writer, and comfort women denier who has written extensively about U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2014, Yon received or was promised large payments from Japanese conservative leader Yoshiko Sakurai to speak at her Japan Conference-affiliated think tank and to publish articles in English media that challenge the history of comfort women, according to the right-wing magazine editor Kazuyoshi Hanada. Yon disputed some details of Hanada’s claim (e.g. whether or not Yon and his wife were flown first-class by the Japanese right-wing) but not the financial arrangement itself.

While his relationship with Sakurai has since deteriorated over his criticism of Yujiro Taniyama and some other members of the Japanese nationalist movements since then, Yon continues to publish many posts on his blog and social media characterizing the comfort women story as “lies” designed to divide important U.S. allies in East Asia (Japan and South Korea) and is working on a full-length book on the topic.

Yon is credited with calling attention to the IWG Report (2007) which he claims proves Japan’s innocence in relation to the comfort women system. Historians and the authors of the report disagree with his amateur interpretation.

Miki Otaka

Miki Otaka (大高未貴) is a conservative journalist, Channel Sakura host, and a comfort women denier. She is a frequent contributor to conservative publications including Sankei Shimbun’s Yukan Fuji and Seiron.

In October 2013, Otaka reported in her show on Channel Sakura that Japanese children are being bullied in Glendale after the city enacted a comfort women memorial earlier that year. After Japanese residents in the area questioned the story, the video of the program was pulled from the internet. The claim has been thoroughly debunked by local authorities, schools, national media, and Japanese American groups.

Website: http://www.miki-otaka.com

Mio Sugita

Mio Sugita (杉田水脈) is a former member of Japanese House of Representative and a comfort women denier. As a three-member delegation of Japan Restoration Party (日本維新の会), now the Party for Japanese Kokoro (日本のこころを大切にする党), then-MP Sugita visited California in December 2013 to meet with local Japanese American leaders, who had endorsed the comfort women memorial in Glendale. Failing to convince them that the history of comfort women was fabricated, she later dismissed the Japanese Americans “typical left-wing extremists.”

Since losing re-election in December 2014, Sugita has traveled around the world to promote comfort women denial at the United Nations level, speaking at the United Nations Human Rights Council (2015) and at the NGO Parallel Events at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (2016) along with people like Shunichi Fujiki, Koichi Mera, and Kiyoshi Hosoya.

In the book “Women Fight the History War” (Rekishisen ha onna no tatakai), co-authored with non-fiction writer Keiko Kawazoe, Sugita proposes bombing comfort women memorials in the U.S. When asked if she was encouraging terrorism, she responded that she would leave the interpretation to the readers.

Miroslav Marinov

Miroslav Marinov is the author of two self-published non-fiction books and a comfort women denier. He is married to a Japanese woman, Toshie Marinov, who is also a comfort women denier affiliated with Nadeshiko Action. Miroslav Marinov’s article on UNESCO has appeared in Seiron, a monthly conservative opinion magazine published by the Sankei Shimbun company.

In 2016 he authored a letter critical of the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in general and of the proposal to introduce historical documents on comfort women to the Register in particular. The letter was sent on behalf of the Canada-Israel Friendship Association, for which Marinov is a board member, even though it is not clear if anyone other than Marinov is involved in the comfort women denial.

One of Marinov’s arguments in the letter was that comfort women cannot be “sex slaves” because some comfort women were paid for their service (before they were taken away to repay debt and pay for necessities) and therefore the Japanese military comfort women system is not comparable to the war crimes of the Nazi Germany. He however neglects the fact that the Nazi Germany introduced currency systems at many of its concentration camps, paying incarcerated laborers tokens for the work they performed in order to increase productivity and reduce riots.

Sankei Shimbun promoted Marinov’s letter as an evidence that international Jewish community agreed with Japan’s right-wing historical revisionists, but failed to mention Marinov by name or the fact that he was a contributor to its magazine while reporting about it.

In addition to Japanese war crime denial, his personal blog is filled with racist and otherwise hateful attacks on African Americans/Canadians, Muslims, LGBTQ people, and others. He crowd-funded his previous books claiming that he suffered from censorship by politically correct editors at mainstream publishing industry.