Sankei Shimbun

Sankei Shimbun (産経新聞) is a daily newspaper in Japan with a distinct conservative and nationalistic slant. In 2015, Sankei had the seventh largest circulation after three major newspapers (Yomiuri, Asahi, and Mainichi) as well as some regional and specialized newspapers. Sankei Shimbun also publishes Seiron (正論), a monthly conservative opinion magazine, and Yukan Fuji (夕刊フジ), an evening daily.

Since April 2014, Sankei Shimbun began publishing a series of columns titled “History Wars” (歴史戦) that are aimed at overturning historical orthodoxy of Japan’s war crimes during the WWII, especially the comfort women system and the Nanking atrocities. Authors for the series include Yoshihisa Komori (古森義久), the newspaper’s Washington D.C. correspondent and a member of the editorial board; Rui Abiru (阿比留瑠比), the politics editor and a member of the editorial board; Takashi Arimoto (有元隆志), the politics editor; Katsushi Nakamura (中村将), the Los Angeles correspondent; and others.

Some of the early columns in the series were compiled and published in October 2014 as the book “History Wars,” which was then translated into English as “History Wars: Japan–False Indictment of the Century” in July 2015. It was one of the two books Parliament member Kuniko Inoguchi sent unsolicited to hundreds of foreign researchers and journalists covering Japan.

Following Akiko Okamoto’s earlier call to arms in the May 2012 issue of Seiron, Sankei views “history war” as a propaganda war waged by China and Korea against Japan at the United Nations and in the United States. Yoshiko Sakurai states in the blurb to the English edition of “History Wars”: “This is a war. Our enemy is China, and the main battle eld is the United States.” Sakurai further states, “The public opinion warfare that China has provoked is definitely a war without using weapons. Japan must make all-out efforts to counter the Chinese offensive.”

In addition to columns written by members of its own editorial team, Sankei Shimbun and Yukan Fuji publishes columns by noted history deniers including Koichi Mera, Tony Marano, Mio Sugita, Yumiko Yamamoto, and others. At least on one occasion, Sankei Shimbun formally sponsored a fundraising event for the Global Alliance for Historical Truth.

In 2017 Sankei Shimbun launched an English language news site Japan Forward, which publishes opinion pieces written by Michael Yon and other comfort women deniers.

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Satoru Mizushima

Satoru Mizushima (水島総) is the founding president/director of right-wing television production company and internet station Channel Sakura and a comfort women denier.

In 2007, he spearheaded a protest letter against the U.S. House of Representatives for adapting H.Res.121 calling on Japan to formally acknowledge responsibility for the military comfort women system during the WWII. He signed on the letter as the director of the Japanese Citizens’ National Movement for the Historic Truth about the Comfort Women Issue (慰安婦問題の歴史的真実を求める日本国民運動の会), along with its affiliated groups.

Mizushima also signed onto an opinion ad by Committee for Historical Facts, Yes, we remember the facts. (2012) which was published in The Star-Ledger (New Jersey) in November 2012.

Scottsboro Girls Screening at Central Washington University (2015)

In April 2015, language lecturer Mariko Okada-Collins invited filmmaker Yujiro Taniyama to screen his lengthy comfort women denial film, “Scottsboro Girls” at Central Washington University where she teaches Japanese. However, after Michael Yon warned Okada-Collins that the film’s content could be highly offensive, she asked Taniyama to shorten the film to allow room for additional speakers. Koichi Mera was invited to give a speech along with Taniyama, and Jason Morgan Skyped in as well.

Campus community strongly protested the historical revisionist event, and multiple counter-events were organized by students and the faculty. See a series of articles about these events in the June 1, 2015 issue of the Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter.

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Seiji Yoshida

Seiji Yoshida (吉田清治) is the author of the 1983 “My War Crime,” in which he confessed is role in recruiting women to become comfort women in Jeju Island, Korea during the WWII through force, fraud, and coercion. In the early 1990s accuracy of some or most parts of the book have been called into question, leading both conservative and progressive historians to dismiss the book as a reliable source of historical knowledge by the mid-1990s.

Right-wing comfort women deniers portray Yoshida as the only or primary source on the historical orthodoxy on comfort women, arguing that the dismissal of Yoshida leaves us with no evidence that indicate any wrongdoings by the Japanese military. But researches have considerably advanced since the early 1990s especially after survivors of Japanese military comfort women began speaking out publicly, and the historical consensus on comfort women at least since mid-1990s have not relied on Yoshida in any way. In fact, it is partly these testimonies and researches that proved that Yoshida’s story was unlikely to be accurate.

The right-wing narrative also cannot explain why there was little national or international attention to the issue of comfort women, even after the publication of Yoshida’s book, until survivors began speaking out in the early 1990s if Yoshida was so foundational in our understanding of comfort women.

Under pressure from right-wing critics who blame Asahi Shimbun newspaper for “fabricating” the comfort women issue when it published stories that reported Yoshida’s testimony in the 1980s, in August 2014 the newspaper formally retracted a series of articles mentioning Yoshida, despite the fact that Asahi‘s reporting at the time was no different from those of other publications at the time, and the newspaper had already reported in March 1997 that Yoshida’s testimony had been questioned by experts and that he had refused to defend his claims in the book, after which Asahi stopped quoting or citing Yoshida.

Sex-Slave Report: The UN’s Global Hoax (2016)

“Sex-Slave” Report: The UN’s Global Hoax — Report from Japanese Delegations to the UN in Geneva (国連が世界に広めた「慰安婦=性奴隷」の嘘 ジュネーブ国連派遣団報告) is a 2016 Japanese language publication that compiles activities of the Alliance for Truth about Comfort Women, which has sent three delegations to various United Nations committees between 2014 and 2016. The book is edited by Nobukatsu Fujioka of the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform and features over a dozen contributors.

The website of the Society for Dissemination of Historical Fact provides the English translation of the forward and table of contents.

Contributors are:

See also:

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Sharon Isac

Sharon Isac is a Japanese woman who lives in Canada. Isac is a member of far-right Canadian Patriotic Society and a frequent contributor to anti-Islamic hate sites. She is also a comfort women denier who spoke at a denier panel organized by Nadeshiko Action at the UN Commission on the Status of Women NGO Parallel Events (2016) and helped to translate (badly) Nadeshiko Action’s publication, “Comfort Women Issue: From Misunderstandings to Solution,” authored by Yumiko Yamamoto and Kiyoshi Hosoya.

Shigeharu Aoyama

Shigeharu Aoyama (青山繁晴) is a conservative political commentator turned politician and a comfort women denier.

After visiting San Jose, California, Aoyama claimed to have heard first-hand testimonies about bullying experienced by Japanese children in the U.S. resulting from the construction of comfort women memorial in Glendale, California, which is over 300 miles away from San Jose. When the group of Japanese parents in San Jose who had sponsored Aoyama’s visit publicly contradicted his statement, he backtraced the comment, saying that the bullying stories were from elsewhere, even though he had not visited Glendale or anywhere near comfort women memorials in the U.S. by that time.

In June 2016, Aoyama ran for the House of Councillors and won a six-year term.

Shinsei Bukkyo

Shinsei Bukkyo (新生佛教, 新生佛教教団) is a religious group loosely based on Buddhism founded in 1954 in Yamaguchi, Japan. It is affiliated with Japan Conference and said to be closely connected to Shinzo Abe (who represents Yamaguchi), Nobuteru Ishihara, and other conservative politicians.

Shinsei Bukkyo publishes Nippon Jiji Hyouron (日本時事評論), a highly influential newsletter published twice a month. It is described as the epicenter of the anti-feminist backlash that mobilized Japan’s conservative movements during the first half of the 2000s.

Comfort women denier Hiromi Edwards was a member of Shinsei Bukkyo and a frequent contributor and speaker for the group’s anti-feminist mobilization.

Shinzo Abe

Shinzo Abe (安倍晋三) is the 90th (2006-2007), 96th and 97th (2012-now) Prime Minister of Japan. Abe is recognized as one of Japan’s most nationalistic leaders in recent history. As a young legislator, Abe was the secretary general of the Young Diet Member Group for Considering Japan’s Future and History Textbooks (日本の前途と歴史教科書を考える若手議員の会, Nippon no zento to rekishi kyokasho wo kangaeru wakate giin no kai) made up of conservative members of his Liberal Democratic Party.

As the Prime Minister, Abe made a comment in March 2007 denying “forcible recruitment” of comfort women by the Japanese military. His remark was immediately criticized by the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Negroponte and others, but Abe doubled down on the comment by stating that there is no evidence that point to the forcible recruitment by the Japanese military. His Deputy Cabinet Minister further stated on radio that the women were sold by their parents to become comfort women, insisting that the Japanese military had nothing to do with it.

Emboldened by Abe, Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara and other political leaders repeated similar or even more controversial statements throughout the spring, which along with the publication of the devastatingly counter-productive opinion ad The Facts (2007) led to the issuance of the U.S. Congressional Research Service report as well as the passage in July of the U.S. House of Representative resolution H.Res.121, both of which were critical of Japan’s handling of the comfort women issue. Soon after, Abe abruptly resigned his position.

Before becoming the Prime Minister again in December 2012, Abe was among the co-signers to the opinion ad Yes, we remember the facts. (2012), a follow-up to the earlier ad in 2007 that denied historical orthodoxy on comfort women.

Upon returning to power, Abe became more cautious in addressing the issue of comfort women, focusing instead of delegitimizing the historical processes that led to the contemporary understanding of the comfort women issue. For example in June 2014, Abe administration released a report on the process resulting in Kono Statement (1993) intended to cast doubts in the accuracies of the groundbreaking 1993 statement by then-Cabinet Minister Yohei Kono that acknowledged Japanese government’s responsibility in the treatment of comfort women during the WWII, which was seen as the first step to retracting or trivializing it.

In March 2015 Abe expressed “sympathies” toward former comfort women, describing them as the victims of human trafficking, while leaving ambiguous who was responsible for the trafficking of the women. In April of that year, he delivered a speech at the joint session of the U.S. Congress without mentioning comfort women despite demands from some U.S. politicians and civic groups. A week later, a group of 197 mostly American scholars published the “Open Letter in Support of Historians in Japan” demanding Abe to take more concrete actions to address the issue of comfort women.

In December 2015, foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea jointly announced an “agreement” between two countries [Japan-ROK Agreement (2015)] that “permanently resolved” the issue of comfort women with Japan’s payment of 1 billion yens to the foundation set up by South Korean government to provide direct payment to the surviving former comfort women. The agreement was widely criticized by advocates for the comfort women because it did not involve survivors’ voices nor formal acknowledgement of violence by the Japanese military and also by Japan’s far-right fringes that considered any concession as unnecessary.