Japan Conference (Nippon Kaigi, 日本会議) is a powerful conservative organization described by New York Times as “largest nationalist organization, which rejects postwar pacifism, embraces the imperial system and defends Japan’s past wars in Asia.” In addition, Japan Conference opposes policies aimed at promoting gender equality as the organization views them as a threat against traditional Japanese families. Many leaders of Japan Conference, including Shiro Takahashi, Hideaki Kase, and Yoshiko Sakurai are also active in comfort women denial.
Japan Conference has an affiliated parliamentary caucus within the parliament (Nippon Kaigi Kokkai Giin Kondan Kai, 日本会議国会議員懇談会) with hundreds of members, mostly from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. In 2014, 15 out of 19 members of the administration of Shinzo Abe were members of the Japan Conference caucus including Deputy Prime Minister (and former Prime Minister) Taro Aso (麻生太郎), Minister of Internal Affairs and Communication Sanae Takaichi (高市早苗), and Cabinet Minister Yoshihide Suga (菅義偉) in addition to Abe himself.
Japan Education Rebirth Institute (Nippon Kyoiku Saisei Kiko, 日本教育再生機構) is a right-wing Japanese group promoting nationalistic educational reforms, including the erasure of the comfort women system and other atrocities committed by the Japanese military from history textbooks. It was founded by Shuji Yagi (八木秀次) after he and others left the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform due to an internal division. Board members include Shiro Takahashi and others who are affiliated with the powerful Japan Conference.
Japan Family Value Society (FAVS, 家族の絆を守る会) is a conservative Japanese group dedicated to preserving “traditional Japanese families” through opposition to legislations aimed at improving the status of women such as anti-discrimination policies and legalized abortion. The organization also calls on Japan to withdraw from the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
At the founding in 2007, FAVS was part of the network of Japan Conference with Japan Conference’s Akiko Okamoto (岡本明子) as the Secretary General, although the organization appears to be less prominent under the leadership of Kiyoshi Hosoya today.
Under Okamoto, FAVS was one of the first Japanese right-wing groups to participate in the United Nations processes as an NGO along with “family values” and anti-abortion groups from around the world as a member of the World Congress of Families. More recently under Hosoya, FAVS focuses on comfort women denial at the United Nations level in collaboration with Global Alliance for Historical Truth, of which Hosoya is a board member, Alliance for Truth about Comfort Women, and Nadeshiko Action. It is unclear how much ties the organization maintains with the Japan Conference now.
Japan First Party (日本第一党) is a far-right political party founded in 2016 by Makoto Sakurai, the founder and former president of Zaitokukai. In addition to a host of far-right causes including the development of nuclear arsenal and hardline military stance toward neighbors China, South Korea, and North Korea, the party calls for the repeal of Kono Statement (1993), Japan-ROK Agreement (2015), and other reconciliatory positions on comfort women as well as severing diplomatic ties with South Korea.
JAPAN Forward is an English language news and opinion site operated by Sankei Shimbun through JAPAN Forward Association Inc. (一般社団法人ジャパンフォワード推進機構). It publishes articles translated from Sankei’s Japanese publications, including Sankei Shimbun and Seiron, including many on issues of history and national security.
Japan Forward solicits membership dues from its “supporters” which range from 10,000 yen (about US$100) to 1,000,000 yen (about US$10,000) annually.
Japan Institute for National Fundamentals (国家基本問題研究所) is a conservative think tank founded and led by Yoshiko Sakurai. The Institute has close ties to Japan Conference, and many of its board members, advisors, and fellows are members come from Japan Conference and/or textbook reform movement. Its priorities include a revision of the pacifist clauses of Japan’s constitution, continued use of nuclear power, and comfort women denial.
Affiliated individuals include, in addition to Sakurai:
- Tadae Takubo (田久保忠衛), Japan Conference
- Shintaro Ishihara (石原慎太郎), fmr Tokyo governor
- Takashi Ito (伊藤隆), Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform
- Taro Yayama (屋山太郎), Nippon Foundation, Society to Improve Textbooks
- Kazuo Ijiri (井尻千男), Japan Conference, Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform
- Shohei Umezawa (梅澤昇平)
- Masato Ushio (潮匡人), Japan Education Rebirth Institute
- Koichi Sugiyama (すぎやまこういち), Committee for Historical Facts, Society to Improve Textbooks
- Tsutomu Nishioka (西岡力)
- Akira Momochi (百地章), Japan Conference
- Yuzou Kabashima (椛島有三), Japan Conference
Japan Mahoroba Station (JMS, 日本まほろば支援局), also known as Japan Mahoroba Support Agency is an online group founded in 2014 by New York-based Kaoli Koyasu to foster “better understanding of Japanese society and culture” starting among Japanese people. It promotes nationalistic views on Japan’s history and culture, including comfort women denial.
Mahoroba Station has co-sponsored various right-wing and comfort women denier events in the U.S., including Texas Night in NYC (2015), Texas Night in NYC (2016), and the Nadeshiko Action panel at the UN Commission on the Status of Women NGO Parallel Events (2016).
Japan Policy Institute (日本政策研究センター) is a nationalist think tank founded by Tetsuo Ito, a board member of Japan Conference. It is described in Japanese media as a right-wing “brain” of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration. JPI’s focus areas include comfort women denial, history, and anti-feminism.
Japan-ROK Agreement (2015) is a bilateral agreement announced by foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea (Republic of Korea) at a press conference on December 28, 2015 to “finally and irreversibly” resolve the “issue of comfort women between Japan and the ROK.”
The agreement consists of two separate announcements by foreign ministers, followed up by a telephone exchange between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Geun-hye Park. There is no actual agreed-upon statement to be ratified or endorsed by parliaments in either country.
Under the agreement, Japanese government would contribute 1 billion yens (about $10 million USD) to a fund set up by the South Korean government, which would provide disbursement to South Korean former comfort women to “heal psychological wounds.” Japanese government insists that the payment is not a reparation, and does not represent an admission of legal liability.
In return, the government of South Korea acknowledged “the fact that the Government of Japan is concerned about the [comfort women] statue built in front of the Embassy of Japan in Seoul,” and promises that it “will strive to solve this issue in an appropriate manner.”
As soon as the agreement was announced, it was denounced by surviving victims of Japanese military comfort women system both because the governments did not consult them about the agreement and also because the agreement fell vastly short of survivors’ demands, or demands of the U.S. House of Representatives in H.Res.201 (2007), including the full acknowledgement of the Japanese military’s involvement in the trafficking of women, further investigation and prosecution of those involved in the crimes, formal apology through parliamentary resolution or cabinet statement, legal reparation to victims, and the inclusion of comfort women history in history textbooks. Survivors in Taiwan, the Philippines, and other countries also protested the agreement because it offered the disbursement of funds to South Korean survivors only.
In the political turmoil leading up to the impeachment of President Park in 2016, many opposition party leaders and presidential candidates are pledging to nullify the agreement. Meanwhile in Japan, fringe extremist groups such as Global Alliance for Historical Truth and Nadeshiko Action call for the repeal of the agreement, while some establishment conservative groups affiliated with Japan Conference applaud Abe’s successful deal with South Korea.