Japan-ROK Agreement (2015)

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.

Japanese Conservative Union

Japanese Conservative Union (一般社団法人JCU) is a far-right political group founded by Jikido Aeba, the founding president of Happiness Realization Party, and Shun Eguchi (江口俊), a former editor and board member of the Sankei Shimbun company. It is intended as a Japanese counterpart to the American Conservative Union.

In 2016, JCU hired lobbyist firm Millfield Global Strategies in the U.S. for up to $412,000 to “establish and strengthen relationships” with presidential campaigns and PACs, members of the Congress, federal agencies, and others. Aeba boasted close ties with then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and enthusiastically supported him.

Since 2017, JCU has been paying another lobbying firm AKF Strategies LLC, whose principal is affiliated with American Conservative Union, $30,000 per quarter. JCU and AKF Strategies LLC appear to be violating Foreign Agent Registration Act mandate by falsely claiming in its filing to the U.S. Congress that JCU has no ties to foreign entity whatsoever despite the fact its mailing address is in Tokyo.

In December 2017, JCU hosted the first-ever Japanese Conservative Political Action Conference (J-CPAC) in Tokyo, a Japanese equivalent of the CPAC organized annually by the American Conservative Union. Featured speakers for the 2017 conference included:

  • Steve Bannon, former White House Chief Strategist and Breitbart executive
  • Matt Schlapp, President, American Conservative Union
  • Robert Eldridge, retired Marin Corps civilian staff
  • Genki Fujii (藤井厳喜)
  • Kohyu Nishimura (西村幸祐)
  • Masahisa Sato (佐藤正久), LDP member of the House of Councilors
  • Eitaro Ogawa (小川榮太郎), author and commentator
  • Toshio Tamogami (田母神俊雄), Chief of Staff, Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (ret.)
  • Naoki Hyakuta (百田尚樹), author
  • Takashi Arimoto (有元隆志), Sankei Shimbun

Within two weeks after former White House Strategist and Breitbart executive Steve Bannon gave a keynote at JCPAC, the far-right news site featured an article on the comfort women issue which argued that it was “an opportunistic way to collect money from the Japanese, but it’s really all about the ethnic hatred that the Japanese, Chinese and Philippines have for each other.” (“China Funds Unauthorized Anti-Japan Comfort Women Statue in Manila, Philippines”, 12/28/2017)

The office of the JCU is housed within Sankei Advertising Inc. (産経広告社), an in-house ad agency within the Sankei Shimbun group.

Japanese Prisoner of War Interrogation Report No. 49 (1944)

Japanese Prisoner of War Interrogation Report No. 49 is a 1944 report produced by the Office of War Information, Psychological Warfare Unit attached to the U.S. Army forces in CBI (China-Burma-India) Theatre. It documents interrogations of 20 Korean comfort women and two Japanese “house masters” detained by the U.S. military in Myitkyina, Burma. The report was originally declassified in 1973 and was part of the documents Japanese government gathered in the early 1990s prior to releasing Kono Statement (1993).

Comfort women deniers like Tony Marano and Michael Yon selectively quote the report to portray it as an evidence that comfort women were willing prostitutes who made a lot of money providing their service to Japanese soldiers. For example, they quote the sentence “a ‘comfort girl’ is nothing more than a prostitute or ‘professional camp follower’ attached to the Japanese military for the benefit of the soldiers” while neglecting that the report also states that the women were recruited under the false premise that they would “work connected with visiting the wounded in hospitals, rolling bandages, and generally making the soldiers happy.” For more details, read “Does 1944 U.S. military report prove that ‘comfort women’ were ‘just prostitutes’?

Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform

Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform (新しい歴史教科書をつくる会) is a Japanese nationalist group founded by Nobukatsu Fujioka (藤岡信勝) in 1996, mainly in response to the inclusion of the comfort women history in Japanese history textbooks in the early to mid-1990s.

After a series of in-fighting and schisms among conservative intellectuals throughout 1990s and 2000s, more mainstream conservative leaders (especially those affiliate with Japan Conference) left the organization to form the Society to Improve Textbooks (教科書改善の会), leaving Fujioka and his followers behind. Fujioka’s group continues to publish textbooks, but it has been less successful than the splinter group in getting its textbooks adapted by schools. Both groups’ textbooks are similar in their nationalist (and often revisionist) tendencies, but Fujioka and his group have been more vocal in comfort women denial and criticisms of Abe administration’s handling of the issue.

Website: http://www.tsukurukai.com/

JAPANISM

JAPANISM (ジャパニズム) is a bimonthly magazine published by Seirindo. Founded by conservative journalist Kohyu Nishimura, JAPANISM prominently features writings of far-right nationalist commentators, many of whom are comfort women deniers.

JAPANISM is home to the right-wing manga (comic series) Hinomaru Gaisen Otome (日之丸街宣女子) by Akiko Tomita (富田安紀子) which glorifies anti-Korean hate groups and propagates a thoroughly debunked claim that the establishment of a comfort women memorial in Glendale, California have led to widespread bullying against Japanese children.

Recent contributors to JAPANISM include Toshiko Hasumi, Shunichi Fujiki, Mio Sugita, Mitsuhiko Fujii, Makoto Sakurai, and others.