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.

Shinjitsu no Tane

Shinjitsu no Tane (真実の種) is the shorthand of a historical revisionist organization Shinjitsu no Tane o Sodateru Kai (「真実の種」を育てる会), or the Society to Grow Seeds of Truth. It was launched in September 2017 as a revisionist counterpart to Kibou no Tane (Seeds of Hope) Foundation (希望のタネ基金), which was founded earlier in the year to promote awareness of the comfort women issue among young people in Japan and to build a world without sexual violence.

Shuntaro Echigo (越後俊太郎) of the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform serves as the Secretary General of Shinjitsu no Tane. The organization is housed within the Society.

Officers:

Website: http://shinjitsunotane.org/

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.

Shiro Takahashi

Shiro Takahashi (高橋史朗) is a conservative education scholar and one of the most prominent intellectual leaders of Japan Conference, a powerful conservative establishment group. Despite the fact Takahashi has been a lifelong critic of policies aimed at promoting gender equality, which he views as a threat against traditional families, he was appointed to the Council on Gender Equality by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2013 shortly after Abe’s return to power.

In the past few years, Takahashi has focused his efforts on challenging historical orthodoxies regarding crimes committed by the Japanese military during the WWII, especially the comfort women system and the Nanking atrocities. He is also actively working to stop the establishment of comfort women memorials in the U.S. and elsewhere, traveling abroad frequently and organizing conservative Japanese expats.

As an operative of Japan’s conservative establishment (that supports LDP and Abe), Takahashi tends to keep himself at a distance from the more extremist elements of the conservative movements (which view LDP and Abe as too soft), but he sometimes shares the stage with members of the latter group including Koichi Mera, Yumiko Yamamoto, and Mio Sugita.

Takahashi is the founder and president of Historical Awareness Research Committee, a founder of Channel Sakura, and a board member of Japan Education Rebirth Institute.