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.

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