Tag Archives: Glendale

Japanese government formally intervenes in the Japanese right-wing extremists’ lawsuit against a U.S. city

In recent months, the Japanese government has made increasingly aggressive moves challenging memorials dedicated to the victims of the Japanese military “comfort women” system not just in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul or the Japanese Consulate in Busan, South Korea, which Japanese officials argue violate the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations protecting the “dignity” of diplomatic missions, but anywhere in the world.

The latest development in this trend is the amicus curie brief the Government of Japan filed in the lawsuit Gingery et al. v. City of Glendale on behalf of the Global Alliance for Historical Truth (GAHT), a Japanese far-right extremist group.

GAHT filed a lawsuit against the City of Glendale, California in 2013 after the city installed a memorial dedicated to the victims of Japanese military “comfort women” system. The suit was widely criticized by Asian American communities including local Japanese American groups, legal experts, and others, and resulted in a series of defeat by GAHT including penalties under California’s anti-SLAPP statute against frivolous lawsuits designed to stifle free speech.

On January 9, 2017, GAHT filed a request to the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider the appeal court’s decision against them. For the Supreme Court to take up a case, four out of nine (currently eight due to the passing of the late Justice Antonin Scalia) justices must agree to hear the case, and they do so only in about 1-2% of the cases each year.

In the amicus curie brief filed on February 22, 2017, the Government of Japan criticizes not just the constitutionality of Glendale’s installment of the memorial that, in their view, “disrupt[s] the United States’ foreign policy” and “presents a significant impediment to Japan’s diplomatic efforts” as “the monument is not inline with the spirit of” the Japan-ROK Agreement (2015), but also “the inscription on the Glendale monument” itself. “Japan strongly disagrees that the inscription on the Glendale monument accurately describes the historical record, which Japan has studied at length,” the amicus states.

Attorney Jessica Ellsworth, a registered foreign lobbyist at the law firm Hogan Lovells which the Japanese government uses, served as the counsel of record for the Japanese government. In October 2015, Hogan Lovells set up an apparent astroturf (i.e. a public relations campaign disguising itself as a “grass-roots” civic group) Voices of Vietnam, which appeared out of nowhere, purchased a full-page color ad on the Wall Street Journal and held a press conference at the National Press Club to coincide with the visit of the President of South Korea criticizing the Korean military sexual violence against Vietnamese women during the Vietnam War. The press conference featured the former U.S. Senator Norm Coleman, also a lobbyist working for Hogan Lovells. Voices of Vietnam has been inactive ever since.

Has the establishment of “comfort women” memorials in the U.S. led to widespread bullying against Japanese children?

Conservative media in Japan have repeatedly claimed that the bullying and harassment against Japanese and Japanese American children have become rampant after a memorial dedicated to the victims and survivors of Japanese military “comfort women” system was enacted in Glendale, California in 2013. But there is no basis for this claim.

Since the stories about the supposed “bullying” of Japanese children began appearing in conservative publications in Japan, many local, national, and international media outlets have tried to substantiate the claim but to no avail: schools, law enforcement agencies, Japanese American community groups, and others could not identify a single report of such bullying. Even conservative Japanese politicians who visited Glendale in hope of meeting with the victim or their families could not find any.

Tokyo-based journalist Mark Schreiber wrote in “Tracking Southern California’s elusive ‘bullies’” (Number 1 Shimbun, October 2014):

My inquiries to individuals in Glendale who should have some information or insight continued to come up blank. “This is not true,” Sebastian Puccio, coordinator for the Glendale Unified School District, wrote me. “We are not aware of any incidents of students of Korean ethnicity confronting students of Japanese ancestry in this district, nor would this be tolerated.”

David Monkawa, a Glendale resident and member of the Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress organization, wrote that he had also made inquiries, but with no success. “Sgt. Thomas R. Lorenz, Public Information Officer of the Glendale Police Dept., stated these statements are ‘100 percent fabricated,'” said Monkawa, who ended up believing that Glendale “should have the Human Rights Commission issue a stern statement exposing these lies.”

A Japanese residing in Los Angeles made a number of telephone calls on my behalf. A teacher at a school for Japanese children told him that the school had heard about the bullying story and had sent out a note asking for parents to report any incidents, but no one did.

Of course, lack of reports does not necessarily indicate that there is no bullying at all, but the conservative media’s claim of rampant or pervasive bullying against many Japanese or Japanese American children is demonstrably false.

“Comfort Women” denier alleges threats and bullying by attorneys representing the City of Glendale; Japanese government admits to working closely with revisionists

In an article published in the conservative Sankei Shimbun newspaper, Koichi Mera, the leader of the Japanese historical revisionist group Global Alliance for Historical Truth suing the City of Glendale over its “comfort women” statue now alleges that attorneys for the defendant City of Glendale threatened and bullied the plaintiff’s attorneys, forcing them to withdraw from representing the revisionist group.

We are not lawyers ourselves, but this does appear to be an actionable libel. Glendale should at least demand that Sankei and Mera retract the statement and apologize for making such an outrageous claim.

Meanwhile, Cabinet Minister under Prime Minister Abe’s administration admits that the Japanese government has been working closely with the plaintiffs in the suit. Japanese government had not been publicly involved with the lawsuit, but it is now official that the Japanese government is actively attempting to suppress the right of a U.S. city to memorialize victims of Japanese military’s system of enforced prostitution during the WWII.

Tony Marano a.k.a. “Texas Daddy” has his propaganda busted

Last week, we posted a group photo representing “the faces of Japanese ‘comfort women’ denialism” with names and affiliations of the historical deniers.

Comfort Women Denialists

One of the “faces” featured, Tony Marano a.k.a. “Texas Daddy” a.k.a. “Propaganda Buster” commented on our blog, as well as on our facebook page, calling the caption “dishonarable and pathetic.” We responded to him, and here is the conversation that followed:


Here’s the text of the exchange, in case the screen capture does not work for you:

Tony Marano The title to the photograph is a total lie. Please point out which one(s) in that photograph deny the existence of Comfort Women.
Your scandalous lie is dishonorable and pathetic.

Japan-U.S. Feminist Network for Decolonization Nobody is accusing you of denying the mere existence of “comfort women.” Historical denialism is the denial of historical crimes, such as the Holocaust or the genocide of Native Americans or the crime Japanese military perpetrated against Korean and other women known as “comfort women” during the WWII. You deny the existence of the system of military enforced prostitution by the Japanese military, which means you, sir, are a “comfort women” denier.

Tony Marano You sir or ma’am are the denier between the two of us. In 1944 the United States Army captured, not rescued some Comfort Women and reported they were well paid prostitutes. That report place doubt in the version offered by many. That report may not reflect all the Comfort Women during that period throughout Asia, however it places doubt in the version that all were forced. By you and your colleagues refusing to acknowledge that report, it makes you the denier here. Also in the photograph where all are accused as deniers, do you know that for a fact about each individual? Or is that just another blanket inaccurate accusation?

Japan-U.S. Feminist Network for Decolonization The U.S. military report says that the women were deceived by the offer of good job and held in debt bondage, which is considered a form of slavery under the United Nations definition. The report also makes it clear that Japanese military managed the system of military prostitution by implementing policies, prices, schedules, etc. Finally, the report is contradictory in terms of the economic reality of the women: in some part it states that they “lived in near luxury” and in another they struggled financially because they had to purchase food and other necessities from “house maters” at an excessive cost. Most likely, the “luxury” story reflects the interrogation of the Japanese “house masters,” and the rest of the stories came from the women themselves. Now, who is “refusing to acknowledge” the report?

Tony Marano See, once again you are proving you are a denier. You left out the part where those so-called sex-slaves were paid more than the average Japanese soldier and where they ladies enjoyed entertainment and sporting events with members of the Japanese Imperial Army. Do sex slaves do that?

Japan-U.S. Feminist Network for Decolonization As I’ve pointed out already, the report states that women were nominally paid well but their earnings were taken away by the “house masters” for debt repayment and necessities. I find that description believable because it is very similar to the economic exploitation that occurs in contemporary human trafficking. As for comfort women having access to entertainment, even slave owners in the pre-Civil War U.S. South sometimes held picnics for their slaves. So yes, slavery can co-exist with occasional “entertainment” for the enslaved.

Who is this Tony Marano anyway, and why is he, a white American, so obsessed about denying the historical crimes of the Japanese Empire?

Tony Marano is a conservative video blogger who had posted political commentaries under the pseudonym “Propaganda Buster” on YouTube for several years. One time, he posted a video criticizing environmentalist group Sea Shepherd’s anti-whaling campaign against Japanese fishers, and was embraced as a hero by the Japanese right-wing nationalists. One of the Japanese supporters, Shunichi Fujiki (also pictured), approached Marano and became his official Japanese representative, supplying him with more pro-Japan resources and coordinating his books and lectures in Japan.

Marano is behind the whitehouse.gov petition calling for the removal of the Glendale, California memorial dedicated to the victims of Japanese “comfort women” system. Fujiki brags about a “strategy” he devised in order to attract attention to the petition, which was to send Marano to Glendale to have him take photos showing him place a paper bag over the head of the statue representing a “comfort woman.”


Pictures on the left show Marano and the statue with its head covered by a paper bag. The image on the right shows Marano visiting Mio Sugita, a far-right Japanese member of Parliament who is also protesting the memorial.

According to Fujiki, Marano was intentionally trying to provoke Korean outrage with his action, so that the media would cover the controversy, ultimately bringing more attention to the petition effort. Marano further explained that he placed the paper bag over the statue because he believed “comfort women” were ugly, citing a derisive description in the 1944 U.S. military report he mentioned in his facebook comment above.

We suspect that perhaps Morano had not engaged directly with critics of his historical revisionism, because most English speakers have never heard of him or do not know enough about historical documents about “comfort women” that he (selectively) cites, and he cannot read or understand Japanese criticisms. In addition, his messaging for the Japanese audience is carefully scripted and orchestrated by Fujiki, insulating Marano from direct confrontation. But once he exchanged opinions and facts with us on facebook, the “propaganda buster” had his propaganda busted and could not respond any further.