Tokyo rejects U.N. call to accept blame for Comfort Women

NIOD 106359_0101-diptych

On July 24, 2014, The UN Human Rights Committee called on Japan to undertake independent investigations of wartime sex slavery and apologize to the women who were victims before it was too late (Reuters).

Nigel Rodley, the British expert chairing the panel, stated: “We want Japan to make the kind of statement that the families, the women themselves, the few who are still surviving, can recognize as an unambiguous, uninhibited acceptance of total responsibility for compelling them to engage for a part of their lives in something that could have only destroyed their lives.”

The panel urged Japan to “ensure that all allegations of sexual slavery or other human rights violations perpetrated by Japanese military during wartime against the ‘comfort women’, are effectively, independently and impartially investigated and that perpetrators are prosecuted and if found guilty, punished”.

One day later (July 25, 2014), according to the Japan Times, Tokyo rejected the U.N. call to accept the blame for pressing Asian women into wartime sexual slavery in military brothels. A section of the political right, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, continues to claim that the brothels were staffed by professional prostitutes. This tranche continues to assert there was no evidence to corroborate the interviewed comfort women’s testimony on the sexual slavery, sparking regional anger.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Japanese patriot: “Comfort women were not sex slaves but wartime prostitutes.”

JBA Comfort Women 05 Emah

“Comfort women were not sex slaves but wartime prostitutes who enjoyed spending time freely and who worked under contract in exchange for highly paid monetary reward for that time,” Yumiko Yamamoto, president of Japanese Women for Justice and Peace, declared – adding injury to insult for the umpteenth time.
Proof that comfort women were being forced to serve as sex slaves by the Japanese military in WW2 has been piling up ever since the temporary military court in Batavia/Jakarta in 1946. And in 1993 the then chief cabinet secretary Yohei Kono acknowledged that Japan recruited more than 200,000 young women from China, Korea and Southeast Asia and forced them to serve in military brothels during WWII.

In fact, Japan offered to compensate former comfort women through a private FUND set up in 1995 that lasted until 2007. But many of the survivors shunned the cash because it did not come directly from the government.

Yamamoto is one of a group of Japanese “patriots” who travelled to the United Nations in Geneva this July to demand that the UN Commission on Human Rights stops describing the comfort women as “sex slaves.”
She claimed the propaganda about the actions of the Japanese military in procuring these women was “ruining the dignity of Japan and threatening the security of Japanese … in the US”.

The group also hosted a reception at the four-star Hotel Bristol to get their message across to delegates at the UN event.”The UNCHR has received so many reports saying so many bad things related to comfort women and they have taken it all at face value,” Yamamoto said. “Unless we do something now, we will never be able to clear Japan’s name.”
That last sentence is probably the only sincere one Yamamoto gave off.

The UN Human Rights Committee, composed of independent experts, was not impressed: it said the system of institutionalized sex slavery used by the Japanese Army before and during the World War II was the most compelling example of the crime of sexual slavery and denial of justice to victims.
It also noted that from the 1990s, numerous reports and recommendations from UN bodies have been criticizing Japan for not accepting responsibility for war crimes and international law.

On July 24, 2014, the committee called on Japan to undertake independent investigations of wartime sex slavery and apologize to the women who were victims before it was too late (Reuters). Nigel Rodley, the British expert chairing the panel, stated: “We want Japan to make the kind of statement that the families, the women themselves, the few who are still surviving, can recognize as an unambiguous, uninhibited acceptance of total responsibility for compelling them to engage for a part of their lives in something that could have only destroyed their lives.”

The panel urged Japan to “ensure that all allegations of sexual slavery or other human rights violations perpetrated by Japanese military during wartime against the ‘comfort women’, are effectively, independently and impartially investigated and that perpetrators are prosecuted and if found guilty, punished”.

One day later (July 25, 2014), according to the Japan Times, Tokyo rejected the U.N. call to accept the blame for pressing Asian women into wartime sexual slavery in military brothels. A section of the political right, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, continues to claim that the brothels were staffed by professional prostitutes. This tranche continues to assert there was no evidence to corroborate the interviewed comfort women’s testimony on the sexual slavery, sparking regional anger.

See also South China Morning Post, Veooz.com, and Z News.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

“Comfort Women” exhibition in Tokyo in limbo

AAA-NIOD_AF_01196_04

The “Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace” (WAM) in Tokyo would like to exhibit my (and Hilde Janssen‘s) “Comfort Women” (till September 7, 2014, in Stadthaus Ulm, Germany, in “Gesichter des Krieges” – Faces of War -, a group exhibition with Anja Niedringhaus and Bryan Adams). It also wants to show Frank van Osch’s film documentary “Because We Were Beautiful.”

But this may well become a very complicated affair – as was explained to Hilde in a conversation with a museum staff member. Not only does the museum itself have no money, but in the present atmosphere of right-wing rewriting of WW2 history, people and institutions in Japan are afraid of negative consequences if they contribute to the exhibition of such a controversial subject; theater owners fear a backlash if they would show critical movies such as  Frank van Osch’s documentary; and earlier, we saw the Nikon Gallery skipping an exhibition about Comfort Women under revisionist pressure. Even embassies and international donors seem to prefer to avoid this politically sensitive issue.

Still, we hope that some Dutch institutions will be willing to support us to bring about this exhibition and film screening in the heart of Japan. And possibly, some Korean and other Asian groups in the US are interested? If so, please contact us.

For more on the revisionist vision of Japans wartime history, read the Economist’s “No more guild-tripping, say the young”:

“Rariko, the band’s leader, calls South Korea a ‘filthy’ country and says Koreans are trying to humiliate Japan by lying about war crimes.”

http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21606338-no-more-guilt-tripping-say-young-bilious

Posted in News | Leave a comment

“Law and Order” at Rencontres d’Arles (France)

10-19-13_maison d'arrêt Bois d'Arcy_0030Low

“Law and Order” will be shown at the Evening screenings in the Théâtre Antique at the RENCONTRES D’ARLES, the annual summer photography festival in the South of France.
Date (of evening screenings): 9, 10 and 12 July.
“The open-air evening screenings at the Théâtre Antique in Arles present the work of a photographer or photography specialist accompanied by concerts or performances. Each screening is a one-off creation.”
In 2013, there were 96000 visitors to the festival.

Of the photo shown here (size 45 x 60 cm / 18″x24″), the first 2 (of an edition of 15) were sold at the Kunstrai, Amsterdam, 2014.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Gallery Weekend Berlin, 2 – 4 May 2014

After the kick-off in 2013 with more than 2,000 visitors, five galleries from Amsterdam and five galleries from Berlin come together for the second time to realize a joint exhibition under the title “I AMsterdam YOU BErlin”, which will take place again during the Gallery Weekend.
One of them is Fontana Gallery, showing my work as well as that of the now blind photographer Hannes Walrafen and Marchand & Meffre.

exhibition opening hours: Thursday 11-20 h | Friday 11-21 h | Saturday 11-20 h | Sunday 12-19 h
Venue: St. Johannes Evangelist-Church | Auguststr. 90 | 10117 Berlin

Posted in News | Leave a comment