“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.
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 institutionalised 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 criticising Japan for not accepting responsibility for war crimes and international law.
See South China Morning Post, Veooz.com, Z News etc.
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.”
“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.
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
On April 8, 2014, I photographed in the office of the Partito della Rifondazione Comunista in Venice (Castello), with my intern Tahne Kleijn, for what I hope to turn into a new project about “The Red Dream”.