I love the smell of nuance in the morning

Robert Koehler of The Marmot’s Hole writes of a talk by Park Yu-ha, a Korean professor of Japanese literature, at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, in which she argued that Koreans are also to blame for the comfort women system.

And hence my problem with the congressional resolution condemning Japan and only Japan. History is more complicated than “good guys” versus “bad guys,” and the whitewashing of history that would result from simply blaming Japan and moving on is little different from the whitewashing of history by Japanese nationalists.

In other words, let historians do their jobs.

8 thoughts on “I love the smell of nuance in the morning

  1. Anonymous

    Park is a woman.Yes, there are no heroes in the story. However, none of this would have happened if the Imperial government of Japan did not establish, maintain, manage, and sanction a system of organized brothels for its military. Despite his protestation, former PM Nakasone did establish a comfort station for his troops and he had official regulations and directives on how to do so. The former head of the Fuji Sankei was a military accountant who would calculate how long a comfort woman would last under certain conditions. There are plenty of documents outlining how the GoJ managed the CW system.The resolution targets a government sponsored system that brought forth all sorts of vile behavior by many. It is a resolution for all the young girls who are victimized by today and will be tomorrow. Japan, sadly, is the precedent for making rape in warfare a crime against humanity. The Dutch trials have been the critical preceedent making it possible to track down and convict the Serbian and other rapists.You are sadly misinformed about the resolution and the issue. You are even more ignorant of the importance todays of the issue of violence against women in conflict.Edith Cavell


  2. Clever reference, \”Edith.\”I have said nothing about violence against women in conflict. I have not defend the actions of Imperial Japan. All I\’ve argued on this site — consistently and forthrightly — is that the US Congress should not be passing a resolution on this matter. That\’s it. The US Congress should not be in the busy of delivering historical justice and telling foreign governments the \”right\” way to interpret history. Historical justice should not simply go to the group with the best organization and fundraising.


  3. For what it\’s worth in my opinion…It\’s not about good guys vs bad guys… In reality there are no \”good guys\”. So one can\’t simply blame Japan and leave it at that.I\’d also like to add that \”organized brothels\” could have existed without the Imperial Army. It\’s not that far-fetched. So to claim that \”none of this would have happened if the Imperial government of Japan did not establish, maintain, manage, and sanction a system of organized brothels for its military.\” as Edith wrote is wrong.Of course, I\’m not excusing Japan\’s actions or any other state or non-state actor that engage in these types of activities.Regards,


  4. Anonymous

    The historians have spoken. Imperial Japan, as a state and no other state before or since, established and maintained a system at the highest levels to organize and manage sexual \”comfort\” for its troops.It is the business of the US Congress to be concerned about American allies and the American security relationship in Asia. If the leadership of one of our ally\’s harbors views that are to the detriment of peaceful relations in the region, Congress has an obligation to show concern. A congressional resolution is a show of concern and a suggestion. It is not a law nor a demand (as the Japanese press reports). Abe\’s overreaction is proof enough that Congress should be concerned.Mr Bush\’s foreign policy has been at such a deficit in all other ways, it is not a surprise to find that the relationship with Japan was equally mismanaged. The unthinking rush to counter China allowed the so-called Japan hands to ignore or maybe not appreciate the reactionary forces in Japan. Maybe they thought they could control these folks. They are mistaken and the history issues reach far beyond the mere recounting of events.And in regard to funding, again you are misinformed. The GoJ is spending nearly $200/month on trying to kill history issues in Washington. The opposition is all voluntary and not exactly organized. The resolution grew out of interest by Rep Lane Evans and then those who held him in high regard.May I be so bold to suggest that you consider an internship in the US Congress when you complete the one you are on in the Diet.Edith Cavell


  5. Why are the nationalist views of South Korea and China somehow less detrimental to the regional security environment than Japan\’s?And as for the historians\’ having spoken, they haven\’t in Japan (at least not loudly or clearly enough). That\’s the issue. Japan has a lot of work to do in frankly addressing its past, and it isn\’t going to do that because the US Congress tells Japan to apologize for its wrongdoing.And Japan\’s lobbying? Why should (indirect) agents of Japan\’s rivals be allowed to lobby Congress but not Japan itself?Finally, have you stopped to think that maybe historical issues shouldn\’t be dragged into the twenty-first century, exacerbating tensions in a region already riven with security competition (which believe it or not, is not Japan\’s fault but the natural by-product of a drastic shift in the balance of power)?Still, though, you didn\’t answer my question: are supporters of this resolution capable of defending it without resorting to ad hominem attacks? Your suggestion that I \”consider an internship in the US Congress\” is most unwelcome.


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