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Japanese Activist Blames Japanese Gov't, Press for Lack of Sincerity on Sex Slave Issue
Okamoto Yuka Voicres Her Opinion in Spite of Threats
By Joseph Joh
Staff Writer
The 54-year-old Japanese activist Okamoto Yuka (˪ʢ) poses with a statue of a comfort woman.

Japanese government and news media are unwilling to listen to the voices of the survivors of Japanese military sexual slavery," argued a Japanese activist recently. "The Japanese only blame the Korean government and citizens for the never-ending frictions of the two countries over the issue of comfort women"

The 54-year-old Japanese civic leader, Okamoto Yuka (˪ʢ), was recently interviewed by the South Korean news media to reveal the Japanese reactions over the thorny issue of comfort women or sex slaves forced to serve the Japanese soldiers during the Pacific War.

"The Tokyo government keep repeating South Korean should implement the mutual agreement signed by Tokyo and Seoul," she said. "Japanese should listen to the pains of the ex-comfort women and should pay attention to their criticism about the agreement"

The controversial agreement was signed on Dec. 28, 2015 between disgraced ex-President Park Geun-Hye's South Korean government and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Japanese government.

But the 33 South Korean survivors of the war-time sexual slavery refuse to accept the agreement, demanding a sincere and official apology from the Japanese government.

The late Park Young-Shim (center) poses with her comfort woman friends in North Korean region in this undated file photo. The photo was taken by the Americans during the Pacific War. A man with the rifle appears to be Japanese soldier. Park, who was living in North Korea, died at the age of 85 on August 7, 2006.

Okamoto went on to say that Japanese news media are driving the core of the comfort women issue into the wrong direction.

"The Japanese media keep reporting that it is because of the Korean government and citizen that the comfort women issue is not resolved," she argued. "The Japanese media never blame Japanese government over this issue"

Okamoto is working as a freelancing writer and editor, running her own web site "Fight for Justice" dedicated to the issue of comfort women. She has been actively involved in various activities in Japan to solve the problem of sexual slavery.

According to her, there have been more Japanese who think the comfort women issue was resolved by the agreement.

"Those Japanese, who are critical about the hastily made agreement, are attacked as anti-Japanese by the right-wing hard-liners in Japan," she said.

She pointed out that the Japanese government is turning away from the historical fact, the existence of the forced sexual slavery.

She also said that the Japanese news media are accountable for "not digging enough into the historial truth about the comfort women."

"Japanese press only dealt with the monetary issues of donation of 1 billion yen for the welfare of the comfort women, failing to reveal the truth of the matter," she stressed. "Japanese media rarely run stories about UN's recommendations on the comfort women issue"

She said that Japanese internet sites are full of distorted or fabricated stories about the comfort women issue.

"Major Japanese media are only impartial, reporting only the sides welcoming the agreement," she pointed out. "It is a serious problem"

"There are a number of civic groups in Japan objecting the agreement, and issuing their statements criticizing the agreement," she emphasized. "But there has been almost no report about this"

Her criticism about Japanese press went on. "It looks like there is no Japanese intellectuals or citizens objecting the agreement."

"With the agreement the Japanese government wanted to resolve the problem of comfort women once and for all," she argued. "Both Japanese government and major press are avoiding the historial truth"

She pinpointed that behind this Japanese attitude are conservative Japanese rightists who are denying the war-time crimes of Imperial Japan.

She explained that the Japanese rightists are strongly opposed to the comfort women issue becoming an international issue.

The Japanese rightists have been consolidating themselves since 1993 when the "Kono Statement" was announced.

On August 4, 1993, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yōhei Kōno made the statement, recognizing the forcefulness of mobilizing the comfort women and running sexual slavery.

But, on the strength of Japanese rightists and the press the current Prime Minister Abe completely denied the existence of the sexual slavery, saying that there is no evidence.

"The Japanese rightists are trying to turn back the historical clock," she said. "They should stop their anachronistic behavior"

She said that the description of the comfort women disappeared from the textbooks of Japanese middle schools.

One school recently, which tried to use the text book containing comfort women issue, were threatened with a deluge of postcards blaming the school as anti-Japanese ultra-leftist, according to Okamoto.

Okamoto herself were threatened by the ultra-leftist Japanese for her social activities about the comfort women issue.

"Everytime we host a meeting, I had to ask police for protection," she said. "Volunteers served as my body guards"

Each time we raise questions about the issues of comfort women, Nanjing Rape, and the responsibility of the emperor, the rightists threatened us," she said. "Also we are worried about the rightists operating on the internet"

She emphasized the importance of history education for the new generation Japanese.

"Installing the symbolic memorials like Comfort Women Statue are also meaningful so as not to repeat the same historical mistakes," she said. "We have to face the history right. And remembering it is important"

"The comfort women thing should never be repeated in any history," she added.

On Nov. 17, 2017 Okamoto authored a comfort women book titled "Facing the Korea-Japan Agreement: Comfort Women Issue and Future Responsibility."

A number of professors, scholars, activists, and other experts from Japan and South Korea took part in the publication of the book. The book will soon be translated into Korean language.

"Liberals or progressives within Japan should face up the stark reality that the Japanese government never changes itself about its past wrongdoings," she said. "That is why we are fighting to change that reality"

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