8月 122014
 
 2014年8月12日  不正, 捏造慰安婦問題, 政治, 歴史, 韓国

Asahi Shimbun makes long-overdue corrections over ‘comfort women’

7:52 pm, August 06, 2014

The Yomiuri ShimbunAfter a review of its reports on the so-called comfort women issue, which has become a huge thorn in the side of Japan-South Korea ties, The Asahi Shimbun has admitted its mistakes in the reports—albeit partially—and retracted some of the contents.

The retractions allude to reports on remarks by Seiji Yoshida, who claimed to have forcibly taken away local women from Jeju Island, South Korea, to make them serve as comfort women. During World War II, Yoshida was said to be the former head of the mobilization department of the Shimonoseki Branch of Romu Hokoku-kai, an organization in charge of recruiting laborers.

In September 1982, the newspaper reported—without verification—the remarks of Yoshida, who claimed to have “hunted up 200 young Korean women in Jeju Island.”

Misperceptions about Japan

The report added fuel to anti-Japan sentiment in South Korea, and also became a basis of misperception of Japan spreading through the world. In its Tuesday morning edition, the Asahi concluded—for the first time—that Yoshida’s remarks were baseless, and finally retracted the newspaper’s reports regarding the remarks.

We cannot help but point out the correction should have been made at a much earlier stage. Doubts about Yoshida’s remarks have been raised as early as 1992. The newspaper’s negligence in allowing the issue to linger for more than 20 years is deplorable.

The Asahi has, by its own account, reported about Yoshida on at least 16 occasions. Historian Ikuhiko Hata raised doubts over Yoshida’s remarks in 1992, but the newspaper has long refrained from making a correction.

In March 1997, The Asahi Shimbun carried a special article on the reports about the comfort women issue. However, the newspaper only said it was unable to confirm the authenticity of Yoshida’s remarks.

Yoshida’s remarks were cited by a 1996 U.N. Human Rights Commission report compiled by Radhika Coomaraswamy, helping propagate a misunderstanding in the international community that the forcible recruitment of comfort women took place.

Another serious problem with the Asahi’s reports is the mix-up between comfort women and female volunteer corps.

In a front-page article carried in January 1992, the Asahi stated that “South Korean women became the major target of forcible recruitment conducted in the name of the female volunteer corps. The estimated number [of victims] range from 80,000 to 200,000.”

The report was issued just before then Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa’s visit to South Korea. It prompted the government to conduct an investigation into the comfort women issue, resulting in a statement issued by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, which expressed the government’s “sincere apologies and remorse” to former comfort women.

In Tuesday morning’s edition, the Asahi admitted its mistake over the mix-up for the first time, saying that the female volunteer corps refers to groups of women mobilized for work in munitions factories and elsewhere during wartime and are “completely different” from comfort women.

“We have been working not to confuse the two since 1993,” the newspaper said in the Tuesday edition. However, the Asahi’s reports have prompted the false understanding that even girls of primary school age were recruited as comfort women.

The Asahi defended its coverage by saying in its two-page spread: “Little progress had been made in investigating the comfort women issue at that time. Some documents to which [Asahi] reporters referred contained statements in which the female volunteer corps was mixed up with the comfort women.” Then the special feature said that some other national dailies had also published articles containing a similar mix-up.

In reporting on the female volunteer corps and Yoshida in initial stages, The Yomiuri Shimbun also ran some stories including factual errors. In the late 1990s and onward, however, we corrected such errors through our editorials and other articles.

Assertions unchanged

We question the Asahi’s assertions about how so-called comfort women were kept at facilities to provide sex for soldiers. Though the heart of the matter was whether they were recruited by force, the national daily argued that great importance must be attached to the fact that those women were caught in a situation marked by “a coercive nature” with which they had been “deprived of freedom.”

In initial stages, the Asahi continued to insist the crux of the problem was that these women had been forcibly recruited, citing testimony from Yoshida and other sources. However, the testimony and data used by the paper as a basis for its reasoning were later disproved. Then the Asahi started to argue that the retention of those women in facilities had a coercive nature.

The Asahi’s assertion has remained fundamentally unchanged in this respect, as illustrated by its latest feature, which stated that the essence of the problem lies in the fact that “women were deprived of freedom in brothels, and their dignity was violated.”

There is no doubt that a large number of women, including those from the Philippines and Indonesia, had their honor and dignity injured during World War II. There may have been cases deemed inexcusable from a present-day human rights perspective, even if no coercive action was taken by the prewar government and the military.

Still, it is necessary to discuss two issues related to the whole controversy as separate matters—that is, how to deal with sex-related issues facing soldiers and whether the Japanese wartime military was involved in forcibly recruiting women for the provision of sex.

Questions can be asked as to the appropriateness of calling the Japanese government to task by insisting coerciveness was prevalent in the provision of sex by those women in a broad sense of the term. We believe focusing on such questions is an attempt to sidestep the real issue.

Gaining a proper perception of history requires thorough efforts to uncover the whole truth behind any historical issue.

Better Japan-ROK ties needed

South Korean President Park Geun-hye strongly opposed a report issued by the Japanese government in June regarding the results of investigations into how the so-called Kono statement on comfort women was drafted and issued in 1993, using Coomaraswamy’s U.N. report and other data as a basis for her assertion. Her unbending hard-line stance on Japan is unlikely to change.

The government should not easily compromise on the controversy. It must persist in urging South Koreans to gain a proper understanding of our government’s stance on the comfort women dispute.

Relations between Japan and South Korea are strained today. There has been no summit meeting between the two nations for more than two years. We hope the media and the public in both nations will come to have an accurate grasp of all the facts, a task essential for their respective efforts to build a future-oriented relationship between the two neighbors.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 6, 2014)


8月 062014
 
 2014年8月6日  捏造慰安婦問題, 韓国

「済州島で連行」証言 裏付け得られず虚偽と判断

2014年8月5日05時00分

印刷
メール

 〈疑問〉日本の植民地だった朝鮮で戦争中、慰安婦にするため女性を暴力を使って無理やり連れ出したと著書や集会で証言した男性がいました。朝日新聞は80年代から90年代初めに記事で男性を取り上げましたが、証言は虚偽という指摘があります。

慰安婦問題を考える

 男性は吉田清治氏。著書などでは日雇い労働者らを統制する組織である山口県労務報国会下関支部で動員部長をしていたと語っていた。

 朝日新聞は吉田氏について確認できただけで16回、記事にした。初掲載は82年9月2日の大阪本社版朝刊社会面。大阪市内での講演内容として「済州島で200人の若い朝鮮人女性を『狩り出した』」と報じた。執筆した大阪社会部の記者(66)は「講演での話の内容は具体的かつ詳細で全く疑わなかった」と話す。

 90年代初め、他の新聞社も集会などで証言する吉田氏を記事で取り上げていた。

 92年4月30日、産経新聞は朝刊で、秦郁彦氏による済州島での調査結果を元に証言に疑問を投げかける記事を掲載。週刊誌も「『創作』の疑い」と報じ始めた。

 東京社会部の記者(53)は産経新聞の記事の掲載直後、デスクの指示で吉田氏に会い、裏付けのための関係者の紹介やデータ提供を要請したが拒まれたという。

 97年3月31日の特集記事のための取材の際、吉田氏は東京社会部記者(57)との面会を拒否。虚偽ではないかという報道があることを電話で問うと「体験をそのまま書いた」と答えた。済州島でも取材し裏付けは得られなかったが、吉田氏の証言が虚偽だという確証がなかったため、「真偽は確認できない」と表記した。その後、朝日新聞は吉田氏を取り上げていない。

 しかし、自民党の安倍晋三総裁が2012年11月の日本記者クラブ主催の党首討論会で「朝日新聞の誤報による吉田清治という詐欺師のような男がつくった本がまるで事実かのように日本中に伝わって問題が大きくなった」と発言。一部の新聞や雑誌が朝日新聞批判を繰り返している。

 今年4~5月、済州島内で70代後半~90代の計約40人に話を聞いたが、強制連行したという吉田氏の記述を裏付ける証言は得られなかった。

 干し魚の製造工場から数十人の女性を連れ去ったとされる北西部の町。魚を扱う工場は村で一つしかなく、経営に携わった地元男性(故人)の息子は「作っていたのは缶詰のみ。父から女性従業員が連れ去られたという話は聞いたことがない」と語った。「かやぶき」と記された工場の屋根は、韓国の当時の水産事業を研究する立命館大の河原典史教授(歴史地理学)が入手した当時の様子を記録した映像資料によると、トタンぶきとかわらぶきだった。

 93年6月に、吉田氏の著書をもとに済州島を調べたという韓国挺身隊研究所元研究員の姜貞淑(カンジョンスク)さんは「数カ所でそれぞれ数人の老人から話を聞いたが、記述にあるような証言は出なかった」と語った。

 吉田氏は著書で、43年5月に西部軍の動員命令で済州島に行き、その命令書の中身を記したものが妻(故人)の日記に残っていると書いていた。しかし、今回、吉田氏の長男(64)に取材したところ、妻は日記をつけていなかったことがわかった。吉田氏は00年7月に死去したという。

 吉田氏は93年5月、吉見義明・中央大教授らと面会した際、「(強制連行した)日時や場所を変えた場合もある」と説明した上、動員命令書を写した日記の提示も拒んだといい、吉見氏は「証言としては使えないと確認するしかなかった」と指摘している=注①。

 戦時中の朝鮮半島の動員に詳しい外村大・東京大准教授は、吉田氏が所属していたという労務報国会は厚生省と内務省の指示で作られた組織だとし、「指揮系統からして軍が動員命令を出すことも、職員が直接朝鮮に出向くことも考えづらい」と話す。

 吉田氏はまた、強制連行したとする43年5月当時、済州島は「陸軍部隊本部」が「軍政を敷いていた」と説明していた。この点について、永井和・京都大教授(日本近現代史)は旧陸軍の資料から、済州島に陸軍の大部隊が集結するのは45年4月以降だと指摘。「記述内容は事実とは考えられない」と話した。

■読者のみなさまへ

 吉田氏が済州島で慰安婦を強制連行したとする証言は虚偽だと判断し、記事を取り消します。当時、虚偽の証言を見抜けませんでした。済州島を再取材しましたが、証言を裏付ける話は得られませんでした。研究者への取材でも証言の核心部分についての矛盾がいくつも明らかになりました。

     ◇

 注① 吉見義明・川田文子編「『従軍慰安婦』をめぐる30のウソと真実」(大月書店、1997年)