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Saturday, July 16, 2005

Japanese women decry sexual slavery during the war

In a very recent post about Germany opening a memorial to Nazi forced labor victims, I asked "Japan, are you listening?" Well, today I got an answer from Japanese women of conscience.

Activists aim to remember 'victimizers,' even if new textbooks don't

Female activists in Japan are set to open a museum in Tokyo to collect and display materials mainly about those who were forced into sexual slavery for the Imperial Japanese Army during the war.

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Much has been written about the Chinese demanding a proper apology for atrocities committed during WWII, which are documented, displayed and often referred to by the Chinese, particularly the media. In the tradition of "never forget" these reminders of the Chinese Holocaust are appropriate. But it goes beyond that, evidenced by the public anti-Japanese riots in April, which the government encouraged, or at least condoned, until it threatened to get out of hand.

The Chinese, I have found, are very good at bifurcating their attitudes between people and their governments. With the US resentfully and fearfully regarded as a bullying, greedy, protectionist and scapegoating nation all over the world and certainly in Asia, Chinese treat Americans in China with respect and helpful friendship. But this doesn't include the Japanese, who are commonly ridiculed, excluded, discriminated against and vilified by the Chinese. Recently the story of a Western-style Chinese restaurant in Jilin, China, which demanded a war apology from Japanese customers before it would serve them was widely circulated. It borders on the fanatic and what government tolerance there is, I believe, and timing suggests, serves to foment nationalistic bigotry to deface Japan to the world and hopefully circumvent consideration of allowing Japan a seat on the U.N. Security Council. Of course, it backfired, making the Chinese look absurd and petty, even as their complaints have a reasonable ground.

Not surprisingly, this has precipitated a backlash as the Japanese now request Chinese apologies for property was damaged in Beijing during the riots and demonstrations. Ping pong, anyone?

Japan and China are joined at the hip economically, being vital trading partners. Both countries rely on tourism from each other. With nuclear threats from Korea between them, it seems they might start to settle these differences and turn to more pressing and dangerous matters that they could help solve together. Here's to the supremely elegant, hip and wise Japanese women for making a start.

// posted by Ellen @  23:34   //Permalink// 
Ellen says hey
Mainer, New Yawka, Beijinger, Californian, points between. News, views and ballyhoos that piqued my interest and caused me to sigh, cry, chuckle, groan or throw something.


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