Despite testimony from former soldiers, the Japanese government is continuing to allege that girls and women forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese army in World War II were professional prostitutes rather than victims of violence. Former soldier Yasuji Kaneko recollects that:
“They cried out, but it didn’t matter to us whether the women lived or died, we were the Emperor’s soldiers. Whether in military brothels or in the villages, we raped without reluctance.” Japan Times
Despite the Japanese Government finally being forced to apologise in 1993 for these wartime atrocities, the current right wing government is questioning the need for the apology at all. Prime Minister Sinzo Abe denies any force was used in conquered lands and denies there is any evidence to prove coercion. However Historians have evidenced that up to 200,000 women from the Korean Peninsula, China and Taiwan were abducted and forced to work as “comfort women”. More were raped as “acts of war” across the occupied lands.
Right wing political influencers, however, have likened the situation of the comfort women to how a college canteen is run. Nariaki Nakayama, chairman of a lawmakers association, argued just this point:
“It is useful to compare the brothels to college cafeterias run by private companies, who recruit their own staff, procure foodstuffs, and set prices. And where there’s demand, businesses crop up… This issue must be reconsidered, based on truth” Japan Times
That truth, one assumes, is that the Japanese oligarchy still sees neighbouring peoples as no more than “produce” to be “traded” – the same excuses we British used to justify the slave trade.