Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Why does Jan Ruff O'Herne have to be a comfort woman (1)--BBC4 woman's hour

BBC4 published a comfort woman story in their woman's hour.
You can listen to the audio. The audio contains the voice of Jan Ruff O’Herne, the Dutch-Australian woman, probably a victim of Semarang incident. The program has four parts:

  1. Jan Ruff O'Herne's real voice. She is demanding that if you break a window, you pay for it.
  2. Matsui Hideko, an anthoropologist, a Japanese female commentator.
  3. Jeff Kingson, Director of Asian Studies, at the Temple University in Tokyo
  4. Taniguchi Tomohiko, Deputy Press Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Japan
  • I really do not know this Matsui Hideko. Anybody care to tell me who she is?
  • Jeff Kingston is a typical "corpse-maximizer," as you can see in this or that. It is amazing that this much of knowledge can guarantee a position in Asian studies. I might write about him someday.
  • Taniguchi Tomohiko is keeping the official line and accepting 1993 Kono statement. In my opinion, he is doing a good job here at BBC, but he fails to mention that Germany has no bilateral treaties with any country to settle the war. On the contrary Japan settled all war-related claims. Otherwise, listeners can not understand why Japan does not pay reparations to the already settled war.

My problem here is why Jan Ruff O'Herne had to be included here. Yes, her story sounds vivid, real and tragic, of course, but is that the only reason? A typical summary of "sex slaves" goes like this as in this BBC program.

Comfort Women - Sexual Slavery in WWII? 28 March 2007

Japan's ongoing row with its neighbours over its wartime use of sex slaves deepened earlier this month. It is estimated that as many as 200,000 women, mainly from China and South Korea, were made to work in about 2,000 "comfort stations" - a euphemism for brothels - across Asia from the early 1930s until Japan's defeat in 1945. Less than three weeks ago the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, appeared to distance his government from Japan’s 1993 unofficial apology to these women.
A typical explanation of comfort women is that they are euphemism of "sex slaves," "as many as 200,000 women," mainly from "Korea," who were abducted and forced to work in wartime brothels for Imperial Japanese Army (this article adds Chinese, which is a interesting development to me). But there is a problem here: O'Herne is not Korean. Why she was included here when she is not a typical figure of "sex slaves"?


infimum said...

I think I found something about the Japanese anthropologist in question. In this conference, she presented a talk on comfort women. Just reading the summary of the talk given there gives you an idea of what kind of academic studies she does, doesn't it? Currently, she is a lecturer at the University of Leeds. I don't know if her name change is due to an error or marriage.

Since you questioned Jeff Kingston's credibility, Let me question her credibility, although this is a claasic ad hominem fallacy. First of all, her English makes it hard to follow her talk. How can a person who received an MA and PhD from Stanford present herself in English worse than a finalcial-analyst-turned-bureaucrat who doesn't seem to have a higher degree than a bachelor's? Next, from the little information of her I really wonder if she actually looked up the whole thing involving profs. Hata and Yoshimi and how the story developed. I don't care if she is an anthropologist or historian, but it's a prerequisite if anyone wants to speak about this issue.

buvery said...

Thank you for your information. Matsui Hideko seems to evaluate high the VAWW-net kangaroo trial in Tokyo. No wonder. Then she should know that the mock trial explicitly excludes Japanese victims.

As for Taniguchi Tomohiko, I found his address and sent him an email. Basically I proposed him that Japan should use this comfort women story as an opportunity to promote the abduction cause. I will write about this some time later.