New academic article explores the inaccurate portrayal of the Comfort Women issue
It has come to my attention that the Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies has published an excellent new article about the “Comfort Women” issue. Gavan Gray of Ristumeikan University explores how an inaccurate historical narrative has come to be accepted as unquestionable truth among Asian and Western countries that so harshly criticize Japan’s handling of the issue:
The clash between Japan and South Korea over redress for former ‘comfort women’ is a key element preventing stronger ties between the two neighbours. The issue has also diverted attention from the larger problem of human-trafficking that plagues both countries. In recent years understanding of the issue has been broadened by Asian scholars who have moved beyond the version that was dominant in the early 1990s. In the West however, perceptions remain as they were twenty years ago, repeating as fact elements that have been brought into question or utterly disproven. This inaccurate portrayal by Western media and governments has compromised resolution of the issue in Asia and failed to acknowledge widespread use of equivalent systems of prostitution by both South Korea and the USA. The reason Japan was so specifically targeted lies in a timely convergence of feminism, Korean nationalism and latent anti-Japanese racism. Acting to exaggerate the cruelty of Japan’s system while ignoring those of other nations, these factors prevented Japan and South Korea from developing a new perspective on the issue that would allow stronger ties between the two and refocus the campaign to end exploitation of Asian women.