I’m happy to announce that the translation into English of Prof. Hata Ikuhiko’s book, Comfort Women and Sex in the Battle Zone, is complete. The book is available through Hamilton Books, a major American publisher.
The book is timely because the world is saturated with the lies that the Japanese military kidnapped young women and forced them to work as sex slaves. In this way, historical issues get hauled out of the past and become problems in the present. The twentieth century was the century of war and revolution, and the twenty-first century is the century of historical wars about the twentieth-century’s wars.
In the United States, the media, academia, and the government—especially the bureaucracy and regulatory agencies—are controlled by liberals. In this new translation, the aim is to overturn the misconceptions that have been fostered by this atmosphere lacking in intellectual diversity.
The translation was difficult because there were so many footnotes to confirm. We tracked down every source and double- and triple-checked the information. We knew that the book would be attacked by the liberals who dominate the American academy and other vectors of information, so we were meticulous in our presentation of the facts. The end result is a book in which we have confidence. The information is accurate and reliable.
Facts and Nuance over Emotion
People often speak of historical issues in terms of black and white, but reality is most often gray. The comfort woman issue is no different. Those today who persist in attacking Japan want to see things in stark tones, wherein only Japan is cruel and evil and everyone else is blameless. Therefore, activists present information selectively. They don’t take social realities into account. They also don’t think realistically, such as about whether it would have been possible to kidnap women from their homes (Koreans rightly insist that there would have been a rebellion had the Japanese tried such a thing) and whether there would have been any way to transport women to shattered battle zones like Peleliu and Iwo Jima.
Prof. Hata’s book is different. Unlike the activists, who prey on the emotions, Hata appeals to the intellect. He asks the reader to think, not react. He is an historical factualist, a documentarian, an empirical positivist. He writes about what he finds in his research, regardless of whether it makes Japan, or anywhere (or anyone) else, look good or bad. His standard is not appearance or political convenience, but factual accuracy. This is why his books are so invaluable.
The Sakoku of the American Universities
Many people around the world, and in the United States, are slowly realizing that American universities have descended into a terrible state. American academia is in a sakoku state. It is closed off, and anyone who dares to interact with outsiders is exiled. I personally experienced this during my dozen years or so at universities in the US. When I disagreed with what some of my professors said about the comfort women, I was branded a revisionist and an apologist and blacklisted. One of my former professors wrote a “recommendation” letter accusing me of whitewashing history for Prime Minister Abe. This kind of behavior is unprofessional and wrong, and yet this kind of thing happens in the American academy all the time. It is how the liberals maintain their dominance of the universities. It’s how the intellectual sakoku gets perpetuated.
Another example involves Prof. Hata. A few years ago I was asked to help buy advertising space in the Journal of Asian Studies for a new website designed to foster communication among scholars in Japan and overseas. The Journal of Asian Studies—hundreds of whose members, including ringleaders Alexis Dudden and Jordan Sand, led the attack against Japan in 2015 over the comfort women issue—refused even to let us purchase a business card-size advertising slot. Lucien Ellington, editor of Education about Asia, also intervened and refused to allow our voice to be heard. We mentioned nothing about the comfort women—we were simply inviting scholars to engage in the exchange of ideas. But this is precisely what the American academy wants to avoid. There is no intellectual diversity at universities in the United States. Those in charge of the journals and the academy have acted shamefully in the service of their political biases.
To state the facts plainly, the American academy has long since given up the pretense of providing an education to students. Higher education (and, indeed, all public education) in the US is designed to groom young people to vote for leftists. Almost every professor in the United States is a liberal, socialist, or communist. Statistics back this up. Well over ninety percent of the faculty and administrators at American colleges and universities donate money to leftist politicians. The figure is often 99%, and it is not rare to find that 100% of the people who work at a university donated money to left-wing politicians and causes. What students receive at such places is not an education, but a political indoctrination.
This is why it is so important to have Hata’s book in university libraries. Even though we don’t expect that the biased professors in the US will tell their students about the book, our hope is that students will look up the issue and do their own research. There are many students in the US who admire Japan. Perhaps some students will go to the library and find Hata’s book and learn the truth, instead of the anti-Japan attacks that they get from their leftist professors. The way to overcome the stereotypes of the American academy is through the presentation of solid historical fact. Students want to know the truth, but their professors won’t tell them about it.
How I Changed my Mind about the Comfort Women
I know the power of truth to change minds, because I was also once among those who believed that the Japanese military had kidnapped hundreds of thousands of women from the Korean peninsula. The comfort women are mentioned in textbooks in the US, but the information is factually incorrect. The McGraw-Hill textbook by Herbert Ziegler and the late Jerry Bentley is just one example of this. Not just factually incorrect, but wildly inaccurate. “Imaginary” is probably the best adjective to use. I had not researched the comfort women extensively beforehand and so I didn’t know that the information in the books was wrong. It was only after I came to Waseda to study and began reading about the comfort women in Japanese sources that I discovered that I had been lied to. (American students are lied to by their professors about a lot more than just the comfort women, I’m sorry to say.)
Japan and Nazi Germany Not Alike
One other thing that the American professors often do is to tie Japan to Nazi Germany. Japan and Germany, along with Italy, entered into the Tripartite Pact in 1940. But that hardly means that Japan and Nazi Germany were alike. Or are the American professors prepared to argue, by the same token, that the United States was like Stalinist Russia, which murdered tens of millions of people for political reasons, or for no reason at all, because the two countries formed a military alliance? Japan and Nazi Germany were not alike at all, except that both were threatened by Bolshevism and by Churchill’s and Roosevelt’s—especially Roosevelt’s—desire for a war to pave the way for one world government.
One big point of dissimilarity between Japan and Nazi Germany lay in their respective court systems. Nazi courts were kangaroo courts, plain and simple. Nazi trials were show trials, and judges in Nazi Germany issued outrageous and ludicrous rulings based solely on the political whims of the National Socialist Party. Japanese courts were the opposite, all throughout the war. The American Supreme Court was much more cowardly during the war (and during WWI, for that matter) than was its Japanese counterpart. Also, unlike Nazi Germany (and the United States), Japan did not have a single ruler throughout the war. The prime minister position was held by a variety of people. There was no putsch, and also no Rooseveltian style of “democratic dictatorship,” wherein the Tammany Hall political machine ensured that the same person would remain in charge despite periodic “elections”.
On the comfort woman issue, as well, Japan actually compares favorably with the other powers that fought in WWII. The Americans and British patronized prostitutes all around the world, and some of them, for example in India, were said to be just children. American generals flew in prostitutes to service troops, and Gen. Patton famously encouraged his men to take advantage of the availability of women as a way to be better soldiers in the field. (Patton did not put the sentiment quite as delicately as that.) The Germans had prostitution rings inside the hellish concentration camps. And the Russians, to put it bluntly, didn’t bother to visit brothels so much as they just went around raping every female they could find. Soviet commanders encouraged their troops to rape Japanese and German women. The Japanese should not be proud of the comfort stations that private brokers ran for the troops, but they also shouldn’t be singled out and blamed as uniquely villainous. If anything, Japan’s method was the least bad of all the others.
Comfort Women Issue is Pure Politics
If these are the historical facts, then what’s driving the comfort woman issue in the US? The easy answer is China. The PRC is waging an all-out information war against the United States, Japan, and other countries that are resisting the Chinese Communist Party’s attempt to control every scrap of information that passes through or near Chinese territory. (Japan and the US are also resisting Chinese attempts to steal other people’s territory, which is another reason why China is lashing out.)
American academics have a fondness for authoritarian figures. Many admire Stalin and Mao, for instance. American academics dislike freedom, dislike debate. They want there to be one view on every issue, and they are more than willing to have the state keep out any dissent. So, there is a natural affinity between the Chinese way and the American universities’ way.
The other answer is politics. For many in South Korea, the comfort woman issue has become an article of faith, and South Korean diplomacy has been disgraced by some South Korean activists’ willingness to destroy the credibility of South Korea as a country for emotional victories in the history wars with Japan. South Koreans in the US have also taken up this fight. American politicians, eager to court Korean and Chinese votes, cater to the prejudices of their constituencies. One of the masters of this was disgraced Democratic politician Mike Honda, who made the comfort women issue the centerpiece of his career.
But the real political monster is, again, China. A Chinese spy, Russell Lowe, worked in Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein’s office in California for more than twenty years before he left to join the group that later brought the comfort woman statue to San Francisco. (Lowe and Honda traveled to Korea together recently to drum up the issue among the South Korean left.) Sen. Feinstein hardly needed a Chinese spy’s encouragement to toady up to China, though. Her husband and she both have deep ties to the PRC regime, and Feinstein supported her friend Jiang Zemin even after PLA troops mowed down peaceful demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989. China money, China ties, Chinese espionage—these are the realities of life in the US today.
The Truth Will Win in the End
It’s with these realities that Hata’s comfort woman book must contend. But even though the forces arrayed against Hata’s work are big, strong, and very well financed, I’m betting on scholarship over partisanship, truth over ideology. This new translation is a milestone in Japan’s efforts to counter the decades-long attempt by the American academy and its CCP and ROK partners to demonize Japan. Even more important, the translation strikes a blow for empirical research. This is the crucial thing. Telling the truth is the hallmark of Japanese scholarship. I believe that Americans, even those currently brainwashed by the heavily politicized academy, will come to appreciate Japanese scholarship, too.