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Friday, January 09, 2015, 15:00 - 16:00

The Asahi Newspaper, "Comfort Women" and Japan's History Wars
Takashi Uemura
Former Asahi Shimbun Reporter
Language: The speech and Q & A will be in Japanese with English interpretation.

 A quarter of a century ago, Takashi Uemura, wrote an article for the Asahi Shimbun examining Japan's wartime role in herding women into military brothels. The article infuriated some and triggered a wave of condemnation that continues to this day. Japanese nationalists accuse Uemura of bias because of the influence of his mother-in-law, who is South Korean.  

 The dispute reflects an ideological war that has waged for over two decades. Nationalists say Uemura and Japan's liberal flagship newspaper smeared Japan's reputation abroad by spreading lies about the Imperial Army's role in World War II. They have fought to reverse an admission by a previous government of military involvement in coercing Asian women into sexual slavery. They say the women were prostitutes who willingly provided "comfort" to frontline troops. The issue has become a pitched battle between those who say Japan has been unfairly singled out for its brutality in war and critics who accuse it of whitewashing the past.

 Uemura is an unwilling player in this dispute. An article in the weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun last year, expressing disbelief that he was to be employed at Kobe Shoin Women's University, triggered a tsunami of hate mail and cost him his job. He subsequently found part-time work at Hokusei Gakuen University, but the hate trail followed him, this time including a threat to blow up the university. He managed to survive after supporters nationwide mobilized against what they called "Japan-style McCarthyism."

 Despite threats against him and even his family, Uemura has bravely agreed to come to the FCCJ and discuss his experiences. As the 70th anniversary of the end of the war approaches, his appearance at the Club is timely. Far from waning, the dispute over Japan's wartime behavior seems to have become increasingly vitriolic under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with the dividing line between the two opposing sides deeper than ever. Come along and hear Uemura's views on this key issue.

 Please reserve in advance, 3211-3161 or on the website (still & TV cameras inclusive). Reservations and cancellations are not complete without confirmation.

Professional Activities Committee

 

 takashi

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