Harvard Professor Who Criticizes Professor Ramseyer’s “Comfort Women Paper” May Not Have Not Been Able to Understand the Literature (Part 2)
Based on a misunderstanding or misreading
Continuing from the last issue, this is an examination of criticism of a paper on “comfort women” published by Harvard University professor Mark Ramseyer.
It is based on a misunderstanding or misinterpretation.
What is curious, however, is that they claim to have read the following “Ministry of Home Affairs document” in the notes to Professor Ramseyer’s article, “The Sex Contract in the Pacific War” (hereafter referred to as the Ramseyer article).
This was a document written by the Japanese Ministry of Home Affairs at the time, outlining precautions to be taken in dealing with women who came from Japan to China and tried to make a living as prostitutes.
While acknowledging the necessity of the existence of such women, the document shows that the Ministry was strictly cracking down to prevent human trafficking and kidnapping.
In other words, it clearly shows that the Japanese government did not forcibly bring such women to work or treat them like slaves.
However, critics claim that “forced recruitment” and “sexual slavery” are the correct terms, and therefore the Ramseyer paper is wrong.
If you read the document carefully and calmly, it seems that the critics’ claims are based on misunderstanding or misreading.
As a result, we have to question their ability to read Japanese. (It is long, so you can read the latter part first, or you can skip this part and go on to the author’s writing.
“Ministry of Home Affairs Documents
(The Ministry of the Interior’s document, “Concerning the Handling of Women Traveling to China,” February 23, 1938, addressed to the prefectural directors of each agency, Director-General of the Security Bureau, Ministry of the Interior.
Recently, with the restoration of order in various parts of China, there has been a marked increase in the number of people traveling to China, but there are still a small number of women who have connections with restaurants, eateries, “cafes” or similar businesses (the author’s note: prostitutes) in China for the purpose of engaging in these businesses. In addition, those who recruit and circulate such women in the interior and who use words as if they have the consent of the military authorities have been appearing frequently in many places recently. In addition, it is difficult to ensure that there is no violation of the intent of the International Convention on the Sale of Women. Therefore, in consideration of local conditions and other circumstances, we hereby give notice that the handling of this matter shall be in accordance with the items on the left.
(1) The travel of women for the purpose of ugly business shall be tolerated for the time being only for those who are currently engaged in prostitution or other de facto ugly business in Japan, are over twenty-one years of age, and have no willow disease or other contagious disease, and who are on their way to the Northern or Central China.
(2) That, when issuing the identification card set forth in the preceding paragraph, they shall be admonished in advance to return to Japan as soon as the term of their provisional contracts for employment has expired or there is no longer any need for them.
(3) Women who intend to travel to Japan for the purpose of engaging in ugly business must personally present themselves to the police and apply for the issuance of an identification card.
(4) When a woman traveling for the purpose of abomination applies for the issuance of an identification card, she shall be sure to obtain the approval of a recent relative of hers in the same family register, or, if there is no relative of hers, the head of the family, and if there is no one to whom approval should be given, the fact shall be made clear.
(v) When issuing an identification card to a woman traveling for the purpose of ugly business, the contract of employment and other various matters shall be investigated, and special attention shall be paid to the fact that there is no such thing as trafficking in women or kidnapping.
(vi) In recruiting and arranging for women traveling for the purpose of engaging in ugly business or other business related to general customs and manners, any person who uses words that seem to be in agreement or communication with the military, or any other words that seem to influence the military, shall be strictly controlled.
(vii) In recruiting and circulating women who travel for the purpose of the foregoing, any person who engages in such recruiting and circulating shall be strictly investigated, and any person who does not have a proper permit or a certificate issued by a diplomatic mission abroad and whose identity is not certain shall not be admitted.
That is all.
Collection of Military Comfort Women Materials, pp. 102-104
A system to check for the existence of contracts
In this document, the most important parts are 5 and 7. Let me translate them into modern Japanese.
(5) “When issuing identity cards to women traveling for the purpose of ugly business (in other words, prostitution), various matters such as work contracts should be investigated, and special care should be taken to ensure that there is no evidence of human trafficking or kidnapping.
(When issuing an identification card to a woman traveling to Japan for the purpose of engaging in ugly business, special attention shall be paid to investigating the work contract and other various matters to ensure that there is no evidence of trafficking in women or kidnapping.
(vii) “With regard to the recruiting or arranging of women to travel to Japan for such purposes, the act of advertising, falsifying the facts, or exaggerating the facts must be strictly controlled. Recruitment and brokering agencies shall be subject to strict investigation, and persons of questionable identity who do not have proper permits or proof of diplomatic status shall not be permitted.
In addition, those who engage in the recruitment and placement of women for the purpose of prostitution shall be subject to strict investigation, and those who do not have proper permits or certificates issued by diplomatic missions abroad and whose identity is not certain shall not be admitted.
In other words, women who travel to China for the purpose of prostitution “must obtain the approval of a recent relative in the same family register, or the head of the family if there is no relative,” and “personally appear before the police and apply for the issuance of an ID card.
Furthermore, if the temporary contract expires or if it is determined that the contract does not need to expire (i.e., there is no need to wait until the contract expires because the advance payment has been paid back), the agent will recommend that you return home immediately.
The brokers were also forbidden to deceive the women with hype or lies, and if their identities were questionable, they had to hand over the women they had deceived to the police or government officials. There are many other circulars and notices to this effect.
In other words, there was not necessarily a written contract, but there was also a system to check whether a contract had been made or not.
Crimes of the Evil Circumcisers
Of course, it is still possible that a corrupt agent from Korea impersonated a parent and tricked a woman who could not read or speak Japanese into traveling to Japan.
Even if this is the case, it is not the responsibility of the Japanese military or Japanese government officials, but the crime of the corrupt intermediaries, since Japan had made such efforts to prevent this. It is clear that the Japanese military and Japanese officials were not in cahoots with the corrupt intermediaries.
Reading these documents, it is not unreasonable to suspect that the women were deceived about the nature of the work they were supposed to do, even though there were various levels of understanding and agreement with the women.
Isn’t it just a form of harassment to ask for the actual contract, which would never be produced in the first place, in order to prove that they were not deceived?
If they are going to deny the contents of this document, why don’t they just show us the primary source to deny it, instead of just ignoring it?
Because of their attention to this document, some scholars later turned their attention to the phrase in the first part of the document, “For the time being, this will be tolerated,” and used it as a source of criticism.
The first part of the document reads as follows
Since it is difficult to maintain a state of affairs that does not violate the intent of the International Convention on the Sale of Women, in consideration of local conditions and other circumstances, it is hereby ordered and notified that the following policy shall be applied to the treatment of women under the age of 18.
(Since it is difficult to maintain a policy that does not violate the intent of the International Convention on the Sale of Women, and in consideration of local conditions and other circumstances, the following policy regarding the treatment of doulas is hereby ordered and notified.
The word “tacitly approved” follows, so critics point out that the Japanese military “tacitly approved” the sending of the women to China, knowing that it violated an international treaty (the 1921 International Convention on the Prohibition of the Sale of Women and Children).
This point was made in a February 18 article by five scholars teaching Japanese studies at universities in Europe and the United States entitled “‘Contracting for Sex in the Pacific War’: The Case for Retraction on Grounds of Academic Misconduct. : “The Case for Retraction on Grounds of Academic Misconduct” by five scholars teaching Japanese studies at Concerned Scholars (google.com). It is likely that these scholars also took action because they felt that the Ramseyer paper would undermine their own claims.
Questionable ability to read Japanese literature
However, the phrase “violation of international law” is used in the context of a request for a strict crackdown on rogue traffickers who violate international law and engage in human trafficking.
It does not mean that such a situation should be “tolerated”.
That is why they are asking for a strict check under two. In particular, the age limit of 21 years and older is a reference to the age limit in the International Convention on the Prohibition of the Sale of Women and Children.
As for the “tacit approval” of what is stated, it means that, in principle, Japanese women are prohibited from traveling to China, but “women for the purpose of ugly business” are “tacitly approved” to travel. This is a straightforward interpretation.
There may be people who think that such “ugly work” itself is unacceptable, but at that time, such work was allowed.
Therefore, it is not a violation of international law to “tacitly approve” the travel of women who want to do such work in China.
As I wrote in a previous article, neither the comfort women system nor the individual comfort stations were prosecuted at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, where Japan was harshly judged. It was not considered a problem.
Earlier reports and investigations by the U.S. military did not even consider it a violation of international law or a war crime.
Even at the time of the 1994 Kumaraswamy Report, the U.S. did not support Special Rapporteur Radhika Kumaraswamy’s opinion to impose reparations on Japan for violating international law, and ended up with a mere condemnation resolution rather than sanctions. It is an unreasonable interpretation to say that Japan at that time “tacitly approved” the violation of international law.
In this light, the criticisms of Professors Gordon and Eckert, which have influenced many scholars’ criticisms and statements demanding the retraction of their articles, are, in the author’s view, “instructive discussions.
Their criticisms do not seem to be based on academic manners.
They seem to ignore the evidence that Professor Ramseyer gives without justification.
Rather, these criticisms made me wonder about their Japanese language skills and their ability to read Japanese documents such as the notes.
This point also applies to many of the criticisms of Western scholars who followed them.
It must be quite exhausting to argue with the many Western scholars of various specialties who make such criticisms for the sake of criticism, while translating the Japanese materials as I have seen before.
The author personally feels that this is like the Inquisition against Galileo Galilei.