Yohei Kono is the most disgraced politician in postwar Japan.Shoichi Watanabe, Professor Emeritus, Sophia University

Yohei Kono is the most disgraced politician in postwar Japan.


Shoichi Watanabe, Professor Emeritus, Sophia University

 What led to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono’s statement on the comfort women issue? On June 20, the Shinzo Abe administration compiled and released a report titled “The History of Communication between Japan and South Korea over the Comfort Women Issue: From the Creation of the Kono Statement to the Asian Women’s Fund,” which is the result of a review of the past.

 This was an issue that the Sankei Shimbun had been pursuing for many years. It was the Sankei Shimbun’s scoop that revealed that Japan and South Korea had been rubbing shoulders with each other in the process of creating the wording of the Kono Statement. There have been stories that the Kono Danwa was a race to the finish, based on what South Korea said from the beginning, and that the comfort women were not properly interviewed. I think that was a very significant achievement. The government’s report is a confirmation of the Sankei Shimbun’s report. I believe that this establishes the underlying facts necessary for future discussions on this issue. Even if the discussion goes astray or gets complicated, we can start from here. I think it is significant that the report was released because it clarified the starting point.

 The government has taken the position that the Murayama Danwa should be continued. The government has taken the position that the Kono Danwa will be verified and investigated, but will not be reviewed. I believe that there are major problems with both of these stories and I would like to see them reviewed. That is why I am glad that the investigation was continued to the end. After all, now we are in a position to say at any time, “As a result of the investigation, we need to review it. The Abe cabinet has made it its supreme mission to have a long-term government. Therefore, it has taken a stance of compromising what it can. For the time being, the results of the investigation will not change even if the story is put aside. The Kono statement can be revisited at any time.

Where did his heart lie as a Japanese politician?

 I think the problem is the attitude of Yohei Kono, the man who issued the statement. This time, I read the contents of a speech Mr. Kono gave in Yamaguchi Prefecture on June 21. When the topic of comfort women came up, he did not apologize after all. Regarding the Abe cabinet’s decision to carry on the handling of the Murayama and Kono talks, he said, “Now that the cabinet has acknowledged it, I think we have to say clearly to the international community that any other irregular statement is an irregular statement, and that Japan’s official statement, Japan’s official statement, is that the Murayama talk acknowledges the Kono talk. I think we have to say clearly to the international community that Japan’s official statement, Japan’s official statement, is that the Murayama Statement acknowledges the Kono Statement. As a Japanese, I would like to ask which of us is the erratic one.

 Actually, I was not so angry with Mr. Kono when he issued his statement in 1993. At the press conference, he admitted that he was forced to take the “comfort women” with him, but from a certain point in the postwar period, the Japanese Foreign Ministry tended to avoid all friction. But at some point after the war, the Japanese Foreign Ministry tended to avoid all friction. That is how I saw it. Of course, there were some problems with the content of the statement, but I was not so upset with Yohei Kono, a politician, because I thought that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had the essential problem of listening to the South Korean side and trying to settle the matter peacefully.

 Recently, however, my view has changed. It started when he started defending himself for his actions. For example, in the August 12, 2012 edition of the Chosun Ilbo, Kono said, “I published the story with conviction. In the May issue of Sekai magazine, he also criticized Prime Minister Abe while defending himself. In short, he has reopened his mouth. Did he not consider that if his excuse succeeds, it will be a lie that will remain in the history of the world, a shame for Japan for generations to come? I can’t help but wonder where his heart lies as a Japanese politician. I could not forgive him as a Japanese.

 And now, after reading the transcript of Mr. Kono’s speech, as a politician I think he is a true “national bandit”. I think he is an enemy of the Japanese people. No other politician in post-war Japan has so disgraced the Japanese people and brought shame to them. Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, and Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who issued the Murayama Danwa, are also shameful. However, I must say that Mr. Kono is far more guilty in the sense that he has left a stain on the history of our Japanese people and humiliated them for posterity.

 Here are some excerpts from his speech. There is no example of a military force in the international community that did not have something equivalent to “comfort women. Not only in Japan, but in every country there were such comfort women. It is not something that Japan is willing to reveal to the world. This is not the kind of story that we should actively reveal.

 Although everyone says various things, I admit that history was wrong, and I apologize for what I should apologize for. I think the best thing for Japan is to be known in the international community as a country that is, in a sense, clean. At the same time, there is no excuse so cowardly as to say that it was fine in the past or that other countries do it too. No matter how many times a person who has been caught speeding says, “I am not the only one at fault,” he or she must admit that he or she is at fault. I think they need to know that it doesn’t justify themselves.

 So, should Japan be the only one to bear the stigma? Every country knows deep down that comfort women are not unique to Japan.

 I have sincerely apologized for what Japan has done. It’s a shame that it turns out that I haven’t really apologized. I would never say anything that would bring Japan down. There is no way I would do such a thing. I will say it in front of all of you. As the Chief Cabinet Secretary, I would never say anything to undermine my country. It is because I sincerely want to improve bilateral relations between Japan and South Korea somehow, for the future, for the future, that I have made efforts while collecting various materials and confirming various situations. I hope you will understand that. What Japan needs to do now is to restore the relationship of trust between the two countries as soon as possible, to a relationship of real trust, and to a relationship of mutual respect and esteem…

 The Japanese nation is surrounded by the ill will of neighboring countries. Mr. Kono’s statement is a terrible defense of himself. I would never have said anything to undermine Japan,” he said. I don’t think he understands the impact of his comments at all. He says that he has improved the relationship between Japan and South Korea, but the reality is that the relationship temporarily improved, but then turned sour again. It was a repetitive process. Every time this happened, history was rehashed. I think Mr. Kono is largely responsible for this, but he talks about it as if it has nothing to do with him.

All he had to do was say that there was no forced recruiting

 In his speech, Mr. Kono also stated that the military was involved. The logic of “the military was involved” was also used by Koichi Kato. Professor Yoshiaki Yoshimi of Chuo University has also used the same logic, but I don’t think there is a more cowardly way to put it. In the first place, the Japanese government should have clearly stated that there was no forced abduction of 200,000 women and girls from the Korean Peninsula. Even the Koreans had to admit this. As a senior official of the Korean Governor-General’s Office at the time stated, the majority of police officers themselves were Koreans. In such a situation, it would have caused quite a commotion if only young Korean women were forcibly snatched. However, in those days, all of Korea was calm. This is a story that can be easily understood in the light of common sense.

 The fact that there was no forced recruitment was the core of the story. There were indeed comfort women. However, they did not exist only in Japan. There may have been incidents where they were taken by private vendors or pedants who collected prostitutes and forced them to go to Japan. However, there is absolutely no such thing as the Japanese government forcibly taking them.

 However, it is strange that the term “military involvement” was brought up without properly correcting the core of the issue. Soldiers go to places where battlefield prostitutes are operating, so the military would want to make sure that hygiene management is done properly. The military would ask them to take proper hygiene measures. This is something that all armies around the world have been doing, and it is not something to be blamed. I think it is not only misleading to lump it all together under the extremely broad term “military involvement,” but it is also a wrong way to look at things. On the contrary, it is an act of national piracy based on a bad historical view of Japan.

 There are many basic errors in Mr. Kono’s speech. For example, he talks about the time when diplomatic relations were established with China.

 This is the explanation that China gave there. China was in a really bad situation. It was invaded by the Japanese army and suffered terribly. The reason China suffered so badly was that it suffered so badly from Japanese militarism. The Japanese are not all militarists. On the contrary, many Japanese themselves died in the war under militarism. There are also members of the Kamikaze pilots. This is the result of militarism. Therefore, China is also a victim of Japanese militarism. The theory was that the enemy was Japanese militarism. The war criminals, Class A war criminals, as the symbol of Japanese militarism and the epitome of Japanese militarism, are the mainstay of Japanese militarism and must not be forgiven. (omission) With that kind of logic, China held hands with Japan.

 Since it holds hands with Japan based on such logic, at the very least, Japan should not be allowed to revive Japanese militarism, or to cherish or respect those who advocated Japanese militarism. Derived from this, I don’t want Japan’s leaders to go and bow at Yasukuni Shrine, where typical and symbolic people of militarism are enshrined. He said, “I am not happy about it, I don’t like it. From that point on, the Japanese side said, so be it. Then we decided to stop doing what we didn’t want to do. They said, “There is nothing wrong for people whose sons and fathers and husbands are enshrined at Yasukuni Shrine to visit Yasukuni Shrine. It is natural. But to worship only the symbol of militarism, the symbol of militarism, is not good, that is the problem of Yasukuni Shrine now.

 Mr. Kono uses the phrase that the Class A war criminals have been a problem since the beginning of diplomatic relations, but it is totally out of time. In the first place, this explanation is an attempt to divide the nation into “leaders = evil” and “people = good,” a logic that led to the revolution favored by the postwar left. It was originally brought about by the occupying forces, and is arguably the most pernicious logic of the Tokyo Court’s historical perspective. This is coming from someone who does not know anything about the prewar period.

Pointing out Mr. Kono’s lack of study

 I would like to emphasize that Mr. Kono does not understand the most important things. For example, one of them is that MacArthur himself, who opened the Tokyo Trials, explicitly denied the Tokyo Trials.

 When the Korean War broke out, MacArthur had a disagreement with President Truman and was called back to the U.S. to testify before the Senate Joint Committee on Armed Services and Foreign Relations, an important hearing. He testified before the Senate Joint Committee on Armed Services and Foreign Relations, where he went into great detail about the Japanese war.

 ”Their purpose, therefore, in going to war was largely dictated by security.

This means that “Japan’s purpose in entering the war was, therefore, primarily forced upon it for self-defense. This is exactly the same logic as the summary of Prime Minister Hideki Tojo’s sworn statement at the Tokyo Tribunal, in which he claimed that “this war was not a war of aggression but a war of self-defense and did not violate international law,” and that he accepted “responsibility for the defeat” even though he was “defending the nation.

 The Allies left everything up to MacArthur and held the Tokyo Trials. The leaders of the time were punished as “Class A war criminals,” judged by their own charter, not by international law. The Tokyo Tribunal is MacArthur himself. If you understand that properly, you will understand that the significance of MacArthur’s testimony is significant. This is not a tweet or a diary. This is not a tweet or a diary, but a statement made at an official meeting of the U.S. Senate Joint Committee on Armed Services and Foreign Relations.

 However, not only Mr. Kono, but also Japanese politicians and diplomats are not fully aware of this fact. I have had the opportunity to meet with many ambassadors and I have only met one person who knew this story and knew exactly what it meant. It is unacceptable for a Japanese diplomat not to know about this. He should have told the U.S., “MacArthur also said this. We should be able to tell the U.S., “MacArthur also said this, and the view that Japan is a war criminal and did bad things is gone.

 This is an aside, but why did MacArthur make such a statement? What I have learned recently is that he was angry with the United States. When the Korean War broke out, I was a sophomore in college. There was a priest from the U.S. at the university, and we all thought that the war would be settled in a short time. We all thought it would be a short battle, because the U.S. had control of the airspace. The Supreme Commander was, of course, MacArthur, but the Allies were behind him, and for example, MacArthur could not blockade or bomb the ports on the east coast of China because the British, who were participating in the war, were against it. He was also banned from bombing bridges to stop the People’s Liberation Army from coming.

 So he could not hold back the People’s Liberation Army that was coming like a tsunami. And he couldn’t hold back the People’s Liberation Army that was coming in like a tsunami, even though he was in control of the airspace. MacArthur must have felt like biting his tongue as he saw so many of his men die in battle. This frustration probably led to his testimony before the Senate. I think he wanted to reveal the truth.

Mr. Kono’s speech was steeped in the theory that Japan was the bad guy.

 In any case, many of the postwar politicians correctly recognized these words of MacArthur. Therefore, despite the defeat in the war, there was absolutely no need to bow down to China or Korea. It was officially after the Nakasone cabinet that the situation changed dramatically. It was only after Nakasone that prime ministers stopped going to Yasukuni Shrine, and until then, the LDP leaders never thought that Japan had done anything wrong. Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, of course, and even Takeo Miki knew the old story.

 So did I. Before the war started, I had the feeling that my life was slowly being squeezed as Japan became more and more constricted. I also remember how bitterly I watched China’s constant meddling in Japan’s affairs. At that time, there were many incidents of Japanese residents being attacked, and there were many casualties. Therefore, there was an awareness from that time that the war was undoubtedly started by China.

 For those of us who were actually alive at the time, we felt frustrated that we lost the Greater East Asia War, or that we had no choice but to lose the war. However, I have no intention of bowing down to China or Korea.

 Mr. Kono, however, is different. His story is based on the theory that Japan is the bad guy. He even has an unnecessary sense of atonement for China and Korea. This is due to his ignorance.

 I am sure he thinks that Japan waged war on China. But does he know, for example, that the Tokyo Tribunal could not hold Japan responsible for the China Incident? Did they even understand the significance of MacArthur’s testimony? The same goes for the annexation of Japan and Korea. Japan was not particularly enthusiastic about the annexation of Korea. It was the U.S. and Britain that were the most enthusiastic. Japan didn’t have the courage to annex Korea, so they asked the Qing Dynasty, Russia, and France. If Korea is to blame for the annexation of Japan and Korea, it should complain to Russia, China and the whole world. We need to be aware of that.

 Besides, in just over thirty years after the annexation of Japan and Korea, the Korean Peninsula, which had been lagging far behind, was quickly modernized.

 Therefore, there is no need for Japan to boast, but there is absolutely no need for Japan to bow and scrape. In fact, the post-war prime ministers knew this and did not bow down to Japan at all. Mr. Kono, however, did not. It seems to me that he just vaguely believes that Japan did something wrong and that apologizing is the right thing to do. And what is more serious is that he is insensitive to the fact that the Kono statement will cause untold damage to our people and our descendants. Or maybe he is pretending to be insensitive, but in any case, he barely mentions this point in his speech, and this point should not be overlooked.

 The Kono story has caused tremendous humiliation to the Japanese people. He admitted that there were forced marriages, but if the world learns that Japan forced 200,000 young Korean women to join the comfort women issue, the shame will be immeasurable, not only for our people but also for our descendants who will be born in the future. Recently, the term “sexual slavery” has been used unfairly and is being spread around the world. If it were true, it would not be true. Our people have to live with a shrug of their shoulders because of the stigma attached to it.

 I am also concerned about the fact that this kind of story that disparages Japan is quite popular in Europe. For example, in Germany, people usually say, “Hitler was terrible. Unfortunately, when the story “Japan was also terrible” comes in, Germans are disappointed to hear it. The same is true for France and England. They are aware that the Japanese people are superior to other people of color, but stories about them being disgraced make them feel better.

 There are already signs everywhere that this will be a disaster for their descendants. One such example is the comfort women statues that have been erected in Glendale and other parts of the United States. There are also reports that Japanese residents are being humiliated and humiliated just because they are Japanese.

 This will continue for generations to come, for hundreds of years to come, and will remain in the history of the world. This is an unforgivable situation for the Japanese people.

 If you are a politician, you should be concerned about the future of your people and have the responsibility to deal with it. However, I don’t see any sincere consideration for such a situation in Mr. Kono’s statement. He has not reflected on the impact of his actions. It is frightening that he has not even the slightest idea of the consequences for his descendants.

 Even if we could not have foreseen today’s situation at the time of the announcement of the speech, we may not have been able to avoid it, but we are responsible for the consequences. In the end, the fact that he is still defending himself in the face of various events shows that he has a very limited perspective of the Japanese people. If he is a Japanese politician, he should be willing to discuss things for the sake of Japan. But I don’t feel that. I think that is not an attitude of love for Japan or the Japanese people.

It’s not going to get us anywhere if the government approves it.

 Let me tell you about another experience I had.

 In 2007, Mike Honda, a U.S. congressman, introduced a resolution demanding an apology to the Japanese government for the comfort women. At the time, the first Abe administration was in power. Mr. Abe was visiting the U.S. and was about to meet with President Bush.

 I had a chance to have dinner with him just before his visit to the U.S., and I asked him what he was going to do about the comfort women issue. I asked him what he was going to do about the comfort women issue. At that time, Abe said, “President Bush is not supposed to bring the comfort women issue to the table. There was also a person from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs there. When asked by newspaper reporters, Mr. Abe said, “The 20th century was a century with many human rights violations, and Japan would like to contribute so that the 21st century will be a wonderful century without human rights violations. That is why he visited the United States.

 I can’t deny the impression that the Japanese government, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, took the matter somewhat lightly. I think they may have been naive. At the beginning of the meeting, President Bush said, “Mr. Abe, today we will pretend that we have talked about the comfort women issue and the export of US beef to Japan. After the meeting, Mr. Abe said, “I am filled with apologies for the extremely difficult situation we are in, and I told [the U.S. Congress] that the 20th century was a century of many human rights violations, and that Japan would like to contribute to making the 21st century a wonderful century free of human rights violations. I told this story to the President today,” said President Bush, “and I accept Prime Minister Abe’s apology. Perhaps the president had good intentions. The media reported at once that Mr. Abe apologized to the President for the comfort women issue and that the President accepted it. Mr. Abe said, “It does not mean that I apologized to the United States at all. It’s a matter of course,” he stressed, but it was too late. It turned into a story that he had apologized even though he had not.

 When I saw the news report, I thought I was in big trouble. So I went with Mr. Koto Kusaka to a press conference for foreign journalists. I wanted people to have a proper understanding of what comfort women are. With this in mind, I took the time to make a strong speech at the press conference, but the important story was barely covered. At that time, what I realized firsthand was the reality that when people say, “Your government approves of it,” it is almost impossible to get anywhere. At the time, composer Koichi Koyama and others, concerned about Mike Honda’s move, published an opinion ad in the Washington Post titled “THE FACTS,” claiming that there was no coercion in the comfort women issue. Not only me, but also many other people raised their voices to let the American people know the truth and to prevent the adoption of a resolution demanding an apology to Japan, and we achieved some results. However, no matter how many times we private citizens ran around and tried to make a strong case, it would not work as long as the Kono Statement had already been apologized for. This was the harsh reality.

What the Japanese should do now

 What should the Japanese people do now? We should clearly show to the world that the Japanese people did not accept the Kono Statement. We have to erase the fact that the Kono statement was not true. There was also a report by Sankei Shimbun. A government report has also been issued. The facts on which it is based are now available. If you read it, it is obvious that it is a strange process. And above all, if we continue to accept the Kono Statement, we will leave behind immeasurable damage to our fellow countrymen and the Japanese people in the future.

 I think there is something important to remember when making such a move. That is, I will strip Mr. Kono of the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers, which he received in November 2011. This has to be done even if it is a performance.

 Why? It is incomprehensible to the world to see a nation awarding a medal to the party that said there was a forced conscription of comfort women while saying that it does not accept the Kono Statement. I think it is an incomprehensible scene. I’ve never even met Mr. Kono. I am not saying that he should be stripped of his medal because of personal grudge.

 A similar thing happened at the beginning of the Greater East Asia War. Before the attack on Pearl Harbor, I made arrangements to deliver the diplomatic note at 1:00 p.m. local time and made an appointment with U.S. Secretary of State Hull at one point. However, the translation and typing could not be completed in time and the appointment was postponed until 2:00 p.m. Since the attack on Pearl Harbor took place between 1:00 and 2:00 a.m. local time, this meant that the attack took place during diplomatic negotiations. This was the responsibility of the Foreign Ministry. This was the responsibility of the Foreign Ministry, and President Roosevelt was thoroughly confronted with this, and the world was stigmatized as “Japan is a cunning country. Even today, this stigma remains in the minds of people around the world, especially Americans.

 The problem was that those responsible were not questioned and Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida used them heavily after the war. In fact, he gave them all medals. Even now, people continue to say that Japan is a cunning country. In light of these events, I think that Kono’s medal makes no sense. It gives the impression that Prime Minister Yoshida valued the honor of the Foreign Ministry more than the honor of Japan. If the LDP does not call Mr. Kono to the Diet now, it will mean that the LDP values the honor of its friends more than the honor of Japan.

 If Mr. Kono admits what he said in the Diet or any other public forum and apologizes, the comfort women issue will be over. All he has to do is to admit that it was a mistake based on my misunderstanding, that there were comfort women, but that he was wrong to admit that they were forcibly taken away. I will make him reflect on his actions. And if the clamor has subsided, he has other accomplishments, so I think it’s okay to give him the Medal of Honor again. However, if not, I feel sorry for Mr. Kono, but he should be stripped of his medal and this should be announced to the world. I believe that this will clearly show the will of the Japanese people.

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