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2015年11月26日 (木)

韓国朴教授起訴 自由な歴史研究を封じるのか

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Isn’t South Korea repressing free research on history with indictment?
韓国朴教授起訴 自由な歴史研究を封じるのか

The latest action taken against a South Korean scholar constitutes an attempt to negate free and calm research activities and discussions on history.

The move to build a criminal case against an academic study could amount to an abuse of public authority. The recent action, taken by a South Korean district prosecutors office, has also cast a shadow on Japan-South Korea relations.

Park Yu Ha, a professor at Sejong University in Seoul, has been indicted, without being detained, on charges of defamation. According to her indictment, Park damaged the honor of former so-called comfort women in her book called “Teikoku no Ianfu” (Comfort women of the empire), in which she denied their forcible recruitment.

The prosecutors office dismissed as untrue her assertion that “forcible recruitment, which consists of a violence committed by a state, has never been used against Korean comfort women.” The indictment also regarded as problematic her statement in the book: “Basically, Korean comfort women had a comradely relationship with soldiers.”

In stating the reason for Park’s indictment, the prosecutors office said that these descriptions had infringed on the personal rights of the former comfort women, adding that her book deviates from the constitutional guarantee of academic freedom.

The latest action came after 11 people, including former comfort women, filed a complaint against Park in June last year, followed by investigations into the case by the Seoul Eastern Prosecutors Office. Questions can be raised about the prosecutors’ action taken to pass judgment on historical facts about which even experts have divergent views.

Park has refuted the prosecutors’ assertion, calling it “a distorted interpretation.” Her argument goes that the circumstances surrounding comfort women were varied, and that it is impossible to generalize them as “sex slaves,” “prostitutes” or otherwise.

Her book points to some other problems involved in the matter, saying that the corps of women mobilized for wartime labor services are confused with comfort women even today.

Unreasonable basis

What cannot be overlooked is that the documents cited by the prosecutors office as the basis for branding Park’s assertion as false included a statement issued by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono and the U.N. Human Rights Commission’s Coomaraswamy Report.

During the process of preparing the Kono statement, no document that proved the “forcible recruitment” of comfort women by the wartime Imperial Japanese Army was discovered. The statement was a result of political compromise between Japan and South Korea, according to a report issued in June last year by the Japanese government after months of examining the process in question.

The Coomaraswamy Report included a number of unfounded descriptions. For instance, it stated that 200,000 Korean women had been forced to work as “sex slaves,” and that most of them had been killed later. The document also quotes false statements by Seiji Yoshida, who claimed women on South Korea’s Jeju Island had been forcibly recruited as comfort women.

It is unreasonable to use these statements as a basis for the assertion that women were forcibly recruited as comfort women.

A Japanese-language version of Park’s “Teikoku no Ianfu” has been published, with some modifications made to its contents. The book has been chosen as the winner of Waseda University’s Journalism Award.

In her book, Park states that the Korean comfort women were collaborators for the wartime Imperial Japanese Army, while at the same time criticizing the prewar “Empire of Japan” for being responsible for creating severe circumstances for these women.

We must say that imposing restrictions on expressing such an objective view will make it difficult to facilitate constructive dialogue between Japan and South Korea regarding the issue of comfort women.

(The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 25, 2015)


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