Mr. Max von Schuler-Kobayashi, Historian (German-American, Former US Marine based in Japan and now Representative lecturer of 「Hiizurutokorokara Philosophy of US-Japan relations」) sent out a protesting open letter to City Councilman Frank Quintero, and the members of the City Council of Glendale concerning their decision to put up a permanent memorial to the so called “ Comfort Women.
I personally feel uncomfortable regarding comfort women as mere prostitutes because I don’t think all of tens of thousands of comfort women were willing to do the work no matter how highly they were paid. There must have been many women who were sold by their parents from poverty.
Meanwhile, I fear an atmosphere that people believe all victim’s stories are correct or one can do anything agaist defeated country.
To City Councilman Frank Quintero, and the members of the City Council of Glendale.
I have read of your decision to put up a permanent memorial to the so called “Comfort Women” with deep unease and regret. This is the same as putting up a memorial to the camp guards at Auschwitz.
If I were Jewish, I would find this a great insult. Even though I am not Jewish, I find this insulting as a historian.
You are being conned. During the war, the Korean people were Japanese citizens, and were willing and able participants in the Japanese Empire. It is after the war that they decided that they were victims, and switched roles. And even in their own country, Korea, women are demonstrating for their right to be prostitutes. Yet they accuse Japan of a crime?
South Korean Prostitutes Protest Closing of Brothels
Protesting Korean prostitutes attempt to set themselves on fire.
Let me explain.
America is a country that treasures human rights for the individual. And in particular, the rights of women world wide are a concern for Americans. When people use the term “Sex Slave” to describe the Comfort Women, it resonates in the United States.
But were these women indeed slaves? No. First of all, as distasteful as it may seem, it was common in both Japan and Korea pre war to sell daughters into prostitution. For poor families with too many mouths to feed, this was the only option.
As far as the comfort women were concerned, they were paid. The recruiters were all ethnic Koreans. People have conjured up an image of the Imperial Japanese Army rampaging through Korean villages, and hauling off screaming women. This never happened. Please refer to the Pdf below.
On page 117, it lists some newspaper advertisements from 1944 for Comfort Women.
As a matter of reference, monthly pay is listed as ￥300. At that time a Japanese Imperial Army sergeant was paid ￥30 a month.
The Korean government itself continued the Comfort Women system post war for US troops.
I have written about it extensively in my blog. And I have visited the Silver town mentioned in my blog below.
In any case, Koreans continued the system after the war. And today, Koreans are the greatest human traffickers in the United States.
If the Korean people in the United States are serious about combatting prostitution, why do they not cooperate with the FBI and stop the traffickers from their own community?
There are no organized Japanese prostitutes in the US at all. Those massage parlors you see with names like Osaka and Nagoya, they are Korean.
In any case, Japan has paid extensive reparations to Korea.
At the time of payment, these funds were to settle all claims, including the Comfort Women issue. And Japan has apologized, endlessly.
Now it seems that some Koreans simply want more money.
Koreans have a problem with history. Years ago when I was in Korea, I was discussing WWII with some Korean people. They insisted that their country had the worst experience of the war.
I am a WWII historian, and I differ with that assessment. My candidate for country with the worst war experience, if I had to pick, would be Poland. Invaded by both Germany and the Soviet Union, Occupied by Germany, the Jewish Warsaw
Ghetto uprising of 1943, the Polish Home Army Warsaw uprising of 1944 all devastated the country. Then the savage resistance of the German Army as the Soviets pushed towards Berlin.
And of course there was constant guerrilla activity.
Postwar, Poland lost a third of it’s eastern territory and was ordered to takeover the former German territories of Prussia and Silesia. Many people were killed and displaced. All in all, Poland lost 25% of it’s prewar population.
But when I was in Korea, Korean people insisted that their WWII experience was much worse than Poland. That is when Korean people lost my sympathy for any claim whatsoever about WWII.
The thing about Koreans is, they did not resist the Japanese annexation of their country. Most Koreans embraced it. And this is their shame today.
There was no resistance movement inside Korea. There was one major riot in 1919 where some hundreds were killed. That was all. There was a guerrilla movement in the far north of the country, but they could not base themselves inside Korea, their bases were in Manchuria.
All they could do was make the occasional foray into Korea, they received no help from the Korean populace. And they numbered only about 1,500 individuals.
In April 1938, the Special Volunteers System was inaugurated in Korea. Korean men responded in droves for service in the Japanese Imperial Armed Forces. In 1942, the recruitment goal was announced to be 4077. 254,273 volunteers applied, over-achievement factor reached 62,4.
More Koreans have died fighting post war Korean governments than fighting Japan.
For the March first movement riots, Japanese official figures list 553 dead for all of Korea.
However, the list of casualties for post war South Korean governments are; The Cheju incident of 1948,the South Korean government admits to between 15,000 to 30,000 dead. (civilian groups put the number at 100,000 dead) In the October 1948 Yosu Junten revolt 400 were killed. In the Korean war, in 1950, during the summer some 300,000 civilians were killed by the South Korean government, and in the winter several hundred thousand more were killed. Of course, figures of any kind for people killed by North Korean governments are totally unavailable, but one can imagine that many civilians must have been killed in the North.
Koreans will tell you that during war they were forced to cooperate because Japan was so brutal. Well in Europe, many Balts, Ukrainians, Russians and other nationalities fought in German uniform, something like 1 million. Would the city of Glendale put up a memorial to them? By putting up such an exhibition for the Comfort Women, that is what you are doing. But these countries also had anti German guerrilla movements. Korea has no such history. And this is their shame today. During WWII, they willingly fought for Japan. They willingly recruited their own women for prostitution.
By putting up this exhibition, you are getting involved with Korean inferiority complexes towards Japan. And you are making serious historical mistakes.
The only evidence the Koreans now have are a few eyewitnesses. Yet any historian will tell you, eyewitness testimony is very unreliable. You need other sources. Things just did not happen like Koreans say they did. I seriously ask you to do more research into the true nature of Japanese/Korean relations. And to be fair, if you want to address women’s issues, you should address modern day Korean human trafficking in the United States.
Thank you very much,
Max von Schuler-Kobayashi
April 3rd , 2013