Will these history-revision plans bring us closer to the truth?

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In Japan and India, the ruling conservative governments are taking steps to revise aspects of these nations’ histories.

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The move by Japan to amend the UN report on comfort women will surely rankle Filipinos and people of some other Asean countries and of course the Chinese and most bitterly the Koreans.

In India it’s a sweeping look at the subcontinent’s history that the Modi government wishes to introduce.  The aim is to undo what nationalist Hindu

Will these history-revision plans bring us closer to the truth?

scholars see as misrepresentations and distortions of history introduced by invaders and allowed to appear in India’s history books by the successive governments of the party of the late Jawarhlal Nehru, first prime minister of independent India. He was a founder of the Congress Party that had dominated Indian national politics and governance until current Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept to power last May.

Here are two Friday, Oct. 17, Tribune News Service reports from Tokyo and New Delhi:

Government requests revision of 1996 UN sex slave report

By Reiji Yoshida

Japan Times, Tokyo

The government has asked the author of a UN report that accused Japan of wartime military sexual slavery to amend the document, the top government spokesman said Thursday.

It wants Radhika Coomaraswamy, former Special Rapporteur on violence against women at the UN Human Rights Commission, to revise the document she wrote in 1996 in light of the “comfort women” reports recently retracted by the daily Asahi Shimbun, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

In August, the newspaper retracted 16 articles from the 1980s and 1990s that quoted now discredited testimony by Seiji Yoshida, who claimed he had kidnapped hundreds of Korean women on Jeju Island and forced them into Japanese military brothels. These women, among others, later became known as the “ianfu,” or comfort women — Japan’s euphemism for the sex slaves.

Coomaraswamy’s report quoted Yoshida’s account separately from Asahi’s reports, but the retraction has given political momentum to Japanese lawmakers and scholars who want Coomaraswamy’s report retracted in its entirety.

After entertaining notions of a revision, the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided to officially uphold the statement of apology issued by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono in 1993, but the government has at the same time pledged to stage a campaign to correct “wrong” information circulating worldwide.

“It’s true we have asked for correction of her view, as explained in her report, given the recent retraction of reports by Asahi Shimbun,” Suga told a news conference.

“We’d like to keep explaining our way of thinking (on comfort women issues) by using proper opportunities in the international community,” Suga acknowledged.

In September, Coomaraswamy told Kyodo News that she had no intention of correcting her report, saying her findings were mainly based on testimony by former comfort women, and Yoshida’s account was “only one piece of evidence.”

Coomaraswamy’s report was considered controversial in Japan because she concluded that the brothel system should be described as “military sexual slavery,” given “the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised.”

This use of the terms “sex slavery” and “sex slaves,” now widely used by Western media outlets and activists, have upset right-leaning Japanese politicians and scholars who allege that working conditions at the “comfort stations” were no different from those at state-regulated brothels that existed before and after the war in many countries, including Japan.

In the late 1990s, mainstream Japanese historians agreed that Yoshida’s account was a fabrication, given interviews with elderly residents on Jeju who denied it.

They also agreed that the recruitment of female Koreans was the work of private brokers and not the Japanese military or government, although it often involved deception, coercion and human trafficking.

Right-leaning lawmakers thus have tried to play down the Japanese government’s responsibility for the women’s misery, focusing their discussion on the process of recruitment. The Asahi retractions provided further ammunition for their cause.

Meanwhile, South Korean media outlets, scholars and activists have argued the women were forcibly recruited and forced to work by Japanese authorities.

The comfort stations were set up and operated under orders from the Japanese military.

Furthermore, the private-sector brokers were usually selected by Japanese authorities.

(©2014 the Japan Times/ Distributed by MCT Information Services now the Tribune News Service)

History books will be rewritten under Modi govt, says Swamy

By Anupam Srivastava

Hindustan Times, New Delhi

History books would be rewritten during the Modi regime said senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and head of strategy action committee Subramanium Swamy during his oration on “Me and my India” at Sant Gadge auditorium on Thursday.

Swamy further said new history books would be introduced in the curriculum, as Indians were “fed up” with those written by Nehruvian historians. He also rubbished the Aryan and Dravidian theory, which caused a divide between south and north India. He said that the theory was propagated to divide the people of India.

He also lashed at DMK chief Karunanidhi and Congress president Sonia Gandhi for launching the Setu Samudram project as the former was “opposed” to the idea of Ram [Rene Bas’ note: Ram is the beloved Hindu deity Rama familiar to Southeast Asians as  the hero of the Ramayana epics]  being an Aryan. Taking his criticism further, Swamy said the present government is all set to scrap the project.

“Congress [Party] denied glory to Indians, the Kingdom of Vijay Nagaram was bigger than that of [the]Moghuls but it doesn’t find any mention in text books. So questions have been raised, there has been absurd and racist misrepresentation of Indian history in the past, which would not be allowed further,” he added.– ©2014 the Hindustan Times (New Delhi)/Distributed by MCT Information Services know the Tribune News Service.

Here in the Philippines, if any distortions in history telling were made, these have been to invent a Golden Age when native “Filipinos” and their “great kings” lived in peace and grandeur at the time when our ancestors were not even aware of being members of a united kingdom and saw themselves as slaves and serfs of tyrannical datus fighting neighboring realms.

One of the reasons we Filipinos can’t, as the cliché goes, “get our act together” is the untruthful narrative of our pre-hispanic past and the mendacious labeling of the Spanish colonial regime and the friars as thoroughly cruel and corrupt when in fact they were only mildly so.

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5 Comments

  1. “Will these history-revision plans bring us closer to the truth?”
    Your words “history-revision plans” will invite to misread.
    Truth had laid on all time from WW2 .
    But, Asahi Shimbun’s reports warped it.
    And the World Media have accepted mistake until today.
    In Japan, many citizens knew the truth.
    After all this time, I think what do you say.
    In Tokyo trial, GHQ had not sued Japan about Korean “Sex slaves”.
    Why? It is easy.
    Because comfort women was not Sex slaves.
    Japanese govt just try to correct a mistake story (Korean Propaganda).

  2. Gabriela Silang and some 80 of her followers were hanged and left dangling from their ropes for several days on the order of the friars to serve as a warning to others. The friars grabbed the land of the natives and extracted tribute from them. They imposed forced labor. The Augustinians assassinated a governor-general in his own palace. They executed Rizal for his writings and drove his family out of their homes on the pretext that they had not paid the correct taxes. The Jesuits were kicked out of the country for creating so much intrigue. In Europe they invented the most evil and sadistic forms of torture and applied these on men who had defied them, and even went so far as to burn women at the stake on the suspicion that they were witches. One can easily fill a book about the Church’s deeds that will show very clearly that she does not know the meaning of the word mild.

  3. victor m. hernandez on

    Move on, be gentle to ourselves, stop blaming the past and others that brought troubles on us. Get moving and move on with all the available resources at our disposal. Even manna from heaven need to be picked up before eating. Even Juan Tamad had to lie underneath a guava tree, open his mouth and wait for the ripe guava fruit to fall in his mouth, before he can eat them. Move on, and do better and well. Let us be caring a sharing people. It is the only way to change history.

  4. Hmmmm…. re-writing history for Pilipinas??? What about this one —- bringing evidence, arresting and trying in a court of law the mastermind or masterminds of the Assasination of Ninoy Aquino? Is this really an event na “…hindi na importante, matagal na!! Porgib-porgib na lang.”

  5. Japan should not deny that it’s military during the Second World War conscripted Korean, Chinese, Filipino, and other Asian women to serve as army-sex-slaves.
    Indian scholars of PM Mody’s proudly Hindu faith and tradition should correct inaccuracies written by the Muslim Mughal emperors’ historians exalting their lords and denigrating the conquered Hindu kingdoms.
    Filipino scholars should admit that until Spanish colonization of the Philippine archipelago there was no “Philippines” or “Filipino nation” and the evils attributed by Propaganda Movement writers to the friars should be seen vis-a-vis the good work the friars did.
    You are right, the antics of ultra-nationalists who don’t think of the collective good of the Filipino nation cause us Filipinos to be frozen in a time warp. We are unable to move on from our Revolution against Spanish and American colonialism, while the Malays, Singaporeans, Indonesians and Vietnamese are progressing to First World status economically and culturally.