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