Plunge Pontificates

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Japanese Corporations Turn Blind Eye to History


Excellent article by: By William Underwood

Mr. Underwood, a faculty member at Fukuoka Jo Gakuin University, is completing his doctoral dissertation at Kyushu University on the topic of Chinese forced labor redress.
Let's begin.

Just as Nazi Germany did in Europe during World War II, Imperial Japan made extensive use of forced labor across the vast area of the Asia Pacific it once occupied. Today, however, Japan’s government and corporations are dealing with the legacy of wartime forced labor very differently than their German counterparts.
By golly, I think I've mentioned that before, haven't I? But we always get those, "you can't compare the two!" bullcrap comments.

This article examines the corporate counter-offensive to reparations claims for Chinese forced labor in Japan, as presented by defense lawyers for Mitsubishi Materials Corp. in a compensation lawsuit to be decided by the Fukuoka District Court on March 29. In startling closing arguments last September, Mitsubishi issued a blanket denial of historical facts routinely recognized by other Japanese courts, while heaping criticism on the Tokyo Trials and openly questioning whether Japan ever “invaded” China at all. Mitsubishi has ominously warned that a redress award for the elderly Chinese plaintiffs, or even a court finding that forced labor occurred, would saddle Japan with a “mistaken burden of the soul” for hundreds of years.
I want you all to read that paragraph again. Look at what this company is saying and compare it to what the leaders of Japan are saying today. They are in full denial mode! "We never did it!" is the cry. We are told that Japanese understand better than anyone else what they did. I say, bullcrap! With arguments like this going on, how can you say that. They are trying to re-write history and trying to make it a legal precident, at least in Japan.

First, a look at the German approach. The “Remembrance, Responsibility and the Future” Foundation was established in 2000, with $6 billion from the federal government and more than 6,500 industrial enterprises. As redress payments drew to a close last fall, about 1.6 million forced labor victims or their heirs, residing in more than 100 countries, had received individual apologies and symbolic compensation of up to $10,000 each. Altogether, 12 million people are believed to have worked for the Nazi regime involuntarily.[1]
Yes, all you Japanophiles, look at what Germany has done and when they did it. They have gone out of their way to redress the crimes against humanity they committed. We aren't talking about things Japan didn't do either, we are discussing the same issues of FORCED LABOR, or in clearer terms, SLAVERY. But hey, we aren't Germany, right? Screw our neighbors!

...The Berlin state government has purchased an eight-acre former forced labor camp and is turning it into a memorial museum set to open in summer 2006...

“In a political and in a moral sense, this chapter will never be closed,” the redress foundation’s chairman observed last October. “What is at stake here—and this is the responsibility of our generation and future generations—is to keep these very tragic events, these human rights violations firmly in the national memory.”[2]
THANK YOU! Someone understands! It's important to always remember and have physical ways of remembering! Remembering doesn't mean those of today are blamed, it is a way of a nation saying they will never forgot the atrocities their nation committed against others. What do we have in Japan, a shrine that honors the war criminals!

Japan's track record, by contrast, reveals a fundamentally different approach to coming to terms with the past. An intractable “civil war” over national memory of the colonization of Korea, aggressive warfare in China, and the military occupation of large areas of East Asia has left Japanese history textbooks the subject of continued passionate contestation today, both domestically and within the region. Commemorative prime ministerial visits to Yasukuni Shrine, which honors convicted war criminals and is symbolically linked to Japan’s Greater East Asian War, together with official support for a revisionist narrative of Japan’s past, are so bitterly opposed by Chinese and Koreans that summit meetings of top leaders have become impossible. The return of cultural and private assets looted from across Asia by Japan remains far off the agenda.
Yep, Japan is so far behind Germany in rectifying the situation that heaven forbid we even talk about giving back the historical pieces looted over the years. Hold a conference with leaders of the countries? Yeah, right.

Victims of Japanese war crimes have virtually never received apologies or compensation, as Tokyo contends that peace treaties and other state-level agreements extinguished all legal claims decades ago. The 1995 Asian Women’s Fund for military sexual slavery represented a partial exception. Yet most of the so-called comfort women indignantly refused the condolence money from private sources because it was decoupled from a full admission of state responsibility. State apologies, debatably, are the lone area in which Japan has sincerely attempted to atone for its war misconduct.[5] But because these have repeatedly been negated by contrary government actions, such as the Yasukuni visits and revisionist “gaffes” by senior politicians, and because they have never been accompanied by appropriate reparations to victims, the issues continue to fester.
I would argue that state apologies have NEVER happened and that they are the personal opinions of the current PM or other individual making the statement considering they have NEVER had the backing of the Diet.

Whereas Germany continued to investigate its own citizens for war crimes well into the current century, Japan never held any war crimes trials, opting instead to grant early release and amnesty to Japanese convicted of such charges during the Allied Occupation. Kishi Nobusuke spent three years in Sugamo Prison as a Class A war crimes suspect before going on to occupy the prime minister’s office from 1957-60, vividly illustrating the continuity between wartime and postwar Japan.[6] Kishi was the founding father of the long-dominant Liberal Democratic Party and his grandson, Abe Shinzo, is considered the front runner to replace Koizumi Junichiro as prime minister later this year.
Oh yes, time to forget anything bad ever happened. Let's let those war criminals hold the highest offices in the land. Digusting, pure and simply disgusting.
In her book Unjust Enrichment, in a chapter called “Mitsubishi: Empire of Exploitation,” leading researcher Linda Goetz Holmes writes: “Mitsubishi occupies a unique place in the history of corporate Japan’s use of POW slave labor during World War II. This company built, owned, and operated at least seventeen of the merchant ‘hellships’ that transported prisoners to their assigned destinations; and this company profited from prisoner labor over a larger range of territory than any other.”[8] Mitsubishi also supplied 225 miles worth of wooden crossties for the infamous Burma-Siam Railway. Regarding a large Allied POW camp near the Unit 731 site in Manchuria, Holmes says “the impression remains that the Mitsubishi facility at Mukden was the site of the most frequent and systematic incidents of medical experimentation on American prisoners of war.”[9]
Here is another re-read paragraph. Now go back to the beginning and see what the lawyers for Mitsubishi are spouting, "We did nothing wrong!" Bastards.

I'm skipping over 3/4 of the article which is a must read. It continues to talk of the actions of Mitsubishi corporation and the ways in which it has tried to cover up its actions. It worked its forced labor to death with rates as high as 25% dying in some mines, higher at the Katsuta mine. Yet, they continue to say they did nothing wrong. Again, READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE to understand what those who were victims of Japan have faced over the years trying to receive justice.

The worst-case scenario may have been glimpsed last October, a few days after closing arguments in the CFL lawsuit, at a Fukuoka junior high school very near the Katsuta mine. During a history lesson on the Asia Pacific War, a teacher distributed copies of a 60-year-old draft card to 200 students. The students were instructed to state their willingness to fight in a war by circling “yes” or “no” on the back of the copies, which the teacher collected. The draft cards were returned to several students who circled “no,” with the word “unpatriotic” written on them.[36]
This is the kind of education students in Japan are now receiving and people dare to try and say the education teaches them a proper history?

A more constructive alternative was offered by Fukuoka lawyers for the Chinese victims. “History cannot be erased,” they said. “The Japanese state and the Japanese people must admit the mistakes we committed and continue to bear that responsibility. In the case before this court, the Chinese plaintiffs are offering Japan and the Japanese people the chance to take a historic step forward, to be once more warmly welcomed among the peoples of Asia.”