Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact

This Article

Paid Advertisement concerning “Comfort Women” Run in the Washington Post “Facts Are Our Only Weapon”


Paid Advertisement concerning “Comfort Women” Run in the
Washington Post
“Facts Are Our Only Weapon”
SUGIYAMA Koichi, composer
Facts are more powerful weapons than opinions. I am convinced that facts are
the only ammunition Japan should use to combat the anti-Japanese propaganda
emanating from China and other countries. This conviction inspired me to prepare
a paid advertisement — one that would disseminate the facts —to be printed in
American newspapers.
Why American newspapers? China has been using its networks to spread
anti-Japanese propaganda all over the world. Such propaganda includes the film
Nanking! and resolutions condemning Japan in the U.S. House of Representatives.
When the Japanese caught on to anti-Japanese activities in China, the Chinese
shifted their focus to anti-Japanese campaigns in the United States, Japan’s ally.
Japan must take action against such propaganda.
As KOMORI Yoshihisa points out in the May issue of this publication, the U.S.
House Resolution condemning Japan in connection with the comfort women is the
product of a collaboration between Representative Mike Honda and recent Chinese
immigrants to the United States. Its authors intend to place more blame on Japan
by submitting this resolution to the U.S. Congress.
Their scheme calls to mind an article written by HYOMOTO Tatsukichi, a
former member of the JCP (Japan Communist Party). Before Hyomoto was
expelled from the JCP, he accompanied (then) party chairman FUWA Tetsuzo to
China. There he heard the JCP chairman give advice to his Chinese counterpart:
“The most effective, though time-consuming, way to defeat Japan is to win the
European and American media over to your side.”
This is nothing short of treason. When I read that article, I felt as though I
had been struck by a boulder. But that is exactly what is happening now in the U.S.,
in the form of House Resolution 121. It is extremely ironic that the Chinese learned
their strategy from Japan.
The Nanking “Massacre” advertisement
In April 2007 we began work on a full-page advertisement providing evidence
that the so-called Nanking “Massacre” never took place. We intended to place the
advertisement in the New York Times and the Washington Post. The objective of
our campaign, which we entitled “The Facts,” was to inform the public of the facts,
the most powerful antidote Japan has for Chinese propaganda. We asked Sankei
Media Service to contact the two newspapers about placing a paid advertisement.
The information we wished to communicate was the results of research done by
Professor HIGASHINAKANO Shudo, namely: (1) all photographs purporting to be
evidence of the Nanking “Massacre” are either composites or forgeries; (2) Harold
Timperley, who spread the news of the Nanking “Massacre” to the entire world,
held an advisory position at the International Propaganda Office of the Central
Propaganda Department, a branch of the Nationalist Chinese government; and (3)
the population of Nanking in 1937, when the massacre supposedly took place, was
200,000, far fewer than the alleged 300,000 victims of the massacre.
We wished to present these facts and let individual readers decide whether
there had been a massacre in Nanking. However, both the New York Times and the
Washington Post refused to print the advertisement. The New York Times offered
the following explanation.
While I do not pretend to be an expert on the Nanjing Massacre that took place in
December 1937, I have relied on historical experts here at The New York Times who are
familiar with the claims and counterclaims surrounding this incident.
Upon their review, their judgment is that the “facts” brought up in this recent
advertisement do not change the long held view that the Nanjing Massacre did happen
as most scholars have written. They point out for instance that calling into question
the population of the city, (which has been an accepted number by historians) is
similar to calling into question the number of individuals killed, and in our view,
trivializes the great human suffering of the time. We will therefore, decline to publish
advertisements such as this that, in our view, to call into question accepted facts.
Should the statements found in this advertisement be published in reputable
newspapers and magazines as new found evidence, and not just speculation, please let us
Steph Jespersen
Advertising Acceptability
The New York Times
In short, the New York Times believes that there was a massacre in Nanking,
as has long been reported, the number of victims notwithstanding. The
advertisement we proposed differs from their perception; therefore, they cannot
allow it to appear in their newspaper.
Admit in the first place that there was a massacre
The Washington Post responded as follows.
The key is there needs to be an upfront statement of whatever they acknowledge did
happen at Nanking. Do they admit that some Chinese civilians were massacred?
What is a number they admit?
As the attorney says, we could probably run an ad that questions the numbers.
Once they have made their upfront statement, the rest of the ad is okay.
The section that reads “Cropped and Doctored Photographs”
The word Doctored has to be removed.
It should say “Cropped Photographs” in the sub-head.
It should say “Many of the photographs used to “prove” the atrocities are gross
In other words, unless we admit that there was a massacre, the Washington
Post will not print our advertisement. Once we have done that, they say, we may
raise the issue of the number of victims. But we cannot acknowledge an event that
did not occur.
We have learned, however, that both newspapers place more value on
conventional views and Chinese propaganda than on facts.
While we were digesting the responses from the two newspapers, another
issue of equal gravity arose: the U.S. House resolution calling for an apology from
the Japanese government in connection with the comfort women. There was an
urgent need to address this problem expeditiously.
Therefore, immediately after our plan to run an advertisement about the
Nanking “Massacre” failed, we began concentrating on the comfort women issue,
and made preparations for an advertisement to be placed in the Washington Post.
So many facts
We listed five facts in the advertisement. First, the Japanese military issued a
notice to brokers (procurers) in the business of recruiting women for sexual
services: “Do not force any woman to engage in prostitution against her will.
Abduction is strictly forbidden.”
Many such notices were issued. In the advertisement, we reproduced one
marked “Army Memorandum No. 2197” and dated March 4, 1938. It explicitly
prohibits recruiting methods that fraudulently employ the army’s name or that can
be classified as abduction, warning that those employing such methods have been
Neither the Japanese military nor the government sanctioned the coercion of
women. Not only were military personnel but also procurers were advised to
observe guidelines. The military were indeed involved — not in abducting women,
as accusations would have it, but in ensuring that brokers did not use dishonest
recruiting methods.
Some argue that although there was no coercion in the narrow sense, there
was in the broader sense. But the aforementioned memorandum clearly dismisses
the possibility of Japanese military involvement in or approval of the abduction of
comfort women by procurers.
This document is housed at the Japan Center for Asian Historical Records, the
National Archives of Japan, and is accessible to anyone wishing to examine it.
Therefore, it is hard to believe that government officials have failed to see it. It
should certainly have been made available when the Kono Statement was issued.
Why did no one mention it at the time?
The second fact confirms the first. We knew that even in the face of evidence
proving that the military issued such memoranda, some might argue that they
fulfilled only a nominal function. Therefore, we produced an article stating that
unscrupulous procurers who violated the rules set forth in those memoranda were
indeed arrested and punished.
According to the August 31, 1939 edition of the Korean newspaper Toa Nippo
(East Asian Newspaper), the Korean police (then under Japanese control) were
ordered to arrest procurers who coerced women into serving as comfort women.
The article concludes by saying that when the police arrested the perpetrators,
there would be full disclosure of the methods used by malicious brokers (cajoling
women into becoming prostitutes by promising extraordinarily high wages, for
As the article clearly demonstrates, the military did not load reluctant women
into trucks and take them away. Far from it: military officials kept a watchful eye
on procurers to ensure that they followed orders.
Not sex slaves
The third fact refers to an incident that took place in Semarang Island in
Indonesia. Some Dutch women were forced to serve as comfort women. When it
became clear that they had been coerced, military officials closed the comfort
This is additional proof that the Japanese military did not abduct women. If
coercion was permissible, that comfort station would have never been shut down.
The fourth fact is inconsistencies in the testimonies of former comfort women.
The resolution submitted by Representative Mike Honda, and other accusations
against Japan regarding the issue of the comfort women, are based primarily on
these testimonies. However, the testimonies have changed frequently over the
years. When the women first testified, they made no reference to coercion on the
part of the Japanese military; they said only that they had been recruited by
brokers. However, after the anti-Japanese campaign reared its ugly head, they said
that their abductors wore military or official-looking uniforms.
The fifth fact asserts that comfort women were never sex slaves. Examples
illustrate that they were paid extremely well, earning wages equivalent to those of
field-grade officers. Other sources tell us that soldiers who treated comfort women
cruelly were punished by the military.
Furthermore, it was quite common for the army of a nation at war to establish
brothels in battle zones to satisfy the sexual needs of its soldiers, and prevent
assaults or rapes of local women. Why, then, are the Japanese the only ones
censured for having done so?
When the United States Army occupied Japan, General Headquarters
instructed the Japanese government to organize brothels for the use of American
military personnel, and to maintain order and hygienic conditions therein.
Our advertisement presents facts obtained from primary resources, and
encourages readers to exercise their own good judgment. It concludes: “We are
interested, foremost, in sharing the truth with the American public. Criticism of
events that actually occurred must be humbly embraced. But apologies over
unfounded slander and defamation will not only give the public an erroneous
impression of historical reality but could negatively affect friendship between the
United States and Japan. We ask only that the facts be objectively regarded so that
we may share a correct perception of history.
To date, people representing every walk of life have angrily refuted
accusations made by the Chinese and others, but their voices have not carried
outside Japan. Japan’s arguments deserve attention in the international media.
We cannot overstress the importance of presenting facts, not opinions.
As I have been working on this project between composition projects, a year
has elapsed since I first decided to prepare an advertisement, which cost ¥15
million (about $120,000). If a negative response is forthcoming, the purchase of
another advertisement anytime soon would be beyond our means.
The work we are doing should rightly be done by Japan’s Ministry of Foreign
Affairs. With a ¥1.5 billion budget allocation for publicity, the ministry could easily
run 100 such advertisements. The truth is that, for whatever reason, our
government officials do not act, preferring not to make waves.
We have received a great deal of cooperation from Japanese legislators. Many
Diet members representing several political parties (Liberal Democratic Party,
Democratic Party of Japan, and independents) have supported and participated in
our activities, proving that facts transcend political boundaries.
Send messages overseas
Some say it is better not to make a fuss over issues like the Nanking
“Massacre” and the comfort women, but they are gravely wrong. If something is
said that is untrue, and you don’t immediately point out that it is untrue, people
may end up believing the untruth. Japan has repeatedly made this mistake, and
the result is the situation we have today.
We must not allow China to demean diplomacy by using it as a tool for
spreading lies and propaganda any longer. The most formidable weapons Japan
has are facts, and we must use them. Where the Nanking “Massacre” and the
comfort women are concerned, the facts are on our side.
The situation is so complex now that I don’t dare hope that placing
advertisements in American newspapers will immediately invalidate Chinese
diplomatic treachery. But perhaps our work will awaken the Japanese people to
the importance of facts as an effective weapon against propaganda.
Author profile: SUGIYAMA Koichi
Born in Tokyo in 1931, Sugiyama graduated from the University of Tokyo’s
Faculty of Education, with a degree in educational psychology. After graduation, he
joined Nippon Cultural Broadcasting, serving in the news and entertainment
departments. Later he moved to Fuji Television, and as a director, produced many
programs, among them the “Hit Parade.” In 1968 Sugiyama became a full-time
composer. His works include: “Ama iro no kami no otome” (Girl with the flaxen
hair), many songs for television commercials, and theme songs for the Dragon
Quest game series. He is also director of JASCRAC (the Japanese Society for the
Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers), honorary chairman of the Japanese
Backgammon Society, executive director of the Japan Composers and Arrangers
Association (JCAA), and director of the Japan Composers Conference.
(Translated by Sekai Shuppan, Inc. from “‘Jugun ianfu mondai de Washinton Posuto ni iken
kokoku: Yuiitsuno buki wa ‘jijitsu’” in WiLL, August 2007).