Just this past December, Japan passed a new state secrets law. It provides for up to ten years in prison for a government employee who shares “designated” state secrets, and five years for accomplices. Critics claim that this law could pertain to journalists who publish leaked materials. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, however, denies that there is any attempt to deny press freedoms. He says that he would resign if there was. Really? The point is that, as laws evolve, they might be interpreted differently.
Japan seems to have always been at odds with the outside world on somewhat of a public relations basis. It has never admitted, other than superficially, the atrocities that it had committed during World War II. At least, nowhere near the extent that Germany has. Also, it infuriates several of its neighbors when one prime minister after another visits the Yasukuni Shrine, at which many war dead are enshrined, to include officials who were executed by the War Tribunal, to include former Prime Minister Hideki Tojo. In the Shinto Religion, it should be noted that all sins are forgiven after death. But, when I wonder about the state secrets law, I keep returning to the“comfort women” issue.
During World War II, the Japanese Army took many Chinese and Korean Women hostage and used them as sex slaves–in their native countries, and even brought some back to Japan. Here’s where recent journalistic events cause me to wonder: What is Japan hiding? They are trying to hard…maybe, to cover up the truth. The idea of women being used by the Japanese Army for sexual pleasure has been well-documented for decades.
Recently, the left-leaning Asahi Shinbun retracted several stories about comfort women that were published in the 1980s and 1990s. Besides other newspapers, even the right-leaning Yomiuri Shinbun, Japan’s largest daily, and which is generally supportive of Mr. Abe, apologized for using the words “sex slaves” in referring to comfort women.
It just seems that Japan is trying much too hard to defend what was done by its government and army seventy decades before. Wouldn’t a well-formulated law have considered 25-to-35 year articles to be old news? Also, wouldn’t a logical person expect that such stories–incorrect or not–would be grandfathered in, with regard to new legislation? In fact, did anyone even know that those stories existed, that is, until they were forcibly brought to light?