A parliamentary hearing's big flaw

Canada's parliament passed a motion this week calling on Japan to apologize to the brothel prostitutes that served for the benefit of the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II. It is not difficult to understand the concerns of this motion if you think of the gravity of tragedy and suffering these women endured, and continued existence of “human trafficking”, prostitution (sex slavery), and human right abuse prevalent today in Korea and the rest of world.

Nevertheless I am incensed about the carelessness and unfairness of the motion passed by the Canadian government. My concern and objection are three-fold: unfair procedure, biased evidence, and its negative implication for the current and subsequent generations of people and government of Japan. What I mean by "procedural concern" is that it failed to consider the full range of evidence to prove or disprove its conclusion. They clearly failed to consider a set of evidence that negates or questions the validity of this motion. Thus, this omission of due process made this motion fundamentally "biased and unfair." I am aware that it was not a legal proceeding nor an academic exercise that would have called for close examination of facts with interest over the pursuit of truth. The motion was a political action that serves the political expediency for certain groups of people with passion and desire to gain political control to punish those who were castigated as “evil” aggressors. It was meant to exonerate those women who had been wrongly treated and looked down on as prostitutes in the Korean society. Despite the political nature of proceedings and motion, we cannot remain silent about the unfairness and harmfulness of this motion based on half-truths and lies. The gravity of accusation and resulting negative implication for the people and nation of Japan are too great to ignore.

The unfair proceedings thus resulted in Parliament’s acceptance of false information and misunderstanding on the issues studied. I am not a scholar on history but I will mention one or two clear false information, which this motion were based on. The majority of the prostitutes came from Japan and not from the Korean-region of Imperial Japan (Korea was one of the Japanese territories at that time, not a colony) as alleged. Series of formal, “sincere” apologies have already been given by the government officials in the past, and the Asian Women's Fund was created for the purpose of compensating for the suffering endured by the brothel prostitutes.

Thirdly, there was a "structural(contextual)" bias in its motion, namely it failed to present historical, social context in which the Japanese government instituted the Licensed Brothel(Camp) Prostitutes attached to the Japanese Army for the benefit of the soldiers. Discussion of this issue without relevant historical context, especially with no reference to the conducts of other nations in the similar historical/social context creates a false impression of peculiarity, singularity about the people and government of Japan, whether or not it is intended. The comparisons are not to justify (or vilify) the actions studied but to give common ground and understanding of the issue(unless the comparisons truly shows its peculiarity, singularity) under consideration. This will help people to make rational, informed judgment rather than irrational, emotional generalization, and also prevents false impression and prejudice against the people and government of Japan.

Finally, this motion exploits the goodness of the Canadian people who naturally sympathize with the victims of crimes and are resolute to confront the aggressors. But here I must appeal again to the fairness of Canadian people. It must be reminded that this motion is directed against the Japanese people and nation today and possibly in the future. Another point is that one should not apply "double-standard" to understand and judge people, including the victims and aggressors alike. I am not to defend the aggression and criminal acts committed by the people or any nation but I am simply asking for "fair hearing" with interest over the pursuit of truth. It seem obvious that unless the motion is based on the “truth” derived from “fair” proceedings, it will not benefit anyone. It will not bring about any sense of closure for the people of Japan and Korea, and it will rather create increased animosity toward each other as well as instilling distrust and anger especially among Japanese against the people of Canada, which we would certainly like to avoid.


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