Statement against the Indictment of Professor Yuha Park


We hereby express our great consternation and concern over the indictment by the Eastern Prosecution Office in Seoul of Professor Park Yu-ha, author of Comfort Women of the Empire, for “defamation”. We believe that this book, published also in Japan in November last year, made a remarkable attempt to dismiss one-sided views of the “Comfort Women Issue”, and to search for possibilities of a genuine solution by comprehending the multi-faceted aspects of this complicated issue.

The indictment by the said Prosecution Office predicates that the Korean version of this book includes “false facts”, and lists numerous examples. But we think that this judgment does not understand the author’s intention properly, and is based on presumptions and misunderstandings. Above all, we feel that this book does not harm the honor of the former comfort women: on the contrary, this book is successful in delicately conveying the deep sorrow of these women to Korean and Japanese readers.

Any solution to the “Comfort Women Issue” must be found only through cooperation of the two nations of Japan and Korea that amounts to a mutual understanding regarding the responsibility of the Japanese Empire by reflecting upon the past histories. In this regard, Professor Park Yu-ha has significantly broadened the past arguments by focusing not only on the “disregard of women by imperialism” but also on the “discrimination against them under the colonial rule”.

It is true that the book’s assertion of fraternity of the “Comfort Women” with Japanese soldiers in battlefield and its indication of involvement of the local agents (including Korean ones) over the recruitment of women are debatable both in Korea and Japan. However, this book astutely points out the fundamental responsibility of Japanese Empire in creating these situations through its colonial rule, and it does not support certain arguments in Japan that negate the “Comfort Women Issue” altogether. This book also made an important contribution to the rise of general interest and debate in this issue.

We also entertain grave doubt over the prosecution’s reliance on “Kono Statement” as a source to prove Professor Park’s “errors”, because this book tries a rigorous and appreciative reading of Kono Statement and appeals for solutions based on this very statement.

The Japanese version of this book received a special prize of “Asia-Pacific Award” and “Waseda Journalism Principal Award in Memory of Taizan Ishibashi” this autumn, as it was highly evaluated as a milestone for deepening arguments over the “Comfort Women Issue”.

We have been concerned for some time with this book being the subject of a civil court case for defamation, but we are now further shocked by the indictment in which public authority in the form of the procurator’s office has moved to confine academic freedom and freedom of speech based on a particular view of history. What to certify as facts and how to interpret history are issues that should be left up to academic freedom. Apart from such a work that discriminates a particular individual or incites violence, matters related to speech should be countered through speech, and according to the basic principle of modern democracy, public authority should never encroach into that arena. We firmly believe that only invigorated academism would offer precious opportunities for the formation of healthy public opinion and nourish society at large.

South Korea is one of the rare countries where the people have attained and secured democratization after many years of the autocratic rule during which time academic scholarship and public speech as well as political movements were severely suppressed. We hold deep respect for such strength enhanced in the Korean society. However, it is our great concern that the “freedom of speech and press” and the “academic and artistic freedom” stipulated in the Korean Constitution are now in crisis. We are also worried that this indictment would block any attempt toward solving the “Comfort Women Issue” by unnecessarily provoking popular sentiment of the two nations, when Korea and Japan are on the brink of solving the “Comfort Women Issue” which is now well overdue. We strongly hope for a rise of healthy public opinion in the broad section of Korean society against this indictment. As Japan’s own democracy is in dire jeopardy at the moment, we sincerely wish that civil societies of Korea and Japan cooperate with each other to perpetuate atmosphere of mutual esteem for the respective democracy based on the principle of free speech.

We therefore earnestly call for a ruling by the court that would not embarrass the common sense and conscience of democracy, and for a revitalized debate regarding this issue within the discursive space of the two countries.

The following is the list of signers (67 in total) for this statement:

浅野豊美(Asano Toyomi, 아사노 토요미)、

蘭信三(Araragi Shinzo, 아라라기 신조)、

石川好(Ishikawa Yoshimi, 이시카와 요시미)、

入江昭(Irie Akira, 이리에 아키라)、

岩崎稔(Iwasaki Minoru, 이와사키 미노루)、

上野千鶴子(Ueno Chizuko, 우에노 치즈코)、

大江健三郎(Oe Kenzaburo, 오에 겐자부로)、

大河原昭夫(Okawara Akio, 오카와라 아키오)、

大沼保昭(Onuma Yasuaki, 오누마 야스아키)、

小倉紀蔵(Ogura Kizo, 오구라 키조)、

小此木政夫(Okonogi Masao, 오코노기 마사오)、

加藤千香子(Kato Chikako, 가토 치카코)、

加納実紀代(Kano Mikiyo, 가노 미키요)、

川村湊(Kawamura Minato, 가와무라 미나토)、

木宮正史(Kimiya Tadashi, 기미야 타다시)、

グレゴリー・クラーク(Gregory Clark, 그레고리 클러크)、

ウィリアム・グライムス(William Grimes, 윌리엄 그라임스)、

栗栖薫子(Kurusu Kaoru, 쿠루수 카오루)、

河野洋平(Kono Yohei, 고노 요헤이)、

アンドルー・ゴードン(Andrew Gordon, 앤드류 고든)、

古城佳子(Kojo Yoshiko, 코죠 요시코)、

小針進(Kohari Susumu, 고하리 스스무)、

小森陽一(Komori Yoichi, 고모리 요이치)、

酒井直樹(Sakai Naoki, 사카이 나오키)、

島田雅彦(Shimada Masahiko, 시마다 마사히코)、

千田有紀(Senda Yuki, 센다 유키)、

添谷芳秀(Soeya Yoshihide, 소에야 요시히데)、

高橋源一郎(Takahashi Genichiro, 다카하시 겐이치로)、

竹内栄美子(Takeuchi Emiko, 다케우치 에미코)、

田中明彦(Tanaka Akihiko, 다나카 아키히코)、

茅野裕城子(Chino Yukiko, 치노 유키코)、

津島佑子(Tsushima Yuko, 쓰시마 유코)、

東郷和彦(Togo Kazuhiko, 도고 가즈히코)、

中川成美(Nakagawa Shigemi, 나카가와 시게미)、

中沢けい(Nakazawa Kei, 나카자와 케이)、

中島岳志(Nakajima Takeshi, 나카지마 다케시)、

成田龍一(Narita Ryuichi, 나리타 류이치)、

西成彦(Nishi Masahiko, 니시 마사히코)、

西川祐子(Nishikawa Yuko, 니시카와 유코)、

トマス・バーガー(Thomas Berger, 토마스 버거)、

波多野澄雄(Hatano Sumio, 하타노 수미오)、

馬場公彦(Baba Kimihiko, 바바 기미히코)、

平井久志(Hirai Hisashi, 히라이 히사시)、

藤井貞和(Fujii Sadakazu, 후지이 사다카즈)、

藤原帰一(Fujiwara Kiichi, 후지와라 키이치)、

星野智幸(Hoshino Tomoyuki, 호시노 도모유키)、

村山富市(Murayama Tomiichi, 무라야마 도미이치)、

マイク・モチズキ(Mike Mochizuki, 마이크 모치즈키)、

本橋哲也(Motohashi Tetsuya, 모토하시 데츠야)、

安尾芳典(Yasuo Yoshinori, 야스오 요시노리)、

山田孝男(Yamada Takao, 야마다 다카오)、

四方田犬彦(Yomota Inuhiko, 요모타 이누히코)、

李相哲(Lee Sangchul, 리상철, Li Sotetsu, 리 소테츠)、

若宮啓文(Wakamiya Yoshibumi, 와카미야 요시부미)

Additional signers

山室信一 (Yamamuro Shinichi, 야마무로 신이치)、

ダニエル・スナイダー(Daniel Sneider,다니엘 스나이더)、

アンドリュー・ホルバート(Andrew Horvat, 앤드류 호밧)、

ポール・ミッドフォード(Paul Midford, 폴 미드포드)、

ジュリオ・プリエセ(Giulio Pugliese, 줄리오 플리에세)、

尾山令仁(Oyama Reiji, 오야마 레이지)

小林孝吉(Kobayashi Takayoshi,고바야시 다카요시)

鳥羽耕史(Toba Koji,도바 고지 )

川人清(Kawahito Kiyoshi, 가와히토 기요시)

アレクサンダー・ブッフ (Alexander Bukh,알렉산더 부흐)

安倍オースタッド玲子 (Abe Auestad Reiko,아베 오스타드 레이코)

楊大慶(Daqing Yang, 양다칭)

ピーター・ドゥス(Peter Duus, 피터 두스)