Just what Japan’s critics want in apologies is not clear, raising the suspicion that they would rather have the dispute than a resolution, for their own reasons. Here then is a suggestion, in three parts, for Japan to try to clear things up on its own:
‧ Comfort women: That prostitutes plied their trade with invading Japanese soldiers is not in question. What is disputed is whether innocent women were recruited or were coerced by military authorities into sexual service or were even sold into brothels by impoverished parents. A thorough international investigation would be in order.
‧ Apologies: The Japanese government would compile a record of all the apologies since 1945, with dates, places, who delivered and appropriate quotes, then translate them into Chinese, Korean and English, and publish and distribute those volumes to be retained as references.
‧ Emperor: Ask Japanese Emperor Akihito to go to the Budokan, the Hall of Martial Arts, on Aug. 15, the anniversary of the end of World War II, to deliver a dignified, but unstinting apology for all of Japan’s transgressions during the time in question.
The chances of this US-style settlement once and for all being undertaken by the Japanese and accepted by the Chinese, Koreans and Europeans are, realistically, somewhere between zero and minus-1,000.
Richard Halloran is a commentator in Hawaii.