Subject: [cwj 150] Statement of Protest to NHK by VAWW-NET Japan
From: Corporate Watch in Japanese <>
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2001 10:19:33 -0700
Seq: 150

Statement of Protest to NHK:

We Refuse to Accept the Revision of the Program on the Women's        
International War Crimes Tribunal Under Rightwing Pressure

March 2 2001
EBISAWA Katsuji, President of NHK
                         Violence Against Women in War Network、Japan
                                             MATSUI Yayori, Chairperson
The Historical Significance of the Women's International War Crimes
A decade has passed since survivors of the Japanese military's "      
comfort women" system, said to be one the largest scale incidences of 
wartime sexual violence in the 20th century, began to speak out. As   
women of the perpetrating country who sought to respond to their pleas
for dignity and justice, the Japanese women who formed VAWW-NET Japan 
proposed that a Women's International War Crimes Tribunal be held to  
judge the Japan's military sexual slavery. In solidarity with support 
groups from the victimized countries, and people from many other      
countries who were involved in women's human rights issues, the       
Tribunal was held in Tokyo from December 8-12 of last year.

Sixty-four survivors of Japan's sexual slavery came to the Tribunal   
from eight different countries. Each day, a total of more than a      
thousand observers from both Japan and abroad were present. Country   
prosecutors and Chief Prosecutors read out indictments; there was     
testimony from women survivors, former Japanese soldiers, expert      
witnesses, and an amicus curiae who explained the position of the     
Japanese government, which failed to answer an invitation to send a   
representative in its defense. At the end of the three days of        
hearings, a panel of four judges, all experts in international law and
human rights, handed down their summary of findings, based on         
international law. They declared that Japan's military sexual slavery,
known as the "comfort women" system, was not only a war crime, but a  
crime against humanity; they found the Showa Emperor
Hirohito guilty, and the Japanese government to have incurred state

 At that moment, the women survivors wept tears of joy, and the entire
 hall thundered with applause. This historical judgement, the first to
 be handed down by the global civil society, was widely reported by   
 the international media, with broadcasts on BBC, CNN, and German     
 television. Chinese Central Television broadcast programs of over an 
 hour on its stations in Beijing, Shanghai, and Tokyo. Compared to    
 this enthusiasm, the response of the Japanese media was all too timid
 and passive. The Tribunal has been accredited with having made a     
 positive contribution to the development of international law,       
 helping it to take a step toward ending the cycle of impunity for    
 wartime sexual violence, and is expected to be referred to in a      
 report to be submitted to the UN Commission on Human Rights.
Scenes from the Tribunal Slashed from NHK's Program

 When asked by NHK to cooperate in the production of a program on the 
Tribunal, for which it was then preparing, VAWW-NET Japan agreed, on  
the premises that the program would present a fair and balanced       
account of the Tribunal. However, the contents of  "The Question of   
Wartime Sexual Violence," the second program in the educational       
television ETV 2001 series "How is War to be Judged" (four parts,     
aired January 29-February1), were completely different from what we   
were expecting. The full name of the Tribunal, which included the     
phrase "On Japan's Military Sexual Slavery " was not once mentioned,  
nor were the sponsoring organizations. Other basic facts, such as the 
aims of the Tribunal, and the defendants who were indicted at the     
Tribunal were totally left in the dark, and not even the verdict,     
which is the essential part of the Tribunal was introduced.    

 Furthermore, the moderator, who should have remained neutral, listed 
 the faults and deficiencies of the Tribunal, and Prof. HATA Ikuhiko  
 of Nippon University, known as a rightwing scholar, was given ample  
 time to air his critical views. Although he attended only the final  
 day of the Tribunal, when the verdict was handed down, Hata appeared 
 on the program as "a historian who attended the Tribunal." He cast   
 doubt on the survivors' testimonies, none of which he had heard, on  
 the grounds that there was no  corroborating evidence to support     
 them. He then proceeded to present his  well-known assertion, which  
 has already been refuted by recent scholarship: namely, that         
 prostitution having been legal at the time, "comfort women" were sold
 by sex traffickers of their own countries and taken to "comfort
stations," where they were engaged in legal business (prostitution).  
The Tribunal's sponsors were given no chance to correct or refute his 
arguments. The statements of other commentators concerning the        
Tribunal were cut in an unnatural way, so that the line of argument   
they wished to present was not communicated to the viewers.     

In addition, in order to fill in the time that was left over where   
scenes of the Tribunal were slashed from the program, lengthy footage 
from the previous night's program was shown, along with visual        
materials that had nothing to do with the theme of judging wartime    
sexual violence. Even these measures were not sufficient, however, and
the program ended four minutes early, which must have seemed most odd 
to all concerned.
This program presented a one-sided, distorted, and intentionally      
mistaken view of the  Tribunal, which could only have left bias and   
misunderstanding in the minds of its viewers. In doing so, it defamed 
the honor not only of the survivors, but of people all over the world 
who sponsored, participated in, and supported the Tribunal.

An Open Letter and Enquiry to NHK Demanding an Explanation of What    
Really Happened

In the belief that, as a public broadcasting station, NHK should be  
held accountable for having produced such a program, and for          
explaining the process of revision that took place, on February 6,    
VAWW-NET Japan sent an open letter to NHK explaining our view of the  
program, along with a list of 11 questions. In the reply we received  
on  February 14, NHK stated that the program did not mention the      
Tribunal's verdict in the interest of reconciliation between Japan and
its Asian neighbors, that the program as broadcast was based on the   
original project plan and editing policy, and that they 
had not changed its contents in response to pressure from any        
specific  organization.  

This reply is by no means acceptable to VAWW-NET Japan. It is simply  
not consistent with what we have found out about the actual process of
revision. We have investigated the matter on our own, by interviewing
a number of people involved with the program, including YOSHIOKA     
Tamio, Chief of NHK's Educational Programming Section, and SHIMAZAKI 
Motohiko, Chief of the NHK Enterprise Special Programming Section. 
The information we have thus obtained concerning the actual process   
through which the program was altered is as follows:
The commentary of TAKAHASHI Tetsuya, Assistant Professor of Tokyo     
University, and YONEYAMA Risa, Lecturer of the University of        
California, was filmed in the NHK Studio on December 27. In this      
taping session, Takahashi and Yoneyama explained the meaning of       
specific scenes from the Tribunal, shown on videotape, as well as     
commenting on the general theme of how wartime sexual violence and    
crimes against humanity should be prosecuted. At this point, the      
program included a shot of the banner which read, "Women's            
International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan's  Military Sexual Slavery,
" as well as the painting by former "comfort woman"  Kang Duk Kyung,  
which moved the sponsors to envision the Tribunal. Also included were 
interviews in which sponsors explained the Tribunal's aims, scenes of 
the hall where it was held, testimonies of more than two women        
survivors as well as the perpetrators, two former Japanese soldiers,  
and the all important verdict, but in the program aired on January 30,
all of this footage had been cut, along with Takahashi and  Yoneyama's
comments on the Tribunal itself. 

Rightwing Organizations Barge into NHK to Demand the Cancellation of  
the Program
All during the Tribunal, members of rightwing organizations gathered  
outside the  venues to shout their protests against the Tribunal, and 
immediately after it was over, they began demanding that NHK cancel   
the program on the Tribunal. In January, rightwing protests against   
the Tribunal and NHK escalated. In this tense atmosphere, NHK         
executives who saw the program that had been taped in the studio in   
December ordered that it be altered so as to distance it from the     
Tribunal, and the producers were forced to revise it many times over. 
On January 27, three days before the program was to be broadcast, more
than 30 members of a number of rightwing organizations barged into the
NHK building, violently demanding that the program be cancelled. On   
the following day, December 28, the interview with Prof. HATA Ikuhiko 
was added, and further revisions continued until immediately before   
the program was aired. 
As a result, only the barest outlines of the part concerning the      
Tribunal remained, and  although the theme of the program was supposed
to be wartime sexual violence, phrases such as "Japan's Military" and 
"sexual slavery" were unaccountably absent. Stranger still, Japan's   
responsibility for the "comfort woman" system was not even touched    

Accordingly, rightwing organizations are crowing on their homepages, "
Victory over NHK! We really took the backbone out of that program! Let
's keep the pressure on!"

However, it is rumored that it was not only the violent intervention  
of rightwing organizations, but also the pressure put on NHK          
executives by government party politicians that led to the revision of
the program. NHK denies this, but we cannot allow a public            
broadcasting corporation to continue to hide the truth behind the     
aegis of editorial rights. We will therefore continue to demand that  
NHK reveal the truth for all to see.
The Protest of the International Organizing Committee and the Threat  
to Free Speech and Freedom of the Press

The revision of this program shows that rightwing and nationalist     
forces, which justifies Japan's war of aggression, denying its war    
responsibility, have grown strong enough to sabotage the programming  
of a public broadcasting corporation. This is a problem that does not 
stop with the Tribunal. Our freedoms of speech and of the press are in
crisis; this is a situation we cannot ignore.
On February 24, the International Organizing Committee which sponsored
the Tribunal held a meeting in Seoul, where they published a statement
of protest concerning this program. The reasons given for this protest
are as follows: 1) The program hid the fact that the Japan's Military 
Sexual Slavery, also known as the "comfort women" system, is a crime  
against humanity; 2) Its failure to mention the judgement that found  
Emperor Hirohito guilty will hinder the process of reconciliation     
between Japan and its Asian neighbors; 3) One-sided statements to the 
effect that "comfort women" were engaged in business (prostitution)   
slandered the survivors for a second time; 4) One-sided disparagement 
of the Tribunal and the manner in which it was conducted was an insult
to the global civil society which supported it; 5) In revising the    
program under pressure from rightwing organizations, NHK abandoned its
responsibility to protect freedom of speech and freedom of the press, 
and in doing so, caused anxiety about the possibility of a revival of 
Japan's militarism under repression of these freedoms.    

Our Protest and Demands as the Tribunal's Sponsors Whose Honor has    
been Defamed

Both in its reply to our Open Letter and Inquiry, and in the          
explanations of individuals in charge, NHK has apologized to us,      
saying that although the program was produced in accordance with the  
original plan, with no alterations having been made, it was           
regrettable if VAWW-NET Japan was not properly informed during the    
process of filming and production. However, we would like NHK to      
explain clearly how it is planning to compensate the people all over  
the world who helped make the Tribunal possible; and in particular,   
VAWW-NET Japan, for having defamed its honor in the eyes of Japanese  
society by airing a program that was altogether different from the one
to which VAWW-NET Japan understood it was lending its cooperation.    
Until NHK fulfills its responsibility as a public broadcasting        
corporation, and tells the truth about how the program was revised, we
will continue to voice our protests, along with the many others       
throughout the world who lent their support to the Tribunal. 

EBISAWA Katsuji, President of NHK
2-2-1 Jin-nan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-01
FAX  81-3-3467-1988
2-10-10 Shiomi, Koto-ku, Tokyo 135-8585
FAX 81-3-5337-4088
Corporate Watch in Japanese
Transnational Resource and Action Center (TRAC)
P.O. Box 29344
San Francisco, CA 94129 USA
Tel: 1-415-561-6472
Fax: 1-415-561-6493
The Corporate Watch in Japanese (CWJ)
mailing list is a moderated email list in English designed to connect
activists campaigning against Japanese corporations and investments around
the world.
To unsubscribe from the CWJ mailing list, send an email to with text "unsubscribe cwj".  To subscribe to the CWJ
mailing list, send a message to with the text
"subscribe cwj"
The CWJ mailing list is NOT intended for wide distribution.  If you would
like to post messages from this list somewhere else, we ask that you first
contact us at

Return to Index
Return to cwj HOME