Japan’s ever-troubled Asahi newspaper has been dealt another devastating blow, as 10,000 right-wing activists each served the left-leaning paper with a 10,000 yen lawsuit.
The plaintiffs, spearheaded by Sophia University professor emeritus Shoichi Watanabe, say they are filing the lawsuit as “… Japanese citizens whose honor and credibility were damaged by the false reports made by the Asahi Shimbun,” according to court documents obtained by Business Inspector.
The contention stems from a series of Asahi articles about Japanese soldiers who forced Korean women into sex slavery during WWII. This new lawsuit’s plaintiffs say the newspaper’s reports about these victimized “comfort women… have imposed indescribable humiliation not only on former soldiers but also on honorable Japanese citizens … who are labeled as descendants of gang rapists.”
The articles were retracted after a key source for the stories was discredited. However, the right-wing attacks did not begin in earnest until this past August, years after the articles were published in the 1980s, following the findings of a report produced by an academic and industry panel assembled by the newspaper, which found that The Asahi’s actions were a “betrayal of readers’ trust,” (as quoted by the AFP ).
And yet, other “comfort women” incidents have been documented independently from the aforementioned Asahi coverage, and mainstream historians concur that 200,000 Chinese and Korean women (along with victims of other neighboring nations) were forced into sex slavery during the war. Right-wing revisionists have been particularly fervent as late though, attempting to not only discredit the Asahi’s flawed coverage of the events, but also any narrative about Japanese wrongdoing during WWII—from vivisection experiments inflicted on POWs to the tens of thousands of Chinese victims slaughtered in the Nanking massacre.
However, the plaintiffs in this new lawsuit say the Asahi has continually been irresponsible in its coverage of Japan WWII-era army activities. They say: “In the postwar period, the Asahi Shimbun has consistently been haunted by socialistic fantasies, infected by anti-Japanese, self-degrading ideologies… (the paper) never hesitated to humiliate (the men) who so selflessly staked their lives for Japan’s independence and modernization.”
The Asahi said that it would release a response following careful study of the lawsuits.
Right wing protestor, 2008: eTombotron/Flickr (CC)