Professor Ramseyer must withdraw ‘Racist and Colonialist’ claims!
In December 2020, Harvard law school professor John Mark Ramseyer submitted a paper on the subject of Japanese Military ‘Comfort Women’ issue called [Contracting for sexing the Pacific War] to an academic journal. On January 28, before the paper was introduced in the academia, Sankei Shimbun reported that a Harvard law professor published an academic paper proving that the Japanese Military ‘Comfort Women’ were not sex slaves. The reporting, which had the intention of spreading Ramseyer’s claim broadly, faced international condemnation.
Prof. Ramseyer’s paper ignores numerous evidence and testimonies that prove forced mobilization and human rights violations. However, this type of assertion is nothing new. His claim and analysis that the Japanese Military ‘Comfort Women’ were sex workers is identical to the long standing claims of the deniers of Japan’s war (crime) responsibilities. They have been attempting to cover up the war crimes Japan committed during the war throughout Asia, the fact that Japan was involved in committing sexual violence against women and its military has directly and indirectly established the ‘Comfort Women’ system and operated the “Comfort Stations.”
In another paper introduced by Prof. Ramseyer in 2019 called [Civil Militia: Japanese Police, The Korean Massacre, And Private Security Firms,] he had denied that the Koreans were massacred by the Japanese during the Kanto earthquake in 1923. Yet this claim is not new. This denial has been part of the continuing revisionist claims by the forces that attempt to cover up various massacres of the colonial subjects during Japan’s colonial occupation of Joseon (former name of Korea) that began as soon as these massacres happened.
In 2018, Professor Ramseyer introduced [Fabricated Identity Politics, ‘The Burakumin of Japan’] and in 2020 [Lower Class Surveillance Theory: The cases of the Discriminated Buraku, Zainichi Koreans, Okinawans(??)] where he distorted facts about the minorities living in Japan such as Burakumin, Okinawans, and the Zainichi Koreans, promoting discriminatory viewpoints based on class. His apparent feelings of abhorrence, hatred, ridicule, and insult towards the minorities in Japan represent the sentiment of a faction in academia and politics in Japan that holds elitist, racist, and colonialist viewpoints.
Prof. Ramseyer’s papers represent the political conspiracy that constantly attempts to cover up and deny the crimes by those who conducted ethnic cleansing and other crimes against humanity, in an effort to create Imperial Japan’s ‘new people.’ Discrimination against Burakumin and the Koreans under the colonial rule, and the ‘Comfort Women’ issue are all key elements of a political propaganda by the denialists.
The ‘Ramseyer controversy’ was a failed attempt by the denialists who tried to propagate the revisionist claims in the larger international community beyond their main courtyard, Japan, by capitalizing on the ‘Harvard’ name brand, where they faced a severe backlash and resistance from the global citizens. Further, there is something more fundamental than the issue of mere ‘academic freedom’ in the ‘Ramseyer controversy.’ The Ramseyer controversy was bound to happen because Japan has never repented at the visceral level, about the numerous human right violations it has committed based on racism and colonialism, while going through the key periods of modernization, building Imperial nation, colonization, and invasion.
In 1993, the Japanese government admitted through the statement of then Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan, Kono, that “Comfort stations were operated in response to the request of the military authorities of the day. The then Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of the comfort stations and the transfer of comfort women” and clarified that “in many cases they were recruited against their own will, through coaxing, coercion, etc.” Furthermore, the Japanese government promised the international community that “We hereby reiterate our firm determination never to repeat the same mistake by forever engraving such issues in our memories through the study and teaching of history.”
However, after the Kono statement, the reality unfolded in the opposite direction. For example, the “comfort women” issue was included in the junior high school text books in Japan for brief period of time, but has subsequently disappeared due to the persistent attacks by the history denialists to remove the content. The government of Japan also has been shamelessly making false claims in an attempt to erode and discredit Kono Statement, asserting a shallow excuse that there is no evidence proving direct coercion in the recruitment of ‘comfort women.’ It is in fact the Government of Japan and its continued wrong-headed pursuit of historical revisionism that has resulted in a debacle where the racist assertions by Prof. Ramseyer has ended up in an academic journal under the guise of the ‘freedom of speech.’
We urge Prof. Ramseyer to deeply reflect on the fact that his claims denying the nature of the “comfort women” system as a crime against humanity is rooted in the racist and colonialist claims, and voluntarily withdraw his papers from the publication. We also call on the Harvard University and the “International Law and Economics Review” to re-evaluate the paper and withdraw it from being published, in consideration of the fact that racism and colonialism goes far beyond the ‘academic freedom’.
We promise to work in unity beyond the boundaries of nation-states and language barriers to inform “comfort women” issue globally and simultaneously raise the standard of education so that anti-racism and anti-colonialism perspectives will be the norm and common standard in education throughout the world.
2021. 4. 5.