Monday, January 29, 2018

Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS) Endorses the "Comfort Women" Resolution!

A Historic Win: AAAS has become the nation's first national academic association to officially take a stand in solidarity with Comfort Women for their demand for justice!

We are extremely proud to announce that the Association for Asian American Studies Board of Directors unanimously voted to endorse the "Comfort Women" Resolution! This is a win for women’s rights, human rights, and most especially a measure of justice for our grandmothers, both those who have passed on and those who are still here with us. This victory is an attribution to the decades-long movement, led by the brave women who came out to tell their stories over 20 years ago. Community members, activists, and academics have followed suit, telling and memorializing our grandmother’s stories and rightly pointing out the unimaginably twisted atrocity inflicted and institutionalized by the Japanese imperial army, and forcefully denied as "official position" by the current Japanese government. Politicization of the issue, away from the human rights issue that it is, and Tokyo's active whitewashing of its militaristic past have put tremendous pressure on the scholars working on the issue of wartime sexual slavery and threatened our academic freedom.

In light of the recent news that Japan is threatening to boycott the South Korean Olympics due to President Moon publically rejecting the so-called 2015 “agreement” between South Korea and Japan, which did nothing to “resolve” the “Comfort Women” issue and instead completely silenced the demands by surviving grandmothers, the AAAS endorsement of the “Comfort Women” resolution is an important step in acknowledging and denouncing institutionalized sex slavery and 
resisting historical denialism. 

We will follow up with another email with an exciting list of presentations, panels, and our annual “Comfort Women” section meeting at the 2018 gathering in San Francisco, but for now, please see the statement below. The original resolution submitted for endorsement included over 100 signatories.

AAAS Board of Directors Statement on Supporting the Comfort Women Resolution

2018 Association for Asian American Studies Conference
March 29-31, 2018
Westin St. Francis, San Francisco, California

Regarding the campaign to “Support Remembrance of ‘Comfort Women’ and Their Endangered History,” the Association for Asian American Studies Board of Directors supports the following statement:

That the call to stand with the survivors of Japanese Imperial Army’s heinous atrocity of sexual enslavement system euphemistically known as the “Comfort Women” system as resistance to the current administration of Japan to whitewash its militaristic past is an important point. Mainstream Japanese institutions are complicit with Japanese government’s active denial and denigration of the truths and truth-bearers of this mass human rights violation the world cannot afford to banish into oblivion, as the world grapples with contemporary threats of colonial sexual violence again.

There was a careful distinction made between the Japanese government and its complicit institutions, and individual academics of Japanese ancestry. It is the former – the government and complicit institutions – that are the target of concern, and not individual scholars per se. The similarity of the “Comfort Women” denialism to the Holocaust denialism is also a matter to think about.

Because the US government does not oppose or protest the reprehensible actions of the Japanese government with respect to our right to historical truths, justice, education and academic freedom, it falls to civil society organizations like the AAAS to take up the call by the former Comfort Women grandmothers and their supporters to stand in solidarity with them as they make a principled demand for unequivocal acceptance of WWII era Japanese military sexual slavery, and justice. Academics in Japan who speak out against the Japanese government’s policies are subject to intimidation and retribution, and so it is crucial that the AAAS stand in solidarity with Japanese academics who protest the denialist actions of the state of Japan.

Specifically, the Endorsement “Supporting Remembrance of ‘Comfort Women’ and their Endangered History calls upon members of AAAS to educate, through courses, forums, and other means, the students, faculty, and staff on their campuses of the realities and truths of arguably the largest-scale mass human trafficking system of the 21st century, and the survivors of this horrific system whose stories are systematically derided and discredited by the Japanese government; to encourage further integration of this often-hidden history into relevant teaching curricula; and to forge alliances with academics and students conducting research on this subject.

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