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May 22, 2019
President of Japanese Women for Justice and Peace
About Unfair and Biased Film
“SHUSENJYO : The Main Battleground of The Comfort Women”
A documentary film “SHUSENJYO : The Main Battleground of The Comfort Women” directed by Mr. Mikine Dezaki was released on April 20th. And, I, Yumiko Yamamoto, am one of the interviewees appearing in the film.
In May 2016, I received an email “Subject: Interview request for documentary from Mikine Dezaki, a Sophia University graduate student“.
The mail was written in polite Japanese as follows;
“I am a Japanese American. I am now a graduate student of Sophia University.”
“Through my research on the comfort women issue, I have come to understand that the issue is much more complex than what I read in the western liberal media. I know that there is a severe lack of authenticated documentary evidence regarding forced recruitment of comfort women and that the conditions for the comfort women may not have been as bad as some activists and academics claim. I must admit that I did believe the western media at one point, but now, I have my doubts.”
“As a graduate student, I have an ethical obligation to present the people I interview with respect and fairness.”
“This is academic research. It must meet certain academic standards and expectations, which would prevent it from becoming a biased journalistic piece.”
“So, I will produce it with equitability and neutrality. I am going to submit it to the University as a graduation project.”
So I accepted his request to help with this graduation project. In June 2016, I was interviewed in one of the rooms at Sophia University’s Yotsuya Campus in Tokyo, accompanied by Mr. Dezaki and two other graduate students from the project group.
Since then I received no word regarding the completion of this graduation project.
In September 2018, however, out of the blue I received an email from Mr. Dezaki informing me that “the film will be screened at Pusan International Film Festival in Korea on October 7th.” Then, in February of this year, 2019, I received another email from him that “the film will be released on April 20th (Sat). Starting with the Theater Image Forum in Shibuya in Tokyo, it will then be screened in Osaka, Nagoya and other locations around Japan.”
I consented to be interviewed out of the desire to help a group of Sophia University graduate students with their academic graduation project. They omitted to explain to me that the film would receive a general commercial release in this manner.
Having now seen the film, I am deeply shocked to discover that, far from being an “academic research project”, the narrative it presents is virtually devoid of the purported “ethical obligation to present the people [interviewed] with respect and fairness” or any sense of ”equitability and neutrality.”
From its very beginning, the film immediately labels me and other conservative opinion holders who dispute the claims of coercion and sexual enslavement of comfort women as “right wing”, “historical revisionists” and “denialists” in large on-screen captions. The latter portion of the film leaves viewers with the strong impression of us as “racists, sexists and fascists.” And by its conclusion, the film vastly departs from the comfort women issue to present a distorted narrative about a conspiracy by Japanese conservatives’ and even goes so far as to make claims about Japanese remilitarization.
To quote the words of Mr. Dezaki presented at the end of the film:
“Finally, I would like to address those Japanese viewers. As an American, it is not my place to tell you whether remilitarization is right for your country. But remember that what remilitarization inevitably means for Japan is that you will be fighting in wars started by the United States. So please ask yourselves: Do you really want to fight a war started by my country?”
It is my opinion that this film is a delusional piece of propaganda that aims to discredit the Abe administration and Japanese conservative voices. While it might be entertaining to certain people with a peculiar dislike for Japanese conservatives, the film is anything but an academic documentary.
I and other conservative interviewees lent our support to a group of Sophia graduate students for a graduation project that we were led to believe would be fair, neutral, academic and unbiased. But they have betrayed our generosity. These students must not be allowed to besmirch the good name of their university by committing such an unethical act. One can but wonder whether Mr. Dezaki and his accomplices realize how they have tarnished the credibility and good reputation of Sophia University.
As a graduate of Sophia University myself, I earnestly request that the University reprimand Mr. Dezaki and his supervisor most severely and prevent such disgraceful incidents as this from occurring again.
Thank you for your attention.