Northeast Asia

Organized Panel Session

2 - How Did the Backlash Against ‘Comfort Women’ Escalate?

Friday, July 6
12:10 PM - 1:40 PM
Location: Gulmohar, First Floor

In a snap election for the lower house of parliament in October 2017, the party of ultra-conservative Prime Minister Abe Shinzo won in a landslide once again, ensuring that he will become one of the longest-serving prime ministers in the recent history of Japan. The beginning of his political career in 1993 coincides with the period when the “comfort woman” issue started to receive right-wing backlash, and Abe has been actively involved throughout his political career in historical revisionism regarding Japan’s war crimes. With Abe’s core supporters drawn from ultraconservative citizens’ movements, including Japan’s largest conservative group Nippon Kaigi (Japan Conference) and other right-wing organizations, he has been heavily involved in right-wing and revisionist parliamentary members’ leagues, sometimes as the leader. During Abe’s years as prime minister, the “comfort women” issue became a major political issue, with groups attacking claims of “comfort women” and denying Japan’s responsibility.


This paper investigates the emergence and longevity of Abe as Japan’s leader, which is relevant to his revisionist stance on the “comfort woman” issue. I will examine the spread of the LDP’s right-wing sector and the ultranationalist citizens’ movements in the periods prior to and during Abe’s leadership. I will also demonstrate how Abe’s neoconservative and neoliberal approach led to current national and local policies, especially regarding the revision of the constitution and policies on education and gender. I will argue that there is a close connection between these national and local policies and the backlash against the “comfort woman” issue. 

Tomomi Yamaguchi

Montana State University, United States

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2 - How Did the Backlash Against ‘Comfort Women’ Escalate?



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