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About the start of Study Institute for Historical Controversy

Chairman, Seishiro Sugihara

Today, in the 21st century, a war of controversy over another country’s history should never be allowed essentially. However, Japan has been subject to groundless war on history staged by other countries and history of Japan has been unreasonably degraded.

Moreover, presently in the 21st century, there still exist states that are totally dominated by a single party or family. In such states, a dictatorial party or family tries to maintain its absolute rule, harshly oppressing the people’s human rights domestically, and incessantly carrying out the policy of expansion and enlargement internationally to have the people realize the value of the despotic rule. They disrupt international order without limit. Therefore, any state ruled by a single party or family is an entity totally impermissible in the 21st century. In carrying out its policy of expansion and enlargement, such state not only uses military forces but also stages historical, legal and psychological warfare.

On September 10, 2013, the People’s Campaign for the Truth of Comfort Women was organized, unifying various bodies which had been individually fighting to resolve the issue of comfort women. In July 2014, this organization sent its first research delegation to the United Nations in Geneva. In July 2015, the organization made a speech at the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women for the first time.

In the first place, words “sex slaves” referring to comfort women were first used when a certain Japanese lawyer said that comfort women were “sex slaves” during his speech at the United Nations in 1992. Had there been an organization like this at the time and had a delegation been sent to the United Nations to immediately protest and counterargue against the lawyer’s speech, the idea of identifying comfort women with sex slaves would have never been conceived nor disseminated to the world. The movement of building statues of comfort women all over the world on the part of Korea would have never taken place.

Through this bitter experience, we have learned how important it is to disseminate historical controversy to the world. We have started this study institute to disseminate historical controversy to the world from the standpoint of Japan, to protect Japan from groundless criticism against our history and cope with the boundless warfare over history. We are firmly determined to play a vital role in this endeavor. 

Thoughts after the Symposium on Professor Ramseyer’s Article

26 July 2021
SUGIHARA Seishiro, Chairman

We, the International Research Institute of Controversial Histories (iRICH), are a research institute with the principal aim of recognizing true history by tackling historical controversies of international significance based on fair historical research for the purpose of preserving the honor and dignity of Japan and the Japanese people. Among our major tasks is the resolution of the increasingly tumultuous comfort women issue.

Regarding history, there are those who make criticisms and baseless accusations that go against immutable facts. There will be those who will deny the truth without fact-based objection and they do this merely out of spite. These things only confuse the global audience. The comfort women issue of today is in fact a typical example of critics sowing confusion.

When such confusion over history exists, it is the historical researchers’ duty to probe into the facts, put the facts into an overall context (for the comfort women issue, the use of “comfort women” by other countries) and ascertain the values at the time. In the face of hostility, the historical researchers’ mission is to overturn unfounded claims, thereby building peaceful relationships between people and nations and to contribute to development harmonious human relations in the 21st century. Researchers have been guaranteed “academic freedom” for these purposes.

A number of present-day researchers, however, have abandoned this duty and mission. Participating in activities that disrupt harmonious human relations under the flag of “academic freedom” is vile. These so-called researchers have harmed “academic freedom” for the rest of us and should really no longer be considered “researchers”.

Recently, an objective, academic work written by Professor Mark Ramseyer of Harvard Law School, concerning the comfort women issue outlined a clear picture of indentured prostitution based on game theory, came under fire. Rather than though discussion of the facts, critics launched a petition demanding that the journal retract his paper. As of May 2021, 3,665 researchers signed this petition.

A campaign like this, wherein a mob demands the retraction of a previously accepted scholarly work, goes against courteous discussion and directly imperils the very basis of “academic freedom”.

Accordingly, on April 24, we held an emergency symposium at Seiryo Kaikan in Tokyo to protest this trail-by-mob and gave Professor Ramseyer support. The speakers who gathered are truly experts on the comfort women issue and the symposium was to date the most significant meeting concerning research on the comfort women issue held in Japan. Professor Ramseyer contributed a video message from the U.S. and, from South Korea, Professor LEE Woo-yeon, who is renounced for his study of the comfort women issue, also contributed a video message. Our symposium could very well be considered very international.

In addition, on June 3, we sent an open letter to the Science Council of Japan, which, coincidentally, attracted attention since the end of 2020 over an issue concerning government appointment of Council members. We urged the Council to respond to the petition drive demanding the retraction of the Ramseyer paper. The iRICH, held a press conference on that day to directly appeal to the public as well.

As of our deadline, June 30, the Science Council of Japan has yet to respond.

The lack of response from an organization funded by the Japanese people for academic research within Japan is extremely troubling, especially over a matter of academic freedom, a matter that affects each member of the Science Council of Japan. The lack of response highly suggests that the Science Council of Japan agrees with the mob campaign to force retraction of a work of research and agrees that curtailing “academic freedom” regarding the comfort women issue is the right thing to do. If so, then public funding for the Science Council of Japan should be stopped immediately.

On July 9, we again requested a response from the Council to our questions posed on June 3. We sent additional questions based on the fact that have been found after the first open letter.

It is the hope of iRICH that the Science Council of Japan is a just and impartial organization. We also hope that the Council truly believes in “academic freedom” for the sake of advancing knowledge. To guarantee “academic freedom”, we suggest that: (1)  researchers’ ethics be made clear, (2) a system be established wherein measures are undertaken to resolve problems of ethics, and (3) a framework be in place wherein divergent theories can be considered, reconciled and converged to the extent possible. The Science Council of Japan operates via public funding and for the sake of “academic freedom” in Japan, it should be able to perform these three roles. Regarding (1), the Science Council of Japan has already established the “Code of Conduct for Scientists” in 2006, revised in 2013. The Council has yet to establish (2) and (3).

As iRICH explained at great length at the July 9 press conference, the petition demanding withdrawal of the Ramseyer paper is clearly an act that goes against the Science Council of Japan’s own Code of Conduct for Scientists. Should the Council remain silent regarding the petition and its Code of Conduct, then the Council is not really operating in the interest of the Japanese people and the Government of Japan should cut its over 1 billion yen annual budget. The iRICH is determined to pursue the matter with the Science Council of Japan to a successful conclusion, wherein we can clearly state that the Council absolutely respects “academic freedom” and thereby operates in the interest of the Japanese people. We welcome and appreciate the broad support of the public.

September 2021

                   Director YAMAMOTO Yumiko

Purpose of our establishment and basic policy

Our International Research Institute of Controversial Histories was established with a view eliminating history as written by the victors, of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (Tokyo Trials) and General Headquarters (GHQ) of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, which has long been held after the War, and to disseminate, both domestically and internationally, a recognition of history based on objective, historical facts and from the Japanese perspective.

To achieve these ends as a think-tank, we engage in research and examine the issues every day. Based on our findings, we enthusiastically engage the historical controversies both in Japan and abroad.

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and various committees based on United Nations human rights treaties, conventions and protocols are major stages for international historical controversies. However, reports submitted to or issued from these bodies, committees and NGOs are obviously biased and based on groundless assertions which unduly denigrate Japan or are extremely harmful to the people of Japan. In response to these reports, iRICH disseminates information at the international level by issuing statements in a clear manner, participating in meetings held at the United Nations and elsewhere, and by holding symposia. On every occasion, we urge that properly prepared reports based on objective facts are issued instead of biased reports based merely on assertions. 

In Japan, we have vigorously presented historical controversies: on February 2019, we held the “People’s meeting celebrating the 100th anniversary of Japan’s proposal of elimination of racial discrimination” at Kensei Kinenkan Hall in Tokyo and on April 2021, we held a symposium, “International historical controversy over Professor Ramseyer’s essay,” at Seiryo Kaikan Hall in Tokyo.

Our range of activities is not limited to historical controversies. To protect the honor and dignity of Japan and the Japanese people and to preserve Japanese traditions, concerning any topic, we will actively speak out to the rest of the world . We also endeavor to cooperate with other groups, both domestically and globally to spread our message.