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Sugihara Seishiro

April 1, 2022

Our Statement

The International Research Institute for Controversial Histories (iRICH), which was established on November 1, 2018, became a general incorporated association with the official appellation of “General Incorporated Association International Research Institute for Controversial Histories,” as of April 1, 2022. We would like to make a statement on this occasion.

The aim of our institute was stipulated as “this incorporated association aims to protect the honor and dignity of Japan and the Japanese people through international controversies over historical issues” in Article 3 of our Agreement. The new version of Article 3 of our “Statute” states: “This incorporated association aims mainly to conduct historical research, publish results and disseminate the correct understanding of Japan both domestically and internationally.” Words have changed, but our mission to challenge international controversies, including our activities related to the United Nations, which unfortunately have been insufficient so far, is the same as ever.

As of the historical studies, we must emphasize that presently, historical studies in the world tend to deviate from the scientific methodology and have become something very different.

To argue this point further, we must ask what science is. Science refers to arguments based on objective facts. Natural science, social science and human science are all sciences because they are arguments based on facts.

Study of history belongs to human science and deals with the past, which can be defined as interpretation of what happened in the past. By interpreting it, based on facts, past events can be recognized and understood.

However, in many recent cases emerging around the world, historical studies adhere to low standards or do not meet scientific criteria at all.

A typical example of this trend is the comfort women issue. We have been dealing directly with this issue. The essence of the comfort women issue is that during World War II, there were “military comfort women” used by the Japanese Army who were allegedly abducted by Japanese officials . The issue started with the book My War Crime—Forced Abduction of Koreans (published by San-Ichi Shobo Publishing Inc in 1983.) written by a Japanese man named Yoshida Seiji. In the book, Yoshida created a false story vividly depicting a hunt for comfort women in the Korean island of Jeju. Thus, the book made comfort women a big political issue. With mismanagement on the part of the Japanese Government in dealing with the issue from the very start, the problem led to the present situation of comfort women statues being built all over the world. There were neither “military comfort women” nor “forced abduction.” Those were professional comfort women working without coercion, which has been perfectly proven by both Korean and Japanese scholars. The Japanese leading paper, which had reported extensively on Yoshida Seiji’s fictitious story, admitted that its reporting about the comfort women issue was false and cancelled its related articles in 2014.

Under such scholarly circumstances, Professor Ramseyer of Harvard University posted a scholarly essay, "Contracting for Sex in the Pacific War," on the International Review of Law and Economics’ website, in which he clearly stated that comfort women were engaged in sexual services under contract, definitively proving that there was no “forced abduction.” The summary of this essay appeared in the magazine “Japan Forward” in January 2021. Upon this, many critics from South Korea, the United States, Europe and Japan, calling themselves scholars, issued a statement asking Professor Ramseyer to withdraw his essay. The number of scholars who joined in the statement demanding the removal of Professor Ramseyer’s essay amounted to 3,665 as of May 11, 2021.

This is an act digressing far from the standards of the scientific study and can no longer be called a study. Those self-proclaimed scholars simply asked for withdrawal of the essay, and did not refer to any facts, neither did they try to refute his arguments. This was not a study concerned with facts. It was not a study by any standards.

Historical studies, as science, do not aim to insult or incite hatred toward a specific country or people. The request to withdraw the essay aims to hurl insults and provoke hatred as undercurrent and diverts from the scientific scholarly objectives.

Interpretation matters in the study of history. When it comes to interpreting cases related to a certain country or people, it is necessary to compare them with cases of other countries or people, to demonstrate a fair and conscientious approach to the study.

We, the researchers of the International Research Institute for Controversial Histories, on this occasion of our becoming a general incorporated association, will look far and wide across the world, make further efforts to continue our study as science, based on facts, and contribute to the promotion of world peace and development of the world for the international citizens.

We extend our heart-felt gratitude to those who have supported us and sincerely hope that all of you will continue to encourage us as you did before.

September 2021

                   Director YAMAMOTO Yumiko

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.

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.

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.