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Japanese Rightists Turn to the White House

SNA (Tokyo) — It has been little noticed in the mainstream media, but Japanese conservatives and their allies desiring to erase the painful history of the so-called Comfort Women have been taking their campaign of denial to the US White House. They are doing this through the “We the People” online petition section of the White House official webpage.

One of these petitions was created by “Y. I.” of Washington DC on June 21, 2012, and it called for a repeal of US House of Representatives Resolution 121 of January 2007 (when Shinzo Abe was serving his first term as prime minister). That particular resolution, sponsored by Rep. Michael Honda of California, demanded that the Japanese government “formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Force’s coercion of young women into sexual slavery.” It also called for Japan to do a better job educating its citizens about the true history of the Pacific War.

That particular online petition, however, has garnered just over 40,000 signatures in the year and a half since it was launched, so there is little prospect that the White House will ever offer any response.

Other fizzled White House petitions that were clearly sponsored by the Japanese rightists include one which demands US support for “Japan’s proposal on territorial dispute over [the Takeshima] islets.”

The same failure cannot be attributed, however, to a more recent effort, a petition created on December 11, 2013, which reads, in full: “Please remove the statue in a public park in Glendale, California. It is a statue of a Comfort Women masquerading as a peace statue while in essence after reading the inscription it is promoting hate towards the people and nation of Japan.” The creator of the petition is a certain “T. M.” of Mesquite, Texas.

At the time of this writing, over 104,000 signatures have been collected, no doubt most of them citizens of Japan rather than citizens of the United States. But according to the established guidelines, any petition that gains more than 100,000 signatures in its first month will be met with some kind of an official response from the Obama administration.

There is no mystery surrounding the identity of “T. M.” as it is the outspoken Tony Marano, known to his rightwing Japanese fans as “Texas Daddy.”

The content of Tony Marano’s many opinions on Japanese affairs are publicly available on the Texas Daddy website and its associated YouTube channel. His opinions echo in almost precise terms, but expressed more colorfully, those of the Japanese hard right.

Marano’s denunciation of the Glendale, California, monument to the Comfort Women can be found in a video posted on August 6, 2013. In it, he cites a US Army document as “proof” that the Comfort Women were “high-paid prostitutes” from Korea and not the victims of sexual slavery. He added — in what is apparently meant as humor — that these Korean women were also so unattractive that “you needed to put a paper bag over their ugly heads.”

Despite the crudity of such antics, “Texas Daddy” has clearly gained a substantial following in Japan among the hard right and has begun to make occasional speaking tours around the country.

Interviewed by Brittany Levine for the Los Angeles Times, Marano noted, “I know the petition actually won’t get that statue removed. However, it will hopefully serve to prevent future ones from being installed.”

Marano’s objective appears to be a plausible one: Much of the Glendale city government seems to have become exhausted by the struggle over the Comfort Women memorial in their local park, as a Japanese sister city cut exchange programs, Diet lawmakers have come calling, the city hall faced a deluge of angry letters, and Mayor Dave Weaver announced that he “regretted” the statue was ever erected in his city.

By creating political flak and inconvenience, the Japanese rightists hope to intimidate other local municipalities from following in Glendale’s footsteps.

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