Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas from Bethlehem

Merry Christmas to all....from the birth place of Jesus Christ, Bethlehem.

Merry Christmas...pray for Palestinian Christians, especially Bethlehem Christian, their population is declining drastically in their own home land.

Bethlehem (or Bet Leḥem, Bayt Lahm) is a city located in the central West Bank and approximately 8 kilometers (5.0 mi) south of Jerusalem, with a population of about 30,000 people. It is the capital of the Bethlehem Governorate of the Palestinian National Authority and a hub of Palestinian culture and tourism. The Hebrew Bible identifies Bethlehem as the city David was from and the location where he was crowned as the king of Israel. The New Testament identifies Bethlehem as the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth. The town is inhabited by one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, although the size of the community has shrunk due to emigration.

Many of Bethlehem's Christian inhabitants claim ancestry from Arab Christian clans from the Arabian Peninsula, including the city's two largest: al-Farahiyya and an-Najajreh. The former claims to have descended from the Ghassanids who migrated from Yemen to the Wadi Musa area in present-day Jordan and an-Najajreh descend from the Arabs of Najran in the southern Hejaz. Another Bethlehem clan, al-Anantreh, also trace their ancestry to the Arabian Peninsula.The percentage of Christians in the town has been steadily falling, primarily due to emigration. The lower birth rate of Christians also accounts for some of the decline. In 1947, Christians made up 85% of the population, but by 1998 the figure had declined to 40%. In 2005, the mayor of Bethlehem, Victor Batarseh explained that "due to the stress, either physical or psychological, and the bad economic situation, many people are emigrating, either Christians or Muslims, but it is more apparent among Christians, because they already are a minority.

In the center of Bethlehem is its old city. The old city consists of eight quarters, laid out in a mosaic style, forming the area around the Manger Square. The quarters include the Christian al-Najajreh, al-Farahiyeh, al-Anatreh, al-Tarajmeh, al-Qawawsa and Hreizat quarters and al-Fawaghreh — the only Muslim quarter. Most of the Christian quarters are named after the Arab Ghassanid clans that settled there. Al-Qawawsa Quarter was formed by Arab Christian emigrants from the nearby town of Tuqu' in the 18th century.

Bethlehem has a Muslim majority, but is also home to one of the largest Palestinian Christian communities. Bethlehem's chief economic sector is tourism which peaks during the Christmas season when Christian pilgrims throng to the Church of the Nativity.

(source: wikipedia,

In 1997, I was visiting Church of the Nativity, and that was the first time I saw the Arabic bible and Arabic Hymn book. The first time my knowledge of Palestine changed. I realized the picture that the mass media and some government media provided were totally not correct. Palestine is not a place for specific religion, there are Palestinian Christian.....there are Arabic Christian. Middle East is not all Arab....I begin to read history of middle east, may not be a good student, but at least I understand middle east better, better than many who still has wrong perception....I know who is Edward Said, I know where is Beit Jala....Middle East history is much more complicated ....Israeli-Arab conflict was wrongly perceived by the world as solely religion conflict, instead of political conflict, the issue is much more complicated with their long history of the land......of Near East, with wars, colonization, Turkification, Arabization, resulted in complication of religious conversion, cultural and language assimilation,and even the loss of ethnic identity, culture and languages. It was the sad story of Near East. from historical times, it was not easy for minority and the weak to survive in the Near East...

Another place to remember is Beit Jala....facing similar problem...

Palestinian Christians are Christians descended from the people of the geographical area of Palestine, the birthplace of Christianity. Within Palestine, there are churches and believers from many Christian denominations, including Oriental Orthodoxy, Eastern Orthodoxy, Catholic (Eastern and Western rites), Protestant, and others. In both the local dialect of Palestinian Arabic and in classical or modern standard Arabic, Christians are called Nasrani (a derivative of the Arabic word for Nazareth, al-Nasira) or Masihi (a derivative of Arabic word Masih, meaning "Messiah"). In Hebrew, they are called Notzri (also spelt Notsri) which means "Nazarene" in Hebrew.

The Palestinian Christian, like other Arabic Christian are living in dilemma, like sandwich between Israel Jews and Muslim Palestinian. The conflict between Jews(Israel) and Muslim Palestinian(Palestine), caused much psychological pressure and physical stress to them, they identify with Palestinian nationalism, many of them are in the front line of their struggle. But they are not able to identify in their religion, they are different and distinct as Christian. Some are not Arab per se, they cannot identify with the Pan-Arabism. This identity crisis created political pressure to their people , properties, and culture. They cannot identify with Jews, they are of different race and religion. The stress is too much to bear, they choose to emigrate to other countries. Their population is declining fast in their own land....

But the world identified them wrongly in the conflict, based on religion, they are wrongly perceived with Jews, based in culture and homeland, they are perceived with Muslim Arabs. (Ironically the three religions have the same root from Abraham, they should have close relationship). But they have their own distinct identity, Palestinian Christian, they are not Jews nor Muslim Arabs,only fact is that Palestine is their home land. Both did not give them a chance, they suffered the most in the Israeli-Arab conflict, but no body care because they are the minority, they have no political power, nor military power. Ultimately, they leave their homeland, and others moved in .... Jew settlement, Palestinian from other place and sooner there may not be any Palestinian Christian in the Bethlehem for Christmas. Bethlehem will lost its living heritage, the people of Palestinian Christian, and remained as a town for tourism only. We hope this will not happen....

......a sad story and yet the world is silence....and happy forever in their celebration of commercial Christmas....forgetting the people from the land of Christ, the land of Christmas, Bethlehem......

The world remember Christmas day, but forget the real story of the Christmas....

Note: The basilica was placed on the 2008 Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites by the World Monuments Fund:

The present state of the church is worrying. Many roof timbers are rotting, and have not been replaced since the 19th century. The rainwater that seeps into the building not only accelerates the rotting of the wood and damages the structural integrity of the building, but also damages the 12th-century wall mosaics and paintings. The influx of water also means that there is an ever-present chance of an electrical fire. If another earthquake were to occur on the scale of the one of 1834, the result would most likely be catastrophic. ... It is hoped that the listing will encourage its preservation, including getting the three custodians of the church - the Greek Orthodox Church, the Armenian Orthodox Church, and the Franciscan order - to work together, which has not happened for hundreds of years. The Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority would also have to work together to protect it.

(source: World Monuments Fund,

Further references:

1. Palestinian Christians,
2. A Visit to Beit Jala,
3. Arab Christians,
4. Church of the Nativity,
5. Christians in the Middle East - 11 May 09 - Part 1 - Riz Khan at Al Jazeera English
6. Christians in the Middle East - 11 May 09 - Part 2 - Riz Khan at Al Jazeera English
7. List of oldest churches,

Monday, December 19, 2011

Nanking massacre & Comfort Woman

13th December, is the anniversary of the Rape of Nanking or Nanking Massacre.

On 18-12-2011, South Korea's visiting president Lee Myung-bak pressed his Japanese counterpart to resolve a long-standing grievance regarding Korean women forced to serve as sexual slaves during World War II, calling it a "stumbling block" in their relations.

Most of the Japanese military records on the Nanking killings and comfort woman were deliberately destroyed or kept secret shortly after the surrender of Japan in 1945. So until today, it was extreme difficult to obtain historical documentary evidences on the issues of Nanking Massacre and Comfort woman. Ironically the establishment of Comfort Woman system by the Japanese Imperial Army has direct relation with the Nanking Massacre, and General Okamura Yasuji (岡村寧次).

General Okamura Yasuji (岡村寧次)& Comfort Woman

General Okamura Yasuji (岡村寧次)is named as the first confirmed officer in the Japanese army who instituted forced prostitution. Widely known as the system of ' comfort women' or Ianfu. May be he should be called Father of Comfort Woman....he was also the one who was responsible for the Three Alls Policy in China. Yasuji Okamura(15 May 1884 – 2 September 1966) was a general of the Imperial Japanese Army, war criminal, and commander-in-chief of the China Expeditionary Army from November 1944 to the end of World War II. But he was lucky as his good friend, General Chiang Kai-sek saved him from death, making use of him as Military Advisor to Nationalist Chinese Army from 1946-1949. (Note: this revealed that the war criminal court may not be truly independence but may be influenced by some country, especially USA). He was General Officer Commanding 2nd Division, China from 1936-1938, when the Rape of Nanking took place during the WW2.

The Three Alls Policy(三光作戦), originally referred to as "The Burn to Ash Strategy" (燼滅作戦 Jinmetsu Sakusen), was initiated in 1940 by Major General Ryūkichi Tanaka, but the Sankō Sakusen was implemented in full scale in 1942 in north China by General Yasuji Okamura(1884-1966) who divided the territory of five provinces (Hebei, Shandong, Shensi, Shanhsi, Chahaer) into "pacified", "semi-pacified" and "unpacified" areas. The approval of the policy was given by Imperial General Headquarters Order Number 575 on 3 December 1941. Okamura's strategy involved burning down villages, confiscating grain and mobilizing peasants to construct collective hamlets. It also centered on the digging of vast trench lines and the building of thousands of miles of containment walls and moats, watchtowers and roads. These operations targeted for destruction "enemies pretending to be local people" and "all males between the ages of fifteen and sixty whom we suspect to be enemies."(source: wikipedia)

While he was questioned by the investigators, he testified about the Nanking massacre:

"I surmised the following based on what I heard from Staff Officer Miyazaki, CCAA Special Service Department Chief Harada and Hangzhou Special Service Department Chief Hagiwara a day or two after I arrived in Shanghai. First, it is true that tens of thousands of acts of violence, such as looting and rape, took place against civilians during the assault on Nanking. Second, front-line troops indulged in the evil practice of executing POWs on the pretext of (lacking) rations”

His order on comfort woman can be traced back to 1932 with documentation of Japanese Lieutenant-General Okamura Yasuji’s proposal for a “shipment” of comfort women to be sent to Shanghai. He was the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Shanghai Expeditionary Army
Comfort Women In 1932, the Japanese army’s comfort stations began. The Japanese Lieutenant-General Okamura Yasuji, was trying to find a solution to the 223 reported rapes by Japanese troops. So the only solution that he could find was to ask for comfort women to be sent for his soldiers in Shanghai, China. The Japanese Army made use of comfort stations a lot until the war ended in 1945. At a typical comfort station, a soldier paid a fee, obtained a ticket and a condom, and was admitted to a woman's space.

March 1932 Following the “First Shanghai Incident”, 223 cases of rape by Japanese soldiers are reported in the area. Lieutenant-General Okamura Yasuji (岡村寧次) subsequently demands the creation in Shanghai of the first “comfort station” (慰安所 ianjo) for naval troops, an initiative immediately imitated by the Imperial Army. The number of Chinese as well as Japanese women rounded up is unknown (see the rest of the chronology for available numbers and estimates.)(Soh, 2005: 360, Hicks, 1994: 45, Yoshimi, 2000: 43-44)

The establishment of "comfort stations" providing on-site prostitutes for the Japanese army started as early as 1932, following hostilities between Japan and China in Shanghai. This was nearly a decade before the use of so¬called "comfort women" became a widespread and regular phenomenon, as it had undoubtedly become in all parts of Japanese-controlled East Asia by the end of the Second World War. The first military sexual slaves were Koreans from the North Kyushu area of Japan, and were sent, at the request of one of the commanding officers of the army, by the Governor of Nagasaki Prefecture. The rationale behind the establishment of a formal system of comfort stations was that such an institutionalized and, therefore, controlled prostitution service would reduce the number of rape reports in areas where the army was based

March 1933
According to testimonies, organised prostitution sections are gradually established under the name of “Young Women Auxiliary Corps” (若年女子補助部隊 jakunen joshi hojo butai) and set up by the Imperial Army Staff in Manchuria for the benefit of Japanese troops. (Some former victims claim that the corps dates back to 1931-32.) The total number of women abused is unknown. ** (Soh, 2005: 364-65)

(source ; Chronological Index: Japanese mass violence and its victims in the Fifteen Years War (1931-45) )

Nanking massacre

The Nanking Massacre or Nanjing Massacre, also known as the Rape of Nanking, was a mass murder, genocide and war rape that occurred during the six-week period following the Japanese capture of the city of Nanjing (Nanking), the former capital of the Republic of China, on December 13, 1937 during the Second Sino-Japanese War. During this period hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians and disarmed soldiers were murdered and 20,000–80,000 men, women and children were raped by soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army

The event remains a contentious political issue, as various aspects of it have been disputed by some historical revisionists and Japanese nationalists, who have claimed that the massacre has been either exaggerated or wholly fabricated for propaganda purposes. As a result of the nationalist efforts to deny or rationalize the war crimes, the controversy surrounding the massacre remains a stumbling block in Sino-Japanese relations, as well as Japanese relations with other Asia-Pacific nations such as South Korea and the Philippines.

13 December 1937
The city of Nanking falls to Japanese troops under the command of General Matsui Iwane (松井石根). Rape, pillaging and executions by Japanese soldiers take place over the following six weeks, until January 1938, in the city and neighbouring area, making the precise localisation of the event a source of dispute. However, most reasonable historians today accept that what constitutes the incident is the plurality of cases of mass violence exerted first on the road to Nanking, and then in and around the city, whereas revisionists tend to reduce the area in which acts of violence were committed, in order to minimise the number of victims. Chinese civilians and soldiers alike are killed, either individually in sporadic acts of violence or machined-gunned and thrown into mass graves. The female population is subjected to mass rape by Japanese troops. The total number of victims is still the main source of public disagreement today. The Nanking Memorial Museum claims a total of 300,000 deaths and 20,000 rapes. Some revisionists/negationists in Japan still maintain that what is known today as “The Great Nanking Massacre” (南京大虐殺 nankin dai gyakusatsu) or “The Nanking Incident” (南京事件 nankin jiken) did not take place in these proportions and that there was a maximum of 50 Chinese victims. The vast majority of historians today put the death toll at over 200,000. (Brook, 1999, Fujiwara, 1997: 54-74, Ishida, 2006: 170, Kasahara, 1997: 201-232, Rabe, 1998, Yamamoto, 2000: 234-281, Yoshida, 2006: 11-26)
(source: Chronological Index: Japanese mass violence and its victims in the Fifteen Years War (1931-45) )

The Comfort Woman System or Military Prostitution

December 1937
The (first?) Japanese military brothel (in China) is set up by the Army in the city of Nanking, a few days after its fall, marking the beginning of the systematisation of this practice. Military police round up an unknown number (over a hundred) of Chinese women to serve as forced prostitutes. It is estimated that more than 1,200 women, a minority of them prostitutes, had been transformed into sex slaves by the Japanese Army by 1939. It is also widely believed that brothels had already been established in Manchuria, by and under the responsibility of the Kwantung Army, and had been in use by Imperial troops stationed there since 1931. If the Nanking “comfort station” is not technically the first such institution of its kind, it does, however, mark the beginning of their extremely rapid increase. *** (Imai & Iwasaki, 2010, Soh, 2005: 360-65, Tanaka, 2002: 12-19, Yoshimi, 2000: 53-54)

July 1941
In preparation for war with the Soviet Union, an estimated 10,000 Korean women are brought to Manchukuo to serve as “comfort women” for the Kwantung Army, and large numbers of brothels are set up throughout the area. (Yoshimi, 2000: 57)

(source: Chronological Index: Japanese mass violence and its victims in the Fifteen Years War (1931-45) )

When, in 1937, the Japanese Imperial Army captured Nanking, with resulting violence, the Japanese authorities were forced to consider the state of military discipline and morale. The comfort station plan as originally introduced in 1932 was revived. The Shanghai Special Branch used its contacts in the trading community to obtain as many women as possible for military sexual services by the end of 1937.

These women and girls were employed in a comfort station situated between Shanghai and Nanking, operated directly by the army. This station became the prototype for later stations and photographs of the station, as well as regulations for the users, are preserved. This station's direct operation by the army did not continue as the norm for comfort stations in the more settled environment which followed when the phenomenon became more widespread. There were enough private civilians willing to run the stations and to see to their internal operation; they were given paramilitary status and rank by the army. The army remained responsible for transportation and the general overseeing of the stations, and matters such as health and general supervision remained the responsibility of the military.

Following the rape of Nanking in 1937, it became apparent to the Japanese that discipline had to be improved and the "comfort women establishment" was revived. Agents were sent to the same area in North Kyushu, and when there was inadequate response from volunteers from brothels they resorted to deceiving local girls with offers of well¬paid jobs, ostensibly as cooks and laundresses for the army. Instead, they worked as military sexual slaves in a comfort station situated between Shanghai and Nanking, a centre which became the prototype for future stations.

Japanese buying/thieving of women’s flesh did not begin with the advent of comfort women. Diaries and military documents during the Russo-Japanese war reveal the popularity of brothels among the Japanese military during the early twentieth century. Japanese soldiers’ high demand for sexual commodities continued into the Shanghai War, the Manchurian conflict, and World War II. The pre-1937 brothels, although employing military physicians, were generally privately run. During the escalating war with China and the subsequent Second World War, the Japanese government took a more direct hand in the organization and operation of brothels or “comfort stations.” There was logic behind their depravity. The Japanese government, in the wake of the widespread murder, rape, and rampant destruction of Nanking by Japan’s military, argued that comfort stations allowed soldiers to release their pent up sexual aggressions in a controlled environment. Incidents such as the rape of Nanking, the Japanese government believed, would cause backlash and public outcry, but the systematic and covert recruitment of women as sex-slaves could go unnoticed. Comfort stations were also seen as necessary to reduce the spread of infections diseases11 among Japanese soldiers. One must be careful not to blame the sexual exploitation of comfort women solely on the horrors of war and thus create a simplistic “war equals atrocities” equation.

The unequal power-relations the comfort women experienced are much more complex The extent of the Japanese government’s involvement in running comfort stations is hotly disputed. After former comfort women came forward and shared their dark experiences, Japanese officials reluctantly apologized for military mistreatment of women. In 1992, Koichi Kato, the Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan, stated, “I would like to express the sincere apology and remorse of the Government of Japan to all those…who underwent indescribable pain and suffering as comfort women.” Although offering an apology, Mr. Kato refused to admit government responsibility. Mr. Kato went on to state, “We did our best. Such problems, unthinkable in a time of peace, occurred in the midst of a war in which behavior often defied common sense.”. Mr. Kato evades government responsibility and relegates the pain inflected upon the comfort women as merely an unfortunate result of hysterical war fever.

(source: Colonizing sex: sexology and social control in modern Japan
By Sabine Frühstück, University of California Press, 2003)

After the war, comfort woman continue in Japan to provide service to the American GIs under RAA

RAA - The Recreation and Amusement Association

The occupation of Japan by the Allied Powers started in August 1945 and ended in April 1952. General MacArthur was its first Supreme Commander. The whole operation was mainly carried out by the United States.

An undated photo from the Yokosuka City Council in Japan shows U.S. sailors gathered in front of a "Yasu-Ura House" in the town south of Tokyo. Japan's practice of enslaving women to provide sex for its World War II troops continued after Americans began to flood the country after its surrender. U.S. occupation officials provided penicillin and condoms. (AP / Yokosuka City Council) Tens of thousands of women were employed to provide cheap sex to U.S. troops until the spring of 1946, when Gen. Douglas MacArthur shut the brothels down. Police officials and Tokyo businessmen established a network of brothels under the auspices of the Recreation and Amusement Association, which operated with government funds.

Seiichi Kaburagi, the chief of public relations for the RAA, wrote in a 1972 memoir that occupation GIs paid up front and were given tickets and condoms. The first RAA brothel, called Komachien - The Babe Garden - had 38 women, but due to high demand, that was quickly increased to 100. Each woman serviced from 15 to 60 clients a day. The Recreation and Amusement Association (特殊慰安施設協会 tokushu-ian-shisetsu-kyōkai) (RAA), or more literally Special Comfort Facility Association, was the official euphemism for the prostitution centers arranged for occupying U.S. armed forces by the Japanese Government after World War II. The RAA was created on August 28, 1945 by the Japanese Home Ministry and a civilian organization through joint capital investment (50 million yen each), officially to contain the sexual urges of the occupation forces, protect the main Japanese populace from rape and preserve the purity of the Japanese race. The official declaration of 19 August 1945 stated that "Through the sacrifice of thousands of 'Okichis' of the Shōwa era, we shall construct a dike to hold back the mad frenzy of the occupation troops and cultivate and preserve the purity of our race long into the future..." In September, the system was extended to cover the entire country. Allied GHQ (General Headquarters) commandeered these institutions (22 places of prostitution) on September 28 because rapes by the occupation army soldiers were frequent. In January 1946, the RAA was terminated by an order to cease all "public" prostitution. The ban is traditionally attributed to the efforts of former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. General Douglas MacArthur declared all places of prostitution off limits in an attempt to counter the spread of sexually transmitted diseases on March 25, 1946 as by then more than a quarter of all American GIs in the Japanese occupation forces had a sexually transmitted disease

The Americans also had full knowledge by then of Japan's atrocious treatment of women in countries across Asia that it conquered during the war. Tens of thousands of women were employed to provide cheap sex to U.S. troops until the spring of 1946, when Gen. Douglas MacArthur shut the brothels down. The documents show the brothels were rushed into operation as American forces poured into Japan beginning in August 1945.

Japan 'gave GIs comfort women,

R&R - Rest and Recuperation

The RAA system was continued during Korea War and Vietnam war under R&R or Rest and Recuperation, leave Program for the United States Army G-1. Soldiers who are serving in areas designated as hostile fire and imminent danger area may be eligible for one Rest and Recuperation (R&R) trip per 12-month period. R & R is a chargeable leave program that authorizes use of ordinary leave and may not be combined with other absences. Soldiers must meet certain requirements to be eligible for an R & R trip.

R&R, military slang for rest and recuperation (or rest and relaxation), is a term used for the free time of a soldier in the US military or International UN staff serving in non-family duty stations. R&R includes various forms, including mail, sports, film screenings, "using the services of prostitutes" and leave time. During the Korea and Vietnam wars, you can see American GIs in Bangkok, and many designated R & R areas, and the development of prostitution services for the American GIs in R&R designated areas, another form of military prostitution system developed, isn't it similar to Comfort Woman system of Japan in another form? the only difference is there was an element of mutual consent in free market....

As time go by, many may have forgotten the war history; but the actual happening will still lingering in the mind of many families; some former comfort woman stations are still remained to remind the people of what happen during the war.

The feeling is just like what the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is not easy to delete from memories....

Japan is buying time to let people forget her war crime history, which created hostile relationship and adding more salts to the old wound; Germany boldly admitted the war crime history and looking forward to let time to heel the old wound and built new relationship.

Japan is still carrying the heavy burden of national pride of military nationalism......the price is high to maintain the pride of past glory.....

References & Suggested readings:

1. Chronological Index: Japanese mass violence and its victims in the Fifteen Years War (1931-45) )
2. Colonizing sex: sexology and social control in modern Japan(2003), by Sabine Frühstück, University of California Press, 2003
3. Comfort Women: Systems of Domination Revealed, by Jonathan Stratton,
4. Asian Holocaust : WMD Opium, Sex Slaves, Nanjing Massacre Pillage, Slavery, WMD Unit 731, 100, 516
5. Who are the Ianfu (Comfort Women)? Kirsten Orreill University of Queensland
6. Washington Coalition for Comfort Women Issues Inc,
7. Japan 'gave GIs comfort women',
8. Comfort Woman: A Filipina's Story of Prostitution and Slavery Under the Japanese Military (1999), by Maria Rosa Luna Henson, Rowman & Littlefields Publisher Inc, USA (Maria Rosa Luna Henson or "Lola Rosa" (Grandma Rosa) (1927- 1997) was the first Filipina to tell the world of her story as a comfort woman for the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.)
9. The Comfort Women: Japan's Brutal Regime of Enforced Prostitution in the Second World War(1997), by George Hicks, WW Norton & CO, NY.

Monday, December 12, 2011


It was filmed with It was filmed with a Nokia n8 handphone