July 12, 2007


Last year, Shinzo Abe became the prime minister of Japan. Crossword constructors and editors rejoiced: a respectable non-Lincoln, non–pop culture (Simpson, Vigoda) clue for ABE was finally available!

However, Shinzo Abe made worldwide headlines a few months ago: He said there was "no evidence" that Japan had coerced as many as 200,000 mainly Chinese and Korean "comfort women" to work in military brothels between the early 1930s and 1945. South Korea accused him of attempting to "gloss over a historic truth," reported the Guardian.

Oh? No evidence? Today I listened to a public radio program, The Story with Dick Gordon. The host interviewed an elderly Korean woman, Ok Sun Kim, who told of her experience during wartime. For seven years starting at age 16, she was held by the Japanese as a "comfort woman" and forced to have sex with 50 to 60 men every single day, in constant pain. She was strong and survived the extended ordeal, but lived with her secret for decades. She did not speak publicly about her experience until provoked by Abe's denial.

You can listen to the story yourself here.

This is a roundabout way of saying that from now on, crossword clues referencing Shinzo Abe are going to leave a sour taste in my mouth. No, he's not a cruel dictator or a killer. But as a rape apologist denying potentially many millions of individual rapes, I don't want to see him in my crossword puzzle. Large-scale rape apologists do not pass the Sunday morning breakfast test.