This 1943 article describes 200 Korean women packed in an auditorium as Mr. Kondo the colonial educational supervisor delivers a speech full of insults calling them cowards and hypocrites who aren’t afraid of death when it comes to shopping. He accuses them of putting the welfare of their own families (excessive filial piety) over loyalty to their nation. The goal of this speech was to convince them to persuade their sons to volunteer to serve in the Imperial Japanese military, but the tenor of the speech was so demeaning and condescending that it might have hurt morale instead. These criticisms of ‘Korean Confucianism’ and excessive filial piety are echoed in the round-table conference of party officials of November 8, 1943, who discuss how to re-educate the Korean people into loyal Imperial subjects.
On October 20, 1943, the government of Japan-occupied Korea selected certain groups of male students in Korea, like liberal arts college students, to be targets of recruitment into the Japanese military, and it gave these students one month to voluntarily enlist. One day before the deadline, 30% of those students still had not voluntarily enlisted, so an edict was subsequently published on November 19, 1943, to push the remaining students to enlist, threatening them with “special training” under punitive conscription, and spewing death cult propaganda calling on them not to want life and not to fear death, and to obey and martyr themselves for the Emperor. In September 1944, Japanese government did follow through on their threat to implement punitive conscription, but the war ended before these punitive conscripts had a chance to enter the battlefield.
Gyeongseong Ilbo (Keijo Nippo) November 10, 1943
Mothers of the Korean Peninsula are also rising up supporting their beloved children
In view of the understanding that the first step in getting the students into the battle lines is to change the minds of their mothers, an executive round-table meeting of the Seoul branch of the Patriotic Women’s Association was held at 2:00 p.m. on November 9th in the small auditorium of the Seoul Citizens Hall with Mr. Kuramo, Secretary General of the Patriotic Women’s Association, Mr. Kondo, educational supervisor of the Ministry of Education, and Colonel Kawasaki in attendance, along with 200 Korean women.
|Mr. Kondo the educational supervisor giving a speech to 200 Korean women.|
Mr. Kuramo, Secretary General of the Patriotic Women’s Association, gave an opening talk about the national State Shinto ceremonies, and then Mr. Kondo the educational supervisor took the podium:
“In order to make all the special volunteer soldiers rise up, the old ways of thought of the Korean women must first be corrected. For example, they need to eliminate the false belief that you will die if you go to war. You will not necessarily die if you go to the battlefield. Colonel Kawasaki stands here as proof of this. If you are afraid of dying, what is the matter with you that you all walk around shopping without a care, even though enemy planes might attack you right now at any moment?
On the Korean peninsula, Confucianism has placed too much emphasis on the path of ‘filial piety’. In contrast, mainland Japanese women are devoted to ‘loyalty’ at all costs, so they are happy to dedicate their children to their country. If the Korean students do not rise up immediately, it will not only be a shame for their schools, but also a great disgrace and a matter of dishonor for the whole of Korea. If they do not rise up now, my 15 years of life dedicated to Korean education will lose all meaning, and I will only apologize for my crime by committing suicide by seppuku.
There are only ten days left until the deadline. Not even half of the Korean students have volunteered as of now, but I ask for the cooperation of Korean women at home to rise up so that all Korean students will volunteer to serve”.
Colonel Kawasaki of the Military Press Department followed up with a prolonged explanation of the great value of a healthy military and a healthy people, saying, “If the mothers are strong, then the nation is strong,” and gave encouragement saying “All Korean women, now is the time to rise up!” to start the round-table meeting, conduct a lively question-and-answer session, and end the meeting at 5:00 p.m.
[Photo: The round-table meeting of the Seoul Branch of the Patriotic Women’s Association.]