Category Archives: Around the World

Ethics Quiz: Japan’s Official Apology To The Korean “Comfort Women”

comfort-women

Before and during World War II, the Imperial Japanese Army forced an estimated 400,000 women and girls from occupied territories, primarily Korea, China, and the Philippines, into sexual slavery for the convenience and “comfort” of Japanese soldiers. That the women were kidnapped, raped, and in many cases murdered is not in dispute, but for cultural and political reasons the Japanese government has never accepted full responsibility for the nation’s mass crime, or acknowledged its true nature. To the contrary, Japan has protested memorials to the Comfort women in various locales, including the United States. Japan officially maintains that the women were ordinary prostitutes, and that no crimes were committed toward them. This is a long, bitter controversy between South Korea and Japan particularly.

Pressure from the United States on both Japan and South Korea to resolve the issue had been building, and on December 29, 2015, the two nations reached an agreement by which the Comfort Women issue was considered “finally and irreversibly” resolved. Under the agreement, the Japanese government issued this negotiated statement:

The issue of comfort women, with an involvement of the Japanese military authorities at that time, was a grave affront to the honor and dignity of large numbers of women, and the Government of Japan is painfully aware of responsibilities from this perspective. 

As Prime Minister of Japan, Prime Minister Abe expresses anew his most sincere apologies and remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences and suffered incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.

As part of the resolution, the Japanese government pledged to contribute one billion yen (about $8.3 million), out of the Japanese government’s budget to a foundation established by the Korean government dedicated to assisting the surviving Korean Comfort Women. Forty six survive. They had no part in the agreement discussions.

The deal is unpopular in South Korea. Critics immediately complained that the agreement is inadequate. Of course it is. $8.3 million would be moderate damages in the U.S. for a single woman who was kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery. Japan is not going to accept full responsibility for the war crimes, and that should be obvious after so many decades and such stubborn denial.

The ethics question that is a bit more challenging is whether the apology is worth the paper it is printed on, or even a true apology. After the agreement, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe  stated: “there will be no future reference at all to this issue [the Comfort Women issue]. We will not raise it in the next Japan-Korea summit meeting. This is the end. There will be no more apology.” Many Koreans feel that an official apology followed immediately by a statement that says, in essence, “There, that should shut them up!” is cynical and worthless. As a Korean issues website put it, “If an apology is not followed by contrition and self-reflection, but instead by gloating—-does that apology mean anything?”

Good question! Let me rephrase that as the Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Is the official Japanese apology for the crimes against the Korean Comfort Women ethical?

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Filed under Around the World, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Law & Law Enforcement

A “When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring” Case Study: The Angouleme International Comics Festival Thinks Announcing the Wrong Award-Winners Is Funny

In December, comedian Steve Harvey inadvertently announced the wrong winner of the Miss Universe Pageant on live, national TV. It was horrible. He then had to correct his mistake, the wrongly crowned Miss Columbia had to be uncrowned, and everyone except the sadists in the audience felt awkward and embarrassed. Harvey sincerely apologized, more than once.

How anyone could be aware of that fiasco, which received world-wide attention, and conclude that it would be hilarious to do the same fake-winner bit intentionally is beyond my small mind to comprehend. Such individuals would have to have their ethics alarms installed backwards, or buy them from the Bizarro World of Superman Comics. Yet the organizers of the Angouleme International Comics Festival this tear decided exactly that: “Let’s announce the wrong winners! It will be great!

The ceremony began with the MC, comedian Richard Gaitet,  announcing that“This will be the shortest ceremony in history, because all we want to do is drink and dance!” He then presented all nine awards in rapid succession, including the Fauve d’Or, the biggest award of the show, to Arsène Schrauwen, by Olivier Schrauwen. Then two women appeared and announced that the awards just handed out were fake, and they presented the real awards to completely different artists. The “winners” who just accepted their prizes in the exhilaration of pride and recognition, were as stunned as Miss Columbia.

The audience reaction, meanwhile, was exactly as you, I or any sane person would expect. Nobody laughed. Everyone felt that the targets of the practical joke had been abused. “We were all happy, we had tears in our eyes, and then we were humiliated,” said Sam Soubigui of Komikku, one of the publishers whose book won a “Faux Fauve” (fake prize). Another publisher who accepted a phony prize had already relayed the news of the honor to the writer and artist of the book that “won,” and then had to call them back and explain. One editor whose comic won a “Faux Fauve” left the auditorium in tears when she realized it was fake.

The condemnation of the stunt on social media was swift and unanimous. The organizers of the festival thought this was an appropriate response (courtesy of the French to English Google app, further translated by me from the typical gibberish these programs often create): Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Humor and Satire

Animal Ethics: The East African Topi

topi

The Topi is an African antelope. It’s hard to even google this animal, because Google keeps changing the word to “topic.”

Topi (that’s the singular and plural)  are strange. Their females are fecund only one day a year, which obviously makes that day a little frantic for the males. The males have to corner the females to mate, which is not always easy. Some of the males cheat by lying—there’s no other word for it.

All year long, male Topi warn the herd  of approaching predators by making a special, loud grunting sound that is immediately heard by all as “Watch out! A lion (or facsimile) is nearby!” When Topi hear the sound, they freeze and look  for the potential attacker.

Researchers have found that some male Topi win the mating sweepstakes by unfairly using the sound that 364 days a year means, no kidding, “We’re in trouble!” It has to be believed, for the safety and survival of the herd, and is. One day a year, however, on mating day, there are male Topi who falsely use the warning grunt to freeze shy females in their tracks, and while the girls are searching the area for something with sharp teeth, they get a big surprise from behind. These deceptive males sneak up on them, and it’s wham, bam, thank you, Miss Topi!

Topi males that use this subterfuge, researchers find, mate three times as often as those who play by the rules. Males who don’t cheat, and who don’t risk the effectiveness of a vital species defense device by playing “The Horny Topi Who Cried ‘Lion,” are less likely to pass along their genetic material.

The Topi are encouraging an unethical culture. It works for a few Topi now, but if each generation has more cheaters, will the Topi warning grunt become ineffective the rest of the year? I doubt that Topi have calendars.

If Topi were human beings, would the fake grunt tactic be unethical? Immoral?

Discuss.

__________________

Spark: Nature (PBS)

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Filed under Animals, Around the World, Gender and Sex

Observations On A Nauseating Development

Ah, those were the good old days.

Ah, those were the good old days. Now we’re REALLY desperate.

Observation One: If you don’t see what’s nauseating about it, you are part of the problem. Here:

Top Obama administration  officials, including Denis McDonough, Obama’s chief of staff, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers, and White House Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith met in San Jose, California, with representatives of Twitter Inc., Apple Inc., Facebook Inc., and other Silicon Valley companies to seek ideas on how extremist content online can be identified and removed, as well as help creating alternative messages to counter terrorist recruitment methods using social media. You can be thoroughly nauseated by reading about the whole embarrassing fiasco here.

Other observations:

2. The incompetence this displays is staggering, and the apparent unawareness of the optics of incompetence is staggering:

“The gathering took place as Obama announced a new counterterrorism task force to thwart extremists and their use of social media after recent deadly attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California. The task force will organize federal efforts into several areas, including research and analysis, technical assistance, communications, and programs to help prevent radicalization, according to the Homeland Security Department.”

Translation: “We haven’t been taking this seriously at all and were caught with our pants down, big-time. Now we have to look like we’re doing something.” Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Leadership, Religion and Philosophy, Rights, Social Media

Comment Of The Day (2): “The Strange Case Of The Unwanted Triplet”

infant

Beth’s  thoughtful Comment of the Day is only tangentially a comment on the Ethics Alarms post about the surrogate mother who balked at aborting one third of the triplets she was carrying. It was really a comment on a comment made to the author of the previous Comment of the Day on the same post, as J. Jonah Jameson described his own experience as a father who employed a surrogate. JJJ was asked why he chose the expensive and risky surrogate route rather than adoption. That question inspired Beth’s Comment of the Day.

Here it is; I’ll be back at the end.

“Why didn’t you adopt a child that needed a family?”

As a woman who battled infertility in the past, and have many friends who did the same, along with others who intentionally became single parents, used surrogates, or have or are trying to adopt a baby, let me say that this is the absolute worst question you can ever ask somebody going through this process. As you pointed out, you are not trying to be judgmental, but you should never ask this.

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Filed under Around the World, Bioethics, Character, Childhood and children, Comment of the Day, Etiquette and manners, Family, Gender and Sex, Health and Medicine

Ethics Dunce And Unethical Column Of The Month: Univision Anchor Jorge Ramos

Who is the traitor, Jorge?

Who is the traitor, Jorge?

There are some positions in some controversies that I really cannot manage to respect, because no matter how much I try to understand the points of view, they seem so obviously wrong and ethically indefensible. On “The View” yesterday, for example, alleged comedian Joy Behar, in discussing the character of Bill and Hillary Clinton, stated without joking that she would vote for a proven rapist for President, as long as he or she was a Democrat. This is the kind of position I’m talking about.

Yesterday, the Hall of Fame voting results were announced. Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey, Jr. were elected to the Hall by the baseball writers, and equally welcome to this ethicist-baseball fan was the fact that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, both unrepentant steroid cheats, were not elected, and their still paltry vote totals suggest that they may never be. Yet several baseball pundits, reporting on the voting results, preceded this aspect of the news with “Unfortunately.”

I don’t understand that attitude toward cheating at all. I have written about as much about Barry Bonds as any ethics topic on Ethics, and  the case against him is air-tight, with the only defenses ever put forth being invalid rationalizations, easily rebutted. Nevertheless, otherwise intelligent people keep repeating them, hoping to outlast reason and reality by perseverance and repetition. (Sadly, this often works, as “77 cents on the dollar,” “Bush lied” and “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” tragically prove.) In the last 24 hours, I have heard Clemens and Bonds called “great players” so many times that my teeth have been ground down perceptibly. Cheaters are never great, as I explained in one of my favorite posts of 2015.

I was preparing to once again swat down the cultural poison being peddled by the Bonds and Clemens defenders when another of the issues that I believe has no respectable “other side” again raised its uglier than ugly head, so I changed course. That issue is illegal immigration, as in “immigration that occurs in direct violation of U.S. law, making it illegal.” Those who engage in illegal immigration are immigrants, and because their manner of immigration is illegal, they are illegal immigrants. Those who insist on calling them merely immigrants are lying; those who favor euphemisms like “undocumented workers” are engaging in intentional deceit. No, I have no respect for their rhetorical dishonesty–their smug and falsely sanctimonious rhetorical dishonesty—and it should not be tolerated by any U.S. citizen who wants transparent debate on a crucial national policy issue.

The ethics violator in the immediate case is serial offender Jorge Ramos, who uses his position as a broadcast journalist—unethically, since his duty is to report the news accurately, not to spout propaganda—to advocate  unrestricted immigration by Hispanics and Latinos into the United States. It is a logically, historically, demographically, economically, politically and legally irresponsible, outrageous position, but he managed to exceed previously established depths in promoting it by writing, in a column for Fusion, that GOP candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are engaging in betrayal by “turning their backs on immigrants,” who, he says, just got here a little later than they did. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement

Samuelson On Climate Change Epilogue: A Telling—And Irresponsible— Rebuttal

terrestrial-wind-farm1

As one of the commenters to the recent post here about Washington Post op-ed columnist Robert Samuelson’s clear-eyed assessment of climate change hucksterism noted, Samuelson’s analysis isn’t exactly a bolt from the blue. Such inconvenient truths are seldom articulated in the mainstream media, however. (A similar article turned up in, of all places, The Huffington Post, which usually favors climate change fascists calling for the arrest of people like Samuelson and other critics whose blasphemy is ensuring the end of the human race.) Samuelson’s column prompted this Washington Post Letter to the Editor from Peter Hildebrand, who is director emeritus of the Earth Sciences Division of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. It caused me to spit out my morning coffee yesterday:

In his defeatist op-ed concerning climate change, “Can we set the planet’s temperature?” [Dec. 28], Robert J. Samuelson sold short human abilities for scientific understanding and for creative innovations that change and improve how we live. As the Paris climate accord notes, we have solid scientific understanding of our options for limiting Earth’s rising temperature, and, with this knowledge, we can set a path for achieving these goals.

Mr. Samuelson failed to realize that we are already in a second Industrial Revolution, an energy revolution, that will be as unstoppable and positive as the first one. The switch to a largely renewable energy mix is already underway, driven as much by economic opportunity and technological innovation as by a social imperative based on scientific understandings. Mr. Samuelson also failed to note that in order to ensure that our grandchildren have the comfortable life they deserve, this energy revolution is critically needed. We need to embrace and support this revolution, not fight it.

That’s some rebuttal, isn’t it? Samuelson presents facts that persuasively suggest that that the measures “agreed on” in Paris are based on speculation, unwarranted belief in inadequate energy alternatives, and unrealistic projections, and this climate change advocate, presumably a scientist, responds with, essentially… Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Ethics Quotes, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology