Ironically, it was the Japanese themselves. In his 1983 memoir, My War Crimes, a Japanese man, Seiji Yoshida, wrote that he forcibly rounded up Korean women during the Second World War. Some years later, Japanese newspapers picked up on the story, particularly the left-leaning Japanese newspaper, Asahi Shimbun, which published a series of articles based on the book. This news created a firestorm of protest in South Korea, as well as in Japan. However, subsequent, on-site investigations by researchers, journalists, and others demonstrated that the events in his book could not be corroborated by anyone who lived on the island where Yoshida claimed the events had occurred. In 1995, Yoshida, himself, admitted that his account was fiction; it was never learned why he fabricated his stories – perhaps a desire for fame and fortune and/or a dislike of the Japanese establishment and military, which had imprisoned him for misconduct.
Years later, Asahi Shimbun admitted that their news articles were inaccurate and retracted many of them. Unfortunately, the avalanche of protest and hatred created by Yoshida and Asahi spread rapidly, resulting in various activists and organizations ignoring the later facts disproving Yoshida’s story and Asahi’s articles. Anti-Japanese groups, leftist Japanese organizations, attorneys pushing lawsuits, politicians seeking votes, and certain activists further exaggerated and spread the misinformation, creating a ‘snowball’ effect since then.