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慰安婦：過ち認めるのが克服の第1歩＝NYタイムズ (朝鮮日報 2007/03/07)
Japan's premier holds firm, won't be swayed by U.S.
CAMPBELL LAWMAKER URGES AN APOLOGY FOR SEX SLAVES
By Frank Davies
MediaNews Washington Bureau
San Jose Mercury News
Article Launched:03/06/2007 02:00:39 AM PST
WASHINGTON - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed in parliament Monday that his government would not apologize for military brothels that enslaved women during World War II, even if the U.S. Congress urges him to do so.
But Abe's provocative comments Monday and similar remarks last week might boomerang, and boost the chances for passage of a U.S. House of Representatives resolution calling on Japan to make an official, formal apology for the kidnapping and imprisonment of as many as 200,000 women in Asia during the war.
The measure is sponsored by Rep. Mike Honda, D-Campbell, who is Japanese-American.
One Capitol Hill staffer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Abe's comments had given the resolution a boost and some members - including House leaders - might push to take up the measure before Abe visits Washington, a trip tentatively set for late April.
Last week, Abe told reporters he saw "no evidence to prove" that the "comfort women," as they were called in Asia, had been coerced by the Japanese military. Last month, three women testified before Congress that Japanese soldiers kidnapped and brutalized them. Monday, Abe appeared to back away from some of what he said last week, saying he supported a 1993 government statement that acknowledged the military had at least an indirect role in forcing the women into slavery.
But Abe also called the testimony of the women "a complete fabrication."
Mark Peattie, a visiting scholar at the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University, said he was "dumbstruck by the stupidity" of Abe's comments last week. He said they undercut many experts, including him, who said the Japanese were making progress in coming to terms with the issue.
`I think these comments would give a tremendous boost to the House resolution," Peattie said. "This is like someone denying the Holocaust."
Honda said the prime minister's comments back up his complaint that the government has waffled in its statements about the country's role in running the brothels, and is trying to backtrack from a previous acknowledgment.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee has not yet scheduled consideration of the resolution, which it passed last year, but which subsequently was blocked after lobbying from the Japanese government.
Honda's resolution says the Japanese government "should formally acknowledge, apologize and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Force's coercion of young women into sexual slavery."
In Japan, some observers said Abe's promise not to be swayed by a congressional resolution was an attempt to placate the conservative base of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which says the country should not apologize for some of its wartime actions.
But Minoru Morita, a political analyst in Tokyo, said Abe was effectively labeling women in their 80s as liars, creating a major public-relations problem for Japan.
"It just looks bad for the prime minister to be getting involved in these sorts of historical details," Morita said. "Plus, his argument isn't going to hold sway with world opinion, anyway."
The issue also could disturb a recent rapprochement between Japan and its neighbors. Relations with China and South Korea have been tense in recent years, in part because of lingering disagreements stemming from Japan's conquest of East Asia in the 1930s and 1940s. Abe, however, has worked to repair relations since taking office in September.
His remarks last week prompted angry responses in South Korea and the Philippines. In Seoul, the Foreign Ministry accused Abe of "glossing over the historical truth."
The 1993 apology was made by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono but was not approved by the parliament. It came after a Japanese journalist uncovered official defense documents showing the military had a direct hand in running the brothels, a role Tokyo until that point had denied.
Victims and their supporters have pushed unsuccessfully for official government compensation. Japan set up a private fund for compensation in 1995 but has refused to provide government money. The fund will be dissolved at the end of this month.
The Associated Press and New York Times contributed to this report. Frank Davies can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202)662-8921.
Japan can't dodge this shame
'Comfort women' were forced to work in brothels during World War II; Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says there's no proof that ever happened.
By Dinah L. Shelton
DINAH L. SHELTON is a professor of law at George Washington University.
March 6, 2007
The Los Angeles Times
IN EUROPEAN COUNTRIES, it is a punishable offense to deny the Holocaust. In contrast, Japanese war crimes have never been fully prosecuted or acknowledged, nor have most victims been afforded redress. Last week, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe exploited this lack of accountability by asserting that there is "no proof" that women were forced into sexual bondage to serve the Japanese military during World War II, in effect labeling as prostitutes or liars all the thousands of victims of this abhorrent practice. After international outrage erupted, Abe stepped back, but by then the survivors had once more been victimized by his denial of an overwhelming historical record.
The prime minister's revisionist statement contradicts abundant evidence that has come to light despite the government's efforts to conceal or minimize the mistreatment of thousands of women in about 2,000 wartime brothels run by or with the cooperation of the Japanese military. Although no one knows exactly how many girls and women were conscripted to provide sex to Japanese soldiers, most historians estimate the number at between 100,000 and 200,000. Most were Korean and Chinese, though they also included other Asians and Europeans from Japanese-occupied areas. Many were kidnapped and raped, others were tricked or defrauded; some were sold by their families.
Japanese soldiers have come forward during the last 15 years to admit to forcibly taking girls and women on orders of the military. In 1992, documents found in the archives of Japan's Defense Ministry indicated that the military was directly involved in running the brothels. The Japanese government formally apologized to the women in 1993. Since then, Japan's official position has been one of admitting moral but not legal responsibility. A private fund was set up to compensate the former "comfort women," and two Japanese prime ministers wrote formal letters of apology to women who received the payments. Some victims claimed that this ambiguity was unacceptable and refused to accept compensation.
The Japanese government claims that even if the women were held involuntarily, there was no law against it at the time; alternatively, if coerced sexual relations were illegal, the laws did not apply in militarily-occupied territories. A third prong of the Japanese defense is that any misconduct that did occur was settled by the peace treaties at the end of the war. Human rights activists in Japan and abroad have sought to prove this wrong, but so far they have been unable to secure redress for "comfort women" who have come forward in recent years.
In 2000, the Tokyo District Court dismissed a case brought by 46 former sex slaves from the Philippines who accused Japan of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The court wrongly decided that "crimes against humanity" were not part of international law at the time. In 2001, a reparations claim by South Korean women who had been held as sex slaves failed in the Hiroshima High Court on the similarly erroneous grounds that coerced sex wasn't illegal at the time.
However, there is a strong case to be made that the Japanese government does owe the women damages. Rape and kidnapping were crimes in Japanese law at the time and should have led to prosecutions of soldiers committing them. Moreover, despite the ruling in Tokyo District Court, the notion of crimes against humanity goes back to 1904, and such crimes were indicted after World War I and successfully prosecuted after World War II. On top of that, Japan had joined in four international treaties that barred sexual trafficking in women and forced labor: the International Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Women and Children (1921), the International Agreement for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic (1904), the International Convention for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic of 1910 and the Agreement on the Abolition of Forced Labor (1930). In 1999, the Federation of Korean Trade Unions invoked these treaties and requested the International Labor Organization to rule that the women held by Japan in official brothels constituted forced laborers. The ILO Committee of Experts upheld the claim, despite Japanese contentions that the agreements did not apply to "colonial territories" such as occupied Korea. But the ILO had no power to order relief.
The Japanese government cannot be sued outside Japan because it has immunity from prosecution as a foreign state. Attempts by surviving women to sue in U.S. courts were dismissed on these grounds. Even if the victims were to surmount this "sovereign immunity" defense, they might run into problems with the peace treaties that ended World War II. For example, the 1951 U.S.-Japan peace treaty "recognized that the resources of Japan are not presently sufficient, if it is to maintain a viable economy, to make complete reparation" for damage and suffering. Japan has argued that this provision and others in peace treaties with some of its Asian neighbors and European powers closed the door on reparations claims by former prisoners of war, "comfort women" and other victims of Japanese atrocities and that nothing is owed anyone today. However, several provisions in the peace treaties suggest that reopening the issue of reparations might be possible, and advocates should look carefully at the texts. Still, it seems no court is likely to cure the injustice; Japan has a moral and legal obligation to do so.
UNREDRESSED GRIEVANCES have a habit of resurfacing, and sometimes burst forth in uncontrollable conflict, as in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Already, Japan is facing increasing demands from several countries, including China, South Korea and the Philippines, that it more directly acknowledge its wartime misconduct and compensate its victims. Japan's long-term interests in peaceful relations with its neighbors, not to mention its moral standing in the world, call for it to do so.
The problem that Japan — and its neighbors — have today stems from the lack of an equivalent of the Nuremberg trials to establish a complete and irrefutable record of the war crimes in Asia. Moreover, the Japanese government burned many of its own records, and others fell into private hands. This historical vacuum provides the opening for statements like Abe's that there is "no proof" that women were coerced into sexual bondage. Those who oppose the International Criminal Court should be mindful of this pitfall. Meanwhile, Japan owes far more than an apology to the comfort women. Redress is legally and morally required.