august 2002 |
Compensation prospects bleak for comfort women.
The Japanese paper Asahi Shimbun recently reported that the Japanese government is of the opinion that the issue of
the sex slaves had been settled once and for all by the San Francisco Peace Treaty SFPT in 1951 and various bilateral
treaties. At the time the SFPT exempted Japan against indemnities to nations and their nationals as a consequence of
the bleak economic situation. Although various international law experts indicated that art. 14 was not to be read as
an eternal waive, the majority of Japanese courts adopted the viewpoint of the government.
Twelve years ago the issue of the sex slaves for the imperial army was raised for the first time. Women from Korea and
the Netherlands plucked up the courage to come out in the open with their << shameful secret >> and started a lawsuit
against the Japanese government. Women forced by the Imperial Japanese Army to provide sex for Japanese soldiers
throughout Asia are said to number between 80,000 and 200,000. Many of the victims were under age at the time, and
either died in despair or suffered health impairments by constant group rapes. These women had been suffering from
mental and physical pain, social isolation and prejudice for over 50 years. Especially the Asian women (Korea, China,
Philippines) were treated as pariahs by their communities, and have never been able to marry and live a normal family
life as a consequence of what was inflicted on them as young girls. Now in their old age, they are seeking an official
apology from the Japanese government and individual compensation as a measure to rehabilitate their honour. Many
Japanese were shocked when hearing or reading their stories.
<< The case of the comfort women is an atrocious act, which each one of us have to be taking at heart >>,
said a cabinet member.
However, the stance of the Japanese government never changed. Not even when the chairman of the Korean twin organisation
committee for the FIFA World Cup 2002 mr Chung Mong Yoon reminded Japan of the need to extend the
<< sense of oneness that grew between Japan and Korea >> to those who suffer from the consequences of past history
and thus broaden this feeling of togetherness (Asians are experts in woolly language, LS).
A bill was submitted jointly by Minshuto (Democratic Party), the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic
Party in the Diet (parliament) with the aim of resolving the issue of the << comfort women >>, and discussed for the first
time in late July. This bill aims to ensure that the government acts on its responsibility to make an official apology
and offer money as a measure to rehabilitate the women's honour.
However, the bill was eventually carried over to the next Diet session. And prospects do not look good for the passage of
the bill, according to a prominent lady-senator. The nationalistic ruling parties that command the majority in the Diet,
are not likely to take an accommodating view toward the issue.
Those who are still expecting that Japan will eventually redress and compensate their former victims of persecution,
imprisonment, and slave labour - as Germany so admirably did - will no doubt feel robbed by an illusion.
august 12, 2002
Lid Support Groep SVJ