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  • The truth of the Japanese Military "Comfort Women"

The truth of the Japanese Military "Comfort Women"


6. Why should “comfort women” be remembered?

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Most of the victims who “came out” have passed away without receiving any apologies or compensation. Other surviving victims, whose exact number is unknown, await the end of their own pain and poverty, concealing the fact that they were once Japanese military “comfort women.” Not a moment should be lost in resolving this problem as there is little time left for the aging survivors.
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Another reason a solution should be achieved is the significance this problem carries not only for the victims but for us all. The “comfort women” system was a war crime and gross violation of human rights. Wartime sex crimes are still being committed and are likely to be repeated in the future. It is only just that we treat this issue as what it is – one of the largest-scale violations of human rights in the twentieth century. To prevent the repetition of such a tragedy it is imperative that this state-led wartime crime against women, should reach a fundamental resolution. It is also a touchstone of our own attitudes about human rights in this global age.
In order for Japan to become a truly responsible member of the international community, it is imperative that it face its past with sincerity and honesty. Reconciliation and cooperation among East Asian countries will be possible only when Japan acknowledges its past mistakes with modesty and humility.
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The Little Girl’s Peace Statue on the site of the Wednesday Demonstration

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On December 14, 2011, the Wednesday Demonstration memorializes its 1000th meeting by establishing a Little Girl’s Peace Statue in front of the Japanese
Embassy in Seoul. The girl sits in a small chair and is dressed in Korean traditional women’s attire with a bird sitting on her shoulder. An empty chair is placed next to her as a space for experiencing the comfort women’s fighting spirit for their abused human rights and dignity. On the same day, the support groups for the comfort women commemorate the day in 44 other cities in nine foreign countries. Nevertheless, increasing international support, resolutions and recommendations remain unanswered, while old age takes its toll of the victims. Of 234 former comfort women who came out after 1991 in Korea, 171 women have passed away, leaving 63 survivors at the end of 2012 and 56 as of 2013. The demonstration continues every Wednesday (1,106 on December 25, 2013).
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Comfort Women memorials have also been set up in the United States

Comfort Women memorials have also been set up in the United States: one in Glendale City near Los Angeles, California, (a replica of the Little Girl’s Peace Statue in Seoul) in July 2013, honoring the 6th anniversary of the passing of U.S. House Resolution 121, and the other a stone memorial in Bergen County, New Jersey, in March 2013.
While similar efforts to set up memorials are going on in Los Angeles and New York City, the Japanese government use its diplomatic missions and Japanese businesses to attempt to obstruct these memorials through pressure on American city officials and politicians.


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According to UN Special Rapporteur Gay J. McDougall

The Japanese government organized "rape camps" and the systematic sexual enslavement of over 200,000 girls and women during World War II, according to a new report presented to a group of independent human rights experts under the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. According to UN Special Rapporteur Gay J. McDougall, Japan now faces a stark choice: Accepting legal responsibility for this crime — including a legal obligation to identify and prosecute surviving criminals — or continuing to avoid the responsibility, which appears to violate international law as well as Japan’s international treaty obligations.

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Growing International Pressure on the Japanese Government since 2007 U.S. House Resolution 121

Starting with the passing of Comfort Women resolutions in the California State House in 1999, and in the U.S. House Representatives on July 30, 2007, the international community witnessed a rapid increase in similar resolutions. In 2008, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights recommended for the third time following the 2001 and 2005 calls, that Japan take action. The state legislatures of Illinois, New York, and New Jersey also passed Comfort Women resolutions in 2013. Local assemblies in Japan, including Kyoto City, Takarazuka City, and Shimane Prefecture, to name a few, passed resolutions. Overall, from 2007 to 2013, 55 Comfort Women Resolutions have passed globally in Japan and the United States, as well as Australia, Netherlands, Canada, Philippines, Taiwan, and the European Union. While 41 Japanese local assemblies have acted, the Japanese central government has refused to engage in discussions on this issue with the Korean government.

 
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