The Korean Council for the Women Drafted for the Military Sexual Slavery by Japan
THE MILITARY SEXUAL SLAVERY ISSUE AND ASIAN PEACE
Hee Soon Kwon
(Chair, Asian Women's Solidarity Committee)
This Paper was presented at "The First East Asian Women's Forum," October 20-22,'94, Japan
I. THE REALITY OF THE MILITARY SEXUAL SLAVERY ISSUE
Military sexual slavery by Japan, which occurred during 1932-1945, was not simply the incidental raping of women by occupying soldiers, as has often accompanied war in the world. It was a deliberate, long-term, and systematic institution which was planned, designed, and enforced by the Supreme Commander of the Japanese army. Women between the ages of 11 to 32, 80 % of whom were Korean women, were taken to the Japanese occupied areas by force, deceit, or kidnapping in order to be used as military sex slaves for the Japanese soldiers. They were forced to serve about 30 soldiers daily on weekdays and 50 soldiers a day on weekends. These women were euphemistically called "comfort women". They were often called "Sen Pees", ("Sen" is a derogatory term for Koreans in Japanese, and "Pees" means "vulva" in Chinese).
When the Japanese were defeated, most of these "comfort women" were simply abandoned. Some were forced to commit suicide with soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the name of Japan, while others were killed. A few of the "comfort women" who survived were saved by Allied forces. Some of these women were taken by Allied military ships to Korea. Many of them stayed abroad because the humiliation and pain were too deep for them to overcome. Even today, most of them suffer from physical illnesses and/or psychological, mental and emotional wounds.
Who destroyed the hopes of these women?
Who ruined their dreams?
Who stole their souls?
Who can ever give them back their dignity, their pride, and their self-respect?
The former so-called "comfort women" were once little girls who had great dreams for their futures. Their dreams were suddenly destroyed as they were abducted from their schools, homes, fields, and playgrounds. They were deceived into believing that they would be working in labor camps or factories for the Japanese Army. This, unfortunately, was not to be the case. In this way, their dreams became their greatest nightmare. They could never have imagined what was to come. Their future was destroyed with the violent acts of rape, physical abuse, and emotional torture. With the physical and emotional trauma that they encountered they would never enjoy those rites of passage other Korean women would experience. Who was and still is responsible for these women's fate? Who can give them back their hope, their dreams, their youth? How can they ever retrieve their dignity, their pride, and or their self-respect? Military sexual slavery is a war crime and a crime against humanity according to International Law.
II. EFFORTS TO RESOLVE THE MILITARY SEXUAL SLAVERY ISSUE
A. COMBINED EFFORTS
The desire to resolve this issue and to retrieve the due reparations to the former "comfort women" has been a combined effort.
1) Yun Chung-Ok
Ms. Yun Chung-Ok contributed by beginning to disclose information concerning this issue. She herself had lived through the war times in which she had to drop out of school to hide from being caught because she was of the right age the Japanese authorities sought form their "comfort women". After the war, she always wished to explore the issue and carried out a number of personal efforts to collect documents, information, and to take fact-finding trips to "comfort stations".
2) Church Women United
In the late 1980's, the Korean women's movement was eager to denounce "sex tourism". They began to think of the recent system of licensed prostitutes as being similar to military sexual slavery by Japan.
On Feb. 12-21, 1988, members of the Korean Church Women United carried out the first official survey on military sexual slavery by Japan and the "comfort stations". On April 21-23, 1988, Church Women United offered a seminar on "Women & Tourism", specifically concerning "sex tourism", in which they presented their survey about Japanese "comfort stations". Church Women United began to insist that the problem of sex-tourism is closely related to the "comfort women" issue in terms of the use of women's bodies for sex as means of national promotion. The Church Women United formed the Committee on Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, and began to work with Japanese women's groups to pursue the issue. First of all, they sent a public letter to both the Japanese and Korean Governments to request the disclosure of the truth about the issue of military sexual slavery by Japan. At the same time they delivered a public protest letter to the office of Japanese Foreign Affairs. They also participated at a memorial service for the victims of the Pacific War in Okinawa to include the victims of military sexual slavery by Japan.
B. THE ORGANIZATION OF "THE KOREAN COUNCIL FOR THE KOREAN WOMEN DRAFTED FOR MILITARY SEXUAL SLAVERY BY JAPAN.
On November 16, 1990, the combined efforts of the various individuals and groups culminated with the formation of "The Korean Council for the Women Drafted for the Military Sexual Slavery by Japan." (hereafter, the Korean Council). This Council concentrates its efforts primarily on resolving this problem by confronting the Japanese and Korean Governments, raising public awareness of this issue within the international community, and caring for the former "comfort women".
1) Activities Against the Japanese Government
a) When the Korean Council first formed and began to protest in 1990, the Japanese Government denied the fact that military sexual slavery even existed. Then, a Japanese scholar brought to light documents clearly proving that the Japanese Government was fully aware of the mobilization of sexual slaves. Thus, they were forced finally to admit to their partial involvement in this issue. The Korean Council has made seven demands to the Japanese Government. These are the goals of the Korean Council's movement:
* Acknowledge the crime of the Korean women drafted for sexual slavery by Japan!
* Reveal the whole contents of the crime of military sexual slavery!
* Apologize formally about the crime of military sexual slavery!
* Erect memorial tablets for the victims of military sexual slavery!
* Pay reparations for the survivors and the bereaved families!
* Record the crime of military sexual slavery by Japan in school textbooks and to educate younger generations about the crime in its entirety!
* Punish the criminals!
b) Wednesday Demonstrations
The Korean Council has held a demonstration every Wednesday in front of the Japanese Embassy since January 8th, 1992 without missing one occasion. August 10th, 1994 marked the 130th consecutive demonstration.
c) June 1991 - (Tokyo) "The Pacific War victims and Bereaved Families Association" filed suit against the Japanese government in Civil Court. Nine of the forty-nine plaintiffs were former "comfort women." It was the first time that the issue of the "comfort women" was revealed in a court of law against the Japanese Government.
d) February, 1993 - The Korean Council tried to file a law suit in Japan to receive legal reparations, but it was refused on the excuse of a period of prescription.
e) The Japanese Government has never sincerely admitted to their responsibilities in organizing a system of military sexual slavery since the war's end. Rather, they have been trying to hide the truth. Recently the Japanese Prime Minister reported that the Japanese Government is planning to set up a "Sympathy Money" system which would be raised by non-Governmental organizations, in lieu of the legal monetary reparations due to the former "comfort women." The Korean Council rejects this plan, for it does no justice to repair the damages suffered by these women. Rather it is a measure to avoid legal Japanese Government responsibility.
2) Activities against the Korean Government
a) The Korean Council first demanded the Korean Government establish a policy in support of the former "comfort women". The result of this demand was the following: "The Financial Support for the 'comfort women' of the Japanese Army under colonial rule", created in April 1993. This proposal, which gives a monthly subsidy to the former comfort women, was passed in a temporary session of the National Assembly on May 18, 1993.
b) The government made available a hotline in each district for people to call with information concerning the issue of military sexual slavery. This Financial Support and hot-line have been the only actions taken by the Korean Government. There has been no strong position taken by the Korean Government. This status quo imposing, weak stance of the Korean Government has contributed to the relaxed and reluctant attitude of the Japanese Government's in their efforts to fulfill its legal obligation.
In addition to the goals of the Korean Council, we have developed our own movement to research into this issue. The following is a summary of the Korean Council's activities from November 1990 to August 1994.
C. MOVEMENTS for FACT FINDINGS
Before the Korean government established a hotline in 1992, the Korean Council had already installed a hotline to report any information involving the former "comfort women". On August 14th, 1991, Kim Hak-sun was the first person to report her experience as a "comfort woman". She made her report in anger, when she heard the news that the Japanese Government denied its involvement in the military sexual slavery issue. About 200 survivors have reported thus far through the hotline.
2) The Organization of the Committee of Survey and Investigation
In August 1993, the Korean Council organized a Committee of Survey and Investigation, to unveil the hidden historical documents proving the testimonies of the former "comfort women". Members of the committee include historians, social scientists, and scholars from Japan, the US, and Korea. In December 1994, the committee will publish a "white paper" concerning this issue.
3) Joint symposium of Korean & Japanese Researchers
The Korean Council and the Japanese Research and Documentation Center on War Responsibilities of Japan have sponsored a symposium for Korean and Japanese scholars in Tokyo on August 1993. These scholars criticized the lack of dedicated research and persistent investigations of both the Korean and the Japanese Governments. They discussed the problem of forced mobilization of people for war by Japan, and they viewed these war crimes with respect to international law.
The Second Korean-Japanese Research Symposium on the problem of military sexual slavery by Japan was held on December 18-19, 1993 in Seoul, sponsored jointly by the Korean Council and Japan's War Responsibilities Documentation Center. The focus of this symposium was placed upon the living conditions of the "comfort stations" of the Japanese military, the identification of the criminals responsible within the Japanese military, the compensation issue etc., i.e. the total outlook of the "comfort women" issue.
A third symposium is to be held in November 1994, in Seoul. The committee will sponsor this event in order to exchange information, and thus to extend the progress already made. Scholars from Japan, China, Indonesia, Philippines and North Korea will be invited.
4) Fact-Finding Tours
a). Professor Yun Chung-Ok took personal fact finding tours to Japan, the Pacific Islands & New Guinea to trace "comfort stations" in December 1980, February & August 1988 and July 1990.
b). February 1988 - three members of the Korean Church Women United made a fact-finding trip from Hukuoka to Okinawa in Japan.
c). April 1994 - the Korean Council made a trip to Woohan, China. Consequently, nine former "comfort women" were discovered. The Korean Council plans to invite these women to Korea for their first visit to their homeland since they were drafted by Japan. It will be an event to explore the issue "comfort women" abandoned by the Japanese army after the war.
D. EDUCATION & OUTREACH
The Korean Council has held public hearings and symposiums, participated in various meetings to address the problem, and held press conferences. The Korean Council also attempts to outreach to schools, social service agencies, churches, and community groups in order to increase their awareness of the problem of the Korean women drafted for military sexual slavery by Japan.
1) Solidarity with Korean NGOs
Besides the work done with the 19 member organizations within the Korean Council, there have been solidarity activities with other international NGOs in Korea, i.e. YWCA and The Korean National Council For Women etc. In February 1995, the Korean Council will hold the third "Asian Women's Forum" in Seoul in cooperation with the Korean women's NGOs. We hope that this kind of combined effort will be of benefit to the military sexual slavery issue by spreading the current news involving the former "comfort women".
2) The Research Association for "comfort women" (RACW)
The RACW provides academic support by publishing information and documents for the Korean Council. In conjunction with RACW, the Korean Council has visited survivors, heard their stories, and published a collection of their testimonies. An English version will soon be published. Also, a collection of the nine testimonies of the former "comfort women" found in Woohan, China, will soon be published.
Besides the publication of these testimonies, the Korean Council publishes newsletters bimonthly in Korea and an international newsletter in English twice a year. The Korean Council has also published four collections of resource materials & documents (essays, articles, pictures, newspaper-clippings and activities). The first was entitled "The Report of Yun Chung Ok's Fact-Finding Trips"; the second, "Why are We Making an Issue of this Problem Now"; the third, "The Report of the First Asian Women's Forum"; and the fourth, "The Military Sexual Slavery Issue and the Legal Responsibilities of the Japanese Government".
4) Lectures and Speeches
The Korean Council provides speakers or resource people in response to many requests from universities, churches, students and citizen' groups.
E. SERVICES and SUPPORT for THE SURVIVORS
(1) National Campaign for Fund-Raising
The Japanese Government has proposed providing a charity fund for the former "comfort women" instead of the full legal reparations. The Korean Council believes that the Japanese Government should pay the full economic reparations to each victim according to international law. Therefore, we do not accept this charity fund as a satisfactory compensation. The Korean Council established the "National Fund-Raising Headquarters for the Former 'Comfort Women'" in December 1992. People from Korea and abroad have been continuously sending donations in support of the Korean Council's work. As a result, each of the sixty-two surviving "comfort women" received 2.5 million Won (approximately $3125)
(2) Relief Policy of the Korean Government
The Korean Government has finally made a "Relief Policy" to support the surviving "comfort women" financially. A new legislation proposed by the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs was passed on May 19th, 1993 in the National Assembly entitled "The Social Security Law for the "Comfort Women" of the Japanese Army during the Japanese Colonial Rule". It guarantees each survivor a sum of 5 million Won (equivalent to US $6.250), as well as a monthly allowance of 150.000 Won (approx. US $187.00). Other security measures include a monthly assistance of 10kg of rice, 2.5kg of barley, 20.000Won (US $25.00) for food, 15.000Won (US $18.75) for fuel, free medical insurance, and renting priority of government housing. The Korean Council considers this new government policy a victory of its campaign efforts and a sign of strong national sympathy towards the survivors.
(3) Establishment of a "Sharing House"
A communal "Sharing House" for six of the survivors of military sexual slavery was established with the help of a Buddhist Committee for Human Rights, a member organization of the Korean Council.
The Korean Council provides regular check-ups by a volunteer visiting nurse. They are also provided with regular visits to a Korean Medicine doctor and free medical care in hospitals.
(5) Counseling and peer support group
The Korean Council provides counseling and peer support groups in order to help the former "comfort women" emotionally and psychologically. We need to respond to the many psychological and emotional problems of these women so that they can at least have as peaceful a life as possible in their old age.
(6) Drawing class and the Korean Alphabet class
Former "comfort women" who were illiterate are learning the Korean Alphabet. They now can feel more self-reliant by reading street signs on their own. Thus, they can begin to rebuild their self-esteem and confidence. There has also been efforts in art therapy for these women. Instead of always stating their experiences, they now can draw to express their feelings in a different form through art.
F. INTERNATIONAL MOVEMENT
(1) Activities at the UN
a) The Korean Council approached the UN in February 1992 with a letter to the Secretary-General, calling his attention to the problem of the Military Sexual Slavery by Japan. In August 1992, February 1993, May 1993, and February 1994, the Korean Council sent delegates to the UN, urging the "Sub-commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities" to start an investigation into the gross violation of human rights during World War II. In May 1993, other NGOs started to voice their requests to investigate the forced labor issue, as well as the military sexual slavery during the Pacific War. These NGOs include the World Council of Churches, the International Commission of Jurists, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, International Fellowship of Reconciliation, The Task Force on Filipino Comfort Women, and the Fact-finding Mission on Korean Forced Labor.
In August 1993, the UN "Sub-commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities" adopted a resolution that a Special Rapporteur be appointed to make a special study on the systematic rape, sexual slavery, and similar practices. Through that resolution, Japan's war crimes have become the object of public scrutiny and investigation officially sponsored by the United Nations Human Rights Commission for the first time in its history. Finally, Japan's military sexual slavery and abuse will go on historical record throughout the world. Ms. Linda Chavez, an American Specialist on the Human Right's Sub-commission, was appointed as the Special Rapporteur.
In August 1994, the Sub-commission decided to invite Ms. Chavez, its expert, to submit a working paper on the situation of systematic rape, sexual slavery and slavery-like practices during wartime, including internal armed conflict, to the Sub-Commission at its forty-seventh session. The UN Sub-Commission decided to recommend that the Special Rapporteurs on the question of the impunity of perpetrators of violations of human rights take into consideration the information on the sexual exploitation of women and other forms of forced labor during wartime.
b) At the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna on June 17, the Korean Council made a joint oral statement with four other organizations to emphasize and to request that the perpetrators of war crimes by Japan during World War II be punished. For European victims, there was the Batavia Military Court of the Japanese Officers who committed these war crimes, and in February 1993, the UN Security Council decided to set up an international Tribunal to punish war criminals including organized, armed rapists in former Yugoslavia. Thus far though, there has been no such tribunal for the former "comfort women." However, the World Conference on Human Rights proposed to establish an effective means to prosecute the crimes of military sexual slavery, e.g. an international permanent criminal court.
c) CEDAW (Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women) held its 13th Session on January 1994. They reviewed the Japanese Government's report on the issue of military sexual slavery. The following statement is the headline from the official press on 27 January 1994, prepared by the Department of Public Information of the United Nations: "Experts at the CEDAW Urge Japan Not to Ignore the Legacy of 'Comfort Women'."
d) The UN Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery on June 23, 1994 recommended that both the victims of military sexual slavery and the Japanese Government settle the dispute at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Hague, the Netherlands.
e) Jakarta Declaration at the Asian Pacific Ministerial Meeting
On June 7-14, 1994, the Asian-Pacific Ministerial Meeting on the "Role of Women in Development" was held in Jakarta. In regard to the military sexual slavery issue, Japan strongly opposed the meeting’s proposed plan of action because it stressed the condemnation and punishment of the systematic raping and sexual slavery of the former "comfort women". The senior official meeting of the Jakarta Declaration made the following statement regarding its proposal : " We ask all governments to condemn strongly the systematic raping of women in situations of war and armed conflict and to support calls for the punishment of the guilty parties." Japan wanted to attach the amendment stating, "when such cases (of systematic raping) occurs " but this was rejected by the members participating in the conference.
(2) Solidarity with Asian Women
The Korean council works in conjunction with women's organizations in the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Indonesia. These groups understand the military sexual slavery issue in the same light as the recent problems of sex tourism, child prostitution, and sexual traffic in southeast Asia. Much has been accomplished through solidarity efforts. The Japanese women's movement should be especially credited. Without Japanese women's solidarity, we could not have progressed this far.
a) Solidarity Demonstration
In March 1993, the Korean Council proposed that Asian women participate in a solidarity demonstration in commemoration of the "March First" protest, one of the most famous liberation protests under Japanese colonial in 1919. Delegates from the Philippines and Japan joined us in this event.
b) Joint Symposium - The Korean Council and the Task Force of Filipino Victims of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan attended the World Conference on Human Rights Asian Committee in March of 1993 and the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in June, 1993.
c) Joint Asian Statement of protest against Japan's attempt to become a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council in July of 1993. Five Asian countries as well as NGOs in North America and the Netherlands issued a formal joint statement.
d) Asian Women Solidarity Forum
In August 1992, the first Asian Solidarity Forum was held in Seoul, sponsored by the Korean Council. Delegates came from the Philippines, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand and Hong Kong. In October 1993, the Second Asian Solidarity Forum was held in Tokyo. The Forum is to be held in Feb. 1995 in Seoul sponsored by the Korean Council. Through this forum we have further explored the issue and developed strategies to pursue the goals in solidarity.
e) Joint Asian Group's Press Conference
On behalf of forty Asian NGOs from Korea, the Philippines, and Japan, the Japanese NGOs held a press conference on July 18, & August 22, 1994, to protest the Japanese Government's plan to create an "Asian Center" and "Sympathy Gift" in lieu of the individual reparations the former "comfort women" are demanding.
f) The Japanese NGOs Joint Statement
On July 20, 1994, the Japanese NGOs made a joint statement to support the Korean Council's plan to take the case of the military sexual slavery by Japan to the Permanent Court of Arbitration.
3) Solidarity with International Communities
In response to the Korean Council's movement, people from all over the world have responded positively and have expressed their support and solidarity. As the feminist consciousness increases and progresses, women are becoming more aware of their own human rights. When women begin to raise their voices against gender violence, there are results: the UN appointed a special rapporteur to research violence against women; academic research and study have been done in many areas and with various perspectives; and organizations like the Korean Council are being formed internationally.
a) The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) sent two women Jurists to investigate the issue of military sexual slavery by Japan. They interviewed 16 former "Comfort Women". Their interviews went deeply into the women's experiences and they shed tears together. The ICJ published an interim report and presented it to the Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery in May of 1993. Its final report will be presented to the UN Sub-commission soon.
b) Catholic Institute for International Relations based in London invited the Korean Council to present the Korean case study on Japanese Sexual Slavery in World War II at their conference. The Catholic Archdiocese of Osaka decided that the Japanese military sexual slavery would be the subject of their peace campaign. They invited a victim and a speaker from the Philippines, issued a statement of "Apology and Oath," and urged the Japanese Government to admit to their war crime and abuse.
c) Discussions with European Women
The International Symposium on Military Sexual Slavery was held on Sep. 10-13, 1993, In Germany. Under the theme "Human Dignity and Women in War and Rape," women from six different countries discussed the problem of military sexual slavery by Japan and massive military rape in Bosnia, and the direction of the women's movement. In the symposium, they urged the Japanese Government to acknowledge that the "comfort women" were in fact sexual slaves of Japan. The participants decided that the problem of gender and military violence during wartime can best be solved with the solidarity of women worldwide.
d) Amnesty International in the US held its Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference in Baltimore on Feb. 11-13, 1994. The Korean Council sent a delegate to speak on the military sexual slavery issue.
e) The Pyongyang International Conference on Japan's Post-War Resolutions was held on Nov. 7-9, 1993. The Korean Council participated.
f) Twenty-four US Congressmen urged Japan to pay compensation to surviving Asian "comfort women". They sent a letter to Prime Minister Hosokawa on November 3, 1993.
4) Solidarity activities with other Korean organizations abroad
The Korean Council has strong connections with organizations of Korean residents in the US, Canada, and Germany, who are working on this problem and also networks with other women's organizations and human rights organizations. Korean-Americans organized Coalitions for the Women drafted for military sexual slavery by Japan in New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, and in Canada. They started demonstrations to denounce the crimes that Japan committed against the Korean women and to support survivors. The Washington and New York Coalitions held demonstrations against Emperor Akihito's visit to Washington D.C. & New York in June, 1994. They have been involved in a letter campaign to the United Nations to the Japanese Government as well as other international agencies to press for the solution of the issue. The Korean Women's Association in Germany also organized a Council for this issue. They have already held lectures. The Korean Council sent delegates from Korea to participate in all of these demonstrations and meetings in Washington D.C., New York, and Boston.
III. WHERE ARE WE NOW?
A. Remaining Problems
We demand the Japanese Government research further into this issue. They have thus far released two reports (The first in July, 1992 and the second in August, 1993). The Japanese Government has done nothing further than this. In the report, they reluctantly admitted to their partial involvement. The report made no mention of how many 'comfort women' were mobilized by force, nor did it relate the entirety of the issue of sexual slavery. Also there was no mention or description of the 'comfort stations' themselves, nor of the places to which the women were drafted. The Japanese Government has made no effort to release the information materials related to the war period. This kind of neglect reflects a sense that the Japanese Government has something to hide, as it has not made any effort to concede to our demand to release the materials closed to the public relating to 'comfort women'. This neglect means avoiding legal responsibility of war crimes.
Therefore, we demand that the Japanese Government not only establish a fact-finding committee within the government & Diet but also to support and to encourage non-government fact-finding groups or organizations in order to make clear and as objective as possible report.
We are still demanding that the Japanese Government issue an official apology from the Diet to send to each individual victim. Although they expressed their regret and sorrow about what they did to Koreans whenever the Japanese Prime Ministers had diplomatic meetings in Korea, especially with respect to Korean women during the colonization period, this was challenged and denied by Japanese cabinet members. In May 1994, Japan's Justice Minister, Shigeto Nagano, described "comfort women" as "licensed prostitutes" (implying that they volunteered) and stated that the "Rape of Nanking" of 1937, in which 300,000 Chinese were slaughtered in Japan's bloodiest atrocity, never occurred. In August 1994, Japan's Environmental Minister translated Japan's war-time aggression as an act of liberation for Asian countries. These statements give proof that the Japanese Government still believes Japan did no wrong during the Pacific War. How can we attain justice for these "comfort women" when such denial of Japan's war-time violations occur? Therefore, we demand an official apology resolution from the Japanese Diet.
The Japanese Government should immediately pay economic reparations to the victims of military sexual slavery. Former "comfort women" are growing old and weak. Five women have already passed away since the Korean Council was formed. Thus the Japanese Government should pay reparation to each individual as quickly as possible. Before their lives end they should be granted some peace, for once in their lives, if not emotionally, then at least financially. On the contrary, the Japanese Government plans a charity fund or "sympathy money" by non-governmental fund raising. This is proof that Japan has not recognized its guilt and is not willing to assume its legal responsibility, but prefers to treat these women as cases of charity. The reason why we should demand reparation is that it is the only clear and visible means for apology and atonement, and to bring justice, according to the report of Prof. Theo van Boven, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to restitution, compensation and rehabilitation for the victims of gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms.(E/CN.4 /Sub.2 / 1993/8)
As The Korean Council, neighboring Asian Countries, and international communities have been criticizing the Japanese Government, Japan has finally responded with a plan to create a 'Peace Exchange Fund' to promote the study of Japan's wartime activities, youth exchanges between Japan and other Asian countries, and the establishment of a women's self-support center to provide vocational training for Asian women or a 'Sympathy Fund' to create a fund for "comfort women" in lieu of the requested reparations. If Japan's 'Peace Exchange Fund' is used to propagate Japanese culture, then it cannot be used as a means of atonement for Japanese war crimes. If the Japanese Government really wants to uphold its legal responsibility to the victims and to apologize for their violations against human rights, there is no reason to avoid paying the individual reparations, nor to create a 'Peace Exchange Fund' or a 'Sympathy Fund', which has nothing to do with their redress for their crimes.
Recently the ICJ(International Commission of Jurists) recommended that pending action of taking steps to fully rehabilitate the victims, the Japanese Government should pay, as a purely interim measure, without prejudice to its rights and contentions, the sum of US $40,000.00 for the rehabilitation of each woman who has come forward.
However, the Japanese Government has insisted that the reparation for all damages during the colonial period was taken care of by the Korean-Japan Treaty in 1965. It is not enough to state that legal responsibility of reparations for the victims was finalized by the Korea-Japan Treaty, since this treaty did not include the specific problem of "comfort women". Moreover, the Japanese Government did not even recognize the existence of military sexual slavery at that time and the treaty dealt only with the claims of the rights between the two states; it did not cover the individual claim of military sexual slavery.
Therefore, the Korean Council has decided to take the case of military sexual slavery to the PCA(Permanent Court of Arbitration) to clarify whether or not the Japanese Government has any legal obligations to pay individual reparations under international law.
The Korean Council demands that the Japanese Government should punish the guilty parties who were involved in carrying out the system of the military sexual slavery by Japan. In order to prevent this kind of gross violation in the future, punishment measures are necessary. We feel that if the punishment is carried out, it can only aid Japan's morality and conscience.
The most recurring problem has been Japan's inability to fully admit its past crimes. They have given the excuse that their aggression was carried out for the purpose of liberating all Asian countries under the slogan of "the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere". The Japanese Government has built shrines and memorials to pay honor to those who sacrificed their lives for Japan. Furthermore, in order to commemorate the 50 years since the war, there is a plan to build a Memorial Hall" to show the war experience from a Japanese perspective, excluding victims from other Asian countries who were coerced into sacrifice in the name of Japan. This kind of one-sided representation of the past can only lead to more confusion about Japan's guilt and responsibility of war crimes for future generations. The victims are still suffering from the effect of the war. Yet, the guilty are left unpunished. When can the 'comfort women' attain their due justice?
1) Campaigns for the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)
The Korean Council has finally decided to take the case to the PCA to have a fair judgment for both parties according to international law by which all sovereignties must abide. We are now preparing campaigns for the PCA trial at home and abroad to put pressure on the Japanese Government to take this case to court. If they have nothing to hide, and if they have no responsibility, they should have no objections to this decision.
2) Signature Campaign opposing Japan's becoming a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council.
The Korean Council will sponsor a signature campaign internationally. We strongly believe that the Japanese Government is not qualified to be a permanent member of the UN Security Council until it has fulfilled its legal obligations to the war victims in Asia -- especially to the women victims of its military sexual slavery system. Japan should fulfill its moral and legal obligations to redress the gross violations of human rights and military sexual slavery during World War II if it really wishes to become a member of the Security Council as a leading nation in the international community. Any nation which wishes to be an international political leader should first abide by international law itself. The Korean Council will lobby and campaign the UN member states not to allow Japan to become a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council. The Korean Council calls upon all women in the world to join us in our efforts to protest against Japan's becoming a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council as well.
3) The Fourth UN World Conference on Women in Beijing
We believe that the women's conference in Beijing will be a great opportunity to explore the issue of military sexual slavery and to demand a resolution to bring this issue to a conclusion. At the East Asian Women's Forum in October 1994, the issue will be the topic of focus in one of the workshops entitled "Woman and War/Peace". At this forum we will be able to make a plan for action and strategies before the Beijing conference. The Korean Council is planning to have NGO solidarity forums with other Asian countries on how to best elevate and project solidarity in order to demand justice and how to gather as many advocate groups from Japan, US, and all Asian countries so that we can lobby in order for the "comfort women" issue to be adopted as a formal UN document in the UN world conference on women in Beijing.
4) At the UN Commission on the Status of Women in March, 1995, in New York, the Korean Council will lobby for the adoption of the draft resolution of military sexual slavery in the conference.
5) White Paper on military sexual slavery by Japan
A Committee of Survey and Investigation of the Korean Council is preparing to publish a "White Paper" on the military sexual slavery by Japan. The Committee realized that it might be difficult to attain the records from the Japanese Government. Thus, this committee decided to assemble the records and testimonies of the former "comfort women" themselves and to make a "White Paper". This book will be published at the end of this year. The historians and members of the academic communities and the active participants of the movement are mobilizing to produce this book.
6) Opening of "Women & War Historical Museum"
In Commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Liberation of Korea, we are planning to open the "Women & War Historical Museum" to show to the public the historical materials, documents, books, and pictures related to the 'comfort women' issue which we have collected thus far. It will be used for public education and to spread the knowledge dealing with the issue of military sexual slavery.
7) Exploration of the issue of "comfort women" in China abandoned by the Japanese Army after WW II. The Korean Council and members of RACW recently found nine former 'comfort women' in April, 1994, in Woohan, China. They are a typical case of comfort women deserted by the Japanese soldiers. They were placed where the headquarter for the Japanese Army existed in China. They were forced to be sexual slaves for the Japanese soldiers, and at the time of the ceasefire, they were abandoned. The Korean Council is planning to invite them to visit their homeland for their first time since they left home 50 years ago to draw attention from all over the world, and to explore the issue.
IV. PLAN OF ACTION
1) Japanese Government should be urged to acknowledge and reveal the whole contents of the crime of military sexual slavery in Asia.
2) Japanese Government should be urged to issue an official apology from the Diet to each individual victim and pay economic reparations to all victims of the military sexual slavery in Asia.
3) Japanese Government should be urged to erect memorial tablets for deceased victim and record the crime and educate younger generations.
4) Japanese Government should be urged to bring the perpetrators to justice.
5) Japanese Government should be urged to follow the recommendations of the International Commission of Jurists(ICJ) and other human rights organizations.
6) Japanese Government should be urged to go to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) to clarify all the legal issue related to military sexual slavery under International Law.
7) Japanese Government should be urged to fulfill its moral and legal obligations to redress the gross violations of human rights and military sexual slavery during World War II before Japan wishes to become a permanent of the UN Security Council.
8) Victimized Governments should be urged to investigate the fact and give all the necessary support to surviving victims, psychologically, physically and economically.
V. CONCLUSION : IN PROSPECT OF ASIAN PEACE
The Korean Council's efforts are progressing in resolving the military sexual slavery issue. There have been fact-finding missions, demands and demonstrations for reparations, apologies, punishment of criminals, a revision of Japan's history textbooks and a construction of a monument for the deceased victims. Gradually, bits of the truth are being revealed and disclosed for the world to see. Without justice, true reconciliation between nations is not possible. Even today, many still hold a strong bitterness towards Japan for its wrong-doings. In June 1994, Japanese Emperor Akihito was faced with huge demonstrations during his visit to the United States from Asian Americans. Every Wednesday, Japan is reminded of its past with the demonstration in front of its embassy in Korea. These demonstrations are reinforced by support from not only Korean people but also from students all around the world, especially the United States. Japan must come to face the fact that this pressing issue will not disappear, it will not be forgotten - the former 'comfort women' will not allow it, the Korean people will not allow it and most importantly, students will not allow this issue to go unresolved. They will carry through to unveil the truth and to bring justice to these women long after these 'comfort women' have passed away. It is evident that the Japanese Government is feeling pressure and even embarrassment for not having yet admitted to its gross human rights violations.
In order to realize peace and justice in Asia, the Japanese government must admit its responsibility during the Pacific War, grant reparations to those who suffered in the past, punish the criminals, and give a full, sincere apology. By doing this, Japan will finally be able to begin establishing a peaceful and friendly relationship with peoples and nations in Asia, as well as the world.
Unlike the postwar German Government which made efforts to disassociate itself from Nazi policies, Japan seems to have been more dedicated to justify or to cover up the past.
In order to change this mentality, and awaken the morality & conscience of the Japanese Government, the Korean Council calls upon all Asian women to join us in our efforts to protest against Japan's becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council. To grant such a privilege to Japan is unjustified and incomprehensible in our eyes because Japan has not made any sincere effort to make a redress for its past violations of human right against Asian countries.
The Korean 'comfort women' case is promoting a new claim for human rights, in particular, women's rights, in Asia. Therefore, the Japanese admission of legal responsibility is the first step in producing an environment where human rights can grow in Asia.
"These days I suffer more since I have begun to tell my testimony. It started up my heart. I suffer even today from nightmares. But I will tell my story again and again because Japanese cruelty must not be forgotten. They cannot invade us and do this again to my grandchildren in the future."(Kim Soon Duk, a former 'comfort woman', shared when I visited Sharing House in May, 1994)
When the former 'comfort women' finally broke out of their silence to tell their stories 50 years after the fact, people were shocked and outraged.
When former 'comfort women' finally began to share their stories with great courage, these stories came out not only because of their great pain, but also to warn the world that it could happen again and that it must never happen again.
When former 'comfort women' share their stories again and again, it breaks their hearts. Still, they continue to share, if it means that the next generation of women in the world need not have to suffer in the future, and if it means the peace Asia and the world.
Who destroyed the hopes of these women?
Who ruined their dreams?
Who stole their souls?
The Japanese Government, with their systematic institution of military sexual slavery, is to blame. They destroyed these women's hopes, their dreams, their souls, and their youths. So only with Japan's recognition of their guilt, shame, and responsibility for their atrocious crime can the former 'comfort women' attain peace and justice. With a sincere apology and compensation, these women can at last begin their lives anew and to try to retrieve their dignity, their pride and their self-respect.
Unfortunately, we do not have much time to listen to their stories, as they are getting old. Therefore, we must act quickly to receive their due reparations. We must act to keep alive these women's life stories. We must act to create solidarity among women not only in Asia, but also around the world to prevent this kind of systematic sexual violence from occurring again in the future. It is our responsibility and our duty as human beings to remember. We must keep this dangerous memory alive.
(source: http://witness.peacenet.or.kr/e_comfort/library/3rd/comfort23.htm, web page of The Korean Council for the Women Drafted for the Military Sexual Slavery by Japan )