(WNN) United Nations, Geneva, SWITZERLAND, EUROPE: Japanese deputy ambassador Takashi Okada took to the floor at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva today saying that Japan has already done enough to make amends to ex-Comfort Women who were kidnapped as teens during World War II. Records and witness testimonies show that the ex-Comfort Women, many who are now in their 80s and 90s, were forcibly kidnapped in the 1940s by Japan’s military forces during the war. They were then transported to work as forced prostitutes in brothels, known during the years of Japan’s involvement in the war as ‘Comfort Stations’, set to service the military in regions that include the now U.S. American territory of Guam, as well as Burma/Myanmar, China, Korea, the Philippines and other regions.
“The government of Japan feels grieved at the thought of those who suffered such immeasurable pain,” said Okada on the floor of the UN Human Rights Council, quoting part of the 1993 statement issued by former Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan, Yohei Kono. “But this should not become a political issue,” continued Okada.
Regardless of numerous living witnesses who have testified that they were kidnapped as teenagers and forced by the Japanese military to become prostitutes, some more conservative authorities and laypersons in Japan still insist that those involved in the business of prostitution during the war did so voluntarily and without any military coercion.
But many of the facts point to a very different story.
“Japan must accept legal responsibility and take appropriate measures,” South Korea Ambassador Choi Seokyoung told the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday.
“China urges Japan to apologise for the issue of comfort women and pay compensation,” said Chinese Ambassador Liu Zhenmin added in a statement that brought the critical terms of the issues to the front of the Session at the Human Rights Council.
During the years of World War II, an overwhelming amount of documentation points to the fact that teen girls who had been forced into sexual servitude were used extensively by Japan’s military forces. Often conditions for the teenagers were deplorable. In hard to document data experts have assessed that 80,000 to 300,000 girls and young women were used in the brothels set up by Japan’s military during the war. The National WWII Museum in New Orleans (U.S.) has said that 40 percent of suicide deaths were part of the process for female youth who were trapped in sexual slavery. Others underwent extensive degradation and torture at the hands of their captors who managed the Japanese Comfort Stations.
“The ‘comfort women’ system was Japan’s military sexual slavery system exercised until the end of World War II. Tens of thousands of women and girls from the Asia-Pacific region were illicitly recruited, often by deception or sometimes by the outright use of force and made to serve as sex slaves to the Japanese military. The origin of the survivors who testified includes the ROK [Republic of Korea (South Korea)], DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea)], China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Netherlands, East Timor, Burma, Papua New Guinea, and Japan. The locations identified from witnesses or documents include Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, India, Guam, Palau and other Southern Islands,” says an October 2o12 report submitted by Japan-based war history archivists, the WAM – Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace, to the 14th Session of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review.
In spite of the 1993 statement that acknowledged the suffering of former Comfort Women and the fact that forced servitude did occur, the joint Japanese Parliament has yet to issue a formal apology to those who were victimized by the crimes.
“Japan has yet to discharge its responsibility under international law for the ‘comfort women’ system that the Japanese military exercised,” continued the WAM statement.
On March 15, 2013 Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke to the issues surrounding what numerous human rights organizations consider to be ‘Japanese war crimes’ using language that some historical experts see as ‘revisionist’. He did so in a way that appeared to be part of long range efforts to scale back the human rights talking points surrounding the issue of crimes against humanity which include Japan’s military forces involvement with what many consider to be sex-trafficking during World War II.
“Amnesty International believes that the crimes perpetuated against these women amount to crimes against humanity,” said Amnesty International in an Open Letter sent to the Japanese government in 2005.
“It was not uncommon for Japanese soldiers to kill a comfort woman and then himself in a murder-suicide. Since comfort stations were the only form of rest and relaxation provided by the Japanese Army, they were always in close proximity to the front lines. Comfort women died from bombs, bullets and shrapnel just as Japanese soldiers did,” outlines the National WWII Museum in New Orleans.
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