"Trostfrauen", Wiedergutmachung und Menschenrechte
2013: Brief aus Japan an den ÖRK/WCC
"Trostfrauen", "Comfort Women"
To: Participants in the Workshop on Dignity and Justice to the Victims of Military Sexual Slavery at the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches
From: Women’s Committee,
the National Christian Council of Japan
Christian women in Japan have struggled to have the issue of the Japanese military sexual slavery system, so-called “comfort women”, be resolved as soon as possible as a part of the efforts to establish women’s rights and dignity in Japan. Ms. Kim Haksoon in Korea came out as the first victim of the system on the 14th of August, 1991, and encouraged by her, others followed one by one, from Korea, Taiwan, China, East Timor, Indonesia, Philippines, Holland and so on. In 1995 at Beijin Conference on Woment, Ms. Hillary Clinton proudly declared that women’s rights are human rights. Empowered by the international trend for raising the positions of women in society, our effort and cooperation with the international community made it possible to hold the Women’s International War Tribunal in Tokyo in 2000. Ten cases were brought to court to charge the Japanese government for compensation. The court rejected the plaintiffs’ charges for compensation, but recognized their testimonies that they painfully stated in court as facts. In the struggles of the victims to regain their dignity by coming forward after fifty years of silence, giving testimonies so that no other women would have to suffer as they did, they have gradually won the support of society and realized that they were not to be blamed nor shamed, but the responsibility lay with the Japanese government. We helped opening the Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace in Tokyo. There were always Christian women and men among people supporting the activities to bring justice for the victims.
We are pained over the fact that the Japanese government has not yet taken responsible measures to the demands of the victims, to the resolutions voted by different parliaments and to the recommendations of the UN bodies related to human rights abuse. Resisting the efforts of the international community, there have been successive remarks made by rightist politicians to deny that the Japanese military forcibly took women and put them in slave conditions to work as “comfort women”. They are not concerned with issues of peace and human rights on which the UN is founded. Particularly the present government would rather put collective security issue with the USA first.
We have wanted an official government apology and reparation by the Japanese government. So far the government has insisted that the issues were solved by the “Asian Women’s Fund” but we don’t believe that that was a real solution as the victims and their supporters have claimed. Many of the victims in South Korea rejected the solatium and the victims in China, North Korea and some others were outside the Fund. The Fund was closed in 2007 without achieving its goal.
The NCCJ has taken up this issue since 1991 as one of the tasks of the Church and its Women’s Committee has been in charge. Member churches of NCCJ have their own programs in this matter. The United Church of Christ in Japan, for example, on the occasion of the 50th year of the Post War Era, 1995, called on its member churches nationwide for donations to support the victims and the building of the “War and Women’s Human Rights Museum” in Seoul as is shown elsewhere.
At the 11th Asian Solidarity Conference for the ‘Comfort Women’ issue held in Taipei in 2012, we passed a resolution that we commemorate August 14 as Memorial Day for Japanese military ‘comfort women’. This year, we have started a campaign to seek August 14th a UN acknowledged memorial day for the Japanese Military ‘comfort women’, wishing to put an end to still rampant sexual violence in armed conflicts. We hope this campaign will help raise awareness in Japan on the issue of ‘Comfort Women’ or sexual slavery, and sincerely wish that the Japanese government will change their policy in order to bring justice to the victims through an official apology and reparation as soon as possible. We hope you would also support this campaign.
We are a minority in Japanese society and supportive messages from abroad will give us more power. We would really appreciate your prayer and support for our work.
May your “Madang” be successful!
In Prayer and Fellowship in Christ,
Keiko Kitamura, Chair
National Christian Council of Japan