The Statement by the Participants and Global Supporters
of the 1000th Continuous Wednesday Demonstration
for the Resolution of the Wartime Japanese Military's
"Comfort Women" Issue
December 14, 2011
Since January 8, 1992 – every Wednesday for twenty years in a row -- voices and calls demanding the resolution of the wartime Japanese military's "comfort women" issue have been heard strongly in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, Korea. That first protest has continued to one thousand protests and struggles, as we have revealed to the world the wartime crimes of the Japanese military's sexual slavery system and have demanded restoration of human rights and justice to the victims.
The one thousand Wednesdays represent the courage of victims in denouncing war crimes, as well as a history of hope for the world's peace advocates who have shown strong solidarity. They also represent persistence that has not stopped against any kind of hardship. But as non-response from the Japanese embassy has shown, in addition to the current reality of many women's struggles amidst violence of war, our voices and calls need to go forward strongly furthermore.
It is a shame for humanities to see the reality of not seeing legal resolution of this issue and prosecution of perpetuators of war crimes who have abused women's bodies as a tool of war. The history records Japan as the worst war crime country which has not acknowledged its shameful record during the World War II.
We again recognize the "comfort women" issue as cases of extreme violence against children of pre-teen and teenage years, cruel war crime that has abused women's body and mind, and the most severe human rights abuse. It was also a violence and national discrimination against colonial subjects/masses.
The reaction of the Japanese government which has continued to avoid the truth, and not even offering sincere apology or compensation, is another round of violence and suffering towards the victims. We ask, who is responsible for the elderly women victims who were enslaved in their teens and are now passing away without regaining their human rights and recognition, and who has put them on the street protests for thousand times?
The Japanese government should listen to the voices of "comfort women" victims and heed to the demands by the world's peace advocates, recommendations by the UN and ILO based on international legal basis, and the resolutions in various national and local legislative bodies calling for the sincere resolution of this issue. It should implement legislative and executive measures geared to identifying the truth of the matter along with official apology and legal compensation.
The resolution of the "comfort women" issue, through rightful resolution of the past, will be a stepping stone for peaceful and constructive diplomatic relations between Korea and Japan. It will also be a sign of Japan playing its rightful role in East Asia and world peace. If the Japanese government refuses these obvious historical and legal responsibilities, it will again show that it will remain as a nation of war criminals without any conscience.
We also ask the responsibilities of the Korean government which has neglected the struggles of the victims who had to themselves protest every Wednesday. Despite its potential key role in helping to resolve the issue, the Korean government has neglected and delayed action on this issue. The government has become another stumbling block in resolving the issue. The government should pursue diplomatic strategies in aggressively tacking this issue in order to end the ordeals of elderly victims coming out on the streets in protest.
We, the world's peace advocates who have demanded "Restore justice to 'comfort women' victims," have gathered here, as we raise and dedicate the peace monument that contains the spirit of peace and justice advocacy. We also vow to continue the Wednesday protest beyond the 1000th protest until this issue is rightfully resolved. The Japanese government will need to bear the burden of increased responsibilities and judgment of history as the Wednesday protests continue on.
Today, on this historical 1000th Wednesday protest, we demand the following:
* The Japanese government should identify the criminality of wartime "comfort women" system and publicly apologize to its victims;
* The Japanese government should lend legal compensation to the victims and implement measures to outlaw these kinds of crimes from ever occurring again;
* The Japanese government should record the "comfort women" issue correctly on textbooks, providing opportunities for its current and future generations to learn correct history, and proceed to promote the values of human rights and peace.
* The Korean government should step up diplomatic efforts in resolving this issue, as well as promoting bilateral consultations on the issue.
* We ask the national governments and the international society to address the "comfort women" issue and to work towards ending war and violence against women.