Voices of the "Comfort "Women"

Quelle: The Asia-Pacific Journal | Japan Focus Volume 19 | Issue 5 | Number 8 | Article ID 5551 | Mar 01, 2021
Mit freundlicher Erlaubnis von Japan Focus

Voices of the ”Comfort Women”:
The Power Politics Surrounding the UNESCO Documentary Heritage

Heisoo Shin

This paper seeks to explain the process of collaboration among civil society organizations towards preserving the voices of the “comfort women” and registering related documents with UNESCO. The 14 civil society organizations from 8 countries, mostly those that suffered Japanese invasion and occupation, but also including one from Japan itself, have worked together to compile a dossier of “comfort women” documents for the submission of a joint nomination proposal to UNESCO. However, this project was threatened first by the political deal between South Korea and Japan in December 2015, and later by attempts to use money and state power to subvert UNESCO’s Memory of the World program (MoW). The resulting temporary freeze on the MoW program, talk of changes to its statutes and regulations, and UNESCO’s continued delay in implementing its own decisions raise serious doubts concerning the legitimacy and meaning of the program. A more fundamental question concerns whether and how the voices of victims of violation or discrimination, in this case of the “comfort women”, will be heard, preserved and transmitted to future generations to prevent the recurrence of such atrocities. If the efforts of the recent civil society movement end in failure, what alternative strategies are open to us? ....

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