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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 June 27 - July 3  > U.S. House committee passes sex slave resolution: failure of pro-Yasukuni forces
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2007 June 27 - July 3 [HISTORY]

U.S. House committee passes sex slave resolution: failure of pro-Yasukuni forces

June 24, 2007
The U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on June 26 overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling on the Japanese government to officially apologize for the foreign women that the Japanese military had forced into sex slavery during WWII.

Asked to comment on the resolution, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo on the same day said, “This is a U.S. Congress judgment that I should not comment on. I am convinced that the Japan-U.S. relations, an irreplaceable alliance, are unshakable.”

However, the passage of the resolution shows that the words and deeds of the pro-Yasukuni forces justifying Japan’s war of aggression have creating a rift even in the Japan-U.S. relations that the prime minister says is “unshakable.”

Abe’s ‘double standard’ criticized

In 1993, the Japanese government published a statement of then Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono Yohei which recognized the involvement of the Japanese military in the sex slavery issue and expressed its remorse and apology for this.

Abe after taking office said that he will stand by the Kono statement and has been required to keep this promise.

However, when the U.S. Congress began to consider a resolution demanding an acknowledgement from Japan of its responsibility for this issue last year, the Japanese government launched lobbying efforts against the adoption of such a resolution, thereby revealing its position running counter to the Kono Statement.

In February, when a similar draft resolution was again submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives, Foreign Minister Aso Taro said in the Diet, “[The draft resolution] is not based on the facts.” On March 1, Prime Minister Abe defiantly said, “The fact is that there is no evidence to support the allegation of any coercion.”

In late March, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Shimomura Hakubun, Abe’s close friend, created profound distrust of the Japanese government in the international community by saying in a radio program, “The Japanese military was not involved [in the abduction of women]. There were no ‘comfort women’ serving the Japanese Imperial Army.”

A number of testimonies given by the victims as well as former Japanese military personnel clearly establish the fact that the military forcibly took those women away to serve as sex slaves.

The Japanese government denial of the historical facts has drawn severe international criticism of its “double-standard” in which the Japanese government neglects human rights in the wartime sex slavery issue while stressing human rights in North Korea’s abduction of Japanese nationals.

On the back of apology

Since U.S. senior officials, including U.S. Ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer, expressed their criticism of the Japanese government, Abe expressed his “apology” in Washington in April, saying, “I, personally and as the prime minister, express sympathies from the bottom of my heart to the former comfort women. I feel very sorry for the extreme hardships they experienced.” With respect to his remarks denying “coercion in its narrow sense” used in forcing the women into sex slaves, Abe said, “I think my real intention was not conveyed correctly.”

However, on the June 14 issue of the Washington Post, members of the Japan Conference (Nippon Kaigi) Dietmembers Council that belong to the Liberal Democratic and Democratic parties as well as independents placed a full-page advertisement denying coercion used by the Japanese military.

Ironically, this advertisement provoked strong criticism even within the Bush administration. Vice President Dick Cheney reportedly said that the ad is very unpleasant. In the U.S. House of Representatives, the number of members who have come to support the draft resolution has rapidly increased.

This whole process is shedding light on the failure of the pro-Yasukuni forces’ policy, and Prime Minister Abe must be held responsible for this.
- Akahata, June 27, 2007

Washington Post ad

The advertisement in the Washington Post entitled “The Facts” states, “The ianfu (comfort women) who were embedded with the Japanese army were not, as is commonly reported, ‘sex slaves.’ They were working under a system of licensed prostitution that was commonplace around the world at the time.”

It went on to say, “We must note that it is a gross and deliberate distortion of reality to contend that the Japanese army was guilty of ‘coercing young women intro sexual slavery’ in ‘one of the largest cases of human trafficking in the 20th century,’ as the House Resolution claims.”

The following are the Dietmembers who signed the advertisement:

- Liberal Democratic Party
(House of Representatives) Akaike Masaaki, Inada Tomomi, Etoh Taku, Otsuka Takashi, Okabe Hideaki, Ogawa Yuichi, Kagita Cyube, Kameoka Yoshitami, Kihara Minoru, Kobiki Tsukasa, Sakai Manabu, Shimamura Yoshinobu, Sugita Motoshi, Suzuki Keisuke, Sonoura Kentarou, Taira Masaaki, Toida Touru, Doi Touru, Doi Masaki, Nishimoto Katsuko, Hayashi Jun, Furukawa Yoshihisa, Matsumoto Fumiaki, Matsumoto Youhei, Mutoh Youji, Aichi Kazuo, Yamamoto Tomohiro, Watanabe Atsushi
(House of Councilors) Nakagawa Yoshio

- Democratic Party of Japan
(House of Representatives) Matsuki Kenko, Ryu Hirofumi, Maki Yoshio, Yoshida Izumi, Kawamura Takashi, Ishizeki Takashi, Izumi Kenta, Jinpu Hideo, Tamura Kenji, Washio Eiichirou, Kitagami Keirou, Matsubara Jin
(House of Councilors) Matsushita Sinpei

- Independent
(House of Representatives) Nishimura Shingo, Hiranuma Takeo
- Akahata, June 24, 2007
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