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HOME  > Past issues  > 2007 June 27 - July 3  > Passage of U.S. congressional resolution on ‘comfort women’ deals hard blow to ‘pro-Yasukuni forces’
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2007 June 27 - July 3 [HISTORY]

Passage of U.S. congressional resolution on ‘comfort women’ deals hard blow to ‘pro-Yasukuni forces’

June 28, 2007
Akahata editorial

The U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on June 26 passed a resolution by an overwhelming majority, 39-2, demanding the Japanese government’s formal apology for its military’s coercion of women into sex slavery during WWII. The House is expected to pass the resolution in July.

The Japanese government has openly lobbied the U.S. House members to not pass the resolution on the grounds that successive Japanese prime ministers already expressed their apologies.

The passage, therefore, shows strong U.S. opposition to the denial of the coercion -- thereby, the denial of Japan’s responsibility for the war -- by pro-Yasukuni Shrine forces, including Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, that justify Japan’s war of aggression. The position of the prime minister and the government on this issue is called into question.

Denial of Japan’s responsibility for war

Pointing out that “Japanese officials” are trying to “rescind” the 1993 statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono Yohei admitting that coercion was used by the Japanese military, the House committee resolution calls on the Japanese government to “formally acknowledge and apologize for the military’s coercion of women into sexual slavery.”

While affirming that he stands by the Kono statement, Prime Minister Abe at a press conference on March 1 said, “There is no evidence to prove there was coercion.” Foreign Minister Aso Taro also at a House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting on February 19 said that the draft resolution submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives “is not based on the objective facts at all.” Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Shimomura Hakubun on March 25 said, “There were no ‘comfort women’ serving the Japanese Imperial Army.”

These moves stirred criticism not only from the U.S. Congress but from the Bush administration as well. The Kono statement admitted that “in many cases comfort women were recruited against their own will, through coercion” and expressed “apologies and remorse.” The U.S. and the international community are reasonably criticizing Japan’s move to “dilute or rescind” the statement.

Although Abe expressed his intention to stand by the Kono statement and his apologies to President Bush and congressional leaders at the Japan-U.S. summit meeting in April, he has never taken back his remarks denying coercion used by the Japanese military.

Moreover, Liberal Democratic and Democratic “pro-Yasukuni” Dietmembers, to which Abe himself also belongs, placed an advertisement denying coercion in the Washington Post on June 14, provoking widespread criticism in the U.S. Congress.

This advertisement denouncing the U.S. House resolution as a “gross and deliberate distortion of reality” simply increased the doubt that Abe’s “apologies” are merely for official consumption and that Japan actually holds a different position.

The post-WWII international community is built on reflection over the wars of aggression waged by Japan, Germany and others and the agreement to never condone such unlawfulness. The German holocaust and Japan’s sex slavery are well-established historical facts that leave no room for argument. The denial of the coercion used by the Japanese military, therefore, amounts to undermining the foundation of the international community.

Prime Minister Abe must understand that the denial of the responsibility for the war will damage not only Japan-U.S. relations but also Japan’s position in the postwar international community.

Deep remorse needed

Although Prime Minister Abe expressed “apologies” to U.S. President Bush for the “comfort women” issue, he has made no apology to the victims. Abe must abide by the Kono statement and make an official apology to them on his own will.

Filling up his cabinet with pro-Yasukuni forces, Prime Minister Abe has been forcibly implementing pro-Yasukuni policies such as the adverse revision of the Fundamental Law of Education and adverse revision of the Constitution. The U.S. congressional resolution’s passage is significant in that it shows the international community’s willingness to reject such pro-Yasukuni policies.
- Akahata, June 28, 2007
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