Tag Archives: Abe Shinzo

(Interview) Mr.Shin-Kwon, Ahn, The House of Sharing

롱아일랜드 유태인 사업가에게 책 전달3
Mr.Shin-Kwon Ahn, second from the right, presenting ‘Touch-Me-Nots’ to a resident in Long Island, NY.

Dear Mr. Ahn Shin-kwon,

Thank you very much  for agreeing to the interview with Justiceforcomfortwomen.

We have the following questions. In addition to these questions, if you have anything else you would like to say, please kindly let us know. 

1. What do the surviving comfort women in the House of Sharing think of the ‘Foundation for Reconciliation and Healing’ by Korea & Japan’s governments?

Japanese Army ‘Sex Slavery’ was a war crime committed by Japan, and the worst abuse of women’s rights in the history of mankind. Japan used women as a tool of war. This was a crime against humanity. To regain the honor of these women and reinstate human rights, the victims have held a Wednesday Demonstration every week in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul since February 1, 1992. The women have demanded that the Japanese government to make an official apology and legal reparations by visiting major cities around the world, e.g. the US, Canada, Japan, Germany and France, to give testimony.

The term Japanese Army ‘comfort women’ was coined by the perpetrator Japan. The victims argue that Japanese Army ‘Sex Slavery’ should be used instead. The perpetrator-oriented term should not be used. It’s high time to use the term that correctly expresses the essence of this issue, i.e. victims of Japanese Army ‘Sex Slavery’.

As the agreement between South Korea and Japan, signed on December 28, 2015, was reached without giving any explanation to the victims and obtaining their consent, it lacks legal validity in terms of its procedure. Furthermore, the perpetrator-centric coercive undemocratic procedure infringed on the fundamental rights of the victims. So this agreement, not including an official apology and legal reparations, must be abolished.

The agreement did not state an official apology. It excluded the Japanese Army’s role as the main culprit, and instead used ambiguous words like the involvement of the military without admitting responsibility. To ensure veracity, the prime minister representing Japan must apologize in person. The foreign minister’s apology is not an official apology.

The victims did not consent to the agreement, yet it was presented as a final and irreversible resolution. Over the years, the Abe government has denied the Kono Statement of 1993, which indirectly apologized to the victims under the Murayama government. The Abe government has attempted to distort and modify history.

After the announcement of the agreement, politicians denied coercion, and thoughtlessly called the victims prostitutes. There is nothing we can do when such absurd remarks are made about the victims in Japan. The expression ‘final and irreversible’ pales into insignificance beside these remarks, and it are nothing more than a one-way declaration for the benefit of the perpetrator. It is a pathetic agreement that cannot be fulfilled. Furthermore, we cannot understand why research and education, which were included in the Kono Statement, are missing. This would seem to indicate the intention of Japan to hide the facts of the case forever.

So, the victims are opposed to the agreement, and for that matter, they are also against the establishment of the Foundation for Reconciliation and Healing. Nevertheless, the government has pushed ahead with it, and launched the foundation. The victims did not entrust their individual rights to the claim and the right of representation to the foundation; yet, the foundation received the money that Japan gives to the victims. This was illegal.

It is not a matter of money being given to the victims. No matter which government is in power in Japan, the victims want Japan to take legal responsibility, i.e. not denying or modifying this issue. The victims are seeking legal reparation. The Japanese government’s contributions have come from the government’s reserve funds in the government budgets, i.e. money for international relief.

2. Recently many victims have passed away, and as they are all elderly women, time is limited. What kind of help can you give them?

Japan argues that Korea’s claim to Japan for war damages in 1965 put an end to the issue, and thus the claim expired, and the statute of limitations has expired.

When the Treaty on Basic Relations between the Republic of Korea and Japan was signed in 1965, however, Korea’s claim to Japan for war damages concerned the property rights under colonial rule. It was not therefore a claim against the war crimes committed on the battlefield by Japanese soldiers. The state cannot exercise individuals’ rights of claim on their behalf, and the issue of Japanese Army ‘comfort women’ was known to the international community in the early 1990’s,. Japanese civic groups and conscientious scholars have stated the same. The argument that individuals’ claims were included in Korea’s claim to Japan for war damages in 1965, and thus they are all resolved is an empty Japanese claim and nothing better than sophistry. War crimes do not have a statute of limitations. Do you think the victims will want a humanitarian resolution for these crimes t? Naturally they demand a legal resolution.

We must let the citizens of the world know Japan’s alteration of the true history.

3. Movies were made based on the victims’ stories(e.g. ‘Spirits’ Homecoming,’), and they are introduced in various ways, such as TV dramas, plays and dance, but unfortunately they seem to be concentrated in a certain period around the National Liberation Day. Do you want anything from the media or related organizations?

In 1993 under the Murayama government of Japan, the Kono Statement acknowledged the issue of Japanese Army ‘Sex Slavery,’ and in 1995 Japan established the Asian Women’s Fund to ‘give consolatory payments to Japanese Army ‘Sex Slavery’ victims. In 2007, the US House of Representatives adopted Resolution HR121 to urge Japan to apologize, and various UN organizations tried to record history and educate people so as not to forget the history. This agreement lacks history education, and used the term ‘final and irreversible.’ This was a malicious attempt to erase history forever.

1. Recording in textbooks and education

2. Many researches and distribution of materials

3. Forming a consensus through movies and documentaries

4. There is a saying ‘A history forgotten is a history repeated.’ The Japanese government is continuously trying to erase the history of the victims. Japanese right-wingers send anti-Korean mails to my blog. How do you think we can bridge this gap in history, and concentrate on the real issue of human rights?

Human rights and history issues are important to all states and nations. To resolve this issue, we must demand with one voice that the Japanese government should make legal reparations and an official apology. In particular, individuals must join in with efforts to resolve these issues with a clear understanding of human rights and history. To try and resolve this issue, the civilian sector must work tirelessly to erect the Statue of Peace. This is the best thing we can do to resolve the issue. Korea and Japan must make a joint textbook and resolve this human rights issue together.

Again, thank you so much for sharing your time and thoughts with us. We wish the very best of everything for surviving comfort women at the House of Sharing, and we will keep supporting them in anyways.

5. References

12 Japanese Army ‘Sex Slavery’ victims 12 sued the Korean government for compensation worth KRW100 million each. They say that they would not accept a single penny from the Japanese government if it is not legal reparations.

The Korean government must provide compensation for the damages they inflicted on Japanese Army ‘comfort women’ as it did not carry out the decision of the Constitutional Court in 2011. 12 Japanese Army ‘Sex Slavery’ victims, including 6 in the House of Sharing, filed a compensation suit in the court of the Republic of Korea against the Korean government on August 30 (Tuesday) 1:00pm. They claimed KRW100 million in damages per person.

What Japanese Army ‘Sex Slavery’ victims demanded was the Japanese government’s ‘legal responsibility,’ i.e. that Japan should clearly acknowledge their crimes, make an official apology and legal reparations, continuously work to acknowledge the truth, remember the victims, provide history education and punish criminals. The victims refused the ‘Asian Women’s Fund,’ which Japan established in 1995 to give KRW50 million per person, even though they were badly off and needed money. They refused this fund because it expressly denied ‘Japan’s legal responsibility.’

The Japanese government and court argued that the Korea’s claim to Japan for war damages in 1965 resolved all issues. As the Korean government did not make an authoritative interpretation of the victims’ rights of claim, 109 victims urged the Korean government on June 5, 2007 to resolve the issue of Japanese Army Sex Slavery’ according to the dispute resolution procedure set forth in the Settlement Agreement between South Korea and Japan of 1965, and filed a constitutional appeal.

On August 30, 2011, the Constitutional Court said, “There is a Constitutional demand to help Korean nationals, whose human dignity and value were seriously harmed by the organized and continuous illegal acts perpetrated by Japan, to exercise their right to demand compensation, and protect them.” It ruled that the Korean government’s failure to follow the dispute resolution procedure set forth in Article 3 of theTreaty on Basic Relations between the Republic of Korea and Japan of 1965 to hold the Japanese government liable for damages infringes on the victims’ fundamental rights of the Constitution.

According to the decision of the Constitutional Court, the victims requested that the Korean government resolve the issue of Japanese Army ‘comfort women’ in accordance with the procedure set forth in Article 3 of the Settlement Agreement between South Korea and Japan, including the arbitration procedure. On December 28, 2015, however, the Korean government agreed to ‘a final and irreversible resolution,’ ‘refraining from reproaching and criticizing Japan in the international community,’ and ‘efforts to address Japanese government’s concerns about the Statue of Peace.’ Nevertheless, the Japanese government refused to acknowledge its ‘legal responsibility’. The victims believed that the Korean government signed an agreement in violation of the decision of the Constitutional Court, and caused additional mental and physical damage to them, and filed a lawsuit against the Korean government.

On August 30 (Sunday), 6 Japanese Army‘Sex Slavery’ victims in the House of Sharing refused to receive KRW100 million in consolation money that the Japanese government said it would pay in accordance with the agreement between Korea and Japan. 10 of the 40 surviving comfort women are living together in the House of Sharing. Their ages range between 87 and 101, and their average age exceeds 90. They suffer from geriatric diseases, and the trauma of having been gang raped at an early age. To resolve this issue, they visited Tokyo and Osaka, Japan in January 2017, New York and Dallas, US in April, and are set to visit Okinawa and Fukuoka, Japan in October to provide testimony.

The Japanese government remitted¥1 billion, i.e. about KRW10.87 billion to the foundation for supporting comfort women, i.e. the ‘’Foundation for Reconciliation and Healing.’ It has been 25 years since the comfort women issue was first publicized in 1991 by the testimony of the late Kim Hak-soon. However, a humanitarian support fund, not legal reparations, will not help resolve this issue at all. It is not until the victims receive a single penny in legal reparations that the Japanese government acknowledges legal responsibility and no Japanese government will make reckless remarks like prostitution.

The Abe government has sought to nullify the Kono Statement of 1993 which admitted this issue. The actions of the Abe government have met with strong resistance from historians around the world. As this distortion and alteration of history continue, Japan must make legal reparations. Japan’s unilateral remittance is nothing but a trick to erase history. That’s why the 6 victims in the House of Sharing refuse to receive KRW100 million in cash.

When it comes to human rights, particularly the issue of history, the ruling and opposition parties cannot be different. Past governments tried many things to resolve this issue, but as Japan did not make legal reparations and an official apology that the victims want, they could not reach an agreement. The National Assembly must now demand with one voice that the agreement should be nullified and renegotiated. In particular, the National Assembly members must work together with an awareness of human rights and history. The private sector cannot but continuously erect the Statute of Peace at home and abroad to resolve this issue. In summary, then, the Statute of Peace is the best thing we can do to resolve this issue.

 

Korean surviving comfort women donated money for Japanese earthquake victims

Wednesday, April 20, 2016, another  ‘Wednesday Protest’ was held in front of Japanese Embassy in Seoul, S.Korea to acknowledge surviving comfort women in history and asking genuine apology from Japanese government.

Kim, Bok-dong(90) and Kil, Won-ok(87), surviving comfort women attending the protest, donated $1300 for recent earthquake victims and their families in Japan.

“We are not fighting against Japanese people. We are simply asking to acknowledge the dark part of history and its victims, us, during World War2.”

“We sincerely hope the victims from the earthquake will get back to their lives soon..”

Asked for an interview, the old ladies talked earnestly. Also, during the protest, on-site donation was held among protesters.

 

 

Spirits’Homecoming warm reception in North America

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The movie, Spirits’ Homecoming has got very positive reception from North American audience, resulting broader release on Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk in Canada(Starting from Mar.18), AMC Empire 25 in Manhattan, NewYork,  AMC Loews Bay Terrace in Queens, New York, Edgewater Multiplex Cinemas & AMC Starplex Ridgefield  Park12 in New Jersey, AMC Showplace Niles 12 in Chicago, AMC Cupertino Square16 in San Jose, CA, AMC Loews Alderwood Mall16 in Seattle, WA, AMC Sugarloaf Mills18 in Atlanta, GA, and AMC Fashion Valley18 in SanDiego, CA.

Japan considers ‘comfort women’ statue removal a precondition for providing 1 billion yen

For Japan, the ball is now in South Korea’s court to cement the Dec. 28 landmark agreement on resolving the “comfort women” issue.

Tokyo believes that South Korea has accepted the removal of a controversial statue in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul as a precondition for Japan providing 1 billion yen ($8.3 million) in government funds for a foundation to help former comfort women.

Several Japanese government sources said that South Korea provided behind-the-scenes confirmation about the precondition.

But when he read out details of the agreement on Dec. 28, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se only said that Seoul “will make efforts to resolve the issue in an appropriate manner by holding discussions with the related organization on what response was possible.”

Japanese government sources said they are well aware that South Korean government officials have much work ahead of them.

The statue of a girl representing the comfort women, a euphemism for women forced to provide sex to Japanese troops before and during World War II, was set up in 2011 by the Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, a private organization.

The council has shown no signs that it will remove the statue.

“It is unthinkable that the South Korean government would become involved in the moving of the statue,” a council official has said.

South Korean officials had long insisted that they would be unable to do anything about the statue because it had been erected by a private organization.

But in the final stages of negotiations on resolving the comfort women issue, Japanese officials made clear that moving the statue would be necessary if Japan was to put up the 1 billion yen for a foundation to be established by South Korea to provide support to the former comfort women and to pass on the history of what they went through to future generations.

In addition, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had made known to close associates that his conservative supporters would not stand for any agreement on the comfort women issue without the statue being properly dealt with.

Japan’s adamant stance led to the mention of the statue in the agreement read out on Dec. 28 by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Yun.

By HAJIMU TAKEDA/ Staff Writer, Asahi Newspaper

Hiring at a sawing factory turns into a military brothel in China

Park, Ok-sun, 91 years old
Park, Ok-sun, 91 years old

When she was 14 years old, her father died. Her elder brother’s business went wrong as well.

To help her family, in 1941, at 17, she went to a place with friends to get hired as a sawing factory worker. However, right at the spot, she and her friends were shipped to China by train.  She remembered the day still vividly.

“I was so scared and kept saying, please I don’t want to go but nobody listens to me. All my friends were trembling with fear..”

Girls still did not know what and where they were shipping to. When they arrived Heirungjian Prefecture in China, girls first day started by beatings from the person in charge at the Japanese military brothel.

After 4years, Japan surrendered and the war was over. However, her ordeal had not stopped. She did not have money to go home and she involuntarily settled at a country village in China. Even in China, she could not get out of poverty.

She said, “I think my unfortunate life is my own destiny. But my children who have been suffering with me, I take that as my fault..”

WW II ‘comfort women’ push fight for justice, compensation

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Manila (Reuters) — For decades, Filipino former World War II sex slaves have been fighting for recognition and compensation for the horrors they endured at the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army.

But their campaign has seen little success and now the few surviving “comfort women” left in the Philippines, are hoping the next generation will continue their fight.

The group called themselves “Pamana”, or “Inheritance” in Filipino, consisting of a handful of supporters and descendants of the former Filipino “comfort women”, a Japanese euphemism for sex slaves.

Members of the “Pamana” were in charge of spreading information and joining protest actions on behalf of the former Filipino comfort women.

They regularly hold meetings at a run-down resource center, which was being co-managed by their group and women’s rights organization Lila Pilipina.

Former comfort women Hilaria Bustamante and Estelita Dy act as caretakers of the center, which holds the records of all documented Filipino sex slaves under the three-year Japanese rule from 1942-1945.

Bustamante, 89, was abducted from her home and raped inside a Japanese garrison when she was 16. She said she suffered psychological trauma growing up and cannot forget the ordeal even today.

“It’s not easy to forget what happened. We will bring this memory down to our graves. even if they give an apology, it is still difficult to forget. It is already marked in us,” she said.

Bustamante and Dy decided to offer their support in the early 90s, joining various street protests to demand compensation and justice from the Japanese government. They now live inside the center and teach visitors about the importance of women’s rights and the lessons of war.

“We just don’t want another war because if there’s another war, what happened to us may happen again to the newer generations,” said 85-year-old Dy.

Melinda Relos, a member of Pamana whose mother was a former comfort woman, said the centre was facing challenges in funding for upkeep and maintenance.

She said the center operates solely on grants and donations from non-profit groups, making it difficult to preserve and maintain the documents which were slowly crumbling with age.

Despite the challenges, Relos said members of Pamana like her will not leave the centre nor their advocacy for the former Filipino comfort women.

“Even if there are no longer any grandmothers present, we are still here. There are still surviving children, grandchildren and supporters that can join and continue the fight of our mothers,” she said.

Lila Pilipina has records of 174 Filipino comfort women when they started documentation in 1992, but said the total surviving victims could be less than 70 with many of the survivors dead due to old age.

Like their counterparts in China and South Korea, the Filipino former comfort women have been demanding justice through compensation and a public apology from the Japanese government.

Japan acknowledged in 1993 that the state played a role in forcing Korean and Chinese women into military brothels and set up a fund to provide compensation to survivors in 1995. However, Japan has refused to pay direct compensation to survivors.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a former critic of the 1993 statement, now says he will uphold it. Many Japanese conservatives say there is no proof that authorities directly coerced the women.