|A History of Trauma--The Comfort Women|
Petition to the International Labor Organization
--Observation and Comment on the Forced Labor and Military Sexual Slavery by Japanese Soldiers at World War II¡@
Taipei Women Rescue Foundation
¡@By representing the victims of Japanese Military Sexual Slavery at WWII and their supporters, we welcome the resolutions the ILO Committee of Experts made in March 4 1997. In order to correct the wrong information that Japan government released in response to the report of the ILO Committee, we would like to make the following statements:
¡@In its report to the ILO, Japan government repeatedly emphasized that they have been dealing the compensation issue with the victims sincerely, but we strongly doubt this claim.
I. A Satisfied Solution?
¡@The establishment of the "Asian Peace Friendship Fund for Women" (or Asian Women Fund) has nothing to do with Japan government's sincerity. As a matter of fact, the Asian Women Fund was to compensate the victims privately which implies that Japan government has no responsiblity to the victims. We insist that the Japanese government must appologize to and compensate the victims on a national level. However, the Japanese government keeps on misleading its citizens, the victims, and all who care about this issue to accept such an ambiguous way to express its "regret and apology."
II. Is the Establishment of the Asian Women Fund (AWF) a National Movement?
¡@Although Japan government claims that Asian Women Fund is a national movement, it has never been a nation-wide one. The Japanese government provided Asian Women Fund 50 billion Yen for advertisement and its maintenance. Based on this financial support, the Asian Women Fund collected only 47 billion Yen and half of which was from the Labor Union and trade unions. That is, the Japanese government spent the money of their tax payers in advertisement only without giving it to the victims directly.
III. The Victims' Rejection to the Asian Women Fund
¡@The Japanese government planned to compensate the 300 victims through Asian Women Fund. Most victims refused to take the compensation. So far, less than 10% of victims have accepted the compensation. Most victims of Korea, Taiwan, and Philippine continuely refuse the Asian Women Fund. By this fact, Japan government's claim of its compensation action as being making a brilliant progress is simply a lie.
IV. An Unwilling Action to Identify the Victims
¡@The Japanese government has stopped identifying the victims since July 1993. An exception was made in March 1996, the Japanese government sent a fact-finding mission to Philippine. It took the mission only three days to complete its "identification" of the victims by interview with only few of them. We believe that a thorough investigation of the fact is necessary. In the past few years, the Japanese conservatives have spreaded an incorrect image of the victims that they were not "forced" to be comfort women but themselves were prostitutes. The Japanese government has never try to correct this twisted idea. When the Japanese government claimed that their compensation action is in progress, it only makes the whole situation more complicated and more and more victims suspect the declared progress.
V. Criticizing of the Way of Japan Government's Approaching the Victims
¡@The Japanese government's untrustful action has led the victims and their support groups in Taiwan, Korea, and Philippine refuse to negotiate with the Asian Women Fund. Without appropriate access to negotiate with the victims, the Asian Women Fund approached the victims without asking for their permission first and attempted to contact the victims through their designated "agents." The Asian Women Fund set a trap for the victims to accept the compensation by seeking to cause conflicts between the victims and their support groups. It was an unforgivable behavior trying to break the union of the victims. The Korean government once criticized the inappropriateness of how Japan government and the Asian Women Fund dealt with the comfort women issue. More worse, in March 1997, the support groups of Taiwanese victims received a warning letter from the head of the Asian Women Fund, which was another strategy to raise both local and international criticisms against the support groups of Taiwanese victims.
¡@We thus consider the Asian Women Fund's advertisement on the press in May 1997 claiming to compensate the victims an inappropriate behavior.
VI. Asian Women Fund is an Inappropriate Solution to Japan's War Crime
¡@The Japanese government and the Asian Women Fund specified the standard of victims by nationalities, which include Korea, Taiwan, and Philippine but not PRC and other countries. This is a discrimination against specific nationalities. Likewise, the Asian Women Fund refused to recognized victims with Netherland nationality as "victims." Instead of compensating the Indonesian victims, the Asia Women Fund reached an agreement with the Indonesian government in 1996 to sponsor the Social Welfare Department's Project of The Aged Welfare Construction, which made the Asia Women Fund a formal consultant of the Indonesia Welfare Department. The Indonesian victims then prepare to take legal action against the Welfare department and the Asian Women Fund. Because of the dishonest attitude of the Japanese government and the Asian Women Fund to the victims, there is no space for negotiation between the victims and Japan government.
VII. Corruption and Discrimination against the Victims
¡@Because some victims complained that the compensation is not enough to remedy what they have gone through, the Japanese government provided extra money for medical care and social welfare use through the Asia Women Fund in January 1996. To make sure that this payment will not be regarded as "national compensation," the Japanese government organized a non-governmental organization and transfer the money to the Asia Women Fund via this organization such that the Japanese government would not be the direct source of the compensation. Japan government compensated the Korean victims through this non-governmental organization; yet, on the other hand, it compensated the Philippine victims via the Philippine government. This makes the purpose and the meaning of Japan government's payment ambiguous which caused itself a lot criticism. Politically speaking, the Japanese government's extra compensation made use of the financial poverty of the victims to have them accept the money given by the Asian Women Fund. The reality is that those victims will have to fight with poverty in the rest of their life that the Japanese government can achieve its end effortlessly. Achieving its end in such a lousy way, the Japanese government still compensated the victims based on their nationalities: it compensated the Korean victims 3 million Yen, yet the Philippine victims 1 million and 200 thousand Yen. Moreover, the Japanese government did not make one-time compensation but forced the victims to accept the compensation by installments. This discrimination between different nationalities aimed at the conflicts among the victims and their supporters.
VIII. Japan's Labor Union
¡@As we have argued previously, most of the fund the Asian Women Fund raised was from Japan's Labor Union or enterprises. When the purpose of the establishment of the Asian Women Fund were disclosed, these groups began to criticize the Japanese government and the Asian Women Fund. Some unions refused to cooperate with the Asian Women Fund. But many unions still work with the Japanese government closely in the name of maintaining their national dignity. The Japan Trade Union Confederation's against the ILO resolutions made in 1996 and 1997 tells us that something is wrong within the international labor movement.
IX. Self-rationalized Asian Women Fund
¡@The Japanese government and Asian Women Fund's self-rationalized defense for their strategy in compensating the victims are unacceptable. We cannot but hold a serious doubt to whether the Japanese government ever reflected themselves on the crimes they committed fifty years ago that deprived other countries and people of their human rights. The Japanese government just sit there and wish that people will forget what they have done, and they use the Asian Women Fund to lie for the trust of the victims and their own citizens. Such behavior has no difference from the brutality of the Japanese military half a century ago.
X. Our Demands to the Japanese Government:
¡@The Japanese government should recognize their leagal liability to the victims and should make formal apology, national compensation to them. This is also one of the resolutions made by the UN Commission on Human Rights, and we urge the ILO makes it your chief end in negotiation with the Japanese government such that the procedure defined by the ILO Committee of Experts will not be delayed. In response to the resolutions ILO made in the past two years, we wish you could do all necessary actions to solve this problem in ILO's upcoming Conference in June by pressuring the Japanese government to implement its legal liability to the victims on a national level. We believe such action to be one of the missions of the ILO in accordance with the principles of the ILO constitution. Those victims were forced to do sex services for the Japanese soldiers at wartime, now it is time for the Japanese government to compensate them their loss of dignity, youth, and health.
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