Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ask a Korean! News: Joint Statement by Korean & Japanese Bar Association on Comfort Women and Forced Laborers

The Korean is heartened by the fact that, at the centennial of Japan's annexation of Korea, conscientious Japanese people are speaking up in order to bring justice and closure to the war crimes that Japan committed. Such effort should be loudly proclaimed and well-publicized.

Recently, Korean Bar Association and Japan Federation of Bar Associations -- the representatives of attorneys of the respective nations -- issued a joint statement and a proposal regarding the comfort women and forced mobilization issue. In the spirit of getting these small steps toward reconciliation more publicized, below is the translation of the entire thing.

The Korean is struck by the strong tone of the statement -- a few steps ahead of the Joint Statement of Korean and Japanese Scholars, which was already a pretty strong statement. The Korean applauds everyone who made this happen.

The translation was done from Korean version. The source is here.

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Joint Statement by Korean Bar Association and Japan Federation of Bar Associations

Korean Bar Association (KBA) and Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA), on June 21, 2010 at the joint symposium held in Seoul, regarding human rights violations aginst Korean people under Japanese colonial rule, in particular the fact that the damages from human rights violation caused during Asia-Pacific War remain abandoned without sufficiently healed by the governments of Korea and Japan, confirmed the importance of the two bar associations' joint endeavor toward healing such damages.

KBA and JFBA share the concept that first of all, an effort toward legislation regarding Japanese military's "comfort women" issue as a realistic task; at the same time, we decided to review legal issues and resoluations regarding various tasks including damages suffered from forced mobilization that were not resolved in the negotiations of 1965 Treaty of Basic Relations.

Based on the achievements of the aforementioned symposium and the joint symposium held in Tokyo today, KBA and JFBA demand the reparation for damages arising from human rights violations against Korean people during the Asia-Pacific War, and declare as follows:

1.  We, in the situation in which the nations and people of Korea and Japan do not share the perception regarding the process of Korea's annexation or the effectiveness of Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty despite the passge of one hundred years since the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty, confirm that the deepening of mutual understanding and trust between the nations and people of Korea and Japan, through efforts toward shared perception of past historical facts, is the bedrock to be laid for the healthy future of Korea-Japan relations.

2. We confirm that a legislation to resolve Japanese military's "Comfort Women" issue must be swiftly achieved by Japanese government and the legislature. This legislattion must include that the organized and continuous imposition of sexual act against women at "Comfort Stations," which were established and operated by Japanese military directly or indirectly, was a serious violation of human rights and was against international and domestic laws of the time; that Japan recognizes that such imposition seriously harmed the honor and dignity of the women and apologizes to the victims; that Japan will make clear the responsibility for such imposition and take actions to restore the victims' honor and dignity, including monetary compensation; and that such actions will include the establishment of an implementing committee that includes the Prime Minister and relevant officials and the hearing of the victims and the victims' representatives. Also, in order to establish Japanese military "Comfort Women" issue as a historical lesson, Japanese government must establish a plan to rigorously discover, educate and publicize the truth. KBA and JFBA decided to organize and jointly announce these points as "Proposal for Final Resolution of Japanese Military "Comfort Women" Issue."

(More after the jump)

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.

3.  We confirm that the inconsistent interpretation and responses by both governments regarding the content and the scope of the clauses of 1965 Basic Relations Treaty that provide for final resolution hindered the justified vindication of the victims' rights and caused the victims' mistrust. In order to resolve this situation, we arrived at the recognition that perceptions must be shared by completely making public all relevant documents concerning the process of entering into the Basic Relations Treaty; that resolutions which can be realized must be sought; and that it is important that the Japanese government, like the Korean government, must voluntarily make public all relevant documents.

4.  Korea has enacted legislations that provide for the discovery of and compensating for the damages suffered by forced mobilization; Japan, which still does not have such legislation, must take action to discovery the truth, make atonement and pay reparation. Also we note that the Supreme Court of Japan, on April 27, 2007, urged the corporations and relevant personnel which were implicated in forced mobilization to voluntarily make reparation for the victims of forced mobilization; we commend the corporations that are making such voluntary efforts, and request other corporations to engage in the same efforts. It must be noted that, regarding forced mobilization with Germany, German government and corporations jointly established the "Rememberance, Responsibility and Future Fund" in order to heal the damages suffered by the victims. In Korea, as the Inspection Committee on Forced Mobilization investigates the facts based on the report from the victims, the progression of making reparations to the victims of forced mobilization by cooperating the aforementioned committee and the two governments' jointly acting must be considered.

5.  We confirm that many issues caused by the colonial rule and forced mobilization remain, including the exclusion of the elderly Korean-Japanese from the war casualty assistance and the national pension; the return of forced laborers' wages and savings; the legal status and rights of Koreans residing in Japan; the excavation, collection and return of the remains of Korean soldiers and forced mobilization victims; and return of Korea's cultural artifacts. We further confirm the importance of cooperation toward their resolution.

6.  KBA and JFBA proclaim that the reparation for the victims is a task that must be accomplished for the future of Japan and Korea; that the mutual effort by Korea and Japan toward resolution itself is a future-oriented operation; and that they will jointly endeavor to continuously investigate, study and exchange by, for example, investigate and review individual issues that have been previously pointed out, until the day the the victims have been made whole.

December 11, 2010
Kim Pyeong-Woo, President, Korean Bar Association
Utsunomiya Kenji, President, Japanese Federation of Bar Assocations

Proposal for Final Resolution of Japanese Military "Comfort Women" Issue

Japanese Military "Comfort Women" Issue is an issue of violence and discrimination against women.

Regarding this issue, Japanese government, through the pronouncement of Minister of Foreign Affiairs Kono Yohei in August of 1993, recognized that it was an issue that seriously damaged the honor and dignity of many women, and expressed sincere intent of apology and regret toward everyone who had suffered. It further pronounced that it would review the ways to accept the responsibility as the government, and would hold this issue as a historical lesson by passing it onto the later generation through historical research and education.

Since then, however, incidents occured that made unclear that the Kono pronouncement was the basic stance of the Japanese government, such as remarks that denied the pronouncement made by the ruling party or cabinet members.

Furthermore, the later-established "Asia Women's Fund," as it paid "reparation" not out of the government's fund but out of private donations by Japanese people, was criticized as making ambiguous the responsibility of the Japanese government. Therefore, many victims of various nations refused to accept the "reparation." Moreover, many countries were not even included in the Fund, which disbanded in 2007 with many unresolved issued as the Fund itself recognized.

At the same time in the international society, there has been discussions in the United Nations Human Rights Committee, Anti-Discrimination and Minority Protection Subcommittee ("Human Rights Subcommittee") since 1992. Special rapporteur Radica Kumaraswamy in 1996, and special rapporteur Gaye McDougal in 1998 wrote strong recommendation to the Japanesegovernment in their respective reports. In addition, the Committee on Ending Discrimination Against Women strongly urged the final resolution in 1994, 2003 and 2009 in the final comments given on the review of the report of the Japanese government. In addition, Committee on Social Rights in 2001, Committee on Prohibition of Torture in 2007 and Human Rights Committee in 2008 gave recommendation to the Japanese government. The recommendation by the Human Rights Committee collected all previous recommendations by each committee, and serves as a strong recommendation that includes apologies and reparations, punishment of perpetrators, education of citizens, and refutation against attempts to deny the facts. Every year, International Labor Organization issues an opinion that demands urgent reparation for the victims, based on the view of the Committee of Experts on Application of Treaty Recommendations that this issue violates the Treaty Against Forced Labor. Furthermore in 2007, there have been resolutions passed in the United States House of Representatives, States-General of the Netherlands, Parliament of Canada and the European Parliament demanding sincere apology and reparation, which were delivered to the Japanese government.
There has been no other issue in the history of Japan that received recommendations from numerous international bodies over a decade. Japan voluntarily joined as the member of the United Nations Board of Human Rights, internationally promising to serve as an example for the worldwide protection of human rights and following the international treaties on human rights. For the Japanese government, devising a final resolution as the international society endeavors to eradicate discrimination and violence against women is a task that cannot be avoided.

Influenced by such international movements, domestically within Japan there have been 36 local governments (as of November 5, 2010) that passed a resolution demanding that the Japanese government swiftly resolve this issue.

As it has already been 19 years since this issue has been known to the Japanese society, the majority of the victims who reported have died or in frail health. The time remaining for the victims who desire the restoration of their dignity while alive is getting shorter. Right now is the time that the Japanese government must engage in real efforts for a final resolution.

As this year is the 100 year anniversary of Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty, Prime Minister Kan Naoto on August 10 of this year pronounced that: "We intend to engage history sincerely. With the courage to face the historical facts and the modesty to accept them, we wish to be honest in reflecting upon our faults. To the massive damages and pain brought by the colonial rule, we again express heartfelt regret and apology from the heart."

As the international society gazes upon the Japanese government's response to this issue, the efforts by the Japanese government as to how the spirit of the Prime Minister's pronouncement will be realized into a specific task are being inquired. Already in 1995, JFBA announced "Proposal on Military Comfort Women Issue," demanding the Japanese government (1) the discovery of truth; (2) official apology and reparations; (3) the use of Permanent Court of Arbitration; (4) the inheritance of facts as to history education. Since then, JFBA repeatedly demanded the quick resolution of this issue through various means including statement by the president.

Facing the centennial of Korea's annexation, KBA and JFBA wish the advancement of the human rights of women, demand from the Japanese government a fundamental and final resolution, and announce the below proposal based on the accord of the two bar associations.


Number 1.  Pass a legislation for reparation of victims of the "Comfort Women" system. In the legislation, include below:

1.  With respect to the "Comfort Stations" established and operated directly or indirectly by the Japanese military during World War II and the time leading up to the war, recognize that the imposition of organized and continuous sexual acts against women was a serious violation of human rights in contravention of domestic and international law of the time, and that it seriously damaged women's dignity and honor. Japan will apologize to the victims.

2.  Japan will make clear the responsibility for above, and will take actions to restore the victims' dignity and honor, including monetary compensation.

3.  For such action, establish the implementing committee that includes the Prime Minister and relevant officials, and will conduct hearing of the victims and the representatives of the victims.

Number 2.  Take appropriate actions to more completely explain the Japanese military's "Comfort Women" issue, such as establishing an inspecting institution within the legislature or the executive.

Number 3.  Through education and publication, take care that the truth about this issue is broadly taken root in and broadly spread over the society. In particular, as to the remarks that disparage the view of the Japanese government made clear through repetition, clarify the government's position by issuing refutation as the government.

Notes on the Proposal

1.  As to the title, "Japanese Military's Comfort Women Issue"
Thus far JFBA has been referring to the issue as "Military Comfort Women Issue," but because of the objections made by victims regarding this title, we entitle the issue "Japanese Military's Comfort Women Issue" based on the agreement of both bar associations.

2.  Proposal for Legislation to Make Reparations to Victims
There are opinions that actions may be taken as an administrative process under the leadership of the cabinet, through a special committee or committee of relevant ministries, without passing a legislation. But in order to clarify the purpose of the actions, implement the actions in a stable manner, and to objectively and clearly establish the conditions for reparations, a legislation is necessary.

3. The Relevant Period to Investigate the Damages
The relevant period is from 1931 to 1945, but it is expressed as "World War II and the time period leading up to the war."

4.  The Relevant Facts
The relevant fact is that under the direct or indirect supervision of the former army and navy, an imposition of organized and continuous sexual act against women was implemented. Make clear that it was an action by the former army and navy.

5.  Assessment of the Relevant Facts
Make clear that it violated the domestic and international laws at the time, and that it was an action that seriously damages women's dignity and honor. This is a repeated re-confirmation of the pronouncement of Ministry of Foreign Affairs Kono.

6.  Purpose of the Law
The purpose of this law is for the Japanese government to recognize the facts, apologize to all victims, and establish and implement actions to restore their dignity and honor. The purpose is also to strive for the final resolution of the "Comfort Women" issue, strengthening the true friendship not only between Korea and Japan but all victim nations and Japan, contributing toward advancement of human rights and international peace.

7.  Actions to Restore Dignity and Honor
Actions to restore dignity and honor includes monetary compensation. Abbreviated expression that allows for other means (for example, payment of medical expenses or physical therapy) is used.

8.  Specific Method of Implementation
As to specific implementation, we believe an establishment of a committee is necessary. The constitution of the committee must include relevant officials, including the Prime Minister, in order to secure the cooperation of the government and relevant administrative agencies. Also, a structure that ultimately respects the victims' opinion is necessary, such as including the representative of the victim's opinion or requiring the committee to implement after hearing from the opinion of the victim's representative.

9.  Actions to Explain the Entire Event
Japanese Military's "Comfort Women" issue is still not yet fully explained. The Japanese government needs to establish an institute for a more complete explanation of the events, including publication of the records that exists with each government ministries and legislative/administrative actions for establishing a budget, etc. We used the expression "appropriate actions" to include the above-explained actions that would have real effects.

10.  As to Education and Publication
The 1993 pronouncement of Minister of Foreign Affairs Kono was made clear as the government's basic position, and Prime Ministers since then, without exception, declared that they succeeded the position of the Kono pronouncement. But the ministers of that cabinet made remarks that appeared to deny this pronouncement, and moreover such remark has been left standing without any criticism or correction by the Japanese government. Therefore, the Japanese government could not escape the international criticism that it is acting in a very insincere manner.

In the background of several instances like above, there is a lack of information in the Japanese society as to the truth extent and nature of this issue. Therefore, it is necessary that the truth of this issue must appropriately take root in the next generation through education, and in the modern Japanese society through publication.

Also, should there be any remark that diminishes or denies the Kono pronouncement in the future, the Japanese government must official deny and refute such remark; if such remark is made by a government official, he must be held responsible. This would, for the first time, make the position of the Japanese government consistent.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.

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