Japan’s responsibility for crimes against ‘Comfort Women’

31 October 2012

During World War II, the Imperial Japanese military was involved in the abduction and trafficking of many thousands of women for their sexual exploitation in “comfort stations” where they were raped, sexually abused and many were killed.

Redress and accountability is vital for all victims in any conflict aftermath. The victims euphemistically called “comfort women” particularly suffered from stigmatisation and repudiation. However, the Government of Japan has refused on several occasions to fully acknowledge its responsibility in having sanctioned this system of sexual slavery and rape operated by the Imperial Japanese military.

While the apologies issued by the Government of Japan in the past can be seen as the first steps on the right path, more recent refusals from the government of Japan and other public figures to accept responsibility is highly concerning. The government of Japan has not recognised its direct responsibility nor has it provided a public recognition (and inclusion in the teaching of history), redress and compensation. Such a public recognition, redress and compensation should be led by the demands made by the collectives of victims and should not come from private funds.

WILPF reminds the UPR working group that war and conflict often goes hand in hand with trafficking of women as an additional atrocity for women with the patriarchal appalling reasoning that only the availability of sex slaves will prevent the troops from inevitably raping the women of the civil population. Far from this being true, institutionalising rape and sexual abuse only leads, and led in this instance, to the banalisation of sexual crimes and their proliferation.

WILPF would like to make the following recommendation to the Government of Japan and invites Member States to join in doing so:

“That the Government of Japan recognises its collective and institutional responsibility for the crimes of trafficking, rape, sexual abuse and killing of many thousands of women through the instauration of a system of “comfort stations “and that it offers a public recognition of the victims and redress for the survivals and their descendants in a victim-led process.”

Download this statement in PDF here.