In the Muddy Waters of Historical Revisionism: Isolated from International Society (Part 2)
by Kazuko Itō, Lawyer and Human Right Activist
Excerpt from her Blog
Most women who were forced to be taken as sex slaves were minors. If Japanese politicians really believe that under-age girls, who were living their lives threatened by knives and guns during Japan’s military occupation, were all voluntarily and arbitrarily drafted, then they lack common sense and overall sensitivity to human rights.
Worse than that, they seek to downplay Japan’s action by declaring that other states too used to have a sex slavery system, which is equivalent to a molester refusing to take responsibility for his actions simply because he knows others that did it too.
With such an attitude, Japan will not be able to recover its honor.
They should study the basics of human rights.
It seems that the Japanese government condones the arguments of some Japanese politicians despite the harms this causes to victims. One of the roles of any government is to rebut such shameful beliefs maintained by some politicians and educate people in order to prevent it from happening again, but the Japanese government is neglecting its duties by not making any comment.
The Big Gap between International Common Sense and Excuses That Japan Makes Only Exposes Japan’s Shame Further
International conflict over the issue of sex slavery is not merely a bilateral political problem between South Korea and Japan, but it’s also an issue of Japan’s international responsibility as a perpetrator for its damaging actions against women from other Asian countries as well as the Netherlands.
More importantly, international society has been paying attention to how serious infringements on women’s human rights should be compensated and it is focusing on how Japan will deal with the issue as a state that has inflicted damage.
When a state is aware of a serious infringement of human rights, it should investigate what happened, reveal the facts, name people who are responsible, punish them, and compensate the victims. And as a state, it should identify measures so that it never happens again. This is an established and stable approach in order to guard against the infringement of human rights, and is unanimously supported by the international community.
A state involved in the infringement of human rights is bound to such obligations. This principle has been agreed upon in international society for a long time.
Particularly, the serious infringement of human rights like sexual abuse under international conflict is recognized as one of the most shameful human rights infringements. Overcoming it is recognized as one of the most important issues.
Leaving such conducts unpunished concerns the entire international community.
It is disappointing that the Japanese government remains absolutely irrelevant and ignorant about how far international society has reached in terms of human rights protection and it does not understand the seriousness of the matter.
Japan reduces the matter to a question of whether there was forceful capture or not, and it argues that without forceful capture there is no infringement of human rights and it therefore has no responsibility to pay damages if there isn’t any evidence. Such an argument won’t work at all.
Japan’s excuses and its denial of the facts is so disgraceful internationally that it only dishonors Japan terribly.
As for the history of the Nazi Holocaust, Germany admitted its responsibility for damage and expressed its apology, after much deliberation. However, at least they did not deny nor diminish their responsibility in this matter. Germany overcame the grave crimes, remembers it, and teaches its people thoroughly, and has continued sincere efforts to prevent the recurrence of this horrific event.
These policies give Germany moral authority and respect from the international community even though it was involved in these serious infringements of human rights.
Japan, as a state that experienced the damage from nuclear bombs, has also put into practice the renunciation of war for a long time, dealing with its responsibility as a war offender no matter how inconclusive it may have been.
However, while denying the facts these days, Japan is losing its moral authority.
Original Article: http://wan.or.jp/book/?p=8093&page=2
Translated by Atsuko Ishikawa