Following the U.S. House of Representatives’ approval of a resolution calling upon the Japanese government to apologize for its history of forced sexual slavery during World War II, the human rights organization Amnesty International and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi have issued statements praising the decision.
According to a press release made available by Amnesty International, the organization “commended” the House of Representatives for passing the resolution. The statement quoted the organization’s Asia-Pacific Director as saying that “justice is long overdue,” and calling upon the government of Japan to compensate and apologize to victims. The AI website indicates that their organization was founded in 1961 and has more than 1,800,000 members throughout the world.
Another press release, issued by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, called the resolution a “strong statement” in favor of human rights. It stated that the Japanese government had still failed to provide a “clear apology,” despite having victimized over two-hundred thousand women during World War II, and remarked that hundreds of the so-called “comfort women” still are alive.
A news story from the Reuters agency on Monday indicated that the current Prime Minister of Japan has made varying statements regarding the issue, sometimes denying that authorities were involved. It quoted the Ambassador of Japan as warning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in June that the approval of the resolution would have “lasting and harmful effects” on relations between the U.S. and Japan. Meanwhile, according to the same news story, the Prime Minister’s party was heavily defeated in an election held on Sunday, due to various scandals and other issues.
The United States is considered to be Japan’s closest or one of its closest allies. Japanese relations with China, North Korea, and to some extent South Korea tend to be antagonistic due to Japan’s past colonialism, territorial disputes, moves to revise Japan’s constitution (regarding overseas military activities), disputed history textbooks, and various other issues.
According to Wikipedia, most women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military were Chinese or Korean, although some were Taiwanese, Filipino, or of other nationalities. It details changing statements made by Japanese officials at different times regarding the issue and responsibility for it. It indicates that researchers and politicians continue to disagree about what actually occured, but most who aren’t in Japan feel that the Japanese military was directly responsible for committing such crimes.
1. Amnesty International USA, http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?lang=e&id=ENGUSA20070730001
2. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, http://www.speaker.gov/newsroom/pressreleases?id=0266
3. Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSN3041972020070730
4. Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comfort_women