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韓国サイト Q&A No.14

従軍慰安婦

Q.What does the letter of apology for comfort women from the Japanese Prime minister say?


A.The Japanese government acknowledged the Japanese army was directly or indirectly involved in recruiting comfort women in Kono Statement. In 1995, as a part of the ‘post-war 50 year issue project,’Murayama government established the ‘sia Women’ Fund’for comfort women victims, making a one-time atonement of a letter of apology from the Prime Minister, money, and medical support. In his statement, then Prime Minister Murayama explained the purpose of the fund, stating; “The issue of comfort women was a grave at front to the honor and dignity of women. I would like to take this opportunity once again to express my profound and sincere remorse and apologies.” In this regard, the letter of apology delivered to the victims contains the historical judgement and assesment of the Japanese goverNment concerning the damages of military comfort women issue.

However, the letter of apology delivered to the victims was a far cry from the opinion of the international society on the issue, not mentioning that it was a crime against humanity and a clear violation of the international law: When the Asian Women’ Fund offered the victims a letter of apology and atonement money, Japanese Prime Minister Hashimoto made clear in the letter that the apology was based upon “is personal feelings.”Also, the letter attempted to avoid the issues of legal obligations of the Japanese government for the war crime committed by the Japanese military, stating that the government was “painfully aware of its moral responsibility.” Therefore, the money given by the Japanese government through the Fund was not governmental reparation, but a sympathy money or medical support provided on the basis of humanitarian response. This attitude of the Japanese government has made the “comfort women”victims demand governmental reparation for Japan’ past crime, not a sympathy money. Geizo Obuchi, a successor to Prime Minister Hashimoto, expressed heartfelt apology to those who suffered under the brutal Japanese colonial rule in “Japan-Republic of Korea Joint Declaration, A New Japan-Republic of Korea Partnership towards the Twenty-first Century”at a 1998 summit with then Korean President Daejung Kim. Obuchi’ apology was the first official governmental statement. The expression of owabie in Japanese or sajoe(shazai in Japanese) in Korea was used in the declaration. Korea accepted these expressions as Japan’ acknowledgment of its past crime. However, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizmi who took office after Obuchi wrote in his letter of apology that he was “painfully aware of its moral responsibilities,”emphasizing that the apology was out of “is feelings.”This reflects Japan’ retrogressive view on history different from 1998 Japan-Republic of Korea Joint Declaration.

Worse, incumbent Prime Minister Shinzo Abe insists, “here is no evidence to prove there was coercion, “and”no apology will be made even if a resolution on this is passed at the U.S. Congress.”His remarks undermined the former Prime Ministers’words of apology, denying its legal and moral responsibilities completely.
This attitude of the Japanese government can be compared with a case of “ivil Liberties Act of 1988”of the U.S. The U.S government enacted “Civil Liberties Act of 1988”to made reparations for Japanese American victims who were forcefully detained right after “earl Harbour” offering a presidential letter of apology and 20 thousand dollars to the victims. “Civil Freedom Act” acknowledged the governmental responsibilities for its past deed and included measures for prevention of recurrence of such case and for recovery of trust such as official apology. Contrarily, the Japanese government refuses to acknowledge that “comfort women”was a crime against humanity in violation of the international law. Also, it shows no willingness to take any action about any efforts to deny its legal and moral responsibilities. A remark of apology by Prime Minister or Chief Cabinet Secretary made without Cabinet’ resolution is just a personal expression of apology, not a governmental or public one.

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