Comfort women issue, longstanding contentious issue between Japan and the Republic of Korea.
by International Career Support Association and International Research Institute of Controversial Histories (iRICH)
The Government of Japan prepared and submitted its official 42-page detailed rebuttal to Annex 1 of the Report on "Violence against Women and Its Causes and Consequences," submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Committee by Special Rapporteur Radhika Coomaraswamy on January 4, 1996, "Report based on the visit to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea and Japan on the issue of military sexual slavery in time of war. However, a Japanese diplomat assigned to the United Nations at the time retracted his written rebuttal, fearing that doing so might provoke a debate on the comfort women issue.
A major influence on the Kumaraswamy Report was Etsuro Totsuka, a lawyer who was then a member of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations' Special Committee on Overseas Investigations. He was the one who changed the term "comfort women," who were simply wartime prostitutes earning a living, to "sex slaves.
By using the word "slave," which is the most tragic history for blacks and the most negative history for whites in human history, and a very sensitive word for both sides, he has brought attention to both sides in a short period of time.
Etsuro Totsuka, a lawyer with a Korean spouse, began lobbying the United Nations in February 1992 under the name of an NGO called "International Development for Education (IDE)" to position wartime prostitutes as victims and to make the international community aware of a fiction that is not based on fact.
In May 1993, the Subcommittee notified the Government of Japan of the points to note based on the IDE's request for individual compensation for former comfort women.
In July 1993, the United Nations Human Rights Commission's "Human Rights Commission Subcommittee on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities" adopted a resolution to appoint a special rapporteur on the issue of wartime slavery. Sri Lankan citizen Radika Coomaraswamy was appointed as Special Rapporteur.
The term "Wartime Prostitutes" was paraphrased as "Sex Slaves" by the Japan Federation of Bar Associations through its lobbying activities at the United Nations.
Kosei Tsuchiya, then president of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, wrote in his statement on November 16, 1995, that the Japan Federation of Bar Associations treated comfort women as "Sex Slaves or Sexual Slavery" at the United Nations and used the UN to lobby for compensation from the Japanese government to the comfort women.
Etsuro Totsuka was later dismissed from the Japan Federation of Bar Associations as a member of the Foreign Investigation Special Committee for being too political.
Etsuro Totsuka's common-law wife is Yamashita Yeong-ae (Choi Yeong-ae), born to a Japanese mother married to a man who was a former senior official of the North Korea-affiliated the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon). Yamashita is a member of the South Korean Council for Measures Against the Korean Paratroopers (now Justice Memory Solidarity for the Resolution of the Japanese Military Sexual Slavery Issue).
The spouse of Takashi Uemura, a reporter at the time who distorted the comfort women issue and wrote several articles for the Asahi Newspaper, is also the daughter of Yang Soon-im, then president of the Bereaved Families Association of Victims of the Pacific War, who was arrested by the South Korean authorities in December 2011 on charges of fraud.
This then Asahi Shimbun reporter, Takashi Uemura, was found by the Japanese Supreme Court in its March 2021 ruling to have reported “in his interviews that women were taken to the battlefield and made to become comfort women by the Japanese military" while hearing that they had been tricked into becoming comfort women by brokers.
This means that this Asahi Newspaper reporter, Takashi Uemura, wrote something in the newspaper that was not true. However, the influence of the newspaper was so strong that the false perception spread around the world, and even the UN Special Rapporteur came to believe it.
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations is a special interest organization that all lawyers are "forced" to join in order to practice law in Japan, and only a small group of lawyers with strong political views have organized an NGO, which is not the consensus of the lawyers who belong to the Japan Federation of Bar Associations. In the first place, it is against the mission of lawyers to act on political ideas, and the lawyers belonging to the NGO are only using the name of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations to act as if they are the consensus of all lawyers in Japan and are working at the United Nations.
In the first place, the issue of comfort women was one in which private contractors outsourced by the Japanese military recruited prostitutes in exchange for a huge advanced payment, and families and women suffering from poverty on the Korean Peninsula and elsewhere under Japanese rule at the time applied for the job.
It is undeniable that some of these women decided to become comfort women after consulting with their parents, others were sold by their parents, and still others were naively persuaded by private brokers. However, it is clear from various documents of the time that there was no such thing as systematic forced enrollment by the Japanese government or the Japanese military in system.
On the other hand, when we pointed out the inconsistency of their claims, the organizations and groups that claimed that the Japanese military had forced them into sexual slavery propagated various invented stories as facts, claiming that the Japanese military had burned the evidence to destroy it.
In addition, the texts they use as evidence include the official documents of the Japanese government regarding recruitment at the time, but they simply hide the parts that are inconvenient for their claims and distort the parts that are convenient to them, claiming them as evidence.
This shows that while they say that the Japanese military incinerated the evidence to destroy the evidence, they themselves have shown that the evidence exists. They do not care about these contradictions.
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations NGO has a close relationship with the Korean Council for the Korean Volunteer Corps Issue (currently the Justice and Memory Solidarity to Solve the Issue of Japanese Military Sexual Slavery).
However, this "volunteer corps" is a "labor service organization" that is legal even in light of international law.
The Women's Volunteer Corps was formed in Japan in August 1944, just before the end of the war, when the Women's Volunteer Work Ordinance was issued. In addition, it is clear from the contents of the law that in the Korean peninsula, recruitment was done through official mediation and there was absolutely no coercion.
In short, South Korea did not even know the difference between "comfort women" and the "volunteer corps," and did not even understand the internal use of the work, and created an organization called the "Korea Council for Measures against the Issue of the Volunteer Corps."
On May 25, 2020, Lee Yong Soo, a self-proclaimed former comfort woman who was also a billboard for the Korean Council for measure of Volunteer Corps Issue held a press conference, expressing her belief that she had been "used and deceived" by this organization and "I will never forgive the Korean Council for measure of Volunteer Corps Issue for using comfort women.”
At this press conference, Lee Yong Soo said about Yoon Mi-hyang, then president of this organization and now a member of the South Korean National Assembly, "She need to be charged with crimes she has committed and punished," "she had fulfilled her personal interests by cheating us for 30 years," "She had used comfort women. She betrayed me, betrayed the people, betrayed and deceived the whole world," she said.
She also expressed her anger at the way the campaign has been conducted that claims that former comfort women were "sex slaves" and the damage was caused by the former Japanese military. She angrily said, "Why am I a sex slave? It is an outrageous story."
In contrast, Yoon Mi-hyang that Lee Yong Soo, whom she has used as a poster woman for 30 years to raise donations, was not actually a comfort woman.
Yoon Mi-hyang has been accused of using self-proclaimed former comfort women to collect a donation fund and building five mansions with their donations, and is currently on trial with South Korean prosecutors seeking a five-year prison sentence.
She, a former leader of the Korean Council for Measure of Volunteer Corps Issue, had gotten a taste of the support money raised for the comfort women, distorted the women's statements and created a story to make them sound miserable. The content of the story was unimaginably tragic, and the mass media picked up on it.
Thus, the comfort women issue was created by some Japanese lawyers and newspaper reporters with Korean spouses, and subsequently continued to be fabricated by several interest groups in Korea and Japan, and no evidence of coercion by the state or the military has been found even from a full-scale investigation conducted by the Japanese government.
However, Yohei Kono, then Chief Cabinet Secretary of the Japanese government, issued a statement at the behest of the South Korean government. This was the first statement that referred to the comfort women issue, known as the Kono Statement.
There is a national culture of "honne tatemae (one`s true feeling and one`s official stand)" that prevails in Japan and among Japanese people. The Japanese do not like conflict. Therefore, when things are going downhill, they tend to try to settle the situation or calm the situation by apologizing, even if they are not in the wrong and do not think they are in the wrong.
In addition, there is a proverb that says, ``The more the rice grows, the more it bows its head.''
This is one of the behaviors that are regarded as good deeds in Japan, as they say, "The higher your status, the more humble you should be." It is no exaggeration to say that the naive diplomacy of the Japanese government at the time, which used methods that were only applicable domestically, created the current comfort women issue.
While successive Japanese government cabinets have said that they will follow the Kono Statement, the Japanese government has subsequently passed resolutions at cabinet meetings stating that "there is no forced recruitment by the military or officials in the comfort women issue," and "the name 'military comfort women' is incorrect.” The cabinet has passed several resolutions stating that "comfort women are not members of the military.” These contradictions of the Japanese government have been repeatedly pointed out at the UN Human Rights Council, other treaty body committee meetings, and in the international community, but the Japanese government has made no attempt to correct these contradictions, which has led to distrust of the Japanese government. Furthermore, it has seriously damaged the credibility of the Japanese people in the international community, and this contradiction of the Japanese government has developed into a violation of the human rights of the Japanese people.
Groups and NGOs who are engaging in lobbying activities for comfort women issues and forced laborers issue are almost the same. Japan and South Korea made every effort for 14years since 1951 to normalize the relationship between the two nations and concluded the following: “Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea” and “Agreement Between Japan and the Republic of Korea Concerning the Settlement of Problems in Regard to Property and Claims and Economic Cooperation.” The Japanese government needs to explain that treaty and agreement further to the international community in order to expose the fraudulent acts of the groups and NGOs. Further, Japan should demand South Korea to comply based on the law and the order regarding “Failure of the Republic of Korea to comply with obligations regarding arbitration under the Agreement.”
Based on the above agreement with the Republic of Korea which was concluded in 1965, the Japanese government spent 800 million dollars (more than twice the national budget of South Korea at that time) for South Korea and provided equipment and property, free of charge, to South Korea, which were left in the country and was worth more than 5 billion dollars.
However, the South Korean government under President Park Chung-hee used the money for the country’s infrastructure development instead of paying it to its people for compensation. The fact that Japanese support was not used for unpaid compensation of people has developed to the problem of comfort women and forced laborers between the two nations.
We, International Career Support Association, would like to ask the United Nations Human Rights Council to demand the Japanese government to do the following:
1． To vacate the Kono statement in order to solve the contradiction of the Japanese government regarding the comfort women issue.
2． To submit the rebuttal paper regarding the comfort women issue, which the Japanese government prepared but did not submit in 1996, to the UNHRC and other treaty committees.
3． To make every effort to solve the misunderstanding of the comfort women issue in order to protect human rights for the Japanese people domestically and internationally.
4. To appeal to the international community the violation of the South Korean government regarding the agreement concluded in 1965 as well as the agreement of 2015 regarding the comfort women issue. South Korea has been repeatedly violating international law because the country is governed by people’s feeling not by the law.
We also request the UNHRC to send Japan another special rapporteur to reinvestigate the comfort women issue based on fact. Both the Coomaraswamy Report and McDougall Report were written based on the fabrication of activists, lawyers, journalists, novelists, etc., who have their own agenda to fabricate the comfort women issue. We hope that conducting an investigation based on facts, the lies of the comfort women issues will be revealed and the truth will come out.
There is a comfort woman statue in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, which is a clear violation of the Vienna Convention. Further, there are more than 100 statues all over the country, and they have been building statues in the US and other countries. Some Korean elementary school girls answer, “I want to be a comfort woman,” in response to a question, “What do you want to be in the future?” Such an indoctrination is even a human rights violation against children.
Based on the reports written by Kim Byung heon, who is a researcher of history textbooks of South Korea, and Professor John Mark Ramseyer of Harvard University Law School in the US, it is clear that the comfort women issue is the maneuver by North Korea to divide Japan and South Korea.
We think that the UNHRC has a duty to investigate this matter and not to be involved in the violation of human rights against Japanese people anymore.