“House Seeks Japan's Apology on "Comfort Women"
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives on Monday called on Japan to apologize for forcing thousands of women into sexual servitude to its soldiers during and before World War II.
On a voice vote, the House approved a nonbinding resolution intended as a symbolic statement on the Japanese government's role in forcing up to 200,000 "comfort women" into a wartime brothel program starting in the 1930s.
The vote marked a rare rebuke by Washington politicians of Washington's closest ally in Asia. An official at the Japanese Embassy in Washington would not comment on the House vote, leaving it to government officials in Tokyo.
"Today, the House will send a message to the government of Japan that it should deliver an official, unequivocal, unambiguous apology for the indignity the comfort women suffered," said Rep. Mike Honda, the California Democrat who pushed the legislation through the House.
One of those women, Yong Soo Lee, a Korean, was inside the House chamber watching the debate and vote.
Honda, 66, is a Japanese-American who spent his early childhood in a World War II internment camp in Colorado.
In 1993, Japan acknowledged a state role in the wartime program, which mostly victimized Chinese and Korean women. Japan's government later established a fund, which collected private donations and offered payments of about $20,000 to 285 women.
But more recently, Japanese officials including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, have denied there was evidence the government or military were directly involved in procuring the women. He later apologized for the women's suffering and said he stood by the 1993 statement.
"There can be no denying the Japanese Imperial military coerced thousands upon thousands of Asian women," House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos of California said. "Those who posit that all of the 'comfort women' were happily complicit and acting of their own accord simply do not understand the meaning of the word rape," added Lantos, a Holocaust survivor.
Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party was dealt a crushing defeat in an upper house election on Sunday amid a string of government scandals and unresolved health care and pension issues. But Abe vowed to stay in his post.
In June, Japanese Ambassador Ryozo Kato wrote a letter to U.S. House Speaker harmful effects on the deep friendship, close trust and wide-ranging cooperation our two nations now enjoy."
(解説１) 「voice vote」という、票決方法だが、議長が、議題に対して、「aye or no？」と会場に一斉に叫ばせて、声が大きい方を選ぶという原始的な手法。つまり、本日は、aye の声が大きかったのです。ばかにしていますねえ？
(解説２） 日本政府には三つの選択肢がある。１）百ぐらいの理由をつけて拒否する。２）頭を下げて謝る。３）「日本政府 vs マイク・ホンダ」という国家の名誉を賭けて法廷闘争をする。
(解説３） ６０年余の蜜月は終了し、日米に「冷戦」が始まったのかも知れない。この伊勢ならば、第３の法廷闘争を迷わず採る。法廷闘争を選んだら、伊勢に団長を任せなさい。乾坤一滴で勝って見せる。伊勢平次郎 コロラドにて、
Madam Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the U. S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. Office - 235 Cannon HOB - Washington, DC 20515
Re: Comfort Women
July 12, 2007
Dear Madam Nancy Pelosi:
I take the liberty to write you a letter in the hope that I may have my request met by you.
First, I would like to congratulate you on becoming the first woman Speaker of the House in US history.
I just read Chairman Lantos remarks regarding “The Comfort Women” resolution by the foreign affairs committee, issued on June 26, 2007. I was very disturbed and disappointed with the committee’s judgment on this issue. There are some flaws in Rep. Lantos remarks. I would call it “an attack.” Please review the remarks in a separate attached sheet and examine the particular underlined phrases.
I disagree with Rep. Lantos’s charges and accusations. In addition, I do not accept the provocative and insensitive language used in this statement. I strongly oppose politicians passing judgment on moral issues. If moral is the issue, then, American hands are not as clean as you think. If these charges were taken to a court of law and I was Counsel for Japan, I would shout loudly “Objection, your honor, these charges are nothing but rhetoric sir.” I have already strongly recommended to my people of Japan that they should refuse your demand.
Let’s talk about the legality of the resolution. The burden of proof is on the accuser’s shoulders. Rep. Lantos must prove his case with credible evidence and more importantly all evidence must be presented in a court of law in order to provide a chance for cross examination by legal professionals.
Ultimately, Rep. Honda must present this case with his clients to a court, not to a group of his colleagues who have joined the wagon without educated thought. Frankly, Madam Pelosi, as reported in the Japanese media, Rep. Honda is inspired by the idea that by attacking Japan under the name of human rights; and receiving contributions from anti-Japanese organizations mainly Chinese Americans, and by courting the Chinese vote as his constituency he will retain his seat in the House. For little money he has initiated a negative campaign against Japan, a vital friend and ally to America. Mr. Honda has been wasting American tax payer’s money for the past nine years on this issue.
Back to the legality, in this House Committee there were no attorneys, judges or jurors. Rep. Honda acted as a prosecutor and Rep. Lantos acted as a judge. That is simply wrong in the eyes of American law. Without the presence of the defendant, which is Japan in this case, this trial by the self-appointed judge Lantos is as gravely illegal as President Bush’s war with Iraq.
The notion that Rep. Lantos can indict Japan, (on a sixty four year old history issue), along with his colleagues support and pass a verdict that modern Japan is still guilty today and ask the US Congress to demand an apology is beyond absurdity. Another case they launched was the Ottoman Turks on Armenian genocide (1894/1916), a Century old history. The foreign affairs committee led by Rep. Lantos is insane. If this committee were fair and not politically motivated we should bring back all of the massacres world wide starting with the American Indians at the battle of “Little Big Horn.” Should you apologize to these Native Americans?
Rep. Lantos behavior reminds me of Joseph Raymond McCarthy in 1950’s. The infamous “guilty by suspicion” verdict based on witness’s memories and the memories of others damaged many innocent American citizens. How does Rep. Lantos know his witnesses were telling him the truth?
In the Japanese media a tremendous distrust against the Democrats has been born, especially, against the Bay Area Liberals. Already, I have seen a surge of nationalism in Japan, the public expressing rage towards the congressman who passed the resolutions last month. They feel they were stabbed in their back by trusted friends. Please note that the Japanese people accepted the fact that the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs were dropped due to their failure of having not surrendered much earlier. Japan decided not to ask America for an apology. They have now overcome their unforgiving feelings against Americans.
Madam Pelosi, I would like to request that you do not pass this unpopular resolution. Instead, you as House Speaker must hold your colleagues back and spend more time for further study. If you pass the resolution in a few weeks, you will make a historical mistake equal to that of President Bush’s Iraq war. The consequence will be disastrous. I can guarantee you that you will put an end to the two nation’s sixty two years long peaceful and productive relationship.
I understand that Americans don’t read Japanese text; therefore, you don’t have first hand knowledge of our history. For example, Japan was the largest contributor for the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and President Calvin Coolidge returned this favor by sending US navy ships with food and medicine to the people of Tokyo during the earthquake in 1923. Moreover, 1948, Americans sent thousands of Cupids dolls to the Japanese children who lost their parents in the war. Japanese children sang a song called “Cupid with blue eyes.” The Japanese sent hundreds of Japanese Kimono dolls to America in return. These are small examples with large significance. Japan contributed to the SF earthquake in 1989, and the cable car reconstruction, the Katrina fund, Tsunami fund, etcetera, etcetera. Not only did we rebuilt our country from ashes, we began helping others including Americans. Japan is a major contributor to relief aid for world catastrophes.
You must remember that we supported the Gulf War at a cost to one hundred twenty two million Japanese from one day old to hundred years old “one hundred dollars each.” We have been supporting this unpopular Iraq war for five years now with financial backing and our troops. Meanwhile, China has not sent a single soldier or spent one penny towards this war effort.
Madam Pelosi, we all know that war is a human failure, there are no winners in war. America as victor of the Pacific War does not possess the right to continue a sixty year old war of words. That war consumed three million three hundred thousand Japanese lives, hundreds of thousands wounded and killed on both sides. In Hiroshima and Nagasaki the atomic bombing took innocent women and children’s lives like never before and not since in the history of human warfare. History is best not to be forgotten and not to be repeated.
My wife and I are Democrats and have contributed to your party. President Clinton wrote me an email, and I contributed my social security income to the mid-term election campaign last November. We continue to support Democratic issues, but not this one. Our reason to support the Democratic Party is to balance the power of the office of President George W. Bush’s administration by taking over the US congress and we have done it together. We want our troops to come home from Iraq and stop killing thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians and to find a reasonable conclusion to this war.
I was supervisor for the construction of Toyota automotive plants in America. Later, I was Public Relations for the Toyota group until I retired. We have created a half million jobs for Americans. Whether you agree or not, today, our national security means that we Japanese and Americans are vital allies against the Chinese military buildup and Islamic terrorism. Thank you for listening to me.
Nobuyoshi Ozaki / Christine Aragon
[Remarks of Chairman Lantos on H. Res. 121, regarding Comfort Women, at committee markup]
I would first like to commend my friend and neighbor in California, our distinguished colleague, Congressman Honda of California, for introducing this important resolution and for all his hard work to give voice to the victims in this matter.
The Government of Japan's unwillingness to offer a formal and unequivocal apology to the women forced to be sexual slaves in World War II stands in stark contrast to its role in the world today. Japan is a proud world leader and a valued U.S. ally, making its unwillingness to honestly account for its past all the more perplexing.
Japan is clearly our greatest friend in Asia and one of our closest partners in the world. The U.S-Japan relationship is the bedrock of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. Our alliance and friendship are based on mutual respect and admiration, and together we have helped promote our shared values of democracy, economic opportunity, and human rights in Asia and throughout the world.
Yet, Japan's refusal to make an official government apology to the women who suffered as so-called “comfort women” is disturbing to all who value this relationship.
The true strength of a nation is tested when it is forced to confront the darkest chapters in its history. Will it have the courage to face up to the truth of its past, or will it hide from those truths in the desperate and foolish hope they will fade with time?
Post-War Germany made the right choice. Japan, on the other hand, has actively promoted historical amnesia.
The facts are plain: there can be no denying that the Japanese Imperial military coerced thousands upon thousands of women, primarily Chinese and Koreans, into sexual slavery during the war.
The continued efforts by some in Japan to distort history and play a game of blame-the-victim are also highly disturbing. Most recently, on June 14th, members of the Japanese government took out an advertisement in the Washington Post that smears the survivors of the comfort women system, including those who testified before our Subcommittee on Asia, Pacific, and Global Affairs.
The advertisement suggests that these women, who were forcibly and repeatedly raped by soldiers, were engaged, and I quote, in “licensed prostitution that was commonplace around the world at the time.” This is a ludicrous assertion totally counter to the facts.
Our resolution calls on the Government of Japan to officially acknowledge and apologize for the appalling acts that Imperial Japan committed against the “comfort women.” It is a resolution that seeks admission of a horrible truth in order that this horror may never be perpetrated again.
But most importantly, it speaks out for the victims of this monstrous act, who were terrorized and brutalized by men at war. It gives voice to these courageous women whom others have tried to silence through shame, bigotry, and threats of further violence.
It is appropriate that this House stand up for these women, who ask only that the truth be honored.
Finally, let me clear up the intent of Congress: we do not want our good friend and ally Japan to believe we regard them in perpetual punishment for their refusal to acknowledge the comfort women episode. We want a full reckoning of history to help everyone heal, and then move on.
I strongly support this resolution and I urge all of my colleagues across the aisle to do so likewise. Tom Lantos
(解説）原爆投下を私自身は容認していません。許せぬことを克服する日本人の心を述べたかった。この抗議文は完璧ではありませんが、ぺロシに伝わればそれで良しとします。日本の政治家が、WASHINGTON POST に再び、広告を出したいとき、私に文章を書かせて下さい。
カリブ海、プエルトリコ島の首都はサン・ホアン。「聖ヨハネ」にちなんだスペイン語。カリブ海の最も美しい港で要処とされた。この港の争奪をめぐって、スペイン VS 大英帝国・オランダは何百年も争ったが、そのつど、島民はスペインに加担して島を守った。１８９８年に米西戦争が起きると、島民はスペインの時代は終わったとし、アメリカ領・アメリカ市民となった。だが、本土からの独立を守って自治してきた。プエルトリコ人は、賢い選択をして生き延びてきたのだ。