Date of this Version
Today our subcommittee will consider House Resolution 121, introduced by my good friend and colleague, Congressman Honda, which urges, basically, the Government of Japan to formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility for its Imperial Armed Force’s coercion of young women into sexual slavery— or forced prostitution if you want to put it in other terms— during its occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands before and during World War II.
I want to note for the record that former Congressman Lane Evans from the State of Illinois originally spearheaded this effort to defend the human rights of those who came to be known as Japanese military, and I quote, ‘‘comfort women.’’ Congressman Honda has continued Mr. Evans’ work in part to bring clarity and closure to this issue given that there has been some suggestion the Government of Japan is now trying to downplay its culpability.
I want to note that in terms of some of the information that has been brought to the Chair’s attention, I wanted to say that before giving the opportunity to the members of the committee and especially also to our first witness, Congressman Honda, I would like to make this as an opening statement part of the chairman.
Clearly, it is a matter of historical record that the Japanese military forced at least some 50,000 to 200,000 women from Korea, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Holland and Indonesia to provide sex to Japanese soldiers during World War II and even before that. House Resolution 121, introduced by Congressman Honda, calls upon the U.S. House of Representatives to urge Japan to accept full responsibility for the actions of its military.
Japan contends that it has accepted responsibility. But it wasn’t until the 1980s and 1990s that major publications in Japan began to describe the details of what is now known as the ‘‘comfort women’’ system, and that countries occupied by Japan also began to speak out about it.
In response to these developments, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono Yohei issued a statement of admission and apology in 1992. Prime Minister Koizumi also issued an apology in the year 2001. However, in 2006, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Shimomura Hakubun, as well as Japan’s largest circulating newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun, specifically challenged the validity of the Kono Statement and this has led to the belief that Japan is attempting to revise history.