house passes comfort women resolution

It was an important day in the fight for justice on behalf of comfort women. Today, the House passed HR 121, calling on the government of Japan to finally accept responsibility for its Imperial Armed Forces' coercion of women into sexual slavery in World War II: House wants Japan apology on sex slaves. Now, the nonbinding resolution is largely symbolic, because it doesn't actually force the Japanese government to do anything. But the cause now has the important official backing of the United States House of Representatives. The resolution urges Japan—which has never fully accepted responsiblity for its wartime atrocities—to "formally acknowledge, apologize and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner" for the suffering of "comfort women." More here: House seeks Japan's apology on "comfort women". Here's Amnesty International's press release on the resolution:
Amnesty International Calls U.S. House of Representatives Resolution an Important Step Toward Justice for "Comfort Women"

(Washington, D.C.) - Amnesty International today commended the U.S. House of Representatives for passing House Resolution 121, calling on the government of Japan to finally accept responsibility for its Imperial Armed Forces' coercion of women into sexual slavery in World War II.

"The U.S. House of Representatives resolution sends an unambiguous signal to the Japanese government that justice is long overdue to the victims forced into prostitution by the Japanese military during World War II," said Dr. Purna Sen, Asia-Pacific Program Director with Amnesty International.

"This resolution also sends a powerful message to the survivors, who have combated a lifetime of hardship and stigma, and who still bear the terrible scars from the sexual slavery - that their plight is not forgotten, and their demands for justice and redress remain relevant to a world where violence against women is still rampant.

"Amnesty International calls on the Japanese government to take immediate steps to provide legal redress, a full apology and full reparations to survivors of sexual slavery including restitution, compensation, rehabilitation and guarantees of non-repetition."

Tens of thousands of women were forcibly abducted and deceived into sexual slavery in Japanese military-controlled "comfort stations" organized in the different occupied countries before and during World War II. Amnesty International believes that the crimes perpetrated against these women amount to crimes against humanity. To this day, the Japanese government has refused adequately and unequivocally to acknowledge its responsibility for the crimes committed against former "comfort women."

For more on Amnesty International's work on Japan, please go to http://www.amnestyusa.org/By_Country/Japan/page.do?id=1011178 .
And here's House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's statement on the resolution:
Pelosi: Congress Stands With 'Comfort Women'

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today upon the passage of H.Res. 121, a resolution calling on the Japanese government to formally acknowledge and apologize for its Imperial Armed Forces' coercion of young women, known as "comfort women," into sexual slavery during its occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands during the World War II era:

"Today, the House of Representatives made a strong statement in support of human rights by calling on the Japanese government to formally acknowledge and apologize for their forced coercion of women into sexual slavery during World War II.

"More than 200,000 women were subject to inhumane treatment at the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army. Ironically called 'comfort women,' these women were deceived, kidnapped, and beaten to perform sexual acts against their will.

"More than 50 years later, the Japanese government has still not issued a clear apology to the 'comfort women' and has yet to formally recognize the atrocities they committed during that era. This is disappointing because Japan is a critical ally and has taken a leading international role on issues such as global warming and assistance to the poorest people in the world. Yet in this case, the Japanese government should do more to recognize these injustices.

"Although the violence against the 'comfort women' occurred many years ago, their wounds have yet to heal. Only a few hundred of these brave women are still alive. They continue to tell their story today, so future generations will not repeat the mistakes of the past.

"Today's vote sends a strong signal that we will stand with the 'comfort women' in their struggle for truth and recognition."
The HR 121 Coalition will be holding a 'report back' press conference tomorrow in Los Angeles, to give a full account of the passage of the resolution in Congress, as well as sharing plans for the future. Tuesday, July 31st, 2:30pm at the JJ Grand Hotel in Koreatown (620 S. Harvard Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90005). For more information, contact Daniel (Sung Ho) Lee at 310-713-0089.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is not happy, calling the passage of the resolution "regrettable": U.S. Call for Sex Slavery Apology 'Regrettable,' Says Japanese Leader. You know what's truly "regrettable"? A world leader who categorically denies and refuses to acknowledge his government's past sins. Japan has so much to offer the world community, but its progress will continually be hindered until this issue is finally laid to rest.

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