Monday, February 19, 2007

Resolution on Comfort Women

I don't know if any of you were able to make it to the talk we had last Friday with the three comfort women who tesified on the Hill last Thursday (see this article). It was quite emotional and powerful for me since it was the first time I ever got to meet and listen to the stories of comfort women in such graphic detail.

When someone in the audience asked what kind of apology would be acceptable to them, the Dutch woman replied she would take an apology from the government that didn't have politicians negating the apology right after it was developed--an apology that truly came from the Japanese government. Lee Yong-soo, the woman in the picture, was more forceful and said she would accept nothing less than the Japanese government kneeling in front of her and asking for her forgiveness.

This Congressional hearing has caused a stir in Japan with Foreign Minister Taro Aso stating that sexual exploitation of women during WWII was groundless and "definitely not based on facts." Some LDP members have also started a campaign to reverse a statement issued in 1993 that acknowledges the fact that the Japanese Imperial Army forced Asian women into sexual slavery.

Like I had stated in my earlier blog, while I am glad that this issue has received publicity in the U.S., I am not quite sure if having Congress passing a resolution on it is the best way to go. Does anyone else have any thoughts on this?

1 comment:

Erin Robinson said...

On one hand, given the incredibly emotional nature, as well as highly politicized nature of nationalist politics in East Asia, I would think Congress would be unwilling to pass a resolution on this for fear of angering its most important ally in East Asia when it really cannot afford to make more people in the international community mad at it. Also, I have doubts as to how much a resolution from the American Congress would really change. Given Japan's own nationalism, and its historical image of being under the American's thumbs, especially after WWII and the reconstruction government, I don't think the Japanese government will take orders from the US government on something like this unless Congress witheld something substantial, like weapons or trade. I think the US is unlikely to do that.

On the other hand, this issue is going to be nearly impossible to solve between Korea and Japan alone (or China, Taiwan, etc). Emotions there are too high, and too involved in the debate to resolve it rationally at this point. The US is at least an outside observer and can, if it plays its cards right, be seen as an impartial figure, perhaps. This could put it in a better position to resovle the apology issue.

This doesn't mean I think the Japanese government will go for it. Just that I can see why Grace sees it as a bad idea, and why Congress might think it's worth pursuing.