Friday, April 27, 2007

More on Comfort Women & Abe...

OK, so I don't have any "facts" to prove that they're connected. But, given the general anarchy (and entropy) of the world we live in, if they're not, the timing would be something of a striking coincidence.

An AP report carried in the Washington Post reports that the Japanese Supreme Court has upheld a ruling that denies compensation to two former Chinese comfort women. The Court, as we mentioned in another context in class a few weeks back, cites the 1972 Japan-China Joint Communique as the basis for its ruling, contending that China, by signing the agreement, forfeited its right to reparations.

Two quicks thoughts...a communique is legally binding? I'm no international law scholar, but I thought that status was reserved for a treaty. Second, referencing yet another point made in class some time ago, this is an interesting example of how the state bargains/represents the interests of its citizens in international agreements (or, in this case, because of other factors, perhaps doesn't).

A Japanese court issuing such a ruling isn't new. Victims in these cases seldom emerge victorious...and even if they do, their cases are sometimes overturned. (For another Post article on Chinese forced laborers having their victory over a Japanese company overturned, see here.) I just found the timing very interesting. Perhaps some thought Abe's visit would distract international attention from the rulings?

Anyway, I've enjoyed seeing an issue we've explored in class feature so prominently in current international debates on current events in Asia. I don't exactly love the nature and tone of the developments that we've seen, so don't get me wrong. Nevertheless, I have something of a perspective on a current issue that I wouldn't have had if I hadn't taken Hist 298. So wait, a minute, I guess I'm saying that grad school has proved itself immediately useful in a very tangible way. Wow. Who'da thunk?

1 comment:

Sean said...

As to your first thought, the question of whether a communique is legally binding could really only be answered by a Japanese law scholar, not an international law scholar. Don't quote me on this, but I think the rule is that in domestice courts, domestic rules apply, even if it contradicts international laws. So whether a communique is binding would depend on whether Japanese law views them as binding. Now if the case were before an international court, then the opposite is true. At least that's the way it works in the U.S. But as far as I know, if Japan has a law that says a warm handshake and a hug is binding, then that's binding in Japanese courts.