House Resolution 121 (2007)

House Resolution 121 (H.Res.121) is a U.S. congressional resolution “expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the Government of Japan should formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Forces’ coercion of young women into sexual slavery, known to the world as ‘comfort women’, during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II.”

H.Res.121 was introduced by Rep. Mike Honda, a Japanese American from California who spent his early years in a concentration camp with his family under President Roosevelt’s executive order 9066, and co-sponsored by 167 members of the Congress.

Similar resolutions had been proposed in the past, including in 2006, but were not voted on. In 2007, a series of controversial statements by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as well as the publication of a comfort women denial ad The Facts (2007) in The Washington Post propelled the resolution into passage.

Text of the H.Res.121 follows:

Whereas the Government of Japan, during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II, officially commissioned the acquisition of young women for the sole purpose of sexual servitude to its Imperial Armed Forces, who became known to the world as ianfu or comfort women;

Whereas the comfort women system of forced military prostitution by the Government of Japan, considered unprecedented in its cruelty and magnitude, included gang rape, forced abortions, humiliation, and sexual violence resulting in mutilation, death, or eventual suicide in one of the largest cases of human trafficking in the 20th century;

Whereas some new textbooks used in Japanese schools seek to downplay the comfort women tragedy and other Japanese war crimes during World War II;

Whereas Japanese public and private officials have recently expressed a desire to dilute or rescind the 1993 statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono on the comfort women, which expressed the Government’s sincere apologies and remorse for their ordeal;

Whereas the Government of Japan did sign the 1921 International Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Women and Children and supported the 2000 United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security which recognized the unique impact on women of armed conflict;

Whereas the House of Representatives commends Japan’s efforts to promote human security, human rights, democratic values, and rule of law, as well as for being a supporter of Security Council Resolution 1325;

Whereas the United States-Japan alliance is the cornerstone of United States security interests in Asia and the Pacific and is fundamental to regional stability and prosperity;

Whereas, despite the changes in the post-cold war strategic landscape, the United States-Japan alliance continues to be based on shared vital interests and values in the Asia-Pacific region, including the preservation and promotion of political and economic freedoms, support for human rights and democratic institutions, and the securing of prosperity for the people of both countries and the international community;

Whereas the House of Representatives commends those Japanese officials and private citizens whose hard work and compassion resulted in the establishment in 1995 of Japan’s private Asian Women’s Fund;

Whereas the Asian Women’s Fund has raised $5,700,000 to extend atonement from the Japanese people to the comfort women; and

Whereas the mandate of the Asian Women’s Fund, a government-initiated and largely government-funded private foundation whose purpose was the carrying out of programs and projects with the aim of atonement for the maltreatment and suffering of the comfort women, came to an end on March 31, 2007, and the Fund has been disbanded as of that date: Now, therefore, be it

That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the Government of Japan–

(1)should formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Forces’ coercion of young women into sexual slavery, known to the world as comfort women, during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II;

(2)would help to resolve recurring questions about the sincerity and status of prior statements if the Prime Minister of Japan were to make such an apology as a public statement in his official capacity;

(3)should clearly and publicly refute any claims that the sexual enslavement and trafficking of the comfort women for the Japanese Imperial Armed Forces never occurred; and

(4)should educate current and future generations about this horrible crime while following the recommendations of the international community with respect to the comfort women.

Japan-ROK Agreement (2015)

Japan-ROK Agreement (2015) is a bilateral agreement announced by foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea (Republic of Korea) at a press conference on December 28, 2015 to “finally and irreversibly” resolve the “issue of comfort women between Japan and the ROK.”

The agreement consists of two separate announcements by foreign ministers, followed up by a telephone exchange between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Geun-hye Park. There is no actual agreed-upon statement to be ratified or endorsed by parliaments in either country.

Under the agreement, Japanese government would contribute 1 billion yens (about $10 million USD) to a fund set up by the South Korean government, which would provide disbursement to South Korean former comfort women to “heal psychological wounds.” Japanese government insists that the payment is not a reparation, and does not represent an admission of legal liability.

In return, the government of South Korea acknowledged “the fact that the Government of Japan is concerned about the [comfort women] statue built in front of the Embassy of Japan in Seoul,” and promises that it “will strive to solve this issue in an appropriate manner.”

As soon as the agreement was announced, it was denounced by surviving victims of Japanese military comfort women system both because the governments did not consult them about the agreement and also because the agreement fell vastly short of survivors’ demands, or demands of the U.S. House of Representatives in H.Res.201 (2007), including the full acknowledgement of the Japanese military’s involvement in the trafficking of women, further investigation and prosecution of those involved in the crimes, formal apology through parliamentary resolution or cabinet statement, legal reparation to victims, and the inclusion of comfort women history in history textbooks. Survivors in Taiwan, the Philippines, and other countries also protested the agreement because it offered the disbursement of funds to South Korean survivors only.

In the political turmoil leading up to the impeachment of President Park in 2016, many opposition party leaders and presidential candidates are pledging to nullify the agreement. Meanwhile in Japan, fringe extremist groups such as Global Alliance for Historical Truth and Nadeshiko Action call for the repeal of the agreement, while some establishment conservative groups affiliated with Japan Conference applaud Abe’s successful deal with South Korea.

Kono Statement (1993)

Kono Statement (慰安婦関係調査結果発表に関する河野内閣官房長官談話) is a 1993 statement by the Cabinet Minister Yohei Kono (河野洋平) which is widely seen as a formal admission by the Japanese government of the role Japanese government played in the recruitment, transfer, and control of comfort women during the WWII. Comfort women deniers have since been calling for the retraction or backtracking of the statement or delegitimizing it by dismissing it merely as a personal opinion of Kono himself or a political compromise lacking any actual evidence.

In particular, comfort women deniers criticize Kono Statement for “falsely” acknowledging the direct involvement of the Japanese military in the forcible recruitment and kidnapping of women for use in the military comfort stations. Japanese government has backtracked on this portion, explaining that it was in reference to a specific case of the military discipline breakdown, and not applicable to the recruitment of comfort women in general.

Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs parrots Kono Statement as the evidence that Japan has already taken responsibility for its role in the abuse of women under the military comfort women system, such as in response to the proposal in San Francisco to establish a memorial dedicated to comfort women, the wording of the statement leaves ambiguous what responsibility the Japanese government is acknowledging, especially it backtracked on the part that addresses the direct involvement of the Japanese military in the forcible recruitment and kidnapping of women.

In February 2014, Deputy Cabinet Minister under Kono at the time the statement was released told the parliament that the administration at the time did not verify testimonies of comfort women surveyed by the South Korean government, and it was “possible” that South Korean government was involved in the drafting of the statement. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered an investigation into the process behind the release of Kono Statement and released a report in June of that year, which was seen as a way to delegitimize and backtrack Kono Statement while avoiding diplomatically costly retraction.

Link: Kono Statement (unofficial translation)

The Facts (2007)

“The Facts” is a paid advertisement published in the June 14, 2007 issue of The Washington Post by a group of Japanese conservatives calling themselves the Committee for Historical Facts in an attempt to dissuade the U.S. House of Representatives from adapting H.Res.121, a resolution urging Japan to “formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Forces’ coercion of young women into sexual slavery.”

Co-signed by dozens of political and public leaders in Japan, the ad is often said to have accelerated the passage of the house resolution by giving credence to the notion that Japan had not fully accepted historical responsibility, rather than preventing it. Nonetheless, the group published a similar ad, Yes, we remember the facts. (2012) five years later.

The ad features five “facts” regarding comfort women, which are the same old denier talking points debunked long ago.

Committee for Historical Facts is made up of:

  • Taro Yayama (屋山太郎), political commentator
  • Yoshiko Sakurai (櫻井よしこ), journalist
  • Nobuaki Hanaoka (花岡信昭), political commentator
  • Koichi Sugiyama (すぎやまこういち), musician
  • Kohyu Nishimura (西村幸祐), journalist

Below is the list of endorsements for the ad.

From Liberal Democratic Party:

  • Kazuo Aichi (愛知和男)
  • Masaaki Akaike (赤池誠章)
  • Tomomi Inada (稲田朋美)
  • Taku Etoh (江藤拓)
  • Takashi Otsuka (大塚高司)
  • Hideaki Okabe (岡部英明)
  • Yuichi Ogawa (小川友一)
  • Cyube Kagita (鍵田忠兵衛)
  • Yoshitami Kameoka (亀岡偉民)
  • Minoru Kihara (木原稔)
  • Tsukasa Kobiki (木挽司)
  • Manabu Sakai (坂井学)
  • Yoshinobu Shimamura (島村宜伸)
  • Motoshi Sugita (杉田元司)
  • Keisuke Suzuki (鈴木馨祐)
  • Kentarou Sonoura (薗浦健太郎)
  • Masaaki Taira (平将明)
  • Touru Toida (戸井田徹)
  • Touru Doi (土井亨)
  • Masaki Doi (土井真樹)
  • Katsuko Nishimoto (西本勝子)
  • Jun Hayashi (林潤)
  • Yoshihisa Furukawa (古川禎久)
  • Fumiaki Matsumoto (松本文明)
  • Youhei Matsumoto (松本洋平)
  • Youji Mutoh (武藤容治)
  • Tomohiro Yamamoto (山本朋広)
  • Atsushi Watanabe (渡部篤)
  • Yoshio Nakagawa (中川義雄)

From Democratic Party of Japan:

  • Kenko Matsuki (松木謙公)
  • Hirofumi Ryu (笠浩史)
  • Yoshio Maki (牧義夫)
  • Izumi Yoshida (吉田泉)
  • Takashi Kawamura (河村たかし)
  • Takashi Ishizeki (石関貴史)
  • Kenta Izumi (泉健太)
  • Hideo Jinpu (神風英男)
  • Kenji Tamura (田村謙治)
  • Eiichirou Washio (鷲尾英一郎)
  • Keirou Kitagami (北神圭朗)
  • Jin Matsubara (松原仁)
  • Sinpei Matsushita (松下新平)

Independents:

  • Shingo Nishimura (西村眞悟)
  • Takeo Hiranuma (平沼赳夫)

Professors:

  • Hayaru Fukuda (福田逸)
  • Kohichi Endoh (遠藤浩一)
  • Masahiro Miyazaki (宮崎正弘)
  • Shudo Higashinakano (東中野修道)
  • Kazuhiro Araki (荒木和博)
  • Youichi Shimada (島田洋一)
  • Tsutomu Nishioka (西岡力)
  • Nobukatsu Fujioka (藤岡信勝)

Political Commentators:

  • Hideaki Kase (加瀬英明)
  • Kanji Nishio (西尾幹二)
  • Kouichirou Tomioka (富岡幸一郎)
  • Hisahiko Okazaki (岡崎久彦)

Journalists:

The Facts 2007

Yes, we remember the facts. (2012)

“Yes, we remember the facts.” is a paid advertisement published in the November 6, 2012 edition of The Star-Ledger, a daily newspaper in New Jersey, by a group of Japanese comfort women deniers calling itself the Committee for Historical Facts. It is a revised version of The Facts (2007) ad, published in the June 14, 2007 issue of The Washington Post.

The ad recycles the same old comfort women denier arguments. The publication took place six months after Palisades Park, New Jersey turned down Japanese officials’ offer of one hundred cherry blossom trees in exchange for removing a small plaque memorializing comfort women.

Committee for Historical Facts is made up of:

The ad also included a long list of endorsements.

From Democratic Party of Japan (民主党)

  • Nobuyuki Fukushima (福島伸享)
  • Hiroki Hanasaki (花崎宏基)
  • Yoichi Kaneko (金子洋一)
  • Jin Matsubara (松原仁)
  • Noboru Miura (三浦昇)
  • Koichi Mukoyama (向山好一)
  • Takashi Nagao (長尾敬)
  • Masanao Shibahashi (柴崎正直)
  • Kenji Tamura (田村謙治)
  • Shu Watanabe (渡辺周)
  • Izumi Yoshida (吉田泉)

From Liberal Democratic Party (自由民主党)

  • Shinzo Abe (安倍晋三)
  • Haruko Arimura (有村有子)
  • Seiichi Eto (江藤晟一)
  • Keiji Furuya (古屋圭司)
  • Tomomi Inada (稲田朋美)
  • Yoshihiko Isozaki (磯崎仁彦)
  • Yoshitaka Ito (伊東良孝)
  • Yasushi Kaneko (金子恭之)
  • Kouichi Kishi (岸宏一)
  • Nobuo Kishi (岸信夫)
  • Seigo Kitamura (北村誠吾)
  • Yutaka Kumagai (熊谷大)
  • Hirokazu Matsuno (松野博一)
  • Shoji Nishida (西田昌司)
  • Hiroshige Seko (世耕弘成)
  • Hakubun Shimomura (下村博文)
  • Yoshitaka Shindo (進藤義孝)
  • Sanae Takaichi (高市早苗)
  • Naokazu Takemoto (竹本直一)
  • Ichiro Tsukada (塚田一郎)
  • Michiko Ueno (上野通子)
  • Junzo Yamamoto (山本順三)
  • Yuji Yamamoto (山本有二)
  • Eriko Yamatani (山谷えり子)
  • Hiroyuki Yoshiie (義家弘介)

From the Sunrise Party of Japan (たちあがれ日本)

  • Takeo Hiranuma (平沼赳夫)
  • Kyoko Nakayama (中山恭子)

Professors:

Political commentators:

Journalists:

Movie & TV Producer:

Yes, we remember the facts.