AI Index: ASA 22/009/2010
25 November 2010
Amnesty International supports international petition for justice for “comfort women”
Amnesty International takes the opportunity of International Day for the Elimination of Violence
Against Women to join with activists in Japan to call on the government of Japan to provide justice
for the survivors of Japan’s World War II military sexual slavery system.
Today, a petition of around 620,000 signatures signed by people from Korea, Japan, the Philippines
and other countries has been presented to the Prime Minister’s Office. The petition calls on the
government of Japan to draft and pass a bill without delay, seeking a comprehensive resolution to
the "comfort women" issue. Amnesty International adds its voice to this call.
In May, Navanethem Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights visited Japan and met former
Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. She encouraged the government of Japan to pursue its
commitment to human rights reforms, including the establishment of an independent national
human rights institution and the ratification of additional complaints procedures under international
treaties. She also raised specifically the need for a solution for the surviving women in a way that
meets their expectations.
Also in May, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Rashida Manjoo, noted that as
victims of sexual crimes, survivors “do not want to receive economic compensation without an
official apology and official recognition of State responsibility”. She evaluated the “comfort women”
movement as one of the most organized and well-documented movements for reparations for
women. The call for justice for these women has also been made by various UN human rights bodies
including the UN Human Rights Committee, the Committee Against Torture, and the Committee for
the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Recommendations have also been
made by state parties during the UN Universal Periodic Review.
From around 1932 to the end of World War II, women throughout the Asia-Pacific region were
sexually enslaved by the Japanese Imperial Army. Survivors did not speak of their ordeal for over 50
years. The continued denial of justice prolongs the humiliation and suffering of the “comfort
women” survivors. Amnesty International considers this a serious violation of their human rights.
Amnesty International notes that in Japan since 2008, a total of 36 local town and city councils
have made statements calling on the central Japanese government to apologize fully for the
“comfort women” system. Local governments passed these statements following a series of
resolutions passed internationally in the US, Canada, the Netherlands, South Korea, Taiwan and in
the European Parliament, representing the 27 members states of the European Union.
Amnesty International calls on:
- The Diet to make a full unequivocal apology to survivors, including accepting legal
responsibility for the crimes, acknowledging that the crimes amount to crimes under
international law, and acknowledging the harm suffered by survivors in a way that is
acceptable to the majority of the survivors
- The Government and Diet to review national laws with a view to removing existing obstacles
to obtaining full reparations before Japanese courts and to ensure that Japanese educational
texts include an accurate account of the sexual slavery system
- The Government to immediately implement effective administrative mechanisms to provide
full reparations to all survivors of sexual slavery
International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK