Rep. Dana Rohrabacher
February 15, 2007
House Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment
Hearing on the Comfort Women Resolution, H. Res. 122
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Today, we are addressing a subject that is very painful, especially to the families and those for comfort women who will be providing testimony for us today. To each of those brave women, I extend my thanks for participating today and to help Americans understand the suffering that took place during this time during the Second World War and my most sincere, my most sincere sympathy for the pain and the suffering and the agony that these individuals have had to suffer. As everyone knows, during World War II, Japan forced many thousands of innocent women from other countries in Asia to perform sexual services for the Japanese military. The victims, known by the euphemism “comfort women” were not only raped many times but also mistreated and murdered. Many died and all of them suffered greatly. George Santayana said that “those who cannot remember the past are certainly condemned to repeat it”, so thus it is fitting for this subcommittee to set the factual record straight about this tragic history, one which would help the world to avoid repeating any such actions. This, in and of itself, setting the record straight, is a worthy goal. However, I have grave doubts about the wisdom and even the morality of going any further and adopting resolutions like H. Res. 121, which is before us today and I will explain why. H. Resolution 121 demands that Japan apologize, but Mr. Chairman, Japan has already apologized many, many times, which is exactly what they should have done. They should have apologized and they did. The central thrust of H. Resolution 121 is to demand, and I quote, “Japan should formally acknowledge, apologize and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner”. But the most compelling point in our discussion should be that Japan has in fact done exactly what the resolution demands. Japan has apologized many times and has done so in clear and strong terms and that raises questions about this resolution. In 1994, for example, the Japanese prime minister stated the following: “On the issue of wartime comfort women, which seriously stained the honor and dignity of many women, I would like to take this opportunity to once again express my profound and sincere remorse and apologies.” Of course, this is not the whole story. A line of Japanese prime ministers, many Japanese prime ministers since 1994 have issued very similar statements. The current Prime Minister Abe, for example, has confirmed the policy of his predecessors and I would like to submit for the record a copy of the text of Prime Minister Koizumi’s letter to comfort women so that Prime Minister Koizumi stated very clearly, “As Prime Minister of Japan, I thus extend anew my most sincere apologies and remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences and suffered incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women. We must not evade the weight of the past nor should we evade our responsibilities for the future.” That is a prime minister of Japan and the words, “As Prime Minister of Japan” are key here. That was meaning he was apologizing for the Japanese people. It was an official apology by the Prime Minister of Japan exercising his official capacity. Japan has a parliamentary system, it also has a Prime Minister who is a member of the Diet. In addition, the Diet has issued numerous statem4ents accepting responsibilities for Japan’s actions during the Second World War. Mr. Chairman, this issue of an apology has been fully and satisfactorily addressed. Yes, it is important for us to set the record straight for history, exactly how diabolical and horrible these activities were by the Japanese during the Second World War. But we must be accurate in what we are saying in terms of the Japanese position of today. For example, another part of H. 121 which I find to be misleading is the fact that it talks about Japanese textbooks downplaying the comfort women tragedy. Well, as in the United States, textbooks in Japan are chosen by local not central government authorities. A panel of experts in Japan has identified 18 history books that are used by the Japanese high school students. Of those 18, 16 address the comfort women matter and all 18 describe the suffering of peoples in neighboring countries during the Second World War. Well, Japan’s responsibility for those countries and this horrible crime is great. But so is its regret. And in 16 of those 18 books that are used in the high schools, they address the comfort women issue and those 16 books represent between 93 and 95% of all of Japan’s high school history texts. It seems to me that, yes, we want to make sure that history is recorded accurately, but we want to make sure that we are not saying that the current Japanese people and government have not acknowledged those wrong deeds. Every country in the world has committed crimes, not just the Japanese. Every country in the world—and Mr. Chairman, I might note that you have repeatedly called to our attention some of the crimes the United States government has committed by error or intentionally over the years and I have heard you in many hearings call into question horrible things that our government has done. So, this isn’t a question of is Japan any dirtier than the rest of us in terms of having made mistakes. And the fact is that they have acknowledged those dirty deeds. IN some cases, I will have to say the United States has been less apologetic about some of the crimes that we have committed and we have in the past. Finally let me note, Mr. Chairman, that we have to make sure that what we do in condemning the past and that which has already been condemned and he have demanded that of Japan that we are not unfairly suggesting that the Japanese of today must in some way be punished for what their two generations of Japanese ago did. That is not the way to create more harmony in this world. So, accept accountability, it is really important. Setting the record straight is really important. You are right. We must set a humane and decent standard. But let me just say that it is my reading of the world today that the Japanese, in alliance with the United states and other Western powers, is a major force for decency and humane standards today. It wasn’t that way sixty and 100 years ago, but today Japan is pivotal to the Western democracies fight to have these human rights standards that are so important for civilization. So let us not beat someone after they have apologized. Let’s make sure that we acknowledge and thank them for being open with us on those issues to the degree that they have. Now, if I am wrong, I am willing to listen and to hear, but I have got the quotes from the prime ministers, we have got people we have talked to, the Japanese, they all suggest that we are so sorry about these things and apologize profusely, et cetera and it seems to me that we should be setting the record straight but not blaming the current generation of Japanese. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.