H. RES. 121 -- (Senate - July 09, 2007)
Mr. INOUYE. Mr. President. On June 26, 2007, the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives met to consider and adopt H. Res. 121. This resolution was authored by Congressman Michael Honda of San Jose, CA.
H. Res. 121 expresses the sense of the U.S. 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 Force's 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.
There is no doubt in my mind that during the war period the men in the Imperial Armed Forces of the Government of Japan did abuse, assault, and forcibly impose their wills upon women for sexual purposes. This was conduct and behavior that cannot in any way be condoned or justified.
These events, according to H. Res. 121, occurred during the war period of the 1930s and 1940s. Records indicate that on August 31, 1994, as the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II was approaching, then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama issued a statement articulating Japan's remorse and apology to comfort women.
This statement was made in his official capacity as Prime Minister of Japan.
Subsequently, every successive Prime Minister since 1996--Prime Ministers Hashimoto, Obuchi, Mori, and Koizumi--have all issued letters of apologies to individual former comfort women, who have accepted an apology letter along with atonement money offered to her by the Asian Woman's Fund. It should be noted that some former comfort women refused to accept the atonement money.
The Asian Women's Fund was established, sanctioned, and approved by the Government of Japan. The letters addressed to former comfort women were issued by the Prime Ministers of Japan in their official capacity, and recite, ``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.
On March 11, 2007, Prime Minister Abe made the following statement:
I will stand by the Kono Statement. This is our consistent position. Further, we have been apologizing to those who suffered immeasurable pain and incurable psychological wounds as comfort women. Former Prime Ministers, including Prime Ministers Koizumi and Hashimoto have issued letters to the comfort women. I would like to be clear that I carry the same feeling.
The 1993 Kono statement made by the Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono stated in part:
The then Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of the comfort stations and the transfer of comfort women. ..... The Government of Japan would like to take this opportunity once again to extend its sincere apologies and remorse to all those, irrespective of place of origin, who suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.
The Asian Women's Fund was established in 1995 with the cooperation of the Government of Japan and the Japanese people. The fund has extended letters of apology and payments, donated by the Japanese people, to 285 former comfort women in the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, and Taiwan
I have taken the time to cite the above because of my concern over the adoption of H. Res. 121, the Honda Resolution.
It should be noted that after World War II, the issue of compensation for Japan's wartime crimes was settled, country by country, by the Treaty of San Francisco with the U.S. and by the relevant peace treaties with other countries. Thus, from a purely legal standpoint, the issue of the comfort women has been settled by treaties of peace.
Several questions come to mind as I read the text of statements made on this matter, and the text of H. Res. 121. For example, what would be required of Japan under H. Res. 121 to ``formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner''?
The statements of apology that I quoted earlier were issued by six Prime Ministers of Japan, each acting and speaking in his official capacity.
I would think that in the world of diplomacy, these words would suffice as official statements.
Another matter that should be noted is that these events occurred in the 1930s and 1940s, and the acknowledgment and apology over the abuse of the comfort women have been made by successive Prime Ministers since 1994.
I can think of many events in our own historic past that deserve an acknowledgement and apology issued by the United States. Nonetheless, our Government has not acknowledged these actions and other countries have not officially reprimanded us because of it.
For example, soon after December 7, 1941, the United States contacted the Governments of Chile and other South American countries and requested that they round up their residents of Japanese ancestry and send them to the United States to be used by the United States in negotiations for the return of American prisoners of war held by Japan.
Many Latin Americans of Japanese descent were arrested, stripped of their passports or visas, and shipped to the United States. Once in the United States, they were treated as illegal aliens, subject to deportation and repatriation.
The internees' vulnerable position under the law basically left their fate in the hands of the State Department and Department of Justice. Those caught in this situation were considered repatriable and thus available for use in hostage exchanges with Japan.
I am happy to report to you that after many years of concern, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs has considered this matter and reported favorably on a measure to study this matter. However, the bill still faces consideration by the full Senate, the House of Representatives, and the White House.
And yet has any country suggested we should ``formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner'' for this matter?
Nor have the legislatures of other nations criticized and accused us for Executive Order 9066, which directed the United States Army to establish 10 concentration camps in various parts of the United States to intern residents of Japanese ancestry.
Regardless of the historical example, the question remains the same: how would the U.S. Government have reacted if the legislature of some other nation had condemned our historical actions in World War II?
Diplomatic protocol among friendly nations and allies calls for consideration and sensitive handling of such matters.
In the case at hand, I respectfully suggest that the Government of Japan, through six of its Prime Ministers, and through two acts considered by its House of Representatives, has issued statements of acknowledgement and apology since 1994.
I would suggest that so many apologies should suffice.
As a final matter, it may be interesting to note that a Gallup Poll conducted in February and March 2007 sets forth the following: 74 percent of the general public, and 91 percent of opinion leaders thought of Japan as a dependable ally or friend. 48 percent of the general public, and 53 percent of opinion leaders considered Japan to be the most important U.S. partner in the Asia region, followed by China, which scored 34 percent among the general public, and 38 percent among opinion leaders. 67 percent of the general public, and 86 percent of opinion leaders described U.S. relations with Japan as ``good'' or ``excellent.'' 87 percent of the general public, and 88 percent of opinion leaders supported the maintenance of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.
Finally, when asked whether Japan shared common values with the United States, 83 percent of the general public, and 94 percent of opinion leaders agreed. The only country that received a higher score was the United Kingdom, by only 2 percent for each group.
These numbers and responses to the Gallup Poll should suggest our relationship with Japan is excellent. The general public believes it, and our Government has said so as well. Why should we involve ourselves in a legislative act that would jeopardize a relationship as good as we share with Japan?
Is this how we Americans should conduct ourselves with the Japanese, our friends and allies?