Did CED give serious thought to its recommendations to Japan?


April, 2020
Hidemi Nagao ( Former Civil and Media Liaison Officer of the Commander U.S. Naval Forces, Japan, Novelist and Non-fiction Writer )

Did CED give serious thought to its recommendations to Japan?

1. Do the readers still remember conclusive observations the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) presented to Japan on November 19, 2018? It is documented as CED/C/JPN/CO/1.

2.  Nadeshiko Action homepage posted them on November 21, 2018 with the following additional information.

“It is the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA), the Women’s Active Museum of War and Peace (WAM), and the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan that tabled the comfort women issue to the committee. CED is believed to have made conclusive observations in response to an opinion brief the three organizations jointly submitted.”

3.  The brief dated July 12, 2018 contained the following recommendations regarding the comfort women issue.

“(1) The State party (*Japan) should ensure that public officials and leaders will desist from making thoughtless remarks regarding responsibility of the Government of Japan for violations committed against ‘comfort women.

(2) The State party should humbly face the conclusive observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in which the Committee regrets that the announcement of the bilateral agreement with the Republic of Korea in December 2015 ‘did not fully adopt a victim-centered approach’ and urges to recognize ‘the right of the victims to a remedy, and accordingly provide full and effective redress and reparation, including compensation, satisfaction, official apologies and rehabilitative services,’ and work on this issue faithfully with consideration given to the feelings of the victims.”

4.  The finalized CED recommendations to Japan deal with the comfort women issue in paragraphs 25- 26. Paragraph 26 states, in part, as follows.

“(b) Ensure that all cases of so-called “comfort women” who may have been subjected to enforced disappearance, including removal of children born to these women, are investigated thoroughly and impartially without delay, regardless of the time that has elapsed since they took place and even if there has been no formal complaints;

(c) Ensure that the alleged perpetrators are prosecuted and, if found guilty, punished in accordance with the gravity of their acts;”

5.  The recommendations are based on the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance which was adopted at the 61st United Nations General Assembly on December 20, 2006. The convention took effect from December 23, 2010. Japan acceded to the convention since its onset. The United States, Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand as well as China, Russia, North Korea, South Korea, or Iran has not.

6.  It is unreasonable, in the first place, for the Korean Council to be cited as one of the report originators, isn’t it?  For, South Korea is not yet a signatory country to the convention. It is like saying, “We are not bound by the convention. But you must execute what the committee recommends because you are supposed to uphold it.”

7.  If the Japanese government sincerely commits itself to execute the recommendations above, i.e., to reveal facts and prosecute and punish the perpetrators, something extremely troublesome would come to the fore between South Korea and Japan; more so for the former than for the latter.

7.1.  Lt. Col. Archie Miyamoto (U.S. Army Retired) published in 2017 “Wartime Military Records on Comfort Women,” 2d Edition, from Amazon Fulfillment. After having read Japanese Foreign Ministry documents (consul general reports), he gives the following comments (pp. 37-39).

“(1) These reports provide concrete evidence many comfort stations were operated by Koreans, a fact not widely known outside Korea and Japan.

(2) They (*comfort stations) were not operated by the military or by military employees. Prostitution was legal and operating a brothel was not considered an illegal activity. Types of business operated by Koreans, in addition to comfort stations, include photo shops, retails stores, restaurants, transportation business, trading companies, …, and hotels.

(3) Korean operators of special comfort stations in many cases had women and children, in other words, families. This is evidence that they were not single men who were part of the Japanese Army. The same applied to Japanese operated comfort stations.

(4) In all reports, special comfort stations operated by Japanese had Japanese comfort women, and those operated by Koreans had Korean comfort women. There is not a single report that lists any Korean comfort women in a Japanese operated comfort station. There were many reports on the same city at different time but showed no significant changes.”

7.2.  Miyamoto cited three reports dispatched to the ministry from consul generals stationed in China as examples of the Japanese comfort women employed by the Japanese and the Korean comfort women employed by the Koreans:

(1) Jiujiang, Central China, Consulate Report No. 561, 11/8/38.
Japanese Operated Businesses:

Special Comfort Stations      15
Japanese operators               42 men, 25 women, 1 child
Japanese Comfort Women   107

Korean Operated Businesses:

Special Comfort Stations      9
Korean Operators                   26 men, 8 women, 3 children
Korean Comfort Women       143

(2) Nanchang, Central China, Consulate Report No. 217, dated August 9, 1929.
Japanese Operated Businesses:

Japanese Comfort Stations  3
Japanese Operators               5 men, 3 women
Japanese Comfort Women   8

Korean Operated Businesses:

Korean Comfort Stations      8
Korean Operators                   19 men, 9 women
Korean Comfort Women       94

(3) Chiaohu, Central China, Consulate Report No. 170, dated August 2, 1939.
Japanese Operated Businesses:

Japanese Comfort Stations  4
Japanese Operators and Japanese Comfort Women 10 men, 31 women, 2 Children

Korean Operated Businesses:

Korean Comfort Stations      2
Korean Operators/comfort    2 men, 30 women, 1 child

7.3.  The records above show 64 or so Korean operators and their families ran 19 Korean comfort stations with more than 260 Korean comfort women in three cities. If some of the Korean women were victims of the enforced disappearance, who should be the perpetrators of it? Can the Japanese government duly prosecute and punish them? Can South Korea cooperate with Japan to bring justice?

8. The McDougall Report of 1998 states, “Between 1932 and the end of the Second World War, the Japanese Government and the Japanese Imperial Army forced over 200,000 women into sexual slavery in rape centres throughout Asia. … The majority of those ‘comfort women’ were from Korea, …. It is now clear that both the Japanese Government and military were directly involved in the establishment of rape centres throughout Asia during the Second World War. The women who were enslaved by the Japanese military in these centres – many of whom were between the ages of 11 and 20 – were housed in locations throughout Japanese-controlled Asia, where they were forcibly raped multiple times on a daily basis and subjected to severe physical abuse and exposed to sexually transmitted diseases. Only about 25 per cent of these women are said to have survived these daily abuses. To obtain these “comfort women,” the Japanese military employed physical violence, kidnapping, coercion and deception.”

9.  Had there been 200,000 Korean women who were forced to become comfort women, and had only 50,000 women, 25% of them, survived the ordeal until the end of the war as South Korea alleges, 150,000 of them would have disappeared in the meantime. Whatever the causes of their disappearance may have been, i.e., fatal illness, murder by torture, running away from the house, it was the Korean house masters who employed the Korean comfort women. Professor Park Yu-ha who authored “Comfort Women of the Empire” says, “The psychological and physical scar those women have borne is not solely attributable to the violence the troops inflicted upon them. It was the house masters who were also to be blamed for confinement, forced labor, and violence imposed upon the women (p. 113).”

10. This is a supplemental note. Professor Hiroshi Hashiya who authored “Teikoku Nihon to Shokuminchi Toshi” [Imperial Japan and colonized cities] (author translation) in 2004 mentioned brothels in Taipei as follows (p. 95). It is hard to believe Japanese or Taiwanese house masters ran the three Korean brothels mentioned below.

“When Taiwan was ceded to Japan by China, there were no brothels inside the Taipei City Walls. The Japanese began to arrive in Taipei and went to the Wanhua District where local brothels were. Since then, Wanhua became a center of brothels in the region. 1940 saw 25 brothels with 220 Shogi. Among them were 42 Koreans, 20% of the prostitutes in the district. Though its background is unknown, their names were Joseon (*Korean) House, New Joseon House, and Peninsula House.”

11.  I loudly wonder if the CED committee that received an opinion brief seriously wanted to make Japan commit herself to punish the perpetrators. I also wonder if the committee adopted the conclusive observations, being fully aware that South Korea was not yet a member state to the convention.

12.  I will not mention herein the propriety of the conclusive observations regarding the statute of limitation because it requires more space. A layman would understand Article 35 of the convention as it states. Then, you may reasonably conclude that the conclusive observations seem like a stretch because the article states as follows.

“Paragraph 1. The Committee shall have competence solely in respect of enforced disappearances which commenced after the entry into force of this Convention.

Paragraph 2. If a State becomes a party to this Convention after its entry into force, the obligations of that State vis-à-vis the Committee shall relate only to enforced disappearances which commenced after the entry into force of this Convention for the State concerned.”

13. Lastly, I hope no Korean comfort women—who were called the fifth logistic items or western princesses—had gone missing during the Korean War and no Vietnamese comfort women—who worked at South Korean comfort stations—had gone missing during the Vietnam War. By the way, Professor Choe Kilsung, who authored “Chosen Senso de Umareta Beigun Ianfu no Shinjitsu” [Truth on the birth of comfort women for the U.S. military during the Korean War] (author translation) in 2018, wrote that he had personally experienced the Korean War in his village and that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops had not raped local women whereas the United Nations Command troops had raped women till the comfort stations were established in the village (pp. 47-86).

“The pride in who we are is not a part of our past, it defines our present and our future,” said Queen Elizabeth II on April 6, 2020 when she addressed the nation.

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