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U.S. House panel hits Japan on comfort women

Sept 14,2006
WASHINGTON - A committee of the U.S. House of Representatives approved Wednesday the first Congressional resolution calling on the Japanese government to accept responsibility for enslaving young women during its colonial occupation of Asia and Pacific islands before and during World War II. The measure now goes to the full lower chamber.
The House International Relations Committee endorsed the resolution by a unanimous vote. The non-binding measure was sponsored by Representative Lane Evans, an Illinois Democrat, and Representative Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican, in April.
The resolution calls on Tokyo to acknowledge unambiguously and accept responsibility for its sexual enslavement of young women, known as “comfort women”; educate current and future generations about the crime; publicly, strongly, and repeatedly refute any claims that the subjugation and enslavement of comfort women never occurred; and follow the recommendations of the United Nations and Amnesty International in compensating victims.
Similar resolutions on comfort women had been submitted in 2001 and again last year, but were shelved in part because of Japanese lobbying.
This year, Korean-American groups joined in efforts by other civic groups to counter opponents of the measure.
The resolution calls the use of comfort women “one of the largest cases of human trafficking in the 20th century.” Some other language in the original draft was toned down, however.
The committee-endorsed version says that the Japanese government “permitted the Imperial Army” to directly organize the subjugation and kidnapping of young women for sexual servitude; the original accused the government itself of organizing the effort.
Two clauses were added, one noting that Japan had apologized for its actions in 1995 and another acknowledging that it had established an Asian Women’s Fund as “atonement” to victims in South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia and the Netherlands.


by Lee Sang-il, Kim Soe-jung


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