Upper House plans bill on war tragedies

A nonpartisan group of Upper House members will introduce a bill aimed at unearthing tragedies caused by Japan before and during World War II and assessing the damage of such events, Diet sources said Apr. 4.

According to the draft of the bill, details of which were obtained by The Japan Times, the law would establish an “investigative committee for eternal peace” under the Prime Minister’s Office. The committee would investigate various acts believed to have caused suffering to foreigners and people living in Japanese colonies, such as Korea and Taiwan, before and during World War II. The targets of the investigation would range from the practice of forcing women into sexual slavery to the production and deployment of biological and chemical weapons and conscription of people from Japanese colonies to work for Japan, the bill states.

The committee would be made up of a maximum 30 people, including scholars and experts from nongovernmental organizations. Considering the urgent need for the investigation, the committee would only exist for three years, sources said. The interim and final reports would be submitted to the prime minister, who would have to then report them to the Diet.

The bill, which will be introduced to the Upper House by the end of this month, has so far earned the endorsement of a parliamentary group jointly formed by the Democratic Party of Japan and the minor group Shinryokufukai. By focusing the bill on the discovery of historical facts, its proponents are trying to make it a nonpartisan bill, campaigning for the support of other members of the Diet, including representatives from the Liberal Democratic Party and Shinshinto, the largest opposition party.

“No matter what kind of historical perception (lawmakers) have, they must have readiness to confirm historical facts,” said Lower House member Ko Tanaka, chief of the DPJ’s working team on the sexual slavery issue, who is involved in drawing up the bill. The bill states the investigation would cover the Japanese government’s direct or indirect involvement in conscription of people from Japanese colonies and the working conditions of such people.

The probe also would cover the sexual slavery system before and during World War II, ranging from the establishment of facilities in which women were forced to supply sex for Japanese Imperial forces to methods used for recruiting and transporting such women and the suffering inflicted on the victims.