U.N. prods Japan on sex slaves, gallows


A panel under the U.N. Human Rights Council has endorsed some 170 recommendations for Japan to improve its human rights record, including Tokyo’s handling of the so-called comfort women issue, the euphemism for the Imperial army’s wartime sex slaves.

The Universal Periodic Review’s working group, which is tasked with examining the human rights records of all U.N. member states, compiled 174 proposals for Japan in a report summarizing the findings from a session held last week.

While the recommendations are not legally binding, Japan has been asked to provide a response by March, when the Human Rights Council will convene for a regular session at the United Nations office in Geneva.

During last week’s session, China, North and South Korea, and numerous other countries proposed that Japan recognize its legal responsibility and provide adequate compensation to women forced into sexual slavery across Asia by the Imperial army before and during the war.

Other recommendations include the safeguarding of Japanese citizens’ right to lead a healthy life, in light of the enormous amount of radioactive fallout spewed over a vast area by the March 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 plant. The town of Futaba, which found itself in the center of the nuclear storm since it cohosts the wrecked plant, had actively campaigned for the inclusion of this right.

The report also called on Japan to abolish the death penalty after more than 20 countries, including prominent EU member states, objected to its continued use of capital punishment.