U.S. lawmakers call on Kerry to press for sex slave apology


Three U.S. lawmakers have called on Secretary of State John Kerry to press Japan to apologize to the women, mostly from Asia, forcibly recruited to provide sex to Japanese soldiers during World War II, according to the office of one of them.

The three House of Representatives members — Adam Schiff, Democrat from California, Bill Pascrell, Democrat from New Jersey, and Scott Garrett, Republican from New Jersey — noted in a letter to Kerry dated Jan. 29: “The Imperial Japanese Army often lured innocent women from their homes under false pretences, and even resorted to kidnapping, to serve as forced prostitutes serving the Japanese military.”

Memorials have been built in California and New Jersey in honor of the women. The three said in the letter, disclosed on the website of Schiff’s office, they represent the districts where such memorials are located.

“With the remaining survivors now well into their 80s, these women deserve to hear a formal apology from the Japanese government,” the lawmakers said, noting that the issue is “deeply important to our constituents” and that as such, “we request that you address this matter with the Japanese government and encourage the recognition of these tragic violations of basic human dignity.”

In memory of the wartime sex slaves, a bronze statue of a woman has been installed in Glendale, California, with a plaque placed in Hackensack, and another in Palisades Park, both in New Jersey. Many people of Korean descent live in those areas.

In 1993, Japan, in a statement by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, acknowledged and apologized for the forced recruitment of women into sexual servitude. South Korean victims have demanded compensation, but Tokyo says all issues regarding compensation arising from its 35-year colonial rule were settled by a 1965 treaty that normalized relations.

  • Ron NJ

    It’s a bit late for all this really – the people who actually committed the crimes in question have all (thankfully) passed on, for the most part, and it’s a bit silly to be expecting their children who (again, for the most part) had nothing to do with it to apologize on their behalves.
    Basically Japan missed the boat big time on the apology issue, and it’s a boat whose departure window was quite limited in scope. There’s no making up for that, especially nearly eight decades after the fact.

    • phu

      Agreed, with the caveat that, sorry or not, no one really cares about the apology. The only people clamoring for it would simply move on to another issue (and there are many).

      There were apologies made, there were reparations paid. Whether these were adequate or appropriate are decisions that were made at that time, and that is certainly another window that has passed: Japan has not helped itself in terms of international acquiescence, but it’s also been treated unfairly in terms of “oh, you apologized and we accepted it, but… no, never mind, we no longer do” on several fronts.

      One of the very few things I thought US lawmakers had done well recently was doing and saying nothing on this issue. If they start taking sides now, they’re only exacerbating the ridiculous ongoing schoolyard stupidity that’s defined southeast Asia in the last few years.