Demands that Japan make amends for forcing hundreds of thousands of women from Korea and other Asian nations into the sex-slave industry during World War II were made official on Monday. The US House of Representatives passed a resolution insisting that Japan apologize to surviving sex-slave victims -- also known by the euphemistic term 'comfort women.' As Korea Times reports, the resolution calls for compensation for the women and for revisions to educational materials, so that Japanese students accurately learn about the roll of sex-workers during the war.?
In Korea, from where many of victims originated, former sex-slaves are encouraged by the resolution. A representative from the Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan tells the Korea Times that 'the resolution gives us hope for the restoration of honor, the realization of justice for victims of comfort women in the Asia Pacific region, and women's human rights activists who have spent tens of years for supporting victims of comfort women.'
Unfortunately, these women are likely to be disappointed. According to a Kyodo News wire story posted by Japan Today, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe responded laconically to the nonbinding resolution. 'The approval of the resolution,' he told reporters, 'was regrettable.'
While Abe's commentary will likely dismay the American lawmakers who passed the resolution, the United States could benefit from a dose of self-reflection regarding its own engagement with the sex-slaves. According to an April investigation by the Associated Press, 'After [Japan's] surrender -- with tacit approval from the US occupation authorities -- Japan set up a similar 'comfort women' system for American GIs.... Tens of thousands of women were employed to provide cheap sex to US troops until the spring of 1946, when Gen. Douglas MacArthur shut the brothels down.'
What's more, while addressing past sex-slavery atrocities is certainly important, preoccupation with the issue shouldn't distract focus from the pressing matter of sex-slavery ?today. According to reports from the Asia Sentinel, the US State Department estimates that 'between 800,000 and 1 million women are forced into sexual servitude every year.' Writer Daniel Jeffreys explains that the conditions for sex-slavery 'are distressingly similar to those endured by the comfort women of the 1940s.' Unless more actions are taken in addressing the current sex-slavery situation, the existence of sex-slaves today will be the history of tomorrow.
Go there>> Ex-Sex Slaves Welcome US Resolution
Go there, too>> Gov't Calls US Resolution on Apology to Sex Slaves 'Regrettable'
And there >> Modern-Day Comfort Women Face a Hell on Earth
Related Links from the Utne Reader Archive:
- Women and Children First: The Economics of Sex Trafficking
- Stemming the Tide of Trafficking in the Mekong Delta
- Learning the Thai Sex Trade
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