China / Hot Issues

Japan's attempts to hamper UNESCO listing of 'comfort women' set to backfire

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-07-10 07:00

JAKARTA - Japanese government's poor efforts to resolve "comfort women" issue will become a "boomerang" to its political position in the Asia Pacific region, an Indonesian expert told Xinhua in a recent interview.

A number of non-governmental organizations from countries where comfort women suffered -- such as China, the Republic of Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines and other countries and regions -- have been working together to nominate documentation on these sexually abused women and girls to be included on the Memory of the World Register.

"The joint application is a fresh global movement to put pressure on the Japanese government to solve the 'Ianfu issue' which persists up till now," Eka Hindrati, the head of Solidarity Network for Indonesia "Comfort Women" told Xinhua in an email, referring to the Japanese term of comfort women.

Eka, who has independently done research over the issue in Indonesia for about 17 years, said she had anticipated Japan's attempts to interfere with the joint activity which aims to help people everywhere realize another form of cruelty by the Japanese militarists during World War II.

For instance, she pointed out, the agreement between Japan and South Korea made last December, in which Tokyo pledged to pay 1 billion yen (about 9.8 million U.S. dollars) from its state funds to launch a new foundation for the so-called comfort women, an euphemism referring to Korean women coerced into sexual servitude for Japanese military brothels.

In return, Seoul agreed on a "final and irreversible "resolution on the wartime sex slavery and the two countries" will refrain from accusing or criticizing each other in the international community.

The agreement has been denounced by South Korean sex slavery victims and their supporters, who refuse to receive any funds from the Japanese government and call for sincere apology and compensation for the wartime atrocities.

The agreement threatens to suppress subsequent historical research and any future solutions to the issue that research can provide, according to the researcher.

She added that this issue would pass around to the next generations in Japan to solve because their government refuses to be transparent about the historical and political facts within their own country.

"All attempts from the Japanese government to hold up the registration process to the UNESCO will become a boomerang for them," Eka said.

"Whatever it is that the Japanese government does to hamper the registration process to the UNESCO will only show their stupidity and weakness in addressing the ianfu crime which has been around for 71 years," Eka says.

Historians estimated that hundreds of thousands of Asian women were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army.

In Indonesia alone, a data from 1996 showed that there were over 19,500 survivors of comfort women. Eka's organization has been campaigning across top universities in the archipelago to spread awareness among, and gather support from the country's college students.

The Memory of the World Programme, established in 1992 by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), preserves the world's most important documents.