A new resolution on "comfort women" was submitted to the U.S. Congress Wednesday, denouncing Japan's sexual enslavement of women during World War II and demanding an apology from the Japanese government. It is considered very likely that resolution will pass the U.S. Congress, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Tom Lantos, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, actively support the resolution.
Pelosi and Lantos, both from San Francisco, have previously urged Japan to correct its past wrongs. A similar resolution passed the House International Relations Committee unanimously last September, but was shelved because then House Speaker Dennis Hastert (Republican), considered a pro-Japan legislator, delayed the presentation of the resolution to a plenary session.
The latest resolution was submitted by six congressmen, including Japanese-American Rep. Michael Honda (D, California), Rep. Diane Watson (D, California), Rep. David Wu (D, Oregon), Rep. Ed Royce (R, California) and Rep. Chris Smith (R, New Jersey).
Honda said, "The purpose of this resolution is not to bash or humiliate Japan," and he that took the initiative in the belief that his act would help Japan genuinely reflect on its conduct.
Honda lived in a concentration camp in California with his family during World War II when the U.S. government relocated Japanese-Americans. Honda attributes that experience as driving his efforts as a human rights activist. He plans to hold a hearing at a House subcommittee next week with former sex slaves taking the witness stand.
The expression in the resolution is much stronger than that of the previous one. The resolution reads, "The Japanese government should formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Force’s coercion of young women into sexual slavery, known to the world as 'comfort women,' during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II." The resolution states that more than 200,000 such women suffered gang rape, forced abortions, and other humiliations during that time. It also urges the Japanese government to emphasize human and women's rights so as not to engage in human trafficking as their ancestors did.
Japan is now making aggressive efforts to prevent this resolution from passing Congress, employing former House Speaker Tom Foley and others as lobbyists. The Liberal Democratic Party of Japan will send a delegation to the U.S. on a diplomacy mission.