Human Rights

On every Wednesday, an unfamiliar rally takes place outside the Embassy of Japan. Most of the participants are ladies in their senior years. All of them were former “comfort women”, who were kidnapped by Japanese soldiers during the World War II to be forced to work as “sex toys” for Japanese army.

At that time, Japanese soldiers dropped in villages in the middle of the night, assaulting and kidnapping girls. Among the girls, the youngest were a 12-year-old child who had not had her first period yet. A whopping number of 200,000 Asian women were forced to become sex slaves to the Japanese Army without minimal human rights protection.

After the war, most of them were abandoned in the battlefield. Though seventy years have passed, the horrible past memories still haunt them as if it happened yesterday.

The Wednesday’s weekly protest first started in January 1992 and has been held for about twenty years, making 907th in March 2010. A large number of former comfort women, who staged the rally in the beginning, passed away. Their only hope is to receive a heartfelt apology from the Japanese government.

Japanese soldiers did not mobilize the “comfort women” by force 
-Former Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe-

Those women were sold as comfort women by their own parents!
- Japan’s former Chief Cabinet Secretary Shimonura Hakubun -

I have an opposition to have Japanese school textbooks cover the “comfort women” issue. 
- Japan’s former Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa -

These remarks clearly show that Japan completely turns away from the truth, its own making of terrible and despairing history. But history reprimand Japan’s wrongdoings in a stern voice.

A research conducted by the government of Japan revealed that an imperial order was issued in 1944 for the Japanese government and the Imperial Army to be involved in systematic recruitment of comfort women.

In 1977, Mainichi Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper, published a collection of photographs, showing that the Imperial Army at that time kidnapped young Korean women who had never been sexually active to be forced to work as comfort women. A Congressional Research Service (CRS) and court documents of the Netherlands also show that the Japanese Imperial Army coerced women into prostitution. The Supreme Court of Japan also acknowledged that the Imperial Army kidnapped, confined, and sexually assaulted the so-called “comfort women”.

Facing such an egregious distortion of history by Japan, the international community cannot keep silence any longer. In 2007, The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution on “comfort women, demanding that the government of Japan offer an official apology as well as assume responsibility for its conduct.

In 2008, the UN Human Rights Council urged that the Japanese government should acknowledge its legal responsibility for the “comfort women” issue and make an official apology to all the victims. International press, including Korea and China, delivered messages from the world to Japanese politicians, calling them to fulfill their responsibilities.

Nevertheless, the Japanese government paid a compensation of meager one dollar to former Korean comfort women in 2009. It was a mockery of human rights and critics of international community by Japan, which aspires to become a member of the UN Human Rights Council. The court of Japan also dismissed all the lawsuits filed against Japan by former “comfort women”, ruling that Japan does not hold responsibility for making compensations.

On every Wednesday outside the Embassy of Japan in Seoul. Former “comfort women” appeal to the conscience of human beings that such a violation of human rights shall not be repeated in the next generations.

Besides the “comfort women” issue, the world witnesses a great number of human rights issues. The disable also suffer because their human rights are not fully protected.

They find mass transportation too huge a huddle to overcome. Crossing the street at a crosswalk is inconvenient for them due to a raised sill. Violence against children takes place in every corner of the world. Women’s human rights are frequently violated.

North Korean defectors, who fled from the North in search of freedom, might risk severe torture or even lives if arrested. Human rights are the most basic form of right guaranteed for everyone. When we take interest in human rights, we will be able to help more people live more like a human being in a world where their precious human rights are protected.

- Amnesty International /
International human rights organization/ Founded by Peter Benenson, British lawyer /Conduct research on human rights from all over the world and generate action to help people in danger/2.2 million members from 160 countries.

- William Wilberforce, 1759 ~ 1833
British Politician/ Became the independent Member of Parliament for Yorkshire / Became a leader of the parliamentary campaign against the British slave trade and led the passage of the Slave Trade Act 1807 in 1807/ Developed the complete abolition of slavery since 1818 Led the passage of the Slavery Abolition Act 1833.

- Human Rights Watch /
International human rights organization which was founded in 1978/ About 280 researchers including specialists, lawyers, journalists and scholars are conducting researches on human rights abusing cases in 90 countries and publishing research results or reports. Conducting international campaign to stop human rights abusing.

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