Marking the 50 years since the end of World War II in 1996, Radhika Coomaraswamy released a report to the UN on the history of Japan's military sexual enslavement to raise international awareness over the issue.
She concluded through the report that Japan's enslavement of foreign women was a violation of international law and urged Tokyo to make an official apology.
"From what we saw and heard from these 'comfort women' was very clear that it was a situation of slavery. They were kept in small cubicles And in the cubicles, they were given and were made to take care of Japanese soldiers quite large number actually."
Japan did make a partial apology back in 1993 through the Kono Statement, but recently re-examined the document, casting doubt on whether its admittance of coercing women into sexual slavery was based on solid evidence.
But Coomaraswamy says there is ample evidence.
" looking at historical material on this issue, as well as interviews with Japanese women's NGOs, makes it very clear that it was mostly coercive."
She went on to say that Japan's efforts to legitimize the sexual enslavement system during that time period simply made no sense.
" this happened because the Japanese army felt that this was better than letting the army loose in the civilian population So they responded by having this system of military slavery. But that's not a response by any stretch of the imagination."
Expressing frustration over Japan's recent hard-line stance, Coomaraswamy emphasized that Japan needs to provide the victims the compensation and justice they so deserve.
"It is very clear from the evidence that this was a coercive set of practices. It is also very clear that it did not come up in the Tokyo discussions. Why not accept and do the right thing? Why is it not being done? I think that we are all very perplexed."
Yoo Li-an, Arirang News.
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