The Japanese military sexual slavery, so-called “comfort women,” issue is a serious matter of violence against women which has been dealt by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) since its consideration on Japan in 1994. Also, it is a long-term unresolved problem that needs to be continuously addressed, including at the 2016 sixty-third session.
The women who became the victims of systematic sexual violence before and during the Second World War have been living their lives in constant agony for almost a century and are faced with the last days of their lives.
However, the actions of the Japanese government which organized and implemented the sexual slavery system are still going against the desperate hope of the victims who are racing against time.
Following the review in 2009, a bill regarding the issue, Promotion of Resolution for the Issues Concerning Victims of Wartime Sexual Coercion Bill, was submitted eight times to the Japanese Diet by the Democratic Party. So when the party that had been putting in efforts to resolve the issue succeeded in regime change after fifty-four years, the victims were hopeful. However, from then to until the current Shinzo Abe-Cabinet took over, the bill was never submitted to the National Diet.
Furthermore, human rights violation against the victims worsened after Prime Minister Abe’s return to power in 2012, and Japanese Cabinet members and officials including Abe continuously made remarks distorting the nature of the crime and defaming the victims’ reputation. The Prime Minister officially denied coercion in the recruitment of “comfort women,” and government’s official stance was resolved by passing a cabinet resolution which claims that “there is no evidence of coercion.” Furthermore, they changed their textbook standard criteria and completely deleted entries regarding “comfort women,” and conducted an investigation into the details of the drawing up of the Kono Statement which recognized the Japanese government's responsibility for the Japanese military "comfort women" issue to some extent, thus, defaming it.
Recently, on December 28, 2015, the Korean and Japanese Ministers of Foreign Affairs announced at a joint press conference that the two governments have reached an agreement regarding the “comfort women” issue and declared that the issue is resolved “finally and irreversibly.” However, the agreement excluded the victims, and it does not reflect their demands and the international human rights principles. As the result, it pushed the victims into deeper despair, and many citizens denounce the agreement and demand a righteous resolution.
Even at this moment, the survivors still suffer from the agony, but the perpetrator, the Japanese government, is propagating that the “comfort women” issue is thoroughly settled. Through this session, the Korean Council hopes that an affirmation would be made that the Japanese government’s responses to the issue and the recent agreement between Korea and Japan do not obey the continual recommendations of CEDAW and instead go against them. Hence, adaptation of appropriate recommendations for the victims’ realization of justice is anticipated.