His Excellency Shinzo ABE
Prime Minister of Japan
The Hague, 9 January 2018
Subject: government-to-government agreements resolving individual sufferings
As customary the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts wishes you and the people of Japan a safe and fruitful New Year. A year in which the geopolitical circumstances influence Japan’s immediate security as well as its political and moral standing in the world in resolving its wartime obligations to individual victims.
In May 2017 the United Nations Committee against Torture called on Japan and South Korea to revise their 2015 deal to settle the long-standing row over women who were forced into wartime Japanese brothels. The Committee stated that the agreement should be modified to “ensure that the surviving victims of sexual slavery during World War II are provided with redress, including the right to compensation and rehabilitation and the right to truth, reparation and assurances of non-repetitions.”
The South Korean Foreign Ministry task force set up to investigate the December 2015 deal concluded last December that the governments involved did not listen to the victims before reaching the agreement. The task force said that “A victims-centered approach, which has become the norm when it comes to the human rights of women in time of war, has not been sufficiently reflected and the deal was reached through give-and-take negotiations like an ordinary diplomatic agenda.”
This conclusion of the task force reminds us of the Yoshida-Stikker agreement. The agreement between Japan and The Netherlands also lacked the involvement of the Dutch victims who suffered from the Japanese terror during World War II. The attempts to resolve the individual constitutional rights of the Dutch victims to claim from the Japanese government directly were squashed as the political view prevailed that Japan was unable to redress, including the right to compensation and rehabilitation. The victims suffered again from this diplomatic failure to consider the plight and sufferings caused by the Japanese military during World War II.
As stated in our previous petition Japan must recognize and correct its past violations of Human Rights committed during World War II. The Comfort Women deal as well as the Yoshida-Stikker deal must be reviewed to include victims. Only then can Japan state that it has resolved its obligations to the victims of World War II.
On behalf of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts.
J.F. van Wagtendonk