The English language is a first class global communication instrument. Many are the nuances that can be used to express facts and feelings. If the Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations Office at Geneva Mr. Takashi Okada says that Japan “had been making” an active contribution to the activities of the Human Rights Council since its establishment and stresses that it saw the Universal Periodic Review as a vital mechanism to review the human rights situation of all United Nations Member States, then one welcomes this as a positive sign. However, one wonders if he then claims that Japan had agreed to (partially) follow up on recommendations made by United Nations Member States, including those recommendations promoting the protection of the rights of women, children, and persons with disabilities. To make any really serious improvements in Japan’s Human Rights policy today one must consider Japan’s past violations of Human Rights. The acknowledgement of responsibility for past misconduct by the Japanese military and the education of Japan’s young people through non biased information about Japan’s recent history are an absolute must. By not including these undeniable facts from the past in today’s Japan’s Human Rights policy the statement made by Japan’s representative in Geneva is null and void of any content.
The same verdict applies to the statement by the Japanese representative that the issue of “Comfort Women” should not develop into a political and diplomatic issue. The Non-Governmental Organizations are not interested in simply a discussion with Japan about what it has done with regards to “Comfort Women” and other victims of Japanese military terror and brutality. Obviously it is not sufficient what Japan has done, as the Japanese “regret and reparations fund” is not supported by the full parliament or by individual politicians who continue to deny responsibility for the past. What the NGO’s want is a direct and honorable resolution of the issues for the victims and their next of kin. Anything less will continue to haunt Japan and its people for ages to come!
The adoption by the Council of the Universal Periodic Review of Japan does not mean that all is well with Japan’s Human Rights policy. Japan must continue to review its Human Rights policy with the NGO’s as well as within its own political system and ensure this review is carried by people who understand and know the consequences of the violation of Japan’s military in the past. It involves educating Japan’s people and giving understanding both in Japanese and in English as to why the world is apprehensive. It demands an unbiased commitment by Japan’s parliament and its people to Human Rights, including recognition of the past.
We did not receive acknowledgement of our previous petitions.
On behalf of the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts,
J.F. van Wagtendonk