The Lamp

Where truth can be shared.

A Half-Hearted Apology

Posted by thelamp on April 2, 2007

For more than a decade, Japan has rejected claims from women seeking compensation from the government for being forced into prostitution during World War II. This week, however, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attempted to make amends and offered an apology.

Unfortunately, using the euphemism “comfort women” to describe mothers, sisters and daughters degraded by sexual servitude minimizes the atrocity committed against them. As a result, the “apology” comes across as disingenuous.

The abduction of thousands of Asian women for use as prostitutes during World War II has been a point of tension between Japan and its neighbors for decades. The crimes were perpetrated primarily against women from Korea and China. So their acceptance of the atonement should be what matters most. In the United States and abroad, Asian women are skeptical about the motivation, as well as the prime minister’s words.

Far too often, women are the callous victims of brutality during times of war. It’s hard for mere words offered generations later to repair the damage. For many observers, Japan’s act of contrition was more of an attempt to appease American politicians than genuine regret for misdeeds against Asian women.

More than 70,000 Korean Americans recently signed a petition in support of U.S. legislation sponsored by Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif. Honda’s measure before Congress doesn’t mince words. The non-binding resolution recommended by Honda, who is of Asian heritage, urges the Japanese government to offer an official apology for the forced sexual enslavement of Asian women during WWII.

The speculation is that Abe’s apology might be a move to stop Honda’s resolution from passing. If the regret for violating women’s rights is legitimate, though, neither the prime minister nor the Japanese Parliament will be content to let the ill feelings fester a day longer. Abe’s statements should be made official by the Japanese Parliament, which should then vote to pay compensation to the families of the victims.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: