The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has sent a document to Japan recommending the government to do everything in its power to stop the hate speech and defamation against “comfort women” or those who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military in World War II.
The discussions that led to the recommendation were held even before the statements of Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto that the comfort women were a necessary evil during wartime. But even so, the controversial opinions of the outspoken right-wing politician is just an example of the lack of understanding in Japanese society that the UN was pertaining to. The document states, “The committee is concerned about the lasting negative effects of the exploitation to which ‘comfort women’ were subjected on their enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights and their entitlement to reparation.” It goes on to say that the state should do whatever it takes to negate those lasting effects, including educating the public about what the women went through, so as to avoid hate speech and other misconceptions that victimize them all over again.
The document was published after interviews with key government officials and non governmental organizations. This is part of the UN committee’s regular check-up on the status of human rights in signatory states to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. While they did not directly name politicians, if they have been watching the news lately, they would see that some of them are the ones making the discriminatory remarks against the comfort women. Aside from Hashimoto, Shingo Nishimura, a Lower House member of the opposition Japan Restoration Party (which Hashimoto co-leads) recently said that South Korean prostitutes are still proliferating in Japan and he even said why not tell them, “Hey, you Korean comfort women!”. Fortunately, this time, they had enough sense to oust him from their party.
Aside from the issue of comfort women, the committee also strongly recommended Japan to adopt a legislation that would ban all forms of discrimination. One example it cited was the exclusion of pro-Pyongyang Korean schools from the tuition-waiver program, which they say is a form of discrimination. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently called attention on all the hate speech in anti-Korean rallies in Osaka and Tokyo and strongly criticized slogans like “Kill Koreans” or “Koreans go home”. However, there is no law yet that would prevent demonstrations of this nature from happening.
[ via Asahi Shimbun ]