World / Asia-Pacific

'Human trafficking' just tip of comfort women issue iceberg

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-03-31 11:03

TOKYO -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe described tens of thousands women forced into sex slavery for Japanese troops during WWII as victims of human trafficking during a recent interview, and said Monday the remark was made based on an argument that claims those "comfort women" fall into this category.

"On the question of comfort women, when my thought goes to these people, who have been victimized by human trafficking and gone through immeasurable pain and suffering beyond description, my heart aches," said the prime minister in an interview with the Washington Post.

How impressive for the known historical revisionist to recognize some basic facts in one of the darkest tragedies in human history, but how disappointing for the world again that he shied away from hitting the core of the tragedy.

The comfort women issue involves human trafficking, but does not end with human trafficking. The undeniable facts are that, as many documents prove, the Japanese military and government themselves set up the whole comfort women system, from kidnapping to trafficking, to enslavement and raping.

For Abe, the only purpose of using the term "human trafficking" is to try and shake off the government's responsibility for the whole atrocious process, taking advantage of the fact that there indeed were private human traffickers during the war who made money from this inhumane crime, either linked to the Japanese authorities or not.

And the revisionists' next step could be to boldly claim that these private brokers who were working independently with individual soldiers or squadrons in the Imperial Army who were responsible for the trafficking, so as to further dilute the government's responsibility by exploiting people's limited perception and understanding of the phrase.

In fact the phrase of "comfort women" means much more. First and foremost, the phrase is synonymous with Japan's wartime atrocities. It directly links more than 200,000 women who were forcibly recruited and served at Japan's wartime military brothels with immeasurable pain.

Secondly, the phrase "comfort women," rather than human trafficking, is the core concept that comprises the world- recognized 1993 Kono Statement, which offered an official apology to those who were victimized by the comfort women system. The statement said "the then Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of the comfort stations and the transfer of comfort women."

Thirdly, the phrase serves as a reminder to the modern world to protect the rights of women and girls in war zones as it reminds the world of the miserable experiences of beating, starving and raping of women and girls who were not only victimized by human trafficking, but also other war crimes.

The Japanese prime minister expressed in the interview that he hopes "the 21st century will be the first century where there will be no violation of human rights."

It is undeniable that this hope is in line with the world's hope. But most importantly, it is advisable for Abe to admit the full responsibility of Japan's past and learn real lessons from history to help him realize his human rights hopes, as distorting historical facts is tantamount to trampling on the victims' dignity, the very basis of human rights.

Trudeau visits Sina Weibo
May gets little gasp as EU extends deadline for sufficient progress in Brexit talks
Ethiopian FM urges strengthened Ethiopia-China ties
Yemen's ex-president Saleh, relatives killed by Houthis
Most Popular
Hot Topics