Surviving Comfort Woman
February 15, 2007 — Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, US House of Representatives, Washington DC
Ms. KIM. Chairman and members of the committee, in front of you I get to speak out my rancor, my compressed anger and suffering in the bottom of my soul, and I feel like by speaking to you some of that is evaporating. When I was little we lost our parents. In our family there is only three girls but all of those three girls because we were orphans we were sent to other people’s houses to live with them.
So I was sent to a family in Gangwon Do, Gangwon Province, and that house was in front of a train station, and when I was 17 years old I was sent outside for an errand by that family, and that is when I was captured and taken away. So when I was taken away, we boarded a train, and there were lots of soldiers, and there were lots of women who were forcibly taken away and put on that train.
And where that was where we were I mean is the border between Korean, Russia and China. There was a place called Hunchun. So after we arrived, we spent the night, and the next day the soldiers were lining up, and they were coming in. I did not speak English. Sorry. I did not speak Japanese. I did not learn. So I could not understand what the soldiers were saying, and I could not understand them, and the soldier hit on this ear, and my eardrums popped or it ripped so I cannot hear from this side.
So I was crying and I was crying, and the soldier grab a hold of me and then started to rip all of my clothes off. So after he ripped all of my clothes off, he just grabbed me, and he was just on top of me, and after it finished —
TRANSLATOR. Let me just make a note she is refusing to say the word ‘‘rape.’’
Ms. KIM. And then I was lying there naked, and I did not even have time to put my clothes back on, and then another soldier came in. So it was as if we were dead. We did not even get up, and I was just lying there as if I was dead. I did not even move, and they still came on top of me. They still came. All I can remember was that there was a Saturday but I do not even remember how many, for how long because I lost consciousness. I lost consciousness, and the soldiers they still came.
So after that day, the next day the soldiers were gone. There were hardly anyone around, and I gained some of my consciousness back but the day after that it was the same as the first day. The soldiers starting lining up again. So soldiers they lined up, and they came in, and the soldiers they have the thing that they have to put on their —
TRANSLATOR. She is referring to condom.
Ms. KIM. They have to use that but everyone refused. They refused to wear condoms. They have to use that so that disease do not spread, and with women they have to use that so that they will not get pregnant but all of them they just refused to use it. So days just went on just like that. I was speechless. I was completely dumbfounded, and I was hurting so much. So I was going to commit suicide. I was going to die.
So I wrapped a rope around me, around my neck, and I tried to commit suicide but I did not succeed. Instead, I was found by the owner, and I nearly died from the beating. So days went on and on like that. I rather have died. I really wanted to die but I could not even die because they were watching over me. Because there were guards watching me.
And the soldiers the low ranking ones have a little knife and the generals they have a bigger knife, and these soldiers if they cannot do as they please they stabbed you with the knife. It is okay if they just stab you and pull the knife away but what they do is they put the knife in. They stab, and they twist. So days went on. Days went on just like that. And the place we were at it was Hunchun, and then we were taken to Kokashi. That was the front line of the war. The soldiers were sent to the front line, and the women had to be sent with them.
There it was a battlefield, and the Japanese soldiers they went worse. They became more violent because they did not know whether they were going to die. They beat me, and they punched me here, and they beat me like that, and sometimes they put me up against the wall and my head was hurting, and I felt like I was going to die. It felt like I was going to die, and I often lost consciousness.
And there the soldiers they were so mean, and it was so hard. I suffered so much, and really I wanted to die. When they came in, they became so violent, and they would hit me, and they would punch me, and clothes like this they will hold it like this, and they will rip them, and it was so difficult. It really was so hard on the front line at the battlefield where they were fighting. I think they were going crazy, the soldiers. I think they were going crazy. So they get given this thing to wear. They are given this thing.
TRANSLATOR. She is talking about condom again.
Ms. KIM. But they never ever use it. They just rip it off.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Translator, can we try to sum it up for the next 2 minutes? I would appreciate it.
Ms. KIM. I think they go crazy. They did not recognize me as a person. They just wanted to kill me, and when they saw me they wrapped their hand around my neck, and they wanted to choke me. So at Kokashi the war ended, and the owner just told us you go. You just go. You go off on your own but there we did not have any money. We did not know where the roads went to, and there were not even cars.
So we did not even know what was going on but later I found out at that point America dropped the nuclear bomb on Japan, and then Japan defeated. There were 20 women all together but be- cause the owner told us to just go that the seven women we set off. So we were walking. We walked for 11 ⁄2 months, and we would just survive by pulling out radish from the field, and we walked all the way to Baekdu Mountain.
So when we were crossing the Duman River, there were seven of us but one of them got swept away and she drowned, and there is six of us. All we could do was let her drown because if we went after her, we would drown ourselves. So when we walked and we walked, we reached a city, and there were trains, and the trains were full of people, and there were people on top of the train, inside the train, and it was so crowded that I grab onto the outside of the train, and that is how I traveled. Would you like me to end there?
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. It is so difficult for me to try to limit the time of the testimonies of our friends, especially having traveled 10,000 miles to come and share with us their experiences but if I may because our witnesses have already spoken for over 15 minutes, and I would like to maybe allow her maybe another minute and a half.
Ms. KIM. For all of you, you gave me the chance to come here to meet you and to speak to you, and even though this is a very short while, even though this is just a moment, I really am grateful for this opportunity, and I really do think of it as an honor, and by speaking to you I feel it is as though the years and years of han — han is a Korean word for rancor, deep sorrow — I feel as though some of it is evaporating.
For us we have never received official apology. To us they have never ever apologized. So I say to them, if you do not officially apologize or give me compensation, then give me back my youth. I will end here.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Kim follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF MS. KOON JA KIM, SURVIVING COMFORT WOMAN, NATIONAL KOREAN AMERICAN SERVICE AND EDUCATION CONSORTIUM
My name is Koon Ja Kim. I was born in Pyongchang, Gangwon province in 1926.
I became an orphan when I was 14 and I was placed in the home of Choi Chul Ji, a colonial police officer. As his ‘‘foster child,’’ I cooked and cleaned for Mr. Choi. I had a boyfriend and we wanted to be married. However, his family objected because I was an orphan.
I remember the day that changed my life forever. I was wearing a black skirt, a green shirt, and black shoes. It was March of 1942, and I was 16 years old. I had been sent out of the house by police officer Choi and told that I needed to go and make some money. I found a Korean man wearing a military uniform and he told me that he would send me on an errand and I would be paid for this errand. I followed him and he told me to board a train — a freight car. I did not know where I was going but I saw seven other young girls and another man in a military uniform on this freight train. There were other soldiers in different cars on the train, but I didn’t see them until we came to a stop and I got off the train. A Japanese soldier with a ranking badge was waiting for us by a truck. The soldiers got on the truck and the other girls and I were put on the back of the truck.
Eventually the truck stopped in front of a house that looked like an old inn. I was later told that the name of the town was Hunchun, China. The next evening, a Japanese officer came to the house. He spoke Japanese, which I did not understand. I did not know what he was saying or what he wanted until he raped me. When I refused and fought back, he punched me in the face and the blow split my eardrum. That was the first of many days and nights that I was raped. On a daily basis, I was raped by Japanese soldiers, and it was common to be raped by 20 different soldiers a day, and on some days, it was as high as 40. If we fought or resisted the rapes, we would be punished, beaten or stabbed by the soldiers. There were soldier overseers to make sure that we complied and, if we resisted, they would punish us.
My body is forever marked and scarred with those beatings and in some cases stabbings with a knife. Many soldiers refused to wear condoms. We would be beaten for insisting that they wear condoms. It was common for girls to become pregnant and to contract sexually transmitted diseases. But if a girl became pregnant, she was forced to have an abortion. I was one of those girls. Eventually, we were moved to the front lines of the war to a town called Kokashi. I did not believe it could get worse, but it was. The soldiers on the front lines believed they were going to die and so they acted out their fears and stress on us by being more violent than one can imagine.
After three years of this nightmare, the war ended and, I thought, so would my nightmare. After years of imprisonment and threats against our lives, we were simply told to leave. We had no money and no idea where we were or how we would get home again. Six other girls and I walked to the border of China and Korea. It took us several weeks by foot to arrive at Baekdu mountain, which is in the border of China and North Korea. We survived by eating roots and vegetation from the ground. We had to cross the Duman River near the border to survive. We clasped hands and held on to each other as we crossed the river. One of the girls drowned and we could not save her.
I eventually made it back to my hometown but I did not have anyplace to go. I had no family or friends and I would never go back to Mr. Choi’s house. To survive, I worked in a hostess bar. There, I met my old boyfriend again. We wanted to be together again, but his family again objected because I was an orphan. After mounting pressure and difficulty with his family, he committed suicide. After his death, I found out I was pregnant with his child. His family and other people in the town blamed me for my boyfriend’s suicide, so I left to go to Seoul. I first worked at a hostess bar and then found a job as a housekeeper. My baby girl was born but only lived for five months. All the money that I made as a housekeeper, I spent seeking religious healing. I really wanted to know why fate had been so cruel to me. I sought healing and answers from Buddhist temples, world churches, and other religions. I am a Catholic now. Government social services eventually introduced me to the House of Sharing (a home for former comfort women), where I now reside.
My body has so many physical scars and reminders of those three violent years of my life as a young girl. There are memories that I will never be able to erase. In addition to these physical and emotional scars, the Japanese government continues to torture and punish me every day that it continues to deny the truth of those camps and what it did to me and other young girls. The war has ended but for 62 years, I have had to live a life with a scar in my heart. Not only does the Japanese government deny these barbaric actions, it claims that we voluntarily submitted to its repeated rapes and torture. The Japanese government continues to treat us as if we are not human. I believe that the officers in the Japanese government are fathers and mothers — would they act the same way if their daughters were in my situation? We were dragged there when we were young and our youth was robbed. As young girls, our innocence and youth were beaten and taken from us and our voices and cries for help were muffled and smothered with the stench of Japanese soldiers. Now, as elderly women, although we may be physically frail, we have the strength of spirit to give voice to those young girls.
The Japanese government must acknowledge and admit to its crimes and claim responsibility for these atrocities. The Japanese government is mistaken if it is simply waiting for all of us to die. Eighteen former comfort women died last year. Many have died but our memories and history live on in the voices of the younger generation and written resolutions, such as this one introduced by Congressman Honda. The Japanese government should officially apologize and provide reparations. Reparations symbolize the Japanese government’s acknowledgment and responsibility for these atrocities. I am 81 years old. Money will not change my life, heal my scars, or make my memories change. I have received money in the past from the Korean government, but I donated my one hundred million won (approximately $100,000 US) to different charities and foundations, particularly ones that work with orphans and orphanages. I was not able to study or receive an education as a young girl because I was an orphan. If I had been able to receive an education, perhaps I wouldn’t have been in the situation I was in as a young girl. I don’t want the money that will come from reparations. I want the responsibility of the Japanese government that the reparations symbolize. Governments must know that there is a price to pay for human rights violations and war crimes. Governments must know that our bodies and our innocence have real value and worth. Governments must know that we will not forget. There are nine of us living in a ‘‘House of Sharing’’ with me. We are all in our eighties. Time continues to slip away for us, but not for our cause. We sincerely recognize the U.S. Congress for caring about the cause we have waged and the unbearable pain we have all carried. My wish is that the resolution passes as soon as possible. And that it will send a strong message to the Japanese government to acknowledge its crimes and provide official redress, including an apology and reparations.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. I am still learning how to speak English, and I just cannot find any words adequate enough to say for us how honored we are as members of the committee to have our distinguished witnesses to travel some 10,000 miles away to come to this country and share with us their sufferings. That is something that I find it difficult myself even to sense the emotions and for the years that you had to bear this tremendous burden.
I do have some questions but I would like to turn the time over to my friend, Congressman Honda, for some questions if he has any.
Mr. HONDA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have no questions but I do want to share and thank our witnesses for their candor and for their willingness to self-disclose that which they have experienced. The comments I have heard today, such as ‘‘I have forgiven but I have not forgotten,” give me an opportunity to evaporate some of my rancor. That comes with grace and time, and it is hopeful on my part that countries such as Japan can achieve that level of maturity to be able to reflect upon themselves, as great as they are, and as democratically they have become, that maturity comes when one is able to confront their past and make peace with those that they have offended.
We cannot give back people’s youth, but we can certainly struggle to bring people and countries and nations to a point of maturity where they can reconcile themselves to the victims and in some way become a good reflection for the future generations. So thank you for coming these long distances to share and enlighten not only this body but the rest of the world.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. My apologies but I hope our translator will —
TRANSLATOR. She would like to speak.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Yes. Please by all means.
Ms. LEE. I have been thinking, and I have been thinking, and there is something very, very strange. I have to ask you this. Before gentleman over there said that there is a document, there is a document which says that Japanese Government has already apologized but as a victim and as a surviving comfort woman, I have never received anything. Why is it that when I have not received anything that that gentleman over there has received a document with Japanese Government’s apology? From justice, can you not tell the Japanese Government is lying? So I really want to ask you how is it that he has an apology and I do not?
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. I will give the gentleman from California for a response before I would respond to that, and by the way for the record the gentlelady is making reference to our colleague from California, Congressman Rohrabacher for his statement about the official document that was read earlier. Can somebody also help Ms. Kim with the translation process? Can you shorten it in sentences so that the translator can —
TRANSLATOR. Hold on. Because she does not understand the procedure she is asking that gentleman who she is referring to —
Ms. LEE. So she is saying how come that gentleman said what he said before, and then he left, and now he cannot answer my question?
Why is he so irresponsible? If he said something he cannot take responsibility for, he should not have said it. How is it that as a victim and as a survivor I am here, and I have never received an apology, and he has, and now he cannot even answer my question? So I do not understand the procedure but if he has said something he cannot be responsible for, I just do not understand.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. I think Ms. Lee should be an attorney here.
Ms. LEE. Once in a lifetime the Chairman Faleomavaega has organized this forum, this opportunity, and I am so grateful for that, and yet that gentleman over there he said something which I think ruins this forum. Thank you.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Could you translate for my friend, Ms. Lee? If I may just assist here. The document that I think my friend was referring to was a statement issued by the ministry of —
TRANSLATOR. Sorry. Excuse me. Can you give me a break so I can translate? Because I cannot listen and talk at the same time.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. You are absolutely correct.
Ms. LEE. I love you. I respect you, and this is a sign of I love you. That man has to take responsibility.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. This document was issued on May 2004, 3 years ago. Translate it in the microphone so that our friend, Ms. Kim, could also understand.
Ms. LEE. It is just strange to me that the victims and the survivors have not received it. It is just strange.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. I want to say to Ms. Lee that her point is well taken. I would like to ask Ms. O’Herne a question. As you may have heard again this is what Members of Congress do. They ask questions. They make statements. If in your opinion the statements that were issued by the former prime ministers of Japan, do you consider this to be a sufficient apology or what is it that you would like to see as a preference of what a real apology should be?
Ms. O’HERNE. Well as I said earlier on, a real apology to me is if it is followed by action, and what is action? Action is taking responsibility for their actions and owning up to their wartime atrocities which they never have done. When I was in Tokyo, they showed me in a museum a train, and underneath it said this train was built by Japanese military. This train that went through Burma, the famous Burma railway was built by prisoners of war like my father. Thousands died on that railway. They were all prisoners of war, and then they dare put under it that it was built by Japanese military.
The history they teach to their students and to the young people is totally wrong. This is what I would like to see happen that they are told the real history of their wartime atrocities. That is part of the apology.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. One of the questions that was raised earlier is the fact that only 283 of the comfort women were willing or were compensated by this fund that was established by the Japanese Government. Out of some 200,000 women that were tortured and raped?
Ms. O’HERNE. Two hundred thousand. That is the official number, 200,000. So most of them, including myself, refused it you know. It was such an insult. How dare they because by doing this they still did not take the responsibility like the private people doing, and if we would have accepted it that would have been the worst mistake because then we would have said, you see they are not responsible. They have never been responsible but by refusing it we have shown the government has to take a responsibility. It must not come from private funds.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. If I could ask the same question to Ms. Lee and Ms. Kim? Could you translate that?
TRANSLATOR. Can you word your question again please?
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. They say that only 283 women were supposedly compensated by the Japanese Government through this fund out of some 200,000 women that were tortured and raped.
TRANSLATOR. So what do they consider an official acceptable apology? Is that the question?
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. The concern is why only 283?
Ms. KIM. I have never received Asian Women’s Fund.
TRANSLATOR. Can I ask her why?
[ADDITIONAL WRITTEN INFORMATION RECEIVED FROM MS. KOON JA KIM AFTER THE HEARING
I did in fact receive money from the Asian Women’s Fund, as it is private fund not related to the Japanese government. I immediately donated all of the money to the Beautiful Foundation to further their campaign of encouraging a healthy culture of philanthropy. I did so in 2000 because I wanted the money to be used for positive change. I maintain the money from the Asian Women’s Fund is not from the Japanese government and does not in any way constitute an apology or reparations from the Japanese government.]
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. The concern that I have is how can we in crease the number? You know as I realize I think the fund is going to end next month. Has there been any serious effort to communicate or is it just difficult for our comfort women to come forward? Has this been the real reason why hardly anybody pays attention to this? Let me ask Ms. O’Herne for her response to my question is if it is all right with you.
My question again: Out of 200,000 women that were tortured and gone through this forced prostitution they only end up with only 283 that were identified apparently by the Japanese Government to be compensated, and I wanted to ask you is it because they did not bother making contact?
Ms. O’HERNE. We have too much pride. We have pride. We are not taking it from a private fund. It has got to come from the government. Through this private fund is useless. It is totally an insult. So we will never take it from private fund. I will only take money if it comes from the government. It is just an insult they even dare offer it to us.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Ms. Lee? Ms. Kim?
Ms. LEE. So about the the Asian Women’s Fund. Okay.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Can you translate please?
Ms. LEE. The Japanese citizens fund, they in that fund they call us so-called comfort women. Why am I comfort women? I am Lee Yong Soo. That is the name my mom and my dad has given to me. When I went to the Japanese Diet I asked them, what is this name comfort women? Give me an explanation. Because comfort woman implies that we the victims, survivors have voluntarily walked to them. Went up to them and said, okay, we will provide comfort and sex to the soldiers. They are saying by calling us comfort woman that that is what we did. That we did it voluntarily.
But the truth is they took us away by force against our will, and then after doing such a thing they give such a dirty name, this comfort women. So they said you voluntarily went to earn some money, did you not? So here is some money from the private individuals, and we will give it to you to make you feel better. When I went to the Japanese Diet I said, give me all the names. Give me the names of people who have accepted this money, and what they told me was, I cannot give you those names because when we give that money to them we promised them that we will keep their names as a secret. That will be confidential information.
And I said, if you cannot give me the names of people who accepted the money, well then you are a thief, are you not? So I fighted them over this.
Ms. O’HERNE. Can I just add one more thing?
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Please.
Ms. O’HERNE. I know one person that received the private women’s fund, and by accepting it she got the money, and she got a letter with an apology. A private apology to that person. Now she gets an apology because she accepts the Asia Women Fund. Why do we not get an apology that do not accept it?
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Point well taken. Can you translate that last portion?
Ms. LEE. I was taken away by force, and I was forced into becoming this so-called dirty comfort women. This is such a dirty thing. So even if the Japanese tell me they will give me all of their money, I said I am not interested. So I have a question for the chairman. I want to know —
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. It is supposed to be the other way around but how could I refuse not getting a question?
Ms. LEE. But you brought it up. Because I strongly disagree with the Women’s Fund. So you brought it up so I am asking you a question.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Please.
Ms. LEE. The Japanese Government they are at it again because they sent to you to the United States this 283, because I asked them for their names when I went to the Japanese Diet. They would not give it to me but they gave it to you. So the Japanese are at it again. I think you know this well, Chairman. So I am going to ask a question which is: Chairman, how do you know about the 283 women who accepted the fund? How do you know about that?
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. I still think you should be an attorney.
Ms. LEE. No, I am a victim. I am the victim, and the Japanese Government when I asked them directly, they would not give that information to me, and then they gave that information to you. So I just do not understand.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. They gave me —
Ms. LEE. I am going to Japan on the 17th.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Okay. The information was given —
Ms. LEE. I am sorry.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. The information was given to me by an official of the Japanese Government.
Ms. LEE. So officially they gave it to here. So for sure I hope I get to find out these things officially. So you have started to take on our cause. So while you are at it, Chairman, if you can give me this information I promise you I will keep it confidential. I am sorry.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Officially they gave it to me because officially I asked them.
Ms. LEE. So on the 17th I must go to the Japanese Diet again and ask them for it again. So I do not understand this number 283 because in fact the entire total of survivors at this point is a bit over 100. It does not reach as high as 283. So if you say 283 accepted those funds, I do not understand how that number could be, because there is not that many of us alive.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. I just want to say to our attorney, Ms. Lee, that Congressman Honda and I will be more than delighted to accompany her on her next visit with the Diet in Tokyo.
Ms. LEE. In fact, Mr. Chairman, since you bring it up, I have always wanted to be a lawyer, and in 1996 in Dongpuk University I have actually enrolled as an honorary student to study international human rights law. It was too difficult though. So I went through the 4 years and graduated, and then I went to graduate school and did 2 years and graduated. But since I did not have any of the basics, even after all that I could not become a lawyer but I did learn a bit.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. I want to thank Ms. Lee, and I now have a question by my colleague Mr. Honda.
Mr. HONDA. I kept quiet at first because I thought the chairman should direct the heat toward him. There are a couple of things. One is that there are many members of this subcommittee who are not present, and it is not because they do not want to be here. They have conflicting schedules, and those who have appeared, appeared and then left to do other things, and I do not think it is from their lack of interest.
Having said that, these proceedings are being recorded and transcribed so it will be shared by those members and the public for their information and their edification. So if you would let Ms. Lee and Ms. Kim know that quickly and I will continue my comments.
The other folks who made comments that we do not agree with raise it as a matter of information that they received from other people, other sources or other lobbyists, and they raise these comments as a matter of point of discussion. Our process in this body is that we invite points that are contrary to ours so we can debate it, and so it can be responded to, as Ms. Lee has responded to it in saying, ‘‘How do you get that information?’’ Dialogue is part of the process of teaching us to arrive at a conclusion that is factual and appropriate.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Will the gentleman yield? I think something also to understand in terms of our procedures in a committee, and I think in listening to the statements made by other members of the committee, one of the fundamental issues that is being questioned on this proposed resolution how far back do we have to go to bring out the sins of the past so to speak? I think that was one of the issues that my friend from California raised.
They have already made the apologies. How many more apologies do you need? That is really the essence of the arguments that are being made now by our friends from the other side, and it is a valid point. And of course, Mr. Honda, if I wanted to ask you what would be your response because their proposed resolution does call for the Government of Japan to issue a formal apology.
TRANSLATOR. Excuse me, please. Would you like me to translate that?
Mr. HONDA. Yes.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Quickly. We have one more panel that we have to go. In a real quick fashion that I am responding to our chief sponsor of the legislation for his response. And I want to note for the record that their response and the statements made by all three witnesses were very, very to the point in pointing out the fact that this is not just a piece of paper that you want. There is a moral issue here that has not been settled, and I think your testimonies absolutely verifies that question not only before here this committee but relationships among nations and among people.
This is the issue that we are trying to get at, and I am sorry, I wanted to ask you what is your response to our friend from California’s statement that the Government of Japan has already made the apologies? What more do you need, Mike?
Mr. HONDA. What I was moving toward with our witnesses was to ask them, since Ms. Lee had been to the Diet, a question leading toward clarification. We spoke of the Asia Women’s Fund, which on the whole was rejected for the motivation for which it was established, but my question would be: When you go to the Diet, what is it that you expected the Diet to do?
Ms. O’HERNE. I know what I would like to tell the Japanese Government. I would like to give them this message. As you disband in March the Asian Women’s Fund, then start a proper government compensation fund. So when one finishes let them start the proper one of compensation from the government.
Mr. HONDA. Okay.
Ms. O’HERNE. And it is never too late.
Mr. HONDA. Moving from the fund, I was looking at motivation for the establishment of the first fund but if you are in front of the Diet in terms of apologies — let me be more direct. The reason I worded the resolution as unambiguous, unequivocal and clear to me means that the Diet, as a government body, should act upon the apology, and as a body, as a government, apologize to the victims, and then the prime minister, on behalf of that action, apologize to the victims.
The wording of Koizumi and the other prime ministers may have said that they represent the government, but they said ‘‘my’’ regrets. It was a personal acknowledgement of their regrets, and to me, in my opinion — and I am not an expert on parliamentary government in Japan — but it seems to me that it does not represent the government, and when the government has an entity to make a clear action by the government and then the prime minister says to the country, we acknowledge the mistake and the terrible policies that we have victimized the women of the other countries, and it will not happen again, that they will be clear in their textbooks and the instruction of their own people that this is unequivocal. There should be no room for ambiguity as to what their position is.
That is why I bring up the action of the United States Government. Congress apologizing as an act of Congress. Then the act being signed into law by the President as a clear, unequivocal action of this government in its apology, and I look for parallel action made by the Japanese Government.
If we were to go with you to Japan, that would be my expectation and basis for debate with them, and that would be my position, and my expectation in terms of this resolution.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. I thank the gentleman and to our good translator.
TRANSLATOR. Is there a question?
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. No, no more questions.
TRANSLATOR. No more questions. Okay.
Source: Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, US House of Representatives, 110th Congress, 1st Sess. (Washington DC: US Government Printing Office), 2007, pp. 30-33.