News Archive
Jun 12, 2014 - Asian Solidarity Conference on Japanese Military 'Comfort Women' Issues held in Tokyo, Japan
From May 31-June 3, 2014, Peace Boat together with other peace and women rights and peace organizations in Japan and Asia, organized the 12th Asian Solidarity Conference for the issue of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, welcoming former 'Comfort Women' and supporters from across Asia to call for a full resolution of this urgent and important issue.

Under Japan's occupation of Asia-Pacific countries during World War II, many women known as 'comfort women' were forced by the Japanese military into sexual slavery. It was not until 1991 that the first survivor, a South Korean called Kim Hak-sun, was able to come out and testify under her real name. With this as a turning point, the 'comfort women' issue became a social issue both internationally and in Japan. Despite this groundswell of concern, the Japanese government has still not fully acknowledged the state's complicity in the military sexual slavery system. The government has consistently ignored recommendations from the United Nations and resolutions passed by various national parliaments around the world including the United States and the European Council, and furthermore has yet to fully acknowledge, apologize, or provide compensation to the victims. On the contrary, nationalist politicians under the current Abe administration have been applying strong pressure in recent years for a revision of the apology issued in 1993 by then-chief cabinet secretary Kono Yohei, arguing there is no evidence of large-scale coercion of women by government authorities or the military.

In order to work together for a full resolution of the former 'comfort women' issue, and highlighting its connection to the ongoing and urgent issue of gender violence and rape in war, a delegation of survivors and supporters from Korea, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Timor Leste and the Netherlands gathered in Japan for a series of meetings with NGOs, community members, media, students and Japanese parliamentarians from May 31 to June 3, 2014.

This was a very important occasion for survivors, their supporters, legal and policy making experts from throughout Asia to come together to make a concrete, joint proposal for resolution, which was subsequently presented directly to the Japanese Government on June 2 (as reported by different media outlets such as The Guardian and The Japan Times). A range of supporting materials was included as historical evidence of the women's testimonies, together with enormous amount of historical materials that have been uncovered since the announcement of the Kono Statement in 1993.

This action from civil society in Japan will have an impact that reaches beyond Japan and across Asia as a whole, since acknowledgement of the facts of Japan's former military sexual slavery is a necessary step to achieve true reconciliation and peace in Asia. Furthermore, raising awareness and moving toward a resolution of this issue will also contribute to civil society actions around the world to prevent sexual violence during conflict, an issue currently being discussed in the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, being held in London, UK on June 10-13, 2014.

Related documents to the conference can be accessed in the following links:
+ Final Resolution of the 12th Asian Solidarity Conference on the Issue of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan
+ Recommendations to the Government of Japan For Resolution of the Japanese Military 'Comfort Women' Issue
+ Letter of solidarity and support to the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict
Documents for download