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At UN As S. Korea Raises Japan's Use of Comfort Women, Replies Transcribed

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 11, updated -- That Japan's use of "comfort women" in the Second World War was raised in the UN's Third Committee on Tuesday was not a surprise. But that it was South Korea, and not Kim Jong-Il's Democratic People's Republic of Korea that raised the issue was a surprise.

  The Advancement of Women was the agenda item when South Korean Deputy Permanent Representative Shin Dong-ik took the floor in Conference Room 4 on Tuesday morning. He referred to Japan's "military sexual slavery" as a crime against humanity. Inner City Press went and got a copy and puts it online here.

  Japan and North Korea often exchange Rights of Reply volleys on this topic. But now South Korea, homeland of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, has jumped into the fray.

  Some see a link between this and an incident reported in the New York Daily News of October 10, in which a reporter covering Ban at the South Korean Mission to the UN on Saturday night was pushed back by Ban's entourage and told not to ask a question. A new muscular policy, some call it.

Inner City Press has asked Ban's Associate Spokesperson to confirm or deny the incident, so far without response. A copy of Ambassador Shin's statement was given to one of Ban's most senior advisers, too.

Ban Ki-moon in South Korea with pop stars, ROK statement not shown

  Japan is the second largest contributor to the UN system, after the United States. On Tuesday afternoon, Inner City Press spotted Jun Yamazaki, until recently the UN's Controller, walking on First Avenue.

  Yamazaki has returned to the Japanese Mission to the UN, though one assumes on financial matter and not those like Rights of Reply in the Third Committee. Watch this site.

Update: and here's how the rights of reply went on October 11, as transcribed by a Friend On Inner City Press:


My delegation would like to exercise its right of reply in response to the statement made by the representative of the Republic of Korea this morning.

First, as for the issue of wartime comfort women, the government of Japan recognizes that this issue was a grave affront to the honor and dignity of a large number of women and has extended its sincere apologies and remorse to all those known as wartime comfort women who suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds.

Secondly, the issue of reparations, property and claims concerning the second world war has been legally settled with countries that are parties to the San Francisco peace treaty, bilateral treaties, agreements, and instruments.

Thirdly, the government of Japan, together with the people of Japan, jointly established the Asian women’s fund in July 1995 to facilitate support for former comfort women who had by then reached advanced age. The government extended its maximum support to the projects of the fund, including assistance in health, and welfare, as well as a provision of atonement money for former comfort women.

The government of Japan will continue its utmost efforts to get further recognition of the earnest feelings of the people of Japan on the issue, which were reflected in the project of the fund.

Finally, Japan has been facing up to its past with sincerity and consistency since World War II. With this in mind, for more than 60 years, Japan has consistently dedicated itself to promoting international peace and prosperity as well as to demonstrating its respect for democracy and human rights. Thank you Madame Chair.


My delegation would like to exercise right of reply in response to the remark by the distinguished delegate of Japan. Madam chair with regard to the remark by the Japanese delegation that all of the issues related to the comfort women have been legally settled, my government would like to make clear its position that the issue of comfort women, which may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity has not been settled by bilateral treaties, including agreement on the issue of settlement of problem concerning property and claims and economic cooperation between the republic of Korea and Japan. Therefore legal responsibility of the Japanese government remains effective. My delegation would like to draw attention of the member state to the reports submitted by Ms. Coomaraswamy in 1996 and Ms. MacDougall in 1998 who served respectively as the special rapporteur for violence against women and the special rapporteur on systemic rape, sexual slavery, and slavery like practices during armed conflict. Those two reports confirmed that neither the San Francisco treaty or the bilateral treaties were concerned with human rights violations in general or military sexual slavery in particular. In this regard, my government recently proposed to the Japanese government the initiation of bilateral consultations to resolve the issue of comfort women in accordance with the agreement on the settlement of problems concerning property and claims, economic cooperation between the Republic of Korea and Japan. My government hopes that the Japanese government agrees to join the consultations in the near future.


Thank you, Madam Chair. Well, this is the second time that I have requested to exercise the right to reply on behalf of the Japanese government, so well, I can be very brief. I have explained the position of my government on the issue raised by the delegation of the Republic of Korea just now. Thus, I will not repeat it here. Thank you, Madam Chair.


Um, thank you Madam Chair for giving me the floor again. Um, in addition to the reports, those two reports I mentioned in my previous intervention, I would like to remind member states of other recommendations made by multiple international human rights treaty bodies on the issue of comfort women. For example, the recommendations of the Committee against Torture in 2007 and the recommendations of Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in 2009 was reconfirmed that the issue of comfort women still remains unresolved. Thank you, Madam Chair.

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