Friday, May 18, 2007

Guam's Inclusion in Apology Demand

Resolution demands apology from Japan
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
The Marianas Variety

SENATOR Ben Pangelinan, D-Barrigada, is seeking the inclusion of Guam in a congressional resolution demanding an apology and compensation from the Japanese government for the Imperial Army's use of sex slaves ― euphemistically known as "comfort women" ― during World War II.

Pangelinan yesterday introduced Resolution 62, expressing support for House Resolution 121 filed by Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., before the 110th Congress.
Honda's resolution demands the Japanese government formally "acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner" for the Japanese army's coercion of young women into sexual slavery during Japan's colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II.

Pangelinan said Guam, the only U.S. territory occupied by Japanese armed forces, was directly affected by such "atrocious treatment."

"The people of Guam were subjected to death, injury, rape, forced labor, forced march, and internment throughout the occupation," Pangelinan said.
"It is my fervent hope that my resolution conveys our solidarity with Congressman Honda's House Resolution 121 in ensuring that Guam be acknowledged and recognized also," he added.

It wasn't the first time that a demand for an apology has been raised on Guam. Guam activists have been pressing the government of Guam to force Japan into acknowledging the comfort women issue. But the issue splits the local government.
When former Guam Supreme Court Chief Justice Benjamin Cruz and Sen. Tony Unpingco, then chairmen of the Guam War Claims and Compensation Commission, prepared the war claims report to Congress two years ago, they declined to include the comfort women issue despite demands from some Democrats and the families of sex slavery victims.
Unpingco, incidentally, is coauthor of Pangelinan's Bill 62.

Honda filed the resolution last January, partly to renew pressure on Japan ahead of the closure of the Asian Women's Fund, a private foundation created in 1995. The creation of the fund was seen as a significant concession from Japan, which has always claimed that postwar treaties absolved it of all individual claims from World War II.

By the time the Fund closed as scheduled last month, only a fraction of the former sex slaves had been compensated. The fund compensated only 285 comfort women in the Philippines, South Korea and Taiwan, out of an estimated 50,000 to 200,000 women forced into serving in brothels run by the Japanese military.

"I am concerned about conflicting stories that Japan has downplayed this issue and that its new leadership might rescind a 1993 government statement apologizing for its role in running comfort stations throughout Asia," Pangelinan said.

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