When I was in Manila, I shared with the Lolas of LILA Pilipina all the work that Congressman Mike Honda, House Committee of Foreign Affairs Chairman Tom Lantos, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were doing in conjunction with so many American citizens who were in support of House Res. 121. Little did I realize that I would be sitting in the gallery on July 30, 2007, witnessing the discussion and voice vote.
While the women and supporters of LILA Pilipina were excited about our activities, they made it clear that the passing of U.S. House Res. 121 was not the end of their struggle. When the bill passed with an unanimous voice vote on July 30th, 2007, Congress stood before the world and supported surviving WWII "Comfort Women" and asked their good friends, the Japanese government, to choose the noble action. Apologize. Unequivocally. As each Congress person stood and said, "I rise today in support of House Resolution 121," my heart expanded. For the lolas, the bill's passing validated all their hard work and they too celebrated, but they also understood their battle was just heating up. On August 13, 2007, six representatives from the Republic of the Philippines 14th Congress, including Gabriela party-list Congresswomen Liza Larzoga-Maza and Luzviminda Ilagan introduced House Res. 124 to the Philippines House of Representatives. Below is a draft of the resolution. If you read it, you'll get a sense of the "Comfort Women" history and the struggle in the courts around the globe. There is plenty of evidence, and even the courts of Japan have seen it. Since then, the Lolas of LILA Pilipina have been very busy, standing with their friends before the Japanese Embassy in Manila, making their demands known.
Republic of the Philippines
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Quezon City, Metro Manila
First Regular Session
HOUSE RESOLUTION 124
Introduced by Gabriela Women’s Party Representatives LIZA LARGOZA-MAZA and LUZVIMINDA ILAGAN, Representative EDUARDO C. ZIALCITA, Bayan Muna Representatives SATUR C. OCAMPO and TEODORO A. CASINO, and Anak Pawis Representative CRISPIN BELTRAN:
RESOLUTION EXPRESSING THE SENSE OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES THAT THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT URGES THE GOVERNMENT OF JAPAN TO FORMALLY ACKNOWLEDGE, APOLOGIZE AND ACCEPT ITS RESPONSIBILITY OVER THE SEXUAL SLAVERY OF YOUNG WOMEN COMMONLY KNOWN AS COMFORT WOMEN BY THE JAPANESE IMPERIAL ARMY DURING WORLD WAR II AND PROVIDE COMPENSATION TO THE VICITIMS IN THE LIGHT OF THE ADOPTION BY THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF HOUSE RESOLUTION 121 WHICH STATES THAT JAPAN SHOULD FORMALLY ACKNOWLEDGE, APOLOGIZE AND ACCEPT HISTORICAL RESPONSIBILITY IN CLEAR AND UNEQUIVOCAL MANNER OVER ITS ARMED FORCE’S COERCION OF YOUNG WOMEN INTO SEXUAL SLAVERY DURING ITS COLONIAL AND WARTIME OCCUPATION OF ASIA, AND IN THE LIGHT OF THE LEGISLATIVE INITIATIVES IN THE HOUSE OF COUNCILORS OF JAPAN SEEKING APOLOGY, COMPENSATION AND IMMEDIATE RESOLUTION OF ISSUES CONCERNING COMFORT WOMEN.
WHEREAS, the recognition of human rights is a valuable tenet in the 1987 Philippine Constitution which states: “the State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights” (Article II, Section II);
WHEREAS, it has been more than a decade since the World War II comfort women started clamoring for an official apology and legal redress from the government of Japan for the unimaginable suffering they experienced in the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army;
WHEREAS, the Japanese government recognized the issues concerning comfort women as a social problem in June 1990;
WHEREAS, after realizing the importance of the matter, the Japanese government proceeded to conduct a research, after which, it admitted its involvement in the sexual slavery case, expressed its remorse for the matter of comfort women and apologized for it in August 1993;
WHEREAS, Japanese public officials and private officials have recently expressed their desire to retract or water down its 1993 statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono on the “comfort women.” The 1993 statement of Secretary Kono expressed the sincere apologies of the government of Japan for the ordeal of the women victims of military sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army;
WHEREAS, the Japanese government claimed that it had no obligation to provide compensation for the victims since the matter was already settled when the San Francisco Treaty and other bilateral treaties were signed;
WHEREAS, the UN Report of Miss Radhika Coomaraswamy, the then Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, to the Commission of Human Rights in 1996 urged the Japanese to compensate the former comfort women while Miss Gay McDougal’s UN Report in 1998 severely criticized the Japanese government in its handling of the cases of the comfort women and strongly recommended that Japan raised the issue of compensation to the state-level;
WHEREAS, the Japanese government’s response to the mounting international pressure was the creation of the Asian Women’s Fund (AWF) which collected “sympathy money” from Japanese citizens, thereby evading its legal responsibilities as state in addressing the cases of the comfort women. The Asian Women’s Fund has raised U.S. $5,700,000 to extend “atonement” from the Japanese people to the comfort women. The said fund ended on March 31, 2007 and the fund was to be disbanded on that date;
WHEREAS, in April 1998, the South Korean government issued an announcement in which it insisted that the Japanese government decide to give the former comfort women approximately 3 million yen of monetary support;
WHEREAS, the Taiwanese government took similar measures by conferring 2 million yen for the former comfort women to substitute for AWF’s money while seeking a state level compensation and apology from the Japanese government;
WHEREAS, a bill entitled “Promotion of Resolution for Issues Concerning Victims of Wartime Sexual Coercion Act” was introduced to the House of Councilors in Japan, jointly by the Democratic Party of Japan, the Japanese Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party, and independent senators last June 9, 2004. The same bill was filed last March 21 and November 14, 2001 and January 21, 2003. However, the House of Councilors failed to adopt the bill;
WHEREAS, the main objective of the bill filed at the Japanese House of Councilors was to take immediate steps to restore the dignity and honor of women victims of wartime sexual slavery of the Japanese Imperial Army during the World War II. It aimed to provide the necessary fundamental grounds for the resolution of the issues concerning the victims of wartime sexual coercion that will improve the relationship of the peoples of the concerned nations and will enable Japan to occupy an honored place in the international community;
WHEREAS, the bill indicated measures to restore the honor which includes the announcement of the Japanese government of an apology for the violation and dignity of the victims of wartime sexual slavery and the implementation of necessary means to immediately restore their honor, including monetary compensation;
WHEREAS, the same measure will again be filed at the House of Councilors of Japan;
WHEREAS, the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea had already approved their resolution recommending the Japanese Diet to consider and enact the bill on the promotion for the resolution of issues concerning victims of wartime sexual coercion;
WHEREAS, the U.S. House of Representatives on July 31, 2007, approved its House Resolution 121 expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the Government of Japan should formally acknowledge, apologize and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Force’s coercion of young women into sexual slavery known to the world as “comfort women,” during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands form the 1930’s through the duration of World War II;
WHEREAS, the Government of Japan is a signatory to the 1921 International Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Women and Children and supported the 2000 United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security which recognized the unique impact of armed conflict on women;
WHEREAS, by following the step of the U.S. House of Representatives in passing Resolution No. 121, the Philippine government is demonstrating its earnest interest to help Filipino comfort women achieve justice they deserve and reclaim their dignity and that of the Filipino people;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES expresses its sense that the Philippine government urges the government of Japan to formally acknowledge, apologize and accept its responsibility over the sexual slavery of young women commonly known as comfort women by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II and provide compensation to the victims in the light of the adoption by the U.S. House of Representatives of House Resolution 121which states that Japan should formally acknowledge, apologize and accept historical responsibility in clear and unequivocal manner over its armed force’s coercion of young women into sexual slavery during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia, and in the light of the legislative initiatives in the House of Councilors of Japan seeking apology, compensation and immediate resolution of the issues concerning comfort women.
LUZVIMINDA C. ILAGAN
EDUARDO C. ZIALCITA
SATUR C. OCAMPO
TEODORO A. CASINO
CRISPIN B. BELTRAN