Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Comfort Women "Her"story in Washington

Korean, Chinese, Filipino, Dutch former sex slaves
On December 28, 2015, the Foreign Ministers of Japan and South Korea issued a joint statement on the issue of ‘comfort women’. In the December statement, Japan acknowledges that the Comfort Women existed because of “an involvement of the Japanese military authorities at that time” and passed on Prime Minister Shnizo Abe’s “sincere apologies and remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences and suffered incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.” 

The statement committed the Japanese government to contributing to a fund to assist surviving South Korean former ‘comfort women’. South Korea, in turn, pledged to refrain from discussing the Comfort Women issue in public and, possibly, to remove from the entrance of the Japanese embassy in Seoul a statue symbolizing the Comfort Women. The agreement is to ensure that “this issue is resolved finally and irreversibly.”

The statement ,which reflects no written agreement, is controversial. It will not be approved by the Japanese Cabinet, thus it exists in the same legal limbo as the Kono Statement, a 1993 apology to the Comfort Women. It is unclear when the funds will be delivered to South Korea, whether the survivors will accept it, and whether there will remain any survivors. In addition, the agreement is not applicable to all the other survivors throughout Asia (at least 27 nationalities) who were forced into becoming sex slaves.

Also concerning is the Japanese Government’s statement on February 16 to the meeting of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) that no documentation exists describing the forcible taking of women, that the women were not sex slaves, and that the Japanese military was not responsible for recruitment. The Japanese government response is significant as it is likely the first time that such a senior Japanese government official has addressed CEDAW.

In addition, eight ad hoc Japanese Comfort Women denier groups submitted their opinions for the record to the CEDAW meeting. These are less cautious, often racist repeats the government position. Four groups also spelled out what the Japanese government meant when it said it found no documents regarding the Comfort Women in the U.S. National Archives. This is a reference to an inaccurate interpretation of the work of the Congressionally-mandated Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group at the National Archives.

A number of prominent scholars who research the history, sociology, and politics of the Imperial Japan’s sex slave system will be in Washington, DC the week of February 29th to participate in a series of seminars and programs. In addition to private briefings on Capitol Hill and a private screening of the Song of the Reed, a documentary on Taiwanese Comfort Women hosted by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Organization (TECRO), they will speak at Johns Hopkins University, SAIS and George Washington University on March 1 and 3. The schedule is as follows:

Unfinished Apologies
Imperial Japan’s Sex Slaves of Wartime Asia

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
8:30am-3:00pm
Johns Hopkins University, SAIS


8:30-9:00am – Registration/light breakfast, purchase books

9:00-9:15am – Welcome
Jae Ku – Director US-Korea Institute, SAIS
Mindy Kotler – Director, Asia Policy Point

9:15-10:30am - Framing the Comfort Women History – Japanese Comfort Women and their Antecedents

Dr. Caroline Norma, Associate Professor in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia, author, The Japanese Comfort Women and Sexual Slavery during theChina and Pacific Wars (2016)

Discussant: Dr. Katharine (Kathy) H.S. Moon - inaugural holder of the SK-Korea Foundation Chair in Korea Studies and senior fellow at the Brookings Center for East Asia Policy Studies; author, Sex Among Allies: Military Prostitution in U.S.-Korea Relations(1997)

10:30-10:45am – Break

10:45am-12:30pm – The Comfort Women of Japan’s Occupied Asia

Dutch, Indonesian, Australian, British and American – Ms. Griselda Molemans, Dutch investigative reporter and researcher, founder of the Task Force for Dutch Indies War Reparations (Dutch acronym: TFIR; Task Force Indisch Rechtsherstel) author of Erfgenamen van Indië [Heirs of the Dutch East Indies] (2004), Zwarte huid, Oranje hart [Black Skin, Orange Heart] (2010), and Opgevangen in andijvielucht [Welcomed by the Smell of Endive] (2014), and the forthcoming Levenslang oorlog [A Lifetime of War] (end of 2016)

Indonesian/Dutch – Ms. Hilde Janssen, Dutch journalist and anthropologist; author Schaamte en Onschuld [Shame and Innocent] (2010) and Troostmeisjes/ComfortWomen with photographer Jan Banning, bilingual Dutch and English photo book (2013)

China – Dr. Peipei Qiu
, Professor of Chinese and Japanese on the Louise Boyd Dale and Alfred Lichtenstein Chair, Vassar College, author ChineseComfort Women: Testimonies from Imperial Japan's Sex Slaves (in collaboration with Shanghai Normal University professors Su Zhiliang and Chen Lifei, 2014)

Philippines – Ms. M. Evelina Galang, Professor of English, University of Miami, author, Angel de la Luna and the 5th Glorious Mystery (2013) and the forthcoming nonfiction Lolas’ House: Women Living with War

Pacific Islands – Dr. Caroline Norma, Associate Professor in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University, Australia

Taiwan -  Daniel Kuo-ching Chen, Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in the United States.

Moderator: Dr. Yukiko Hanawa, Senior Lecturer of East Asian Studies at New York University

12:30-2:00pm - Lunch & Keynote


1:15 - Keynote: Women in Warfare, how far have we come? Taina Bien-Aimé, Executive Director, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women
Introduction: Dr. Jae Ku, US-Korea Institute

click to order
2:00-3:00pm - Book signing of Speakers’ books Norma, Qiu, Janssen, Galang, and Stetz/Oh books

The Japanese Comfort Women and Sexual Slavery during the China and Pacific Wars – Caroline Norma

Chinese Comfort Women: Testimonies from Imperial Japan's Sex Slaves – Peipei Qiu

Troostmeisjes/Comfort Women
- Jan Banning, with an introduction by Hilde Janssen, bilingual Dutch and English photo book

Legacies of the Comfort Women of World War II – Co-editors: Margaret D. Stetz, Mae and Robert Carter Professor of Women's Studies and Professor of Humanities at the University of Delaware and Bonnie B.C. Oh, retired as the Distinguished Professor of Korean Studies at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, the University’s Main Campus Ombuds Officer, and a past director of Women’s Studies at Georgetown University. (2001)

Angel de la Luna and the 5th Glorious Mystery – M. Evalina Galang


Researching and documenting 
the Comfort Women History
What documents exist and where; 
how one analyzes them; working with oral history
Thursday, March 3, 2016
12:45-2:00pm
Sigur Center, George Washington University

Researching Japanese
War Crimes
, NARA
click to order
Mr. Christopher Simpson, professor of journalism, School of Communications, American University, adviser to the Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial GovernmentRecords Interagency Working Group of the National Archives; editor of the Holmes & Meier series on Science and Human Rights of which the first book was Comfort Women Speak (edited by Christopher Simpson and Sangmie Choi Schellsted), contemporary photographs by Soon Mi Yu.

Ms. Griselda Molemans
, Dutch investigative reporter and researcher, founder of the Task Force for Dutch Indies War Reparations (Dutch acronym: TFIR; Task Force Indisch Rechtsherstel) author of Erfgenamen van Indië [Heirs of the Dutch East Indies] (2004), Zwarte huid, Oranje hart [Black Skin, Orange Heart] (2010), and Opgevangen in andijvielucht [Welcomed by the Smell of Endive] (Amsterdam: Quasar Books, 2014), and the forthcoming Levenslang oorlog [A Lifetime of War] (end of 2016)

Ms. Hilde Janssen, Dutch Journalist and anthropologist, author Schaamte en Onschuld [Shame and Innocent] (2010) and Troostmeisjes/Comfort Women (2013) with photographer Jan Banning, bilingual Dutch and English photo book

Ms. M. Evelina Galang
, professor of English, University of Miami, author, Angel de la Luna and the 5th Glorious Mystery (2013) and the forthcoming Lolas’ House: Women Living with War

Host/moderator: Mike Mochizuki, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, Japan-U.S. Relations Chair in Memory of Gaston Sigur, George Washington University

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