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Protecting the Human Rights Of Comfort Women

February 15, 2007 Thursday

Hearing of the Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee 

Protecting the Human Rights Of Comfort Women

Chaired By: Representative Eni F. H. Faleomavaega (D-as)


  • Panel I: Representative Michael M. Honda (D-CA)
  • Panel II: Yong Soo Lee, Surviving Comfort Woman, Korean Council for The Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery; Jan Ruff O'Herne, Surviving Comfort Woman; Koon Ja Kim, National Korean American Service And Education Consortium;
  • Panel III: Mindy Kotler, Director, Asia Policy Point; Ok Cha Soh, Ph.d., President, Washington Coalition For Comfort Women Issues

Location: 2172 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C.

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: Welcome, Ms. Anna Anna Soo (ph) who will be translating for Ms. Lee and Ms. Kim. Today our subcommittee will consider House Resolution 121, introduced by my good friend and colleague, Congressman Honda, which urges basically the government of Japan to formally acknowledge and apologize and accept historical responsibility for its imperial armed forces coercion of young women to sexual slavery - forced prostitution if you want to put it in other terms during its occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands before and during - (inaudible).

Congressman Honda has been vigorously working to bring clarity and closure to this issue given that there has been some suggestion the government of Japan is now trying to downplay its culpability. I want to note that in terms of some of the information that has been brought to the chair's attention. I wanted to say that before giving opportunity to the members of the committee and especially also to our first witness, Congressman Honda.

Clearly it is a matter of historical record that Japanese military forces forced some 50,000 to 200,000 women from Korea, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Indonesia to provide sex for Japanese soldiers - (inaudible). Japan's chief cabinet secretary, Kono Yohe (ph) issued a statement of admission and apology in 1992. Prime Minister Koizumi also issued an apology - (inaudible) - as well as Japan's largest circulated newspaper, Yomiuri Shinbun, specifically challenged the validity of - (inaudible).

I'm also including other newspaper articles here and abroad which raised similar concerns as well as other matters pertinent to this issue. I also note that according to the Congressional Research Service, and I quote, "There has been a noticeable trend of new editions of history textbooks to omit reference to comfort women. The Japanese government says this is not the case and has submitted statements and testimony otherwise, which I have included for the record.

As an aside, I will say that in no way is this hearing meant to embarrass the government or people of Japan. Like my colleagues, I appreciate - (inaudible) - an affinity for the people of Japan and their leaders. But more sacred to me is our obligation to protect the human rights of those who were forced to become comfort women. This is the very reason why I believe this hearing is important.

Some may say that the past is the past and that the U.S. is also an offender and violator of human rights. Maybe this is so, but nowhere in recorded history that the U.S. military as a matter of policy allowed the coercion of young women into sexual slavery or forced prostitution. On the other hand, this is exactly what the Japanese military did and it is an affront to truth for any government to downplay it.

Civilized society cannot allow history to be revised or denied - (inaudible) - burying this or any other issue may have on bilateral issues - (inaudible). For the record, I want to establish that I do not believe any amount of money can condone for what - (inaudible).

At this time it's my privilege to extend the affinity for our ranking member of the subcommittee, the gentleman from California, for his opening statement.

REP. MICHAEL HONDA (D-CA): Mr. Chairman, thank you for that opportunity and let me just say as a co-sponsor of this resolution, the Japanese comfort resolution, I greatly appreciate you holding this hearing today. Beginning in the 1930s the Imperial government - (inaudible) - come to be known as comfort women. Many of these women were abducted from their homes and sent to Japanese military brothels. Others were lured from their homes under the false pretense of work or were told that they were being sent for employment and of course they found neither.

The trauma and shame that these women suffered drove many to conceal their past, either too embarrassed or scared to speak of it. Many died without ever mentioning their ordeal, suffering in silence. The democratic government of Japan today bears no resemblance to Imperial Japan and is a good ally not only of the United States, but of democratic governments everywhere in the world.

To this day, the Japanese Diet maintains that all potential claims by individuals for suffering inflicted in the war were closed by treaties normalizing its ties with other Asian countries. Clearly many feel differently. Groups of former comfort women continue to hold demonstrations outside of the Japanese embassy in Seoul every week, rain or shine. They have held these demonstrations now for 14 years.

Still, though prime ministers of Japan have issued apologies, still a formal apology from the Japanese Diet continues to deny these women, in their view, full recognition. What is more, some are actively seeking in Japan, to downplay the past, stepping away from and diluting former statements of recognition. Some Japanese textbooks significantly downplay the abuses and war crimes suffered by the comfort women.

Others are more forthcoming. It is important that the Japanese Diet confronts this dark part of the history of Imperial Japan. In the previous Congress the House International Relations Committee passed out of our committee House Resoluti0n 759, the Japanese Comfort Women Resolution, of which I was also a co-sponsor. This resolution calls on the Japanese government to formally acknowledge and take full responsibility for their sexual enslavement of thousands of young women.

Some are going to ask, why do we focus on this issue now? Certainly time has passed and there are many pressing issues on the Korean Peninsula. Recently the Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing on the killing in Darfur, Sudan. What we have there is genocide being engineered by the Sudanese government. Much of the world, sadly, is ignoring this killing. The Chinese government is blocking sanctions against Sudan for genocide.

The world's strength to oppose killing today is made greater by accountability for actions present but also actions in the past. It's weakened by denial of accountability and obfuscation of past facts. History is a continuum. It's much harder to get today right if we get yesterday wrong.

So, thank you again, Mr. Chairman, for holding these hearings, and I yield back.

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: And I thank the gentleman from California for an eloquent statement.

I would like to give this opportunity to other members of our subcommittee, if they have any opening statements. I understand my good friend from New Jersey, Congressman Sires, who is a new member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, is also here with us, and I believe he does not have an opening statement, but my good friend from California, the gentleman from California, Congressman Rohrabacher.

REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R-CA): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

Today we are addressing a subject that is very painful, especially to the families and those former comfort women who will be providing testimony for us today. To each of those brave women, I extend my thanks for participating today and to help Americans understand the suffering that took place during this time, during the Second World War. And my most sincere - (audio break) - not only raped many times, but also mistreated and murdered. Many died, and all of them suffered greatly.

George Santayana said that those who remember the past are certainly condemned to repeat it. So, thus, it is fitting for this subcommittee to set the factual record straight about this tragic history, one which would help the world to avoid repeating any such actions. This in and of itself - setting the record straight - is a worthy goal. However, I have grave doubts about the wisdom, even the morality, of going any further in adopting resolutions like H. Res. 121, which is before us today. And I will explain why. H. Resolution 122 demands that Japan apologize, but, Mr. Chairman, Japan has already apologized many, many times, which is exactly what they should have done. They should have apologized, and they did. The central thrust of H. Resolution 121 is to demand - and I quote - "Japan should formally acknowledge, apologize and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner" - end of quote. But the most compelling point in our discussion should be that Japan has, in fact, done exactly what the resolution demands. Japan has apologized - (inaudible) - in clear and strong terms, and - (inaudible) - express my profound and sincere remorse and apologies" - end of quote.

Of course, this is not the whole story. A line of Japanese prime ministers, many Japanese prime ministers sine 1994, have issued very similar statements, and the current prime minister Abe, for example, has confirmed the policy of his predecessors. I would like to submit for the record a copy of the text. Prime Minister Koizumi's letter to comfort women stated very clearly, "As prime minister of Japan, I thus extend anew my most sincere apologies and remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences and suffered incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women. We must not evade the weight of the past, nor should we evade our responsibilities for the future." That was the prime minister of Japan.

And the words, "As prime minister of Japan - (inaudible)." That was meaning he was apologizing for the Japanese people. It was an official apology by the prime minister of Japan, exercising his official capacity. Japan has a parliamentary system. It also has a foreign minister who is a member of the diet. In addition, the diet has issued numerous statements accepting responsibility for Japan's actions during the Second World War.

Mr. Chairman, this issue of an apology has been fully and satisfactorily addressed. Yes, it is important to set the record straight for history exactly how diabolical and horrible these activities were by the Japanese during the Second World War, but we must be accurate in what we're saying in terms of the Japanese position of today. For example, another part of H 121, which I find to be misleading is the fact that it talks about Japanese textbooks downplaying the comfort woman tragedy. Well, as in the United States, textbooks in Japan are chosen by local, not central, government authorities. A panel of experts in Japan has identified 18 history books that are used by the Japanese high school students. Of those 18, 16 address the Comfort Women matter, and all 18 describe the suffering of peoples of neighboring countries during the Second World War. Well, Japan's responsibility for those countries and this horrible crime is great, but so is its regret. And in 16 of those 18 books that are used in the high schools, they address the Comfort Women issue, and those 16 books represent between 93 and 95 percent of all of Japan's high school history texts.

It seems to me that, yes, we want to make sure that history is recorded accurately, but we want to make sure that we are not saying that the current Japanese people and government have not acknowledged those wrongdoings. Every country in the world has committed crimes - not just the Japanese - every country in the world. And, Mr. Chairman, I note that you have repeatedly called our attention to some of the crimes the United States government has committed by error or intentionally over the years. And I've heard you at many hearings call into question horrible things that our government has done.

So, this isn't a question of is Japan any dirtier than the rest of us in terms of having made mistakes. And the fact is that they have acknowledged those dirty deeds. In some cases, I will have to say the United States has been less apologetic about some of the crimes that we've committed, and we have in the past.

Finally, let me note, Mr. Chairman, that we have to make sure that what we do in condemning the past and what we need to be - that which has already been condemned - and we have demanded that of Japan - that we are not unfairly suggesting that the Japanese of today must in some way be punished for what two generations of Japanese ago did. That is not the way to create more harmony in this world.

So, accept accountability - it's really important. Setting the record straight is really important. We must set a humane and decent standard, but let me just say that it's my reading of the world today that the Japanese, in alliance with the United States and other Western powers, is a major force for decency and humane standards today. It wasn't that way 60 and a hundred years ago, but today Japan is pivotal to the Western democracies' fight to have these human rights standards that are so important for civilization.

So, let us not beat someone after they have apologized. Let's make sure that we acknowledge and thank them for being open with us on those issues to the degree that they have. If I'm wrong, I'm willing to listen and to hear, but I've got the quotes from the prime ministers. We've got people we talked to, the Japanese. They all suggest that "we are so sorry about these things," and apologize profusely, et cetera, and it seems to me that we should be setting the record straight, but not blaming the current generation of Japanese.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: I thank the gentleman for his statement, and I just want to say that I don't think there was ever any intention on the part of the Chair to provide any accusations against the Japanese government and its leaders and its people. We are just trying to make sure that we properly identify this very serious issue, which has been pending for how many years. And the fact of the matter is this is the reason why we have a hearing, proposed legislation, and this is what makes this democracy so great(?). We're all entitled to our opinions, and I deeply respect the gentleman's opinion about this issue.

I ask if our good friend from Ohio, Congressman Chabot, if he has any opening statement.

REP. STEVE CHABOT (R-OH): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'll be very brief.

I first want to apologize myself, because I have about three hearings going on at the same time, and I'm going to have to leave shortly, but I'm going to try to come back as well, because this is an important hearing, and I don't want to repeat what the other members have said, and I think there have been some very good statements already made.

In the chairman's remarks, he had indicated that some allege that the Government of Japan is trying to downplay its culpability in this matter, and as my colleague from California indicated, Japanese officials have time and again already apologized - as they should have, because this was a very terrible abuse of human rights. It did happen in World War II, and I would note now that Japan and Korea and Taiwan and Philippines and the other countries that suffered are all very strong allies of the United States. We have the utmost respect for all those countries and the people in those countries, as well. They're some of the people who have stood with us under difficult circumstances now and in the past, and we need to continue to work with them.

One of the things that I would like to see, if possible, is there should be compensation to the women who underwent these horrors, and the families, and it's my understanding that a relatively small number have taken advantage of this for a number of reasons. I think the number is about 285 out of many more than that who would have qualified. And I would like to see some way to get the money - some compensation, although no compensation would ever be enough to pay them for the degradation that they had to undergo. But if there's some way that we could get more compensation to more of those individuals who qualify for that money, we ought to try to do that.

It's my understanding that some of the countries have either discouraged or prevented payments from being made for one reason or another, so I hope that, perhaps, that can be something looked into, to try to compensate these women. It's the least we can do to try to help them. And I yield back my time.

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: I thank the gentleman for his comments, and I want to note that this was an issue that I had brought to the attention of the ambassador from Japan, and that was the question I also raised - if there were somewhere between 50 to 200,000 women who were under this forced prostitution, and the fact that only 283 or 285 were compensated.

I think we can all appreciate the psychological impact and why any women would be so embarrassed even trying to say anything publicly about what happened is part of our global history, if you will, what the Japanese military did against these women, but that certainly is an issue that we ought to pursue and see what we can do to see what else can be done.

REP. ?: Will the Chairman yield for one second?

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: I'll gladly yield to -

REP ?: Thank you. (Clears throat.) Excuse me. That's one thing that I was wondering, if there wasn't some way - and the embarrassment that people might feel isn't embarrassment that they in any way deserve, but the fact is, human nature being what it is, some people might not want that past to be made public. So, if there were some way to make this a more private process, that people could obtain the funds without necessarily broadcasting to the world how these funds were obtained, I think that would something. And it's also my understanding that - and I believe it's Taiwan and Korea - is what I was told - that basically have a policy that they either don't permit it, or frown upon it. So, perhaps we could work with those countries as well to do something to try to help these women.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: I thank the gentleman for responding.

I think one of the issues that I, in my readings these accounts given to this issue, the fact that many of these women don't really care about any monetary compensation. It is the sense of a humble apology or - I think we went through the same experience with the Japanese-Americans when they were interned, and I think I couldn't have asked for a better witness before us in giving - sharing with us his sense and experience of what they went through at that terrible time, World War II.

But anyway, I want to invite our first witness this afternoon to speak. The chief sponsor of this legislation, my good friend, the gentleman from California, former mayor, I think, of the great city of San José, also with the California State Assembly, and then he was elected a member of Congress in 1990. This gentleman has - 2000 was it - has really risen up in the ranks. He currently now is a member of the powerful Appropriations Committee and vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee, none other than my good friend Congressman Honda, for his statement.


REP. MICHAEL M. HONDA (D- CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman - Chairman Faleomavaega. And I would also like to thank the other members of the subcommittee, especially Congressman Rohrabacher - we have been partners and colleagues on similar issues regarding the experience(?) of youth(?) who were used as slave laborers during World War II - and to Mr. Chabot and Mr. Sires.

I hope that some of the comments that were raised by your discussions initially would be addressed by the three witnesses we have today, who traveled long distances from the Netherlands and from Australia and from Korea to share their experiences and their insights, and then perhaps respond to some of the ideas and comments that you have today.

But I want to thank you for holding this historic hearing and thank you for inviting me to testify before the subcommittee. I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts on the comfort women tragedy, which my good friend and our former colleague, Congressman Lane Evans, long advocated to be addressed by this body. To him - I hope he's watching - semper fi.

As members of the subcommittee know, I recently introduced HR 121, a resolution calling on the Government of Japan to formally acknowledge, apologize and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Forces' coercion of young women and girls into sexual slavery during World War II, euphemistically known as "comfort women." These violated women, mostly Korean, Chinese and - (inaudible) - Dutch women as well, have too long been denied their dignity and their honor.

My interest in seeking justice for the comfort women began during my career as a schoolteacher in San José. A couple of decades ago, I learned that Japan's ministry of education sought to omit or downplay the comfort women tragedy in its approved textbooks. As a teacher interested in historical accuracy and reconciliation, I knew the importance of teaching and talking about tragedy and injustice without flinching from the details. Without honesty and candor, there can be no foundation for reconciliation.

My subsequent research on Japan's long-unresolved historical issues with its former adversaries led me to pursue efforts toward reconciliation in the California State Assembly, and in 1999, I authored the Assembly Joint Resolution 27, which called on Congress to urge the Japanese government to issue an apology to the victims of the rape of Nanking, comfort women and POWs were used as slave laborers. The resolution was ultimately passed.

Nearly nine years after the passage of AJR 27, I stand(?) here(?) now with several of my colleagues in the House, from both parties, in support of HR 121 and the surviving comfort women who are here with us today. The urgency is upon this committee and the Congress to take quick action on this resolution, for these women are aging and their numbers dwindling with each passing day. If we do not act now, we will lose a historic opportunity to encourage the Government of Japan to properly acknowledge responsibility for the plight of the comfort women.

Elected officials of Japan have taken steps on this issue, and for that they are to be commended. In 1993, Japan's then Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yohei Kono, issued an encouraging statement regarding comfort women which expressed sincere apologies and remorse for their ordeal. Additionally, Japan attempted to provide monetary compensation to surviving comfort women through the Asian Women's Fund, a government-initiated and largely government-funded, private foundation, the purpose of which was the carrying out of programs and projects with the aim of atonement for the comfort women.

The Asian Woman's Fund is to be disbanded on March 31, 2007. Recent attempts, however, by some senior members of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party to review and possibly retract Secretary Kono's statement are disheartening and march(?) a path(?) to equivocation on this issue. Additionally, while I appreciate Japan's creation of the Asian Women's Fund and the past prime minister's apologies to some comfort women, which accompanied this fund's dispersal of monetary compensation from this fund, the reality is that, without a sincere and unequivocal apology from the Government of Japan, the majority of surviving comfort women refuse to accept these funds. In fact, you will hear today many comfort women returned the prime minister's letter of apology accompanying the monetary compensation, saying the felt the apology was artificial and disingenuous.

Just an aside: perhaps that the apologies of the aforementioned prime ministers - if we read it, if we read their comments, they say, "My sincere regret." And what I think people are talking about is the process by which government goes through and makes a formal and unequivocal apology on behalf of the government, with the leadership along with that.

Mr. Chairman, let me make my intentions abundantly clear. This resolution provides for historical reconciliation, then moving forward. It is not in any way meant, and should not damage our strong relations with Japan. As Congressman Rohrabacher and I said on our past efforts, our efforts are in no way meant to appear to bash Japan, or bash Asians or whatever. This is not what this is all about. And I understand that feel strongly that this resolution is unnecessary, that it focuses too much on the past and the fear it will negatively affect regional stability along with our alliance with Japan. These worries are unfounded. I feel strongly that accepting responsibility for the comfort women tragedy it is worthy of a nation as great as Japan is. I also feel strongly that reconciliation on this issue will have a positive effect upon relationships in the region, as historical anxieties are put to rest. And we know, as policymakers on domestic and foreign relations, that many relations, many dynamics between our countries sometimes are set aside and excused for the anxieties and the wrongs of the past that have not been yet put to rest fully.

I ask that members of Congress understand that apologies are matters of historical significance, are important, and that they are the first necessary steps in any attempt to reconcile differences or atone for past actions. Our government has made its own mistakes, but in its wisdom, it has made the difficult choice to admit wrongdoing. For example, in 1988, Congress passed - Congress passed - and President Ronald Reagan signed into law HR 442, the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which was a formal, clear, unequivocal apology to U.S. citizens of Japanese ancestry who were unjustly put into interment camps during World War II. I want to repeat that. Congress passed, and the president signed it into law, and this was considered by the community a formal, clear, unequivocal apology.

As someone who was put into an internment camp as an infant, I know firsthand that we must not be ignorant of the past, and that reconciliation through appropriate government actions to admit errors are the only ones likely to be long lasting. And it was said that one of our past philosophers and writers, George Santayana, had said - it was quoted appropriately(?) - that those who do not understand - (inaudible) - past mistakes are doomed to repeat them.

For many Japanese-Americans whose civil and constitutional rights were violated by internment, that dark chapter of history was closed by the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which emerged over 40 years after internment. Seeking reparations was a long and arduous journey, but the apology, once it came, was clear and unequivocal. Reconciliation is something our generation should rightfully be calling for in order to promote the growth of a peaceful, global society and to address issues of the past, so we can finally put them to rest.

Mr. Chairman, for reconciliation and justice for these women, I have worked, and many other people have worked, very hard to bring these survivors, Ms. Lee Yong Soo, Ms. Kim Koon Ja and Ms. Jan Ruff O'Herne to Washington. They are the human face of wartime violence against women. The wars reflect not just history, but the continued pattern of organized abuse of women in conflict. Members of Congress who feel that this resolution is unnecessary need to look no further than these three women, who know that they speak not just for themselves, but also for the young women in Burma, Bosnia and Darfur.

I urge the committee to act swiftly on HR 121 so that it may soon come to the floor for a vote. The strength and humanity of these women and the truths to which the testify today must supercede any political pressures to stop and slow this resolution.

And I want to again thank you, Mr. Chairman and the members of the subcommittee, for this opportunity.

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: I thank the gentleman for his testimony, and I would like to say at this point in time also, in commenting to the gentleman's statement, the fact that it took our government - what - some 50 years 'til we finally made a formal apology by a congressional enactment and resolution, and also by that, we also gave compensation to the number of what -- survivors among the Japanese-Americans, that they were, I think, about $20,000 per person. But it was not the money; it was the whole idea of the concept that there was a formal apology made through congressional legislation, where our government - this is what makes this country so great. It is willing to correct its mistakes, and doing so in a way that finally, as the gentleman said earlier, we now have put this chapter to a close. I know for many years, many of my Japanese-American friends older than I refused. Hardly anybody would want to talk about what they went through - I call them "concentration camps" - and what our government did against them.

But here again, as I said, this is what makes this country so great as a democracy, is its willingness to correct its mistakes, and doing so in such aw ay, as you said earlier, Mr. Chairman - I mean - (chuckles) - Mr. Honda, was that we made this humble apology and, I think, finally, members of our Japanese-American community are becoming more open, and people have a better understanding and appreciation what they went through during that period of time.

I might also note for the record this incident happened 50 years ago, but another incident also occurred over a hundred years ago, where our government and officials illegally and unlawfully seized a sovereign government that existed in the Hawaiian Islands - just simply went over - the Marines just went over there and took over the government from Queen Liliuokalani. And what did we do? After almost a hundred years, we also issued a formal apology through congressional legislation recognizing the wrong that we did some 100 years ago, telling the native Hawaiian people, "We did you wrong, and we apologize."

REP. HONDA: If I may, Mr. Chairman, the Civil Rights of 1988, HR 442, there were two other acts preceding that, that recognized the compensation to Japanese-Americans - monetary compensations - which went to Congress. But the one in 1988 was the most difficult one, because it dealt with civil rights, and it was a concept that was coming, and people started to understand what it meant. And it was that act that lifted the burden of guilt off the shoulders of our generation and provided the remedy, if you will, to close the wounds that existed in the community. And I daresay that those of us who have wounds on our bodies, who have had cuts in the past, know that when the cut is healed, there's scar tissue there. That scar tissue is much stronger than any other tissue surrounding it. So, reconciliation through an unequivocal and clear apology, as this country has done, that we seek to urge Japan to do, is what will make relationships much stronger in the future - much stronger.

Thank you.

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: I will also say to the gentleman that as a former member - as a reserve officer in the distinguished battalion now known as the 442nd - 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry, I can tell you how the gentleman feels in terms of as an American who happens to be of Japanese ancestry, where young men of Japanese ancestry - Americans - volunteered despite all the bigotry, the hatred, the racism that was heaped upon them, still volunteered to fight our enemies during World War II, which became as the 100th Battalion 442nd Infantry, the most decorated military unit of its size ever in the history of the United States Army. And I can practically memorize. 18,000 individual decorations were given: over 9,000 Purple Hearts; 562 Silver Stars; 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, which was the second highest. And what happens? Only one Medal of Honor. So, we had to take corrective action for that, too. So, Senator - (inaudible) - introduced legislation.

"We need to review this. Something seems to be wrong here." And after reviewing the process, all of a sudden, we have 19 additional recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor - those of Japanese- American ancestry who fought against our enemies during World War II. So, I would say to the gentleman that I can appreciate where you're coming from, because you personally experienced this.

Now, I don't mean to get out touch in terms of our purpose, but I think the intent of when somebody suffers psychologically, spiritually and mentally, I think on the basis of you introducing this legislation - and like I said, with all the respect that I have for our colleague from California, well, this is part of the process. We deliberate, we debate and see how this legislation is going to go through the process in this committee.

Again, I thank the gentleman for his eloquent statement, and as a prerogative of the chair - even though, as a matter of practice, members are not to be questioned after their bear their testimony here before the committee - but I would like, as a gesture of goodwill, as I'm sure my good friend from California will not mind, we'll invite the gentleman from California to sit on the dais and to be part of our committee hearing.

REP. HONDA: I will be honored to do so. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


At this time, I would like to invite the next panel, Ms. Yong Soo Lee. She is a surviving comfort woman, member of the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery; also Ms. Jan Ruff O'Herne, also a surviving comfort woman, Friends of Comfort Women in Australia, currently living in Australia; and also Ms. Koon Ja Kim. Just for the purposes of the record, I just want to say that we're going to need some real good translation here for our friends. I know Ms. O'Herne does not need a translator, but for our good ladies who've traveled so far, and we certainly thank them so much for - do we have the right -

Ms. Yong Soo Lee was born in Korea in 1928 as the only daughter of a poverty-stricken family. During her childhood, she studied in the evening at Dao Sung - (phonetic) - Elementary School for one year because of financial difficulty. At the age of 16, she was taken as a sexual slave to serve the Japanese Imperial Army. Thereafter, she was forced to labor as a sexual slave in Taiwan, surviving 'til the war was over. Her Japanese name was Toshiko .

At the end of World War II, she returned to her homeland, Korea, in 1945. She gave her first public testimony in 1992, disclosing her ordeal as a former comfort woman under the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II. Since 1992, she has been attending numerous international conferences and has meet with politicians and NGOs to present her testimony. She has visited Japan more than 19 times, the United States, China, Taiwan for the public awareness of Comfort Women. She has participated in demonstrations for many years on behalf of comfort women. Ms. Yong Lee has attended graduate school, studying law. She is well known for her appearances on numerous films about comfort women, as "The Little Voice," "Sound of Breathing," and has appeared on KBC, NBC, and major TV stations in Korea. She has been a public figure and has brought much attention to the International Society on Comfort Women Issues. Recently, she did her solo demonstration in front of the Department of Foreign Affairs in Seoul, Korea, to demand the prompt resolution of comfort women issues.

I would like our translator to have Ms. Yong Soo Lee to raise her hand so that everybody will know. Okay.

And we also have Ms. Jan Ruff O'Herne. Jan Ruff O'Herne was born in Indonesia in 1923, the fourth generation of a Dutch family. In 1944, 21 years old, she was forced into a brothel to become a military sex slave for the Japanese military. She was repeatedly abused, beaten, raped for a period of three months, after which she was returned to prison camp with threats that her family would be killed if she revealed the truth about the atrocities inflicted upon her.

When the war ended, Jan married Tom Ruff and eventually gave birth to two, beautiful daughters. The family lived in England and then migrated to Australia, where they now leave.

In 1992, after seeing Korean war rape victims, euphemistically called "comfort women," making appeals for justice on television, Jan decided to break her silence and support them by speaking out as a witness at the International Public Hearing on Japanese War Crimes held in Tokyo. Jan for the past ten years has worked tirelessly to support the plight of the Asian comfort women, for the protection of women in war in armed conflict. Her autobiography "Fifty Years Of Silence" has been translated into Japanese and Indonesian, and her documentary film of the same received many awards. She has worked for the Human Rights Commission, the International Red Cross and Amnesty International, speaking both in Australia and throughout the world on this issue.

September 2001, Jan received a knighthood from Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. She received the ANSAG(?) Peace Prize of 2002, recognizing her contributions to international peace and good will.

We also have, as our third witness, Ms. Koon Ja Kim. Do I have the right to - I won't say. She's 21 years old. Ms. Koon Ja Kim is 81. She was born in - (inaudible) - Province. She was orphaned at the age of 14. To support herself and her siblings, she worked as a maid. At 17 years old, she was forcibly drafted by the Japanese military to serve again(?) forced prostitution and now as a comfort woman. After three years of being physically abused and raped on a daily basis, the war ended. With no money and a physically defeated body(?), she and a small group of other women summoned their strength of spirit to walk hundreds of miles over several weeks back to Korea.

She now lives in South Korea with other comfort women, and the House of Sharing - (inaudible) - committee was founded - (inaudible). She also assisted in this residence in 1992, supported by various organizations there in Korea.

I would like to especially welcome our three ladies, witnesses to this hearing, and I would like to start with Ms. Yong Soo Lee for her testimony. I think we're going to - she can speak Korean, but we need the translator. If you can have another mike there for the translator, so that you can state her statement in English


REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: Yeah, you can use that at this point. Please. And please advise Ms. Lee that we're going to have to take it one or two sentences at a time, and you'll translate in English - okay - so that we don't get ahead of ourselves.

Okay. Ms. Lee, please proceed. (Pause.) You need to press the button there - and your button as well. Your mike? Is it working? Yeah, yours is working.

TRANSLATOR: Is it on? Yeah.

MS. YONG SOO LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) Chair of the committee, Chairman Faleomavaega, members of the subcommittee, I thank you for giving me this opportunity to come all the way to the United States of America to share with you my anger, my rancor.

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) This is a true and alive testimony from history, so I will share my story with you, but I am so embarrassed. I'm so ashamed, but this is something that I cannot keep just to myself, so I'll start telling you my story.

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) I live in Daegu - (phonetic) - South Korea. My name is E(?) Yong Soo, and sometimes I'm a 14-year-old girl, and I look outside my window, and there is a girl, and there is a Japanese man, and they're saying something to each other, and they're gesturing at me to come out.

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) I didn't know anything.

I didn't know what was going on, but they gestured to me to come out, so I came out. And as - (inaudible) -- the girl and the Japanese soldier put their hand on my shoulder and covered my mouth, and the soldier put something against my back, and like that, in the middle of the night, I was taken away.

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) When I was taken away, I was taken to a bridge. Underneath the bridge, there were cars going by, and when I arrived there, I saw three other girls. And they gave me a parcel - a red(?) parcel - and I had a feel of what that parcel had inside it. And there was some clothes and some shoes.

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) And then we were taken to a train station. We were taken on a train. It was my very first time in my entire life to board a train, and my head hurt a lot. I can even remember now I told them, "My head hurts. My head hurts," and they called me something like "jozan zing" - (phonetic) - or something like that, and they started hitting me with their fists and kicking me with their feet. And they kicked me and punched me so much, that I lost consciousness.

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) So, the train went all the way to North Korea. It went to Pyongyang. From there, we got off of the train, and we were at a port. We were told to board a ship, so we boarded the ship, and there were 300 soldiers on the ship as well as us.

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) As we were going on the ship, the ship was rocking like this, and on the ship I had seasickness. I had seasickness so badly, that I went to the toilet inside of the ship, and I remember I was being sick inside the toilet, and then as I was getting up, a saw shoes of a Japanese soldier. And as I was trying to get out of the toilet, the soldier gestured like this, and prevented me from coming out of the toilet. And I remember I bit his arm very hard, but then he hit me. He hit me back. He hit me back really hard, enough so that I lost consciousness.

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) When I woke up again, they told me, "We found you covered in blood without consciousness," so they put a blanket over me, and they told me, "Don't get up. Don't get up, and close your eyes."

As I was lying there, I opened my eyes a little bit, and I could see from the corner of my eyes all around me the Japanese soldiers were all over the girls. But even then, I didn't know what was really going on.

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) The ship was shaking a lot. There was a lot of turbulence, and they told me to change my clothes, and they gave me a set of new clothes. And they told me, "The ship cannot go on. It has to stop." And there were still soldiers, and I didn't know what was going on. I didn't know what it meant that the ship has to stop.

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) And we traveled I don't know for how long, on the ship. And then one day, they told us to get off. We got off the ship, and we found - we saw a truck. They told us to get on the truck, and when we got out of the truck, we saw a house. And I looked inside the house, and there were pretty women wearing kimonos to the one side, and to the other side, there were little rooms, and they used blankets to make curtains to provide petitions for the little rooms.

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: Translator, I realize that our witnesses have traveled quite a distance to come and to testify, and I'm sure the members here on the committee also would like to ask questions. But if she could summarize, maybe for the next two minutes, some of the highlights of really the - with all due respect, I would like to ask if she could -





MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) The soldiers to me to come, and when I went, he told me to go inside a room. I could see a Japanese soldier inside the room, so I said, "I'm not going in. I'm not going in," but they held me like this, and they just dragged me inside the room. The room had a big lock, and they put me in there. They kicked me, and they had sticks they beat me with. They even had a knife. They put it here, and they wrapped something around my wrists. And at that point, I remember I screamed out, "Mom! Mom!" I screamed out, and right now - right now - I can hear that sound ringing in my ears. I was really beaten a lot. I was really beaten a lot. I even got electric shock. I even got tortured.

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) And then one day, they told us, "The war is finished." I remember there was a Japanese soldier. He was in a special force, like the Marines. And I remember he gave me a Japanese name. He called me "Toshiko."

So, after the war, I was in a POW camp, and then after that, I went home. When I arrived home, just then they were giving - (inaudible) -- which is a Korean ceremony for passed-away ancestors. They were giving - (inaudible) - and when I walked in, they said, "There's a ghost! There's a ghost" because they hadn't seen me in such a long time. And my mother came up to me, and she said, "This is the ghost of my daughter, and she hit me, and she went a little crazy," and she bit me on the face, and she hit me, saying I'm a ghost. And my father, at that point, he was just drinking every day. And when he saw me, he was shocked, and he had a stroke, and soon after that, he passed away.

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) Here is a victim. Here is a witness, but, still, the Japanese government is lying. I've heard before one of the members of the committee speaking, and he said there was evidence that the Japanese government had already apologized, but why is that apology here in the U.S., when I, as the survivor and the victim, did not get an apology? Why do they give that to the Americans? I will not leave the Japanese government alone. I will continue until they get down on their knees in front of me and then they give me their sincere apology.

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) I am a victim. I have been damaged. I've gone through suffering. So, I ask you, the chairman, and the members of the committee - I feel embarrassed and shamed, but I've told you my story. The Japanese government has never apologized to me. Since I have been protesting for the last 16 years, I have been in many(?) demonstrations, but never once has the Japanese government apologized to me. Never once have I gotten anything from them - never once.

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) The chairman and the members of the committee, I thank you again for this opportunity, and I ask you again, I plead with you. You cannot leave the Japanese government alone - never. If you leave them alone, violence against women during war will continue. We have to rip out the root of violence against women and girls during war, so we cannot leave the Japanese government alone.

Thank you.

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: Thank you, Ms. Lee.

I think I'm going to give our translator a little break, and I'm going to ask Ms. O'Herne if she would like to offer her statement now, and then we'll have Ms. Kim.

Ms. O'Herne?

MS. JAN RUFF O'HERNE: Thank you for this holding of this congressional hearing on the plight of comfort women. I am pleased to join Mr. - (inaudible) -- Ms. Yong Soo Lee and - (inaudible) - for the women drafted for Japanese military sexual slavery and Ms. Koon Ja Kim of the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium, to share our stories before you today. I would also like to than Representative Michael Honda for introducing House Resolution 121, which demands that the Japanese government officially and unambiguously apologize and to take historical responsibility, and I thank Chairman Eni Faleomavaega for inviting the witnesses to speak, to tell their stories to the world in the hope that it will bring justice and peace.

My experience as a woman in war is one of utter degradation, humiliation and unbearable suffering. During World War II, I was forced to be a so-called "comfort woman" for the Japanese military, a euphemism for "military sex slave." I call my story "The Forgotten Ones."

I was born in Java, in the former Dutch East Indies, now known as Indonesia, in 1923, of a fourth-generation Dutch colonial family. I grew up on a sugar plantation and had the most wonderful childhood. I was educated in Catholic schools and graduated from Franciscan Teachers College in - (inaudible) - Java. When I was 19 years old in 1942, Japanese troops invaded Java, and together with thousands of women and children, I was interned in a Japanese prison camp together with my mother and two, younger sisters for three and-a-half years. Many stories have been told about the horrors, brutality, suffering and starvation of Dutch women in Japanese prison camps, but one story was never told. The most shameful story of the worst human rights abuse committed by the Japanese during World War II, the story of the comfort women, the - (Japanese) - and how these women were forcibly seized against their will to provide sexual services for the Japanese Imperial Army.

I had been in a camp for two years when, in 1944, high-ranking Japanese officers arrived at the camp. The order was given. All single girls from 17 years up had to line up in the compound. We were very anxious about this. We thought it was just another inspection. The officers walked towards us, and a selection process began. They paced up and down the line, eying us up and down, looking at our figures and our legs, lifting our chins. They selected ten, pretty girls. I was one of the ten. We were told to come forward and pack a small bag. The first things I put in my bag was my prayer book, my rosary beads and my Bible. I thought somehow these would keep me strong.

And then we were taken away. The whole camp protested, and our mothers tried to pull us back. I embraced my mother and two, young sisters, not knowing if I was ever going to see them again. We were hurled into an army truck like sheep for the slaughter. We were terrified, and we clung to our bags and each other.

The truck stopped in the city of Semang (?) in front of a large, Dutch colonial house. We were told to get out. Entering the house, we soon realized what sort of a house it was. A Japanese military told us that we were here for the sexual pleasure of the Japanese. The house, indeed, was a brothel.

We protested loudly. We said we were forced to come here against our will, that they had no right to do this to us, and that it was against the Geneva Conventions, but they just laughed at us and said they could do with us as they liked. We were given Japanese names, and our photos were taken, and these were put on panel(?) board so that the soldiers could choose the girls that they liked the best.

We were a very innocent generation. We were still virgins, and I knew nothing about sex. The horrific memories of opening night of the brothel have tortured my mind all my life. We were told to go to the dining room. We huddled together in fear as we saw the house filling up with military. I got out my prayer book, and I led the girls in prayer in the hope that this would help us. Then they started to drag us away one by one. I could hear the screaming coming from the bedroom.

I hid under the dining room table, but I was soon found. A tall, large-built officer directed me to my room. I fought him. I kicked him with all my might. The Japanese officer became very angry, because I would not give myself to him. He took out his sword from its scabbard. I remember his sword. He was a high-ranking officer. It was a beautiful Samurai sword. He pointed the sword at me, threatening me with it, and he said that he would kill me if I did not give myself to him.

I curled myself into a corner like a hunted animal that could not escape. I made him understand that I was not afraid to die. He could kill me. I would not give myself to him. But I pleaded with him to allow me to say some prayers, and at that moment, I felt very close to God. While I was then praying, he started to undress himself, and I realized he had no intention of killing me. I would have been no good to him dead.

He then threw me on the bed and ripped off all my clothes. He ran his sword all over my naked body and played with me as a cat would with a mouse. I still tried to fight him, but he thrust himself on top of me, pinning me down under his heavy body. The tears were streaming down my face as he raped me in the most brutal way. I thought he would never stop.

He then left the room, and my whole body was shaking. I was in total shock. I gathered up what was left of my clothing and fled into the bathroom. There I found some of the other girls. We were all crying and in shock. In the bathroom, I tried to wash away all the dirt and shame from my body - just wash it away - but the night was not over yet. There were more Japanese waiting. And this went on all night. It was only the beginning.

In the early hours of the morning, ten exhausted girls gathered 'round and cried over lost virginity. How could this happen to us? We were so helpless. The house was completely guarded. There was no way to escape. At times, I tried to hide. I even climbed a tree once. It took them half an hour to find me, but at least it had saved me one rape. I was always found after the hiding then dragged back to my room. I tried everything. I even cut off all my hair so that I was totally bald. I thought if I made myself look ugly, nobody would want me, but it turned me into an object of curiosity. They all wanted the girl that had cut off her hair. It had just the opposite effect. Never did any Japanese rape me without a fight. I fought each one of them. Therefore, I was repeatedly beaten and threatened that they would send me to a brothel downtown, where it would be much worse. I still kept on fighting them.

In the so-called "comfort station," I was systematically beaten and raped day and night. Even the Japanese doctor raped me each time he visited the brothel to examine us for venereal disease. And to humiliate us even more, the doors and windows left open so that the Japanese could watch us being examined, and this was as horrific as being raped.

During the time in the brothel, the Japanese had abused me and humiliated me. I was left with a body that was torn and fragmented everywhere - my young body. Something beautiful, a temple of God, they violated it and made it into a place of sinful pleasures.

The Japanese soldiers had ruined my young life. They had stripped me of everything. They had taken everything away from me: my youth, my self-esteem, my dignity, my freedom, my possessions and my family, but there was one thing they could never take away from me, and it was my firm Catholic faith and my love for God. This was mine, and nobody - nobody - could take that away from me. It was my deep faith in God that helped me survive all that the Japanese did to me.

I have forgiven the Japanese for what they did to me, but I can never forget. For 50 years, the comfort women maintained silence. They lived with a terrible shame of feeling soiled and dirty. It has taken 50 years for these women's ruined lives to become a human rights issue. The war never ended for the conflict women. We still have nightmares. We had no counseling. After the war, we just had to get on with our lives as if nothing had happened. Our bodies were damaged.

I had three miscarriages after I married Tom, and I needed major surgery to restore my body.

In 1992, the war in Bosnia had broken out, and I could see that women were again being raped in an organized way. And after that, that same year, I saw the Korean comfort women on television. They broke their silence, and Ms. Kim - (inaudible) - Sung(?) was the first comfort woman to speak out. I watched them on television as they pleaded for justice, for an apology and compensation from the Japanese government.

I decided to back them up, especially as I realized that in Bosnia women again were being raped on an organized scale. I decided to break my silence at the International Public Hearing on Japanese War Crimes in Tokyo in December 1992, and I revealed(?) one of the worst human rights abuses of World War II, the forgotten holocaust. For 15 years, I have worked tirelessly for the plight of comfort women in Australia and overseas and for the protection of women in war so that these wartime atrocities will never happen again.

Now, time is running out. After 16 years, the comfort women deserve justice. They are worthy of a formal apology from the Japanese government, from the prime minister, Shinzu Abe himself. And what I call an apology is an apology that is followed by action, the same as what the American government did. It was followed by action. They paid compensation to the Japanese who were put in prison camps here, but this is the one thing that Japan has never done. Their apology has never been followed by action. The Japanese government must take full responsibility for their war crimes.

In 1995, they established the so-called Asian Women's Fund to compensate the victims. This fund was an insult to the conflict women, and they, including myself, refused to accept it. This fund was a private fund. The money came from private enterprise, private business. It did not come from the government. Japan must come to terms with its history and acknowledge their wartime atrocities. They must teach the correct history of the mistakes made in the past.

When I was in Japan only a couple of years ago, I was invited to talk at high schools and colleges about what happened during the war. Not one of those students knew about the horrific atrocities that the Japanese committed during World War II. It is important that the surviving comfort women tell their stories.

Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, I thank you for this opportunity to share my story. I hope that by speaking out, I have been able to make a contribution to world peace and reconciliation, and that human rights violations against women will never happen again. I feel very honored to tell my story in this very important place, and that the government is considering it worthwhile to take up this crucial human rights issue.

Thank you.

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: Thank you, Ms. O'Herne.

I would like to invite now Ms. Kim and our translator for Ms. Kim's testimony.


REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: Ms. Kim, you may proceed.

MS. KOON JA KIM: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) Chairman and members of the committee, in front of you, I get to speak out my rancor, my compressed anger and suffering in the bottom of my soul. And I feel like, by speaking to you, some of that is evaporating.

MS. KIM: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) When I was little, we lost our parents. In our family, there are only three girls, but all of those three girls, because we were orphans, we were sent to other people's houses to live with them.

MS. KIM: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) So, I was sent to a family in Kangwondo, Kangwon Province, and that house was in front of a train station. And when I was 17 years old, I was sent outside for an errand by that family, and that's when I was captured and taken away.

MS. KIM: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) When I was taken away, we boarded a train, and there were lots of soldiers, and there were lots of women. There were lots of women who were forcibly taken away and put on that train.

MS. KIM: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) And where we were was the border between Korea, Russia and China. It was a placed called Fengchun - (phonetic).

MS. KIM: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) After we arrived, we spent the night, and the next day, the soldiers were lining up, and they were coming in.

MS. KIM: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) I didn't speak Japanese. I did not learn, so I couldn't understand what the soldiers were saying, and I couldn't understand, and the soldier hit me on this ear, and my eardrum popped, or it ripped, so I can't hear from this side. So, I was crying, and I was crying, and the soldier grabbed a hold of me and then started to rip all of my clothes off.

MS. KIM: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) So, after he ripped all of my clothes off, he just grabbed me, and he was just on top of me. And after he finished - (interjecting.) Let me just make a note. She's refusing to say the word "rape." (Translating.) And then I was lying there naked, and I didn't even have time to put my clothes back on, and then another soldier came in.

MS. KIM: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) So, it was as if we were dead. We wouldn't even get up, and they - I was just lying there as if I were dead. I didn't even move, and they still came on top of me. They still came.

MS. KIM: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) All I can remember is that day was a Saturday, but I don't even remember how many, or how long, because I lost consciousness. I lost consciousness, and they soldiers, they still came.

MS. KIM: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) So, after that day - the next day, the soldiers were gone. There was hardly anyone around, and I regained some of my consciousness back. But the day after that, it was the same as the first day. The soldiers started lining up again.

MS. KIM: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) The soldiers, they lined up, and they came in. And the soldiers, they have this thing that they have to put on their - (interjecting) -- she's referring to condoms. (Translating.) They have to use that, but every one refused. They refused to wear a condom.

MS. KIM: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) They have to use that, so that disease does not spread. And with women, they have to use that so that they won't get pregnant, but all of them, they just refused to use it.

MS. KIM: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) The days just went on just like that. I was speechless.

I was completely dumbfounded, and I was hurting so much. So, I was going to commit suicide. I was going to die, so I wrapped a rope around my neck, and I tried to commit suicide, but I didn't succeed. Instead, I was found by the owner, and I nearly died from the beating.

MS. KIM: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) The days went on and on like that. I'd rather have died. I really wanted to die, but I couldn't even die, because they were watching over me, because there were guards watching me.

MS. KIM: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) And the soldiers, the low-ranking ones, have a little knife, and the generals have a bigger knife. And these soldiers, if they can't do as they please, they stab you with the knife. It's okay if they just stab you and pull the knife away, but what they do is they put they put the knife in. They stab, and they twist.

MS. KIM: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) The days went on just like that. The place we were at, it was Kunmun - (phonetic) - and then we were taken to Kokashi - (phonetic). That was the frontline of the war. The soldiers were sent to the frontline, and the women had to be sent with them.

MS. KIM: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) There, it was a battlefield, and the Japanese soldiers, they went worse. They became more violent, because they didn't know whether they were going to die.

MS. KIM: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) And they beat me, and they punched here, and they beat me like that. And sometimes they put me against the wall, and my head was hurting, and I felt like I was going to die. It felt like I was going to die, and I often lost consciousness.

MS. KIM: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) And there, the soldiers, they were so mean, and it was so hard. I suffered so much, and really I wanted to die.

MS. KIM: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) When they came in, they became so violent, and they would hit me, and they would punch me. And clothes like this, they would hold it like this, and they would rip them. And it was so difficult. It really was so hard on the frontline at the battlefield, where they were fighting. I think they were going crazy - the soldiers. I think they were going crazy.

MS. KIM: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) They get given this thing to wear. They're given this thing. (Interjecting.) She's talking about condoms again. (Translating.) But they never, ever use it. They just rip it off.

MS. KIM: (Korean.)

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: Translator, could we try to sum it up for the next two minutes? I'd appreciate it.

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) I think they go crazy. They didn't recognize me as a person. They just wanted to kill me, and when they saw me, they wrapped their hands around my neck, and they wanted to choke me.

MS. KIM: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating, inaudible) -- the war ended, and the owner just told us, "You just go. You go off on your own." But there, we didn't have any money. We didn't know where the road went to, and there, there weren't even cars.

MS. KIM: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) So, we didn't even know what was going on, but later I found out. At that point, America dropped a nuclear bomb on Japan, and then Japan was defeated.

MS. KIM: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) There were 20 women all together, but because the owner told us to just go, the seven women, we set off.

MS. KIM: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) We were walking. We walked for one and-a-half months, and we just survived by pulling out radishes from the field, and we walked all the way through mountains.

MS. KIM: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) When we were crossing the Tuman - (phonetic) - River, there were seven of us, but one of us got swept away, and she drowned. And the six of us, all we could do was let her drown, because if we went after her, we would drown ourselves.

MS. KIM: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) So, when we walked and we walked, we reached the city, and there were trains. And the trains were full of people, and there were people on top of the train, inside the train, and it was so crowded, that I grabbed onto the outside of the train, and that's how I traveled.

Would you like me to end there?

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: It's so difficult for me to try to limit the time of the testimonies of our friends, especially after having traveled 10,000 miles to come and share with us their experiences. But if I may, because our witness has already spoken for over 15 minutes, and I'd like to maybe allow her maybe another minute and-a- half to say - okay. (Korean.)

MS. KIM: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) For all of you, you gave me the chance to come here, to meet you and to speak to you. And even though this is a very short while, even though this is just a moment, I really am grateful for this opportunity, and I really do think of it as an honor. And by speaking to you, I feel as though the years and years of "han" - (interjecting) - "han" is a Korean word for "rancor," deep sorrow - (translating) - I feel as though some of it is evaporating.

MS. KIM: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) For us, we have never received an official apology. To us, they have never, ever apologized. So, I say to them, "If you don't officially apologize, or give me compensation, then give me back my youth." I will end here.

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: Yes. I am still learning how to speak English, and I just cannot find any words adequate enough to say, first, how honored we are as members of the committee to have our distinguished witnesses to travel from some 10,000 miles away to come to this country and share with us their sufferings - something that I find it difficult myself even to sense the emotions, and for the years that you've had to bear this tremendous burden. I do have some questions, but I would like turn the time over to my friend Congressman Honda for some questions that he has.

REP. HONDA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I have no questions, but I do want to share - thank our witnesses for their candor, for their willingness to self-disclose that which they have experienced. And I guess the profound comments I've heard today were things like, "I have forgiven, but I have not forgotten," "an opportunity is to - to give me an opportunity to evaporate some of my rancor."

That comes from(?) a grace and time, and it's hopeful on my part that countries such as Japan can achieve that level of maturity to be able to reflect upon themselves.

As great as they are democratically, they have become, that maturity comes when one is able to confront their past and make peace with those that we have offended. And we can't give back people's youth, but we can certainly struggle to bring people to - and countries and nations - to a point of maturity where they can reconcile themselves to the victims and in some way become a good reflection for the future generations.

So, thank you for coming this long distance to share and enlighten not only this body, but the rest of the world.

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: My apologies, but I hope our translator will - can you -

TRANSLATOR: (Off mike.)

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: Oh, yes. By all means.

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) I've been thinking, and I've been thinking, and there's something very, very strange. I have to ask you this. Before, the gentleman over there said that there is a document that says that the Japanese government has already apologized, but as a victim and as a surviving comfort woman, I have never received anything. Why is it that when I have not received anything, that that gentleman over there has received a document with the Japanese government's apology? From just this, can't you tell the Japanese government is lying? So, I really want to ask you, how is it that he has an apology and I don't?

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: I will give the gentleman from California for a response before I would respond to that. And by the way, for the record, the gentlelady is making reference to our colleague from California, Mr. Rohrabacher for his statement about the official document that was read earlier, but -

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: Can somebody else help Ms. Kim with the translation process? I just want to make sure our ladies -


REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: And, Mike, can you shorten your sentences so that the translator can -

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: Hold on. Because she doesn't understand the procedure, she's asking "that gentleman" she's referring to --

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: So, she's saying -

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: -- she's saying - (translating) - "How come that gentleman" - "That's what he said before, and then he's left, and now he can't answer my question. Why is he so irresponsible? If he said - if he said something he cannot take responsibility for, he should not have said it. How is it that, as a victim and as a survivor, that I'm here, and I've never received an apology and he has, and now he can't even answer my question? So, I don't understand the procedure, but if he has said something he can't be responsible for I just don't understand."

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: I think Ms. Lee should be an attorney here.



MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) Once in a lifetime, the Chairman Faleomavaega has organized this forum, this opportunity, and I am so grateful for that. And, yet, that gentleman over there, he said something that I think ruins this forum.

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: If I may just - could you translate for my friend Ms. Lee? If I may just assist here. The document that I think my friend was referring to was a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

TRANSLATOR: Sorry. Can -


TRANSLATOR: -- can you give me a break so I can translate, because I can't listen and talk at the same time.

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: You're absolutely correct.

MS. KIM: (Korean.)


TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) I love you. I respect you, and - (interjecting) -- this is a sign for "I love you," too. (Translating.) This guy - that man has to take responsibility. (Interjecting) Anyway -

MS. LEE: (Korean.)


TRANSLATOR: Can you repeat -

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: Yes. This document was issued on May 2004, three years ago.


REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: No, translate it in the mike so that our friend Ms. Kim can also understand.


MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) It's just strange to me that the victims and the survivors haven't received it. It's just strange.

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: I want to say to Ms. Lee that her point is well taken.


REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: I would like to ask Ms. O'Herne a question.

As you may have heard, again, this is what members of Congress do; they ask questions. They make statements. If, in your opinion, the statements that were issued by former prime ministers of Japan - do you consider this to be a sufficient apology? Or, what is it that you would like to see as a preference for what a real apology should be?

MS. O'HERNE: Well, as I said earlier on, a real apology to me is if it is followed by action. And what is action? Action is taking responsibility for their actions and own up to their wartime atrocities, which they never have done. When I was in Tokyo, they showed me in a museum a train, and underneath it said, "This train was built by the Japanese military." This train that went through Burma, a famous Burma railway, was built by prisoners of war like my father thousands died on that railway - prisoners of war - and then they dare put under it it was built by the Japanese military. Their history they teach to their students and to the young people is totally wrong. This is what I'd like to see happen, that they are taught the real history of their wartime atrocities. That is part of the apology.

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: One of the questions that was raised earlier is the fact that only 283 of the comfort women were compensated -


REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: -- by this fund that was established by the Japanese government. Out of some 200,000 women that were tortured and raped?

MS. O'HERNE: 200,000 - that's the official number - 200,000 - though most of them, including myself, we have refused it. You know, it was such an insult. How dare they? Because by doing this, they still did not take the responsibility. They let the private people do it. And if we would have accepted this, that would have been the worst mistake, because then they would have said, "You see?" They are not responsible. They've never been responsible. But by refusing it, we have shown the government has to take responsibility. It mustn't come from private funds.

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: If I could ask the same question to Ms. Lee and Ms. Kim. Would you translate that?

TRANSLATOR: Can you word your question again, please?

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: You say that only 283 women were supposedly compensated by the Japanese government though this fund out of some 200,000 women who were tortured and raped and -

TRANSLATOR: So, what do they consider an official, acceptable apology? Is that the question?

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: The concern is that why only 283?


MS. (?): (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) I have never received Asian Women's Fund.

Can I ask her why?

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: I just want to - the concern that I have is how can we increase the number? You know, as I realize, I think the fund is going to end next month.


REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: Has there been any serious effort to communicate or to let - or, is it just difficult for our comfort women to come forward? Has this been the real reason why hardly anybody pays attention to this?


REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: Let me ask Ms. O'Herne for her response to my question, if it's all right. Would you?


REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: My question again: out of 200,000 women who were tortured and - (inaudible) - through this forced prostitution, we only end up with only 283 who were identified, apparently, by the Japanese government to be compensated? And I wanted to ask you is it because they didn't bother making contact?

MS. O'HERNE: No. We have too much pride.

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: Yes. MS. O'HERNE: We have pride. We are not taking it from a private, but it's got to come from the government. So, this private fund is useless. It's totally an insult, so we will never take it from private funds. I will only take money if it comes from the government. Just an insult they even dare offer it to us.


MS. LEE(?): (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: About the Asian Women's Fund - okay.

MS. LEE(?): (Korean.)

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: Would you translate, please?

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) The Japanese Citizens Fund, they - in that fund, they call us so-called "comfort women." Why am I a comfort woman? I am E(?) Yong Soo. That is the name my mom and my dad have given to me. When I went to the Japanese diet, I asked them, "What is this name 'comfort woman'? Give me an explanation," because "comfort woman" implies that we, the victims, survivors have voluntarily walked to them, went up to them and said, "Okay, we will provide comfort and sex to the soldiers." They are saying, by calling us "comfort women," that that's what we did - that we did it voluntarily. But the truth is they took us away by force, against our will, and then after doing such a thing, they give such a dirty name - this "comfort women."

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) So, they said, "You voluntarily went to earn some money - didn't you? So, here is some money from the private individuals, and we'll give it to you to make you feel better."

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) When I went to the Japanese diet, I said, "Give me all the names. Give me the names of people who have accepted this money."

And what they told me was, "I can't give you those names, because when we give that money to them, we promised them that we will keep their names as a secret. That will be confidential information."

And I said, "If you can't give me the names of people who accepted the money, well, then you are a thief - aren't you?" So, I fought them over this.

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

MS. O'HERNE: Can I just add one more thing?


MS. O'HERNE: I know one person that received part of the Women's Fund, and by accepting it - she got the money, and she got a letter with an apology - a private apology to that person. Now, she gets an apology because she accepted the Asian Women's Fund. Why don't we get an apology, we who don't accept it?

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: Point well taken.

Would you translate that last -

TRANSLATOR: Sure. (Translating.) I was taken away by force, and I was forced into becoming this so-called dirty "comfort women." This is such a dirty thing, so even if the Japanese tell me they will give me all of their money, I said I am not interested.

MS. LEE: (Korean.)


MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) So, I have a question for the chairman. I want to know --

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: It's supposed to be the other way around --




MS. LEE: (Korean.)

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: -- how could I refuse getting a question -

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) But you brought it up -


TRANSLATOR: -- (translating) - so I strongly -

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: -- (translating) -- because I strongly disagree with the Women's Fund. You brought it up, so I'm asking you a question.


MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Chuckles, translating.) The Japanese government, they're at it again, because they send to you, to the U.S., this 283; because I asked them for their names when I went to the Japanese diet. They wouldn't give it to me, but they gave it to you. So, the Japanese, they're at it again.

(Interjecting.) Anyway - so, I think you know this well, Chairman, so I'm going to ask her question, which is - (translating) - "Chairman, how do you know about the 283 women who accepted the fund? How do you know about that?"

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: I still think you should be an attorney.



MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) No, I'm a victim.

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Chuckles, translating.) I'm the victim, and the Japanese government, when I asked them directly, they wouldn't give that information to me, and then they gave that information to you. So, I just don't understand.

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: They gave me --

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) I'm going to Japan on the 17th.

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: Okay. The information was -

TRANSLATOR: I'm sorry.

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: -- the information was given to me by an official of the Japanese government.


MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) So, officially they gave it here, so for sure I hope I get to find out these things officially.

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) You've started to take on our cause, so - (chuckles) - while you're at it, Chairman, if you can give me this information, I promise you I will keep it confidential.


TRANSLATOR: (Inaudible) - I'm sorry.

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: Officially, they gave it to me because, officially, I asked them.


MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) So, on the 17th, I must go to the Japanese diet again and ask them for it again.

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) So, I don't understand this number 283, because, in fact, the only - the entire total of survivors at this point is - if it's over 100, it doesn't reach as high as 283. So, if you say 283 accepted those funds, I don't understand how that number could be, because there's not that many of us alive.

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: I just want to say to our attorney Ms. Lee, that Congressman Honda and I will be more than delighted to accompany her on her next visit with the diet in Tokyo.


MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) In fact, Mr. Chairman, since you bring it up, I've always wanted to be a lawyer, and in 1996, in - (inaudible) -- University, I've actually enrolled as an honorary student to study international law - human rights law.

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) It was too difficult, though.

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) So, I went through the full year and graduated, and then I went to graduate school and did two years and graduated.

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) But since I didn't have any of the basics, even after all that, I couldn't become a lawyer. But I did learn a bit.

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: I want to thank Ms. Lee for -

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: -- and I now have a question from my colleague Mr. Honda.

REP. HONDA: I took(?) quiet at first, because I thought the Chairman should direct the - (inaudible) -- towards them. There's a couple of things. One is there are many members of the subcommittee who are not present, and it's not because they don't want to be here. They have conflicting schedules. And those who have appeared, appeared and then left to do other things. And I don't think it's for lack of interest.

Having said that, also these proceedings are being recorded and transcribed, so they will be shared by those members and the public for their information and their edification. So, if you will let Ms. Lee and Ms. Kim know that quickly, and I'll continue my comments.



REP. HONDA: The other folks made comments that we don't agree with. They raise it as a matter of information that they received from other people, other sources, or the lobbyists, and so they raise it as a matter of point of discussion. And then our process in this body is that we invite points that are contrary to ours, so we can debate it and so it can be responded to, as Ms. Lee has responded to it, saying that, "How do you get that information?" And then this dialogue is part of the process of teaching us, and ar- -- to arrive at a conclusion that is factual and appropriate.

REP.(?): Will the gentleman yield?

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: I think something also to understand in terms of our procedures in the committee, and I think in listening to the statements made by other members of the committee, the very issue - one of the fundamental issues that is being questioned in this proposed resolution is, how far back do we have to go to bring up the sins of the past, so to speak? I think that was one of the issues that my friend from California raised. "They've already made the apologies. How many more apologies do you need?" That's really the essence of the arguments that are being made now by our friends from the other side, and it's a valid point. And, of course, Mr. Honda, if I wanted to ask you, what would be your response, because the proposed resolution does call for the Government of Japan to issue a formal apology. Now, the -

TRANSLATOR: Excuse me, please. Would you like me to translate that?



REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: We have one more panel that we have to go, but in a real quick fashion. And I'm responding to our chief sponsor of the legislation for his response.


REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: And I want to note for the record that the response and the statements made by all three witnesses were very, very to the point in pointing out the fact that this is not just a piece of paper that you're wanting. There's a moral issue here that has not been settled, and I think your testimonies absolutely verify that question not only before this committee, but relationships among nations and among people. This is the issue that we're trying to get at.

And I'm sorry, Mike. I wanted to ask, what is your response to our friend from California's statement that we've already - the Government of Japan has already made the apologies? What more do you need? Mike?

REP. HONDA: What I was moving towards with our witnesses was to ask them, since Ms. Lee had been to the diet. Since Ms. Lee has been to the diet, my question was going to be towards the clarification. You know, we spoke of the Asian Women's Fund that, on the whole, was rejected for probably the motivation for which it was established, but my question would be, when you go to the diet, what is it that you expected the diet to do?

MS. O'HERNE: I know what I'd like to tell the Japanese government. I'd like to give them this message: if you disband in March the Asian Women's Fund, then start a proper government compensation fund. So, when one finishes, let them start another one - compensation from the government.

REP. HONDA: Okay, the -

MS. O'HERNE: And it's never too late.

REP. HONDA: Moving from the fund, I was looking at motivation for the establishment of the first fund. But if you're in front of the diet, in terms of apologies - well, let me be more direct. The reason I worded the resolution as "unambiguous, unequivocal and clear," to me means that the diet, as a government body, act upon the apology and, as a body, as a government, apologize to the victims. And then the prime minister, on behalf of that action, apologizes to the victims. The wording of Koizumi and the other prime ministers may have said that they represent the government, but they said, "my regrets." It was a personal acknowledgement of their regrets, and, to me, in my opinion - and I'm not the expert on the parliamentary government of Japan, but it seems to me that it does not represent the government. And when the government, as an entity, to make a clear action by the government, and then the prime minister says to the country, "We acknowledge the mistake and the terrible policies, that we have victimized the women of the other countries, and it will not happen again." And they will be clear in their textbooks and their instruction of their own people, that it's unequivocal. There's no room for ambiguity as to what their position is.

That's why I bring up the action of the United States government, the Congress apologizing as the act of Congress. Then, with the act being signed into law by the president as a clear, unequivocal action of this government in its apology. And I look for parallel action of the Japanese government.

And so if we were to go with you to Japan, that will be my expectation and basis for debate with them, and that would be my position and my expectation in terms of this resolution.

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: I thank the gentleman. To our good translator -

TRANSLATOR: Are there any more questions?

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: No, no more questions.

TRANSLATOR: No more questions. Okay.

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: I don't mean to offend our witnesses who've traveled so far, but we do have another panel that we have to bring on. But, again, I want to thank Ms. O'Herne and Ms. Kim and Ms. Lee for a most touching and a very not only just informative, but certainly, hopefully, as a real education to the American people as well what you three have had to endure, what you've had to go through.

TRANSLATOR: Thank you.

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: At this time - again, thank you, ladies. I'd like to ask Ms. Mindy Kotler, the director of the Asian Policy Point - if we could have maybe two, more chairs. Let's have our friends there sit there. That's okay.

Ms. Kotler, can you - we can pull up another chair there. We're not that formal.

REP. HONDA: And, Mr. Chairman, as they come up, we could say to our witnesses - "(Korean)."

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: Ms. Kotler, and we also have Ms. Ok Cha Soh.

MS. LEE: (Korean.)

TRANSLATOR: (Translating.) I just want to tell you for sure, Mr. Chairman, I think the number of people who accepted the Asian Women's Fund can't be over 50, because in 1992, when we started publicly speaking out, there were, in total, 300 survivors. And to say that 283 have accepted the fund - there are not enough survivors alive for there to be that number. So, what I'm telling you is that is a manipulation by the Japanese government. That is an indication this is one of their lies. And because we survivors are old and dying, there is no way that number could be 283, and I will just like to thank you for today.


Dr. Soh is - oh, please.

You can sit there, Ms. Lee. You don't have to go. I may ask further questions. I want to maximize your presence here, so you don't have to leave the table.


REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: Yes. We're very happy to have Ms. Kotler.

Ms. Kotler is the founder and director of the Asia Policy Point, formerly the Japanese Information Access Project, which is a nonprofit research center here in Washington studying U.S. policy relationships with Japan and other countries in Northeast Asia. Her personal research focuses on how Japan is integrating security and foreign policy with international norms into Asian regional politics. Ms. Kotler comments regularly in both the American and Asian press on issues affecting U.S-Japan relationships.

We also have Dr. Soh. I don't know what happened here. Somebody stole the bio here for Dr. Soh. I'm gonna kill the staff here for not putting this thing in the proper sequence. At any rate, I will make that known for the record later, but at this time I would like to ask Ms. Kotler to proceed with her statement.

MS. MINDY KOTLER: Okay. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for the opportunity to testify today on Japan's contemporary responsibilities for its war crimes of Imperial Japan from 1932 to 1945. I am honored and humbled to be here with Ms. O'Herne, Grandma Kim and Grandma Yong.

Before I proceed, I would like to submit for the record five, supporting documents on Japan's involvement in establishing the Imperial Military's comfort women system.

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: Without objection.

MS. KOTLER: Yes. And one of them is an excerpt from Former Prime Minister Nakasone's memoirs, where he describes how he set up comfort stations in the Netherlands East Indies. Another is a chart that outlines how the six, leading publishers of Japanese textbooks - as of this year, the 2006 edition has no mention whatsoever of comfort women.

I'm delighted that Representative Honda was right in identifying "equivocal" as the most important element in Japan's war crime apologies. It is the Government of Japan's continual splitting of hairs in its apologies that has allowed this issue to fester for so long. None of the - none - and, I repeat, none - of the apologies to the comfort women by the Japanese government officials would constitute an official apology in Japan. They have been kabuki theatre, representations of remorse for the benefit of a foreign audience unfamiliar with Japanese law.

In this - and one of the reasons that this resolution is important is that the answer is in many ways twofold. Japan is a great nation and an important ally to the United States. Its reasons for refusing an unequivocal apology to the comfort women unfortunately undermine these positions. The explanations have unsettling parallels to the dismissal of the Holocaust, where the victims are recast as aggressors. More troubling and unlike today's Germany, most Japanese leaders, and especially the current Shinzo Abe government hold retrogressive and pseudo notions of Japan's history. You would probably be surprised to learn that over the past few months, Japan's most respected and widely circulated news daily, which is equivalent to "The New York Times" in Japan, published two editorials calling the comfort women system a historical fabrication, and senior advisors to the prime minister have publicly expressed a desire to dilute or rescind the Kono statement, the closest statement Japan has on record apologizing for the comfort women.

And within this past week alone, prominent members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party decided to initiate diet efforts to revise the Kono statement and to send at least one of their colleagues to Washington to meet with you on this matter.

For the United States, we do have an interest in its allies' political statements, especially those that have the potential to inflame emotions among our most important regional allies, such as South Korea, Singapore, Australia, the Philippines and countries of great strategic importance to the United States, such as China.

I actually was pleased by Mr. Rohrabacher's statement, and there were many parts that were near line-for-line renditions of the lobbying document put out by Hogan & Hartson for the Embassy of Japan, and I would like to, in many respects, address those issues, misstatements and misrepresentations.

And as I want to repeat - and I want to say this very carefully - the Government of Japan has not extended an official government apology. An apology by a Japanese prime minister is an individual's opinion. For an apology to be official, it would have to be a statement by a minister in a session of the dais, which is their parliament; a line in an official communiqué while on an overseas visit; or, to be definitive, a statement ratified by the cabinet. None - and I repeat, none - of these conditions has been met. The few apologies given by prime ministers on this issue can be viewed as the equivalent of the president signing a treaty with the Senate never ratifying it.

The letters of apology which you heard so much about today, which have been give by a number of prime ministers, Hashimoto, Oguchi, Mori and Koizumi, they're all the same letter, and they do not constitute a government - I repeat, a government - apology. Again, the prime minister is not putting out these letters with the approval of his cabinet. Plus, these letters are only his personal views. Each letter is the same and does not personally address the individual recipient. Most important, note the first sentence of the so-called apology letter, which reads "in cooperation with the Japanese government." An official apology should read "on behalf of," which it clearly does not.

Thus, all Japanese prime ministers view these letters as a burden and an obligation. Also, these letters only - and this is where some of the confusion has appeared - only accompany disbursement of funds to those women who are willing to accept Japan's - and they call it "atonement money." They also have not been included in the atonement settlement with the Dutch, nor sent to any Indonesian survivors. Moreover, like all other Japanese war crime apologies, the letters appear insincere. In 1996, Prime Minister Hashimoto said he - point blank, in public - would not sign the letters. The public disclosure of this led many to question the whole sincerity of the process, but in the end, he did.

The Kono statement, which you've also heard so much about, which was issued on August 4th, 1993 - which so happens to be Lane Evans' birthday, my birthday and Barack Obama's birthday - who was then chief - I have a misstatement here - Chief Cabinet Secretary Mr. Kono issued a statement reporting the results of an investigation on the comfort women. He announced the comfort women system actually existed, undeniably an act with the involvement of military authorities of the day. And then he said the Government of Japan would like to take this opportunity once again to extend a sincere apology. However, he ended his statement with a hint that the government will continue to study the issue and pay attention to it, but most important, again, Mr. Kono was chief cabinet secretary, which is the approximate equivalent of a White House press secretary. Basically, an important government apology does not come from a press secretary.

In addition, the statement was offered shortly - within days - after the fall of one prime minister and barely five days before the beginning of another's government. In a word, Mr. Kono was a lame duck responsible to no one.

The current prime minister, Mr. Abe, has said very reluctantly and only under duress that he would support the Kono statement. One week before he went to China in October, he said - he didn't even say that he supported it. He said he'd "respect" - I put that in quotes - the Kono statement, but said right after that - quote - "In a narrow sense, there are no facts to endorse the existence of such a system of forced labor." His first expression of respect was so reluctantly made, that members of the diet made him repeat it. And then shortly after that, a member of his inner circle said that Mr. Abe - "Although the prime minister said he respects the Kono statement, I don't think that's what he means."

The prime minister is a member of several conservative groups, notwithstanding documentary evidence that believed comfort women were well-paid prostitutes supervised by independent operators outside military control.

The Asian Women's Fund, which you have also heard so much about, which was designed to compensate comfort women, is not - and I repeat, not - a government entity, and, in fact, it is interesting and to some scholars amusing to see in the Japanese lobbying document that the foreign ministry is finally for the first time seeking ownership of this wayward institution. In fact, for many years - in fact, always - the foreign ministry has tried to distance itself from this institution. And in order to cite(?), when it was created in '95, it was created as an outside entity to sidestep right-wing criticism of the acceptance of comfort women history.

To be sure, many senior foreign ministry officials did work with prominent Japanese citizens to establish it. Government funds were allocated to provide the operating expenses and medical care disbursements. Funds that were raised from the Japanese citizens were used for the atonement payments to the survivors.

This is not the definition of a reparation, which implies a government payment. The majority of comfort women wanted the national government of Japan, as Mr. Honda has so carefully pointed out, to take responsibility for the history. Also, the Asian Women's Fund was never designed to compensate all the comfort women. Only - and I repeat, only - women from South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines were considered part of the fund. Korean women left behind by retreating Japanese troops in Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, China and North Korea were not included. Survivors who came from U.S. territories, such as Guam, where Japanese troops were stationed, or those who emigrated to the United States, were not included. The compensation for Indonesian survivors went directly to the Indonesian government to build apartments, of which none has ever been inhabited by any comfort women.

And also, but more important, the survivors were given only three years to respond to appeals to come forward to identify themselves. And may I say men, who as boys claimed to have also been abused in the(?) system(?) were also not included - and there is testimony to that effect. For elderly, poor, generally illiterate and outcast women, three years is simply not enough time.

To be sure, the Dutch government negotiated its own settlement, but even there, there were problems. The organization that usually handles reparations payments refused to handle this kind of organization and the indirectness of it, and so the Japanese government, through the foreign ministries, had to set up a separate NGO in the Netherlands, called the Project Implementation Committee in the Netherlands to identify survivors and management disbursement funds. And the only apology letter the Dutch women got, it wasn't to them; it was to the head of the Dutch government. And I have numbers in my paper about how much money was disbursed and where and what, and it is not true - and it's blatantly not true - that the Asian Women's Fund was terminated because so few women remain. It is estimated that only 40 percent of the remaining survivors have been compensated by that fund, and also the fund was never intended by anyone to be a permanent body, and its mandate was only ten years. When the was up, the fund was supposed to just disappear and go away. It is not in any way comparable to the well-known German Future Fund. It is a fund intended simply to deal with one past issue and then move in. It was a formula.

And then I could go on about the treaties, but that's all a very technical, historian type thing. And there is a lot of complaint that this may affect U.S. foreign policy. Yes, it will - for the positive. The Japanese government's unequivocal admission of past wrongdoing could demonstrate a deep commitment to historical truth and human rights. Such a public commitment could only strengthen, not weaken, the U.S.-Japan relationship that is now said to be based on "common values." An unequivocal admission of past wrongdoing would remove a lingering, corrosive issue weakening the ties between Japan and America's major allies in the region. And an unequivocal admission of past wrongdoing would highlight the differences between the murderous kidnapping, criminal regime in control of North Korea and democratic, open Japan. And for the Japanese themselves, an unequivocal apology for a past program of state-sponsored sexual violence against women would solidify Japan's long support of the myriad international standards and rulings regarding war crimes, crimes against humanity, sexual violence and human trafficking.

In fact, in 2004, there was a wonderful quote by a Japanese ambassador to the United Nations, where he noted, "The manner in which women are often obliged to live during armed conflict is, indeed, a moral outrage. They are usually neither the initiators of conflict nor the wagers of war, and, yet, their gender is often specifically targeted. This situation should in no way be tolerated." That is from a Japanese ambassador to the UN.

Can Japan do the right thing? Absolutely. Of course they can pass a diet resolution. Of course the prime minister can go to the cabinet, but even more interestingly, over the last few years, Japan has set its own precedent for leadership of what a prime minister can do when the political process breaks down, because, quite frankly, if you understand the Japanese political process, the right-wing is so strong, that many politicians, many historians, many newspaper people are terrified to say something against a regime. They will get phone calls in the night. They will get funny, little things turning up at their door. They will get threatened and roughed up. This is unbelievable and inexcusable. I know too many scholars - and American scholars - who have been threatened.

And so, anyway, in July of last year, Prime Minister Koizumi brushed aside legal and bureaucratic arguments in order to resolve a long-standing injustice about a government-sponsored campaign encouraging immigration to the Dominican Republic, and basically he said, "Throughout this period, immigrants had faced tremendous difficulties in settling down because of the insufficient preliminary research and disclosure of information. The immigrants went under the years of hardship that were combined with unfortunate circumstances." And then he went on to say, "The government is truly remorseful and apologizes for the immense hardship the immigrants have undergone caused by the response." And he concluded, "The government has judged, in full consideration of facts that the immigrants are - (audio break) -


DR. OK CHA SOH: -- (inaudible) - and rape of women and girls is - (inaudible) - considering the present-day Japanese government's ongoing efforts to hide information about the crimes. Japan's refusal to accept unequivocal responsibility for the war crimes - (inaudible) - injustice suffered by the comfort women also undermines international law on the greatest issue of rape(?) during the war. This affects not only World War II survivors, but also women from Yugoslavia, Africa, Latin America and other parts of the world where rape has been used as a weapon of war. This issue is not - (inaudible) - it is also essential to the success of future prosecution of criminals who use rape as a weapon of war.

The Japanese government today - (inaudible) - crimes against comfort women. They also simply refuse to cooperate. To date, the Japanese government's effort to carry out the United Nations recommendations on comfort women has clearly been inadequate. It is in Japan's own interest, as well as in the best interest of the U.S.- Japan alliance, for the present Japanese government to squarely face its obligations under international law.

Permit me to conclude by recalling former Congressman Lane Evans, who used to say regarding comfort women - quote, "I believe we have a duty. We have a duty to help those who need our help. We have a duty to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves, because, in the end, people will remember not the words of their enemies, but the silence of their friends."

We just not remain silent. It is our duty that we give those women the dignity and the respect they deserve.

Chairman Faleomavaega, thank you once again for the invitation to appear before you today. I'll be happy to answer any questions you or the members of the committee might have. Thank you.

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: Thank you, Dr. Soh.

To my knowledge, I believe this is probably the first time ever the Congress has ever held a hearing on this subject matter, and I don't say this as a matter of boasting or bragging about it, but certainly I wanted to note for the record that this resolution was passed by this committee under the leadership of my dear friend and former chairman of this committee Henry Hyde, who has retired, a great friend and certainly one of our stalwarts and whom I consider personally as an icon here in the Congress. And noting also the difference of opinion as expressed by my good friend from California, I just want to let our witnesses and the public know that this is part of the process. We have disagreements, and someone once said that we are entitled to our own opinions, but we certainly should not be entitled to our own facts. And the question here: are these facts?

But I do want to commend Ms. Kotler and Dr. Soh for your testimony and our friends who have traveled so far. I sincerely hope that we will - this subcommittee, as well as the Committee on Foreign Affairs, will make some results on this proposed legislation and see what we can do to get the legislation moving within the committee. And, hopefully, then it should be brought before the floor of the House for consideration.

Yes, there have been issues, and there are concerns if this resolution is going to affect our relationship with Japan. I don't like the idea that somehow it's going to ruin our relationship with Japan. I think Japan is better than that, its leaders and the good people who live there. I've been to Japan several times, mainly because I have relatives who are sumo wrestlers. One of them who retired a couple of years ago is a cousin of mine. He weighed only 570 pounds, and he wrestled by the name of Konishi - (phonetic). So, I do have a very fond affection for the Japanese people, but as an institution, or as a government, I think this is where we have to look at the matter of what the government needs to do as an institution to address this grave issue.

I wanted to ask Ms. Kotler - I noted with interest that you went point by point, and all the issues that my good friend Congressman Rohrabacher expressed on the contrary, saying that all these things have already been done, and we're reinventing the wheel, so to speak, "Why are we going through the process?" And I wanted to ask Ms. Kotler, is there anything else that you think that is important and that we should look at closely - not only in terms of the provisions of the proposed resolution, but any other issue that you feel that will be helpful also to the members of the committee, and especially to my colleague Congressman Honda, that we may have missed?

MS. KOTLER: I would have to go back and look at the resolution again. I think, in general, it was quit well done, and putting the world "unequivocal" was essential. What I would do is look again at what we're expecting in terms of apology. We need to make it very clear it's from the Government of Japan, not just merely a blank apology, because, yes, there have been apologies, but not one of them can be considered an apology directly to the comfort women. Yes, Mr. Moriyama, as prime minister, had but it was a blanket apology, in general. And there have been actually 40-some -- in fact, you can count them, which is sort of sad - apologies in terms of World War II, Greater East Asian War, because we're not really just talking 1941 to '45. You're really talking 1931, 1932. And I would look very carefully and with a scholar of the Japanese political system to word the sentence about what you'd want exactly from the Government of Japan.

REP. HONDA: If the gentleman will yield.

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: I gladly yield.

REP. HONDA: And I think you've hit it on the head. It would be helpful if you helped us wordsmith in Japanese --

MS. KOTLER: I would be happy to.

REP. HONDA: -- the wording that would be unequivocal and unambiguous, and then the process, I think, you laid out - that it has to be an action of the diet and then the prime minister and the cabinet. So, with your work and the scholars that you're working with would be helpful to --

MS. KOTLER: They all have Ph.D.s.

REP. HONDA: -- (chuckles) - that's okay. As long as they're correct. Thank you.

Dr. Soh?

DR. SOH: Mr. Chairman?

REP. HONDA: I think you did address also the question of the apology, and I - again, I just wanted to know if you fee if there are any other provisions of the proposed resolution that you feel that maybe we could make improvements on. We do intend to continue collaborations with our Republican friends and those, because this truly is a bipartisan resolution. And I'm so happy that you also quoted statements made by our former colleague Lane Evans, a very dear friend of mine, and we're just saddened by losing him, with him not coming back because of his illness.

You quoted - you made an interesting quote in the latter part of your statement, saying that, "In the end, we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." I think that was from Martin Luther King, Jr.

DR. SOH: You're quite right.

REP. HONDA: So correct and very appropriate in terms of where's the commitment.

One of the concerns that was brought to my attention is, do we have the right to tell another sovereign country what to do? Now, we can internalize and say, now, if the comfort women were done here in America, then this is something that is internal, or domestic, and that we have to do it by way of the Congress and all of this. But we're telling a sovereign nation, "Get with the program. Do something." And I wonder if -- it's been questioned by some of my friends to suggest that, do we have the right to do this?

DR. SOH: I think it - as a member of the U.S, Congress, we are living for the global justice, and live for the - (unintelligible). It does not have to be - necessarily happen in Japan, because the issue has been long overdue already. And also, by international tradition, like the United Nations, ILO, also the International Commission of Jurists. It's a lot of things - a lot of issues. We have been waiting too long, and -

REP. HONDA: Ms. Kotler?

MS. KOTLER: The resolution is not a law. You cannot enforce it. It is a suggestion. It's a suggestion of one ally to the next, a suggestion that Japan live up to the treaties that it has signed, of the organizations that it is a member of, from the OECD and the G-7 and all the organizations which it has signed on and supported, to say it's against sexual violence in conflicts, that it supports human security, human rights, democracy. So, you're -

REP. HONDA: Doesn't the -

MS. KOTLER: -- suggesting.

REP. HONDA: -- doesn't the United Nations also have, as a matter of principle -

MS. KOTLER: 1325 -

REP. HONDA: -- the rights of women -

MS. KOTLER: -- to be exact. Yes, in fact, Japan is one of a small group of nations that is promoting and considered a special friend of 1325. And the quote that I said from the ambassador was in support of 1325.

REP. HONDA: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and I certainly second everything that's been said. And just to reiterate, when I was in the state assembly, we struggled with AJR 27, which met with a lot of resistance, but was passed unanimously by voice vote. We were told at that time that, "You're merely a state representative, and you don't have anything to do with international foreign relations," but we passed it anyway to ask Congress to pass a similar resolution. They picked it up. I'm here today, and so in our current position, we continue to push the resolution to encourage Japan, again, to do the right thing, as an ally. And Congress has a purview of not only domestic, but also foreign relations, so we're in the right arena, doing the right thing, asking the right questions.

REP. FALEOMAVAEGA: I thank the gentleman.

I want to thank our panel and our distinguished witnesses, especially our dear friends who have traveled so far to come all the way here to Washington, D.C., to get the snow, which I hate. I know exactly how you feel. I hate the - it's not that I hate the snow, but I just don't like the cold. I'd rather be eating my coconuts and strumming my ukulele under a coconut tree than be here. I'll tell you that.

But I sincerely do want to say that - as I've said earlier, I don't know of any words that I could express what I have heard from Ms. O'Herne and Ms. Kim and Ms. Lee. I hope it'll be as a lesson to our community of nations, learning from the past, but more than anything, looking to the future, that we hope, just as we have witnessed the museum - with the Holocaust Museum - and I think the phrase that I got from that experience and going through was, "Never again." I think that's the phrase that I hope that, as a result, that we might create a positive result and, hopefully, also in a constructive way in dealing with the leaders of the Japanese government, that they will see your point of view and in such a way that they will respond in a positive way, and appreciating and understanding the depth of what you had to endure for all these years.

And I do have every intention to all of the leadership of our committee to see that we do move this legislation in the best way possible in collaboration also with my dear friend from California during this. And I'm sorry. I wish I had some khalua pig to give you for your journey. I feel helpless in not offering you any food or something to celebrate your coming here, but sincerely I really wish you God speed on your return to Australia. I don't know if that's the correct way of pronouncing it, Ms. O'Herne, but you will definitely hear from us on this issue. That I promise.

And with that subcommittee hearing is adjourned.




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