Ja­pan crit­i­cized over ‘com­fort women’ list­ing UNESCO post­pones ad­di­tion to to world regis­ter, draws ques­tions

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICA - By LIA ZHU in San Fran­cisco li­azhu@chi­nadai­lyusa.cm

Ad­vo­cates urged UNESCO to in­clude the his­tory of “com­fort women” in the Mem­ory of the World Regis­ter pro­gram after the or­ga­ni­za­tion post­poned its de­ci­sion on Mon­day.

The “com­fort women” his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ment is a re­minder to ad­here to the prin­ci­ple of UNESCO’s con­sti­tu­tion “to fur­ther uni­ver­sal re­spect for jus­tice, for the rule of law and for the hu­man rights and fun­da­men­tal free­dom which are af­firmed for the peo­ple of the world with­out dis­tinc­tion of race, sex, lan­guage or re­li­gion”, the Com­fort Women Jus­tice Coali­tion (CWJC) said.

The coali­tion, which rep­re­sents more than 35 in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions from the US, Asia and Europe to fight for the jus­tice of “com­fort women” sur­vivors, urged that Paris-based UNESCO (United Na­tions Ed­u­ca­tional, Sci­en­tific and Cul­tural Or­ga­ni­za­tion) rec­og­nize the “very im­por­tant chap­ter in his­tory whose sig­nif­i­cance in help­ing to erad­i­cate world sex traf­fick­ing can­not be un­der­stated”.

It is the sec­ond time the Mem­ory of the World Regis­ter pro­gram has post­poned the ap­pli­ca­tions of “com­fort women” doc­u­ments.

In 2015, China sub­mit­ted the ap­pli­ca­tions of the 1937 Nan­jing Mas­sacre and “com­fort women” doc­u­ments, but the “com­fort women” ap­pli­ca­tion was re­jected while the Nan­jing Mas­sacre doc­u­ments were ac­cepted.

Last year, an in­ter­na­tional joint com­mit­tee rep­re­sent­ing eight re­lated coun­tries and re­gions ap­plied to have “com­fort women” doc­u­ments in­scribed in the pro­gram.

The In­ter­na­tional Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee (IAC) for the pro­gram, how­ever, rec­om­mended set­ting a place and time con­ve­nient to the nom­i­na­tor and con­cerned par­ties for a di­a­logue, with a view to­ward reach­ing a joint nom­i­na­tion to en­com­pass as far as pos­si­ble all rel­e­vant doc­u­ments on “com­fort women”.

“The ‘ Com­fort Women’ doc­u­ments met all the stan­dards for in­tegrity, truth in re­port­ing and ver­i­fi­able sources when (they were) ini­tially ac­cepted by UNESCO for con­sid­er­a­tion a year ago,” Julie Tang, co-chair of CWJC, said in a letter to the IAC, which is com­posed of 14 ex­perts.

“We won­der what has changed, other than Ja­pan’s bul­ly­ing the IAC and veiled threats to pull out of UNESCO,” she con­tin­ued.

The ac­tivists are con­cerned that UNESCO may be yield­ing to the pres­sure of Ja­pan, which with­held its 2016 fund­ing to the or­ga­ni­za­tion over the list­ing of the Nan­jing Mas­sacre in the Mem­ory of the World Regis­ter.

“It’s a shame that the per­pe­tra­tor gov­ern­ment of the largest case of sex traf­fick­ing in mod­ern his­tory can bully a trusted and rep­utable in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion such as UNESCO into si­lence with money,” said Phyl­lis Kim, a “com­fort women” ad­vo­cate and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Korean Amer­i­can Fo­rum of Cal­i­for­nia.

“By deny­ing its prac­tice of mil­i­tary sex­ual slav­ery, the Ja­panese gov­ern­ment is de­priv­ing us the op­por­tu­nity to prop­erly re­mem­ber and pre­vent the hor­rid vi­o­la­tion of hu­man rights from re­cur­ring, and this amounts to as­sault­ing all women present and fu­ture,” she said.

Lil­lian Sing, co-chair of CWJC, said it was ironic that the IAC de­clined to ac­cept the “com­fort women” ap­pli­ca­tion, while on the other hand, UNESCO’s Hu­man Rights Com­mit­tee has con­demned Ja­pan for its atroc­i­ties and has urged Ja­pan to apol­o­gize.

“Jus­tice has no price. One can­not trade one set of jus­tice over an­other,” she said. “IAC is to be dis­cred­ited for sell­ing its soul and sell­ing out the ‘com­fort women’ and break­ing th­ese women’s hearts once again.”

LU­CAS JACK­SON / REUTERS

An aeri­al­ist jumps on a tram­po­line dur­ing an event in Times Square in New York on Wed­nes­day to sig­nify that the 2018 Win­ter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, Repub­lic of Korea, are 100 days away.

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