Ja­pan says UN en­voy re­tracts re­marks on school­girl sex

S Korea, Ja­pan hold talks on ‘com­fort women’

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

TOKYO: A UN hu­man rights en­voy has re­tracted her claim that 13 per­cent of school­girls in Ja­pan are in­volved in forms of paid dat­ing that can in­volve sex, the Ja­panese gov­ern­ment said yes­ter­day.

The step came shortly af­ter Tokyo bit­terly com­plained to the Of­fice of the United Na­tions High Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man Rights and de­manded it show ev­i­dence to sup­port the fig­ure that was an­nounced in Tokyo last month. Maud de Boer-Buquic­chio, the UN’s spe­cial en­voy on the sale of chil­dren, child pros­ti­tu­tion and child pornog­ra­phy, wrote to the Per­ma­nent Mis­sion of Ja­pan to the In­ter­na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tions in Geneva to say she could not of­fer hard ev­i­dence to sup­port her claim, ac­cord­ing to a Ja­panese of­fi­cial.

“The let­ter said af­ter fur­ther re­views that there was no of­fi­cial and re­cent data to sup­port the 13-per­cent fig­ure,” Chief Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Yoshi­hide Suga told re­porters.

In her let­ter, de Boer-Buquic­chio vowed not to use the fig­ure in the fu­ture and said the num­ber will not be part of a re­port to be sub­mit­ted to the UN Hu­man Rights Coun­cil, Suga said. “We re­gard this ex­pla­na­tion as ef­fec­tively a re­trac­tion of the com­ment over the 13-per­cent fig­ure,” he added.

“The Ja­panese gov­ern­ment will con­tinue to ask them to draft re­ports based on ob­jec­tive data.”

Nekane Lavin, from the UN Of­fice of the High Com­mis­sion­ner in Geneva, later is­sued a state­ment by email say­ing the spe­cial en­voy will make no fur­ther com­ment un­til March when she sub­mits her re­port. “Please note ... the Spe­cial Rap­por­teur will not make fur­ther com­ments on this is­sue un­til the pre­sen­ta­tion of her full and com­pre­hen­sive re­port on her visit to Ja­pan to the UN Hu­man Rights Coun­cil in March 2016.”

In a press con­fer­ence last month, de Boer-Buquic­chio spoke of the Ja­panese so­cial phe­nom­e­non of “enjo ko­sai”, of­ten trans­lated as “com­pen­sated dat­ing”, in which older men pay teenage girls for dates that may in­volve sex.

“Some 13 per­cent of the school girls in Ja­pan are in­volved in that kind of ac­tiv­ity, which per­haps starts with a rel­a­tively in­no­cent ac­tiv­ity,” she said at the brief­ing. The “in­no­cent” be­hav­ior may in­clude men go­ing for a walk with high school girls, she added. When Ja­pan sub­se­quently de­manded that she present ev­i­dence for the claim, de Boer-Buquic­chio said this month she had “no of­fi­cial sta­tis­tics” on com­pen­sated dat­ing. She said she had seen the fig­ure “in open sources”. Con­cerns over the sex­u­al­i­sa­tion of young girls have been fre­quently ex­pressed by Ja­panese me­dia, women’s groups and some politi­cians, but the pre­cise ex­tent of abuses or il­licit ac­tiv­i­ties has proven dif­fi­cult to mea­sure. —AFP SEOUL: South Korea and Ja­pan yes­ter­day dis­cussed their long-run­ning dis­pute over Korean women forced into wartime sex­ual slav­ery-the first such talks since their lead­ers vowed to push for a mu­tu­ally ac­cept­able set­tle­ment. The meet­ing be­tween se­nior for­eign min­istry of­fi­cials from both sides fol­lowed last week’s sum­mit in Seoul be­tween South Korean Pres­i­dent Park Geun-Hye and Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe.

“It’s dif­fi­cult to go into de­tails, but it can be said that we’re mov­ing one step at a time to­wards our goal,” the South’s Yon­hap news agency quoted a gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial as say­ing af­ter the talks.

“We have agreed to con­tinue talks on ar­eas where dif­fer­ences ex­ist,” the un­named of­fi­cial said.

South Korea is de­mand­ing a for­mal apol­ogy and com­pen­sa­tion for the Korean women forced to serve as sex slaves in Ja­panese mil­i­tary army brothels dur­ing World War II. Ja­pan main­tains that the dis­pute was set­tled in a 1965 nor­mal­iza­tion agree­ment, which saw Tokyo make a to­tal pay­ment of $800 mil­lion in grants or loans to its for­mer colony.

The two sides have now held 10 rounds of talks on the is­sue since April last year-with no tan­gi­ble progress. Yes­ter­day’s meet­ing was in the same frame­work, but was closely mon­i­tored for any signs that the Park-Abe sum­mit had shifted the dis­cus­sion lines.

In what was their first one-on-one meet­ing, the two lead­ers had vowed to speed up con­sul­ta­tions to re­solve the dis­pute, which Park called the “big­gest stum­bling block” to nor­mal­ized ties. Park had pre­vi­ously re­buffed mul­ti­ple pro­pos­als for a sum­mit with Abe, ar­gu­ing that Tokyo had yet to prop­erly atone for its wartime past and 1910-45 colo­nial rule over the Korean penin­sula.

Pre­sid­ing over a cab­i­net meet­ing on Tues­day, Park had again stressed that the com­fort women is­sue should be set­tled “as early as pos­si­ble”. Main­stream his­to­ri­ans say up to 200,000 women, mostly from Korea but also from China, In­done­sia and other Asian na­tions, were forced into sex­ual slav­ery dur­ing the war.

South Korea has only 47 sur­viv­ing com­fort women-all of them in ad­vanced old age. “Our gov­ern­ment’s po­si­tion is con­stant and firm. The com­fort women is­sue should be re­solved ur­gently,” for­eign min­istry spokesman Cho June-Hyuck told a reg­u­lar press brief­ing ahead of Wed­nes­day’s talks. The Ja­panese gov­ern­ment should present a so­lu­tion “that vic­tims can ac­cept”, Cho said.

Ja­pan’s top gov­ern­ment spokesman Yoshi­hide Suga said Tokyo had “yet to de­cide” on what mea­sures might be put for­ward as a so­lu­tion. —AFP

SEOUL: Pro­tes­tors sit next to a statue (C) of a South Korean teenage girl in tra­di­tional cos­tume called the “peace mon­u­ment” for for­mer “com­fort women” who served as sex slaves for Ja­panese sol­diers dur­ing World War II, dur­ing a weekly anti-Ja­panese demonstration near the Ja­panese em­bassy in Seoul yes­ter­day. —AFP

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