There are nine 2007 Cabinet decisions concerning the comfort women issue, all official written replies to an appeal submitted by House of Representatives member Kiyomi Tsujimoto (one resolution on March 16, two on April 20, three on June 5, one each on July 6, August 15 and November 9. See: http://www.shugiin.go.jp/index.nsf/html/index_shitsumon.htm Japanese only).
Here we shall examine these nine decisions from two points of view:
A) Whether they recognize coercion
B) Their relationship with the Kono Statement of 1993
A) First we can see that Reply no.110 of March 16, 2007 states that in the documents which the government found, there was no description showing direct involvement by the Japanese military or government in coercion. However:
1) The Kono Statement took a comprehensive approach when it determined coercion had been used, not restricting itself merely to written documentation, but also taking into account testimonies of the victims and of military personnel, as well as official U.S. documents and field research carried out in Okinawa. And Reply no.110 cannot refute the Kono Statement.
2) The 2007 decisions themselves recognized the facts above. The very same Reply no.110 also says, “regarding the definition of ‘coercion’ in relation to the comfort women issue, the government produced the Kono Statement as a result of judgments made based on documentary research and interviews of the persons concerned.”
The same holds true for the cabinet decision on April 20 (Reply no.169), which states, “The government researched documents and interviewed persons concerned during the period from December 1991 through August 1993. The content of said Statement (the Kono Statement) was based on a judgment of the entire data, and the government’s essential position regarding coercion agrees with that of said Statement.”
Thus the 2007 cabinet decisions have not refuted the Kono Statement.
B) All nine Cabinet decisions made in 2007 are understood to have been made as a continuation of the Kono Statement. Hence Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto is in error when he asserts a choice between one or the other. The latter follows on the former.
Hashimoto’s intention to negate the whole comfort women issue by citing lack of documentation is factually bankrupt. In addition to the oral testimony of the victims, there is substantial documentary evidence of their having been taken away by force. Among other places, such documentation appeared at the B and C class war criminal trials and at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. War veterans have also testified to the fact.
Moreover, it is important to remember that trials conducted in Japan have officially confirmed the truth, including the fact of violent coercion by which the women suffered harm. There have been ten suits, started by Korean (including ethnically Korean Japanese), Filipino, Chinese, Taiwanese and Dutch victims. The court rejected claims of compensation, but recognized the facts themselves (in eight cases out of ten): abductions and forcible removal close to abduction “captured with hands and feet bound”, “compelled in spite of refusal” for thirty-one persons (six Korean, twenty-four Chinese, one Dutch), and “fraud using flattery” for four (all Korean). The court said there was “irrefutable historical evidence” for their stories. (Shiho ga ninteishita nihongun ianfu [The comfort women of the Japanese military as acknowledged by Japanese courts], Tsubokawa Hiroko and Omori Noriko, Publ. Kamogawa Booklet 2011) On top of the Kono Statement, we have to take quite seriously the fact that the truth of these women’s suffering was reconfirmed by the Japanese courts.
For more detail please see the three web postings below on the website of Kobe College professor Ishikawa Yasuhiro (Japanese only):
“The 2007 cabinet decisions clearly all follow the Kono Statement”
Full length http://walumono.typepad.jp/blog/2012/08/29-01.html
Summary of above http://walumono.typepad.jp/blog/2012/08/29-03.html
“Hashimoto’s statements on the comfort women make absolutely no sense.” http://walumono.typepad.jp/1/2012/10/29-01.html