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see also Background on Sexual Violence Against East Timorese Women During the Japanese Occupation

Please note on July 30, 2007, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the non-binding resolution below

East Timor & Indonesia ACTION Network ALERT

Support World War II "Comfort Women"

Urge Your Representative to Support HRes 121

Rep. Michael Honda (D-CA) has reintroduced his resolution on "Protecting the Human Rights of Comfort Women" House Resolution 121 denounces Japan's sexual enslavement of Asian and Pacific Island women during World War II and demands that the Japanese government apologize and accept historical responsibility. The resolution overwhelmingly passed the House Foreign Relations Committee in June.

Urge your representative to support this resolution when it comes to a vote.

Participants in Jan. 2006 public hearing on comfort women in East Timor.  

The sexual slavery system was widely practiced by the Japanese military in countries it occupied during World War II.

February 20 marked the 65th anniversary of Japan's invasion of then Portuguese Timor in 1942. Approximately 40,000 East Timorese were killed during the three-year Japanese occupation, and about one thousand Timorese women were enslaved by the Japanese military, of whom at least thirteen are still alive. Women in Indonesia were also coerced into sexual slavery.

In a recent statement, the Japan Coalition for East Timor called on their government to extend an "official apology to the victims as soon as possible" and should consult with the victims on compensation.

Call the congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Contact information for members of the House of Representatives can be found at or

Co-sponsors (as of 6/20/2007) Sponsor: Rep Honda, Michael M. [CA-15]
  • Rep Ackerman, Gary L. [NY-5] 
  • Rep Allen, Thomas H. [ME-1]
  • Rep Andrews, Robert E. [NJ-1]
  • Rep Arcuri, Michael A. [NY-24]
  • Rep Baca, Joe [CA-43]
  • Rep Baird, Brian [WA-3]
  • Rep Baldwin, Tammy [WI-2]
  • Rep Becerra, Xavier [CA-31]
  • Rep Berkley, Shelley [NV-1]
  • Rep Berman, Howard L. [CA-28]
  • Rep Bilbray, Brian P. [CA-50] 
  • Rep Bishop, Sanford D., Jr. [GA-2]
  • Rep Blumenauer, Earl [OR-3] 
  • Rep Bordallo, Madeleine Z. [GU]
  • Rep Boyd, Allen [FL-2]
  • Rep Brady, Robert A. [PA-1]
  • Rep Braley, Bruce L. [IA-1]
  • Rep Burton, Dan [IN-5]
  • Rep Calvert, Ken [CA-44]
  • Rep Capps, Lois [CA-23]
  • Rep Capuano, Michael E. [MA-8]
  • Rep Carson, Julia [IN-7]
  • Rep Chandler, Ben [KY-6]
  • Rep Clarke, Yvette D. [NY-11]
  • Rep Clay, Wm. Lacy [MO-1]
  • Rep Cohen, Steve [TN-9]
  • Rep Conyers, John, Jr. [MI-14]
  • Rep Costa, Jim [CA-20] 
  • Rep Crowley, Joseph [NY-7]
  • Rep Cummings, Elijah E. [MD-7]
  • Rep Davis, Artur [AL-7]
  • Rep Davis, Danny K. [IL-7]
  • Rep Davis, Susan A. [CA-53]
  • Rep Davis, Tom [VA-11]
  • Rep DeFazio, Peter A. [OR-4]
  • Rep Delahunt, William D. [MA-10] 
  • Rep DeLauro, Rosa L. [CT-3]
  • Rep Dicks, Norman D. [WA-6]
  • Rep Doyle, Michael F. [PA-14]
  • Rep Ellison, Keith [MN-5]
  • Rep Engel, Eliot L. [NY-17]
  • Rep English, Phil [PA-3]
  • Rep Eshoo, Anna G. [CA-14]
  • Rep Faleomavaega, Eni F.H. [AS]
  • Rep Farr, Sam [CA-17]
  • Rep Fattah, Chaka [PA-2]
  • Rep Ferguson, Mike [NJ-7]
  • Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51]
  • Rep Fossella, Vito [NY-13]
  • Rep Frank, Barney [MA-4]
  • Rep Garrett, Scott [NJ-5]
  • Rep Gerlach, Jim [PA-6]
  • Rep Gillibrand, Kirsten E. [NY-20]
  • Rep Gonzalez, Charles A. [TX-20]
  • Rep Green, Al [TX-9]
  • Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-7]
  • Rep Hare, Phil [IL-17]
  • Rep Harman, Jane [CA-36]
  • Rep Hastings, Alcee L. [FL-23]
  • Rep Hinchey, Maurice D. [NY-22]
  • Rep Holden, Tim [PA-17]
  • Rep Hunter, Duncan [CA-52]
  • Rep Inslee, Jay [WA-1]
  • Rep Israel, Steve [NY-2]
  • Rep Issa, Darrell E. [CA-49]
  • Rep Jackson, Jesse L., Jr. [IL-2]
  • Rep Jackson-Lee, Sheila [TX-18]
  • Rep Jefferson, William J. [LA-2]
  • Rep Johnson, Eddie Bernice [TX-30]
  • Rep Jones, Stephanie Tubbs [OH-11]
  • Rep Kaptur, Marcy [OH-9]
  • Rep Kennedy, Patrick J. [RI-1]
  • Rep Kilpatrick, Carolyn C. [MI-13]
  • Rep Kucinich, Dennis J. [OH-10]
  • Rep Langevin, James R. [RI-2]
  • Rep Larson, John B. [CT-1]
  • Rep Lee, Barbara [CA-9]
  • Rep Lewis, John [GA-5]
  • Rep Lipinski, Daniel [IL-3]
  • Rep Loebsack, David [IA-2] 
  • Rep Lofgren, Zoe [CA-16]
  • Rep Lowey, Nita M. [NY-18]
  • Rep Lynch, Stephen F. [MA-9]
  • Rep Maloney, Carolyn B. [NY-14]
  • Rep Markey, Edward J. [MA-7]
  • Rep McCarthy, Carolyn [NY-4]
  • Rep McCaul, Michael T. [TX-10]
  • Rep McCollum, Betty [MN-4]
  • Rep McGovern, James P. [MA-3]
  • Rep McMorris Rodgers, Cathy [WA-5]
  • Rep McNerney, Jerry [CA-11]
  • Rep Meeks, Gregory W. [NY-6]
  • Rep Michaud, Michael H. [ME-2]
  • Rep Miller, George [CA-7]
  • Rep Mollohan, Alan B. [WV-1]
  • Rep Moran, James P. [VA-8]
  • Rep Nadler, Jerrold [NY-8]
  • Rep Napolitano, Grace F. [CA-38]
  • Rep Norton, Eleanor Holmes [DC]
  • Rep Olver, John W. [MA-1]
  • Rep Pallone, Frank, Jr. [NJ-6]
  • Rep Pastor, Ed [AZ-4]
  • Rep Payne, Donald M. [NJ-10]
  • Rep Pitts, Joseph R. [PA-16]
  • Rep Platts, Todd Russell [PA-19]
  • Rep Porter, Jon C. [NV-3]
  • Rep Rangel, Charles B. [NY-15]
  • Rep Rodriguez, Ciro D. [TX-23]
  • Rep Roskam, Peter J. [IL-6]
  • Rep Rothman, Steven R. [NJ-9]
  • Rep Roybal-Allard, Lucille [CA-34]
  • Rep Royce, Edward R. [CA-40]
  • Rep Ruppersberger, C. A. Dutch [MD-2]
  • Rep Rush, Bobby L. [IL-1]
  • Rep Ryan, Tim [OH-17]
  • Rep Sanchez, Linda T. [CA-39]
  • Rep Sanchez, Loretta [CA-47]
  • Rep Schakowsky, Janice D. [IL-9]
  • Rep Schiff, Adam B. [CA-29]
  • Rep Scott, David [GA-13]
  • Rep Shays, Christopher [CT-4]
  • Rep Shea-Porter, Carol [NH-1]
  • Rep Sires, Albio [NJ-13]
  • Rep Slaughter, Louise McIntosh [NY-28]
  • Rep Smith, Adam [WA-9]
  • Rep Smith, Christopher H. [NJ-4]
  • Rep Solis, Hilda L. [CA-32]
  • Rep Stark, Fortney Pete [CA-13]
  • Rep Tauscher, Ellen O. [CA-10]
  • Rep Towns, Edolphus [NY-10]
  • Rep Udall, Tom [NM-3]
  • Rep Van Hollen, Chris [MD-8]
  • Rep Walsh, James T. [NY-25]
  • Rep Wamp, Zach [TN-3]
  • Rep Waters, Maxine [CA-35]
  • Rep Watson, Diane E. [CA-33]
  • Rep Waxman, Henry A. [CA-30]
  • Rep Weiner, Anthony D. [NY-9]
  • Rep Wolf, Frank R. [VA-10]
  • Rep Woolsey, Lynn C. [CA-6]
  • Rep Wu, David [OR-1]
  • Rep Wynn, Albert Russell [MD-4]

See also

121 Coalition: A National Coalition United to Defend Human Rights and Support H.Res. 121



1st Session

H. RES. 121

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the Government of Japan should formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Force's coercion of young women into sexual slavery, known to the world as `comfort women', during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II.


January 31, 2007

Mr. HONDA (for himself, Mr. SMITH of New Jersey, Mr. ROYCE, Ms. WATSON, Mr. HARE, Ms. BORDALLO, and Mr. WU) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs


Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the Government of Japan should formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Force's coercion of young women into sexual slavery, known to the world as `comfort women', during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II.

Whereas the Government of Japan, during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II, officially commissioned the acquisition of young women for the sole purpose of sexual servitude to its Imperial Armed Forces, who became known to the world as ianfu or `comfort women';

Whereas the `comfort women' system of forced military prostitution by the Government of Japan, considered unprecedented in its cruelty and magnitude, included gang rape, forced abortions, humiliation, and sexual violence resulting in mutilation, death, or eventual suicide in one of the largest cases of human trafficking in the 20th century;

Whereas some new textbooks used in Japanese schools seek to downplay the `comfort women' tragedy and other Japanese war crimes during World War II;

Whereas Japanese public and private officials have recently expressed a desire to dilute or rescind the 1993 statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono on the `comfort women', which expressed the Government's sincere apologies and remorse for their ordeal;

Whereas the Government of Japan did sign the 1921 International Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Women and Children and supported the 2000 United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security which recognized the unique impact of armed conflict on women;

Whereas the House of Representatives commends Japan's efforts to promote human security, human rights, democratic values, and rule of law, as well as for being a supporter of Security Council Resolution 1325;

Whereas the House of Representatives commends those Japanese officials and private citizens whose hard work and compassion resulted in the establishment in 1995 of Japan's private Asian Women's Fund;

Whereas the Asian Women's Fund has raised $5,700,000 to extend `atonement' from the Japanese people to the comfort women; and

Whereas the mandate of the Asian Women's Fund, a government initiated and largely government-funded private foundation whose purpose was the carrying out of programs and projects with the aim of atonement for the maltreatment and suffering of the `comfort women', comes to an end on March 31, 2007, and the Fund is to be disbanded as of that date: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the Government of Japan--

(1) should formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Force's coercion of young women into sexual slavery, known to the world as `comfort women', during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II;

(2) should have this official apology given as a public statement presented by the Prime Minister of Japan in his official capacity;

(3) should clearly and publicly refute any claims that the sexual enslavement and trafficking of the `comfort women' for the Japanese Imperial Armed Forces never occurred; and

(4) should educate current and future generations about this horrible crime while following the recommendations of the international community with respect to the `comfort women'.

New York Times

No Apology for Sex Slavery, Japan’s Prime Minister Says


Published: March 6, 2007

TOKYO, March 5 ­ Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday that Japan would refuse to comply if the United States Congress demanded an apology for his nation’s use of foreign women as sexual slaves during World War II. Skip to next paragraph

Japan has already lobbied against a resolution, under consideration in the House of Representatives, that would call on Tokyo to take clearer responsibility for its enslavement of some 200,000 mostly Korean and Chinese women known euphemistically here as “comfort women.”

Japan has apologized before and issued a major report in 1993. But there are widespread concerns that Mr. Abe and other conservative Japanese lawmakers may try to water down or reverse such admissions of guilt as part of a broader push to revise their nation’s wartime history.

Speaking in Parliament, Mr. Abe reiterated the position of conservative scholars here that Japanese officials and soldiers did not have a hand in forcing women into brothels, instead blaming any coercion on contractors used by Japan’s military.

Mr. Abe rejected testimony before a House committee by surviving victims, who said they had been kidnapped by Japanese soldiers to serve in military brothels. He said “testimony to the effect that there had been a hunt for comfort women is a complete fabrication.”

He also criticized the proposed House resolution, which blames Japanese authorities for the coercion, saying it “was not based in objective fact, and does not consider the Japanese government’s measures so far.”

Political analysts said ignoring the House resolution, which is nonbinding, was not likely to drive a wedge between Tokyo and Washington, its most important ally. The fear among Japanese diplomats is that Mr. Abe or other Japanese politicians will overreact and make claims that reinforce the perception in the United States and elsewhere that Japan remains unrepentant for its wartime aggression, analysts said.

“It just looks bad for the prime minister to be getting involved in these sorts of historical details,” said Minoru Morita, a political analyst who runs an independent research institute in Tokyo. “Plus, his argument isn’t going to sway world opinion anyway. Even if the military wasn’t pointing guns at the women, they still could have been coerced.”

Apparently in a nod to such concerns, Mr. Abe appeared to pull back from a comment last week denying that the women had been forced at all to work in brothels. On Monday, he told Parliament he supported the 1993 government statement, which acknowledged that the military had at least an indirect role in forcing the women into sexual slavery.

That government had also apologized to the women and set up a fund to pay them compensation, which is set to expire this month.

“There probably was not anyone who followed that path because they wanted to follow it,” Mr. Abe said, speaking of the women’s entry into military brothels. “In the broad sense, there was coercion.”

With that limited concession, Mr. Abe appeared to be trying to defuse a growing diplomatic row with Asian neighbors over last week’s denial, which outraged officials and women’s groups across the region.

As opinion polls show his approval falling among Japanese voters, Mr. Abe can ill afford to be seen as provoking China and South Korea, much less undermining ties with the United States, political analysts and opposition lawmakers said.

“If Japan doesn’t apologize and repent for its past violations of human rights, won’t it lose international trust?” a lawmaker from the opposition Democratic Party, Toshio Ogawa, asked Mr. Abe during Monday’s parliamentary debate.

Mr. Morita and others said that vowing to ignore the possible House resolution appeared to be an attempt by Mr. Abe to appease his conservative base even as he supported the 1993 statement.

But Mr. Abe’s claims that Japan had no official role in its military brothels carried another potential public relations risk, they said: in making such denials, he was in effect dismissing as liars the aging women now coming forward with tearful testimony of their ordeals.

One was Lee Yong-soo, 78, from South Korea, who testified in the House last month that she had been kidnapped by Japanese soldiers at age 16 and raped repeatedly at an army brothel. In a news conference last week in Tokyo, she said Japanese soldiers had dragged her from her home, covering her mouth so she could not call to her mother.

“I want Japan and the Japanese prime minister to apologize,” she said. “As a victim who was forcibly taken, as someone who lived through those events, I’m a living witness.”


New York Times

Abe Rejects Japan’s Files on War Sex

By NORIMITSU ONISHI Published: March 2, 2007

TOKYO, March 1 — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denied Thursday that Japan’s military had forced foreign women into sexual slavery during World War II, contradicting the Japanese government’s longtime official position.

Mr. Abe’s statement was the clearest so far that the government was preparing to reject a 1993 government statement that acknowledged the military’s role in setting up brothels and forcing, either directly or indirectly, women into sexual slavery. That declaration also offered an apology to the women, euphemistically called “comfort women.”

“There is no evidence to prove there was coercion, nothing to support it,” Mr. Abe told reporters. “So, in respect to this declaration, you have to keep in mind that things have changed greatly.”

The United States House of Representatives has begun debating a resolution that would call on Tokyo to “apologize for and acknowledge” the military’s role in wartime sex slavery.

But at the same time, in keeping with a recent trend to revise Japan’s wartime history, a group of conservatives in the governing Liberal Democratic Party is stepping up calls to rescind the 1993 declaration. Mr. Abe, whose approval ratings have been plummeting over a series of scandals and perceived weak leadership, seemed to side with this group. A nationalist who has led efforts to revise wartime history, Mr. Abe softened his tone after becoming prime minister last fall. In fact, he first said he recognized the validity of the declaration, angering his conservative base.

“Some say it is useful to compare the brothels to college cafeterias run by private companies, who recruit their own staff, procure foodstuffs and set prices,” Nariaki Nakayama, the leader of 120 lawmakers who want to revise the declaration, said Thursday.

“Where there’s demand, business crops up,” Mr. Nakayama said, according to The Associated Press. “But to say women were forced by the Japanese military into service is off the mark. This issue must be reconsidered, based on truth, for the sake of Japanese honor.”

Historians believe some 200,000 women — Koreans, Chinese, Taiwanese, Filipinos, as well as Japanese, Dutch and other European women — served in Japanese military brothels. For decades, Japan denied that its military had been involved, calling the brothels private enterprises and the women prostitutes.

But in 1992, a Japanese historian, Yoshiaki Yoshimi, outraged by government denials, went to the Self-Defense Agency’s library and unearthed, after two days of searching, documents revealing military involvement in establishing brothels. One was titled “Regarding the Recruitment of Women for Military Brothels.” Faced with this evidence, the government acknowledged its role and issued the declaration.

But the response angered people across the political spectrum. The women and their supporters said that the government was not fully acknowledging its responsibility because the declaration was issued by Yohei Kono, then chief cabinet secretary, and not adopted by Parliament. It is known inside Japan simply as the “Kono Statement.”

What is more, supporters accused the government of evading direct responsibility by establishing a private, non-government fund to compensate the women. Many former sex slaves have refused to accept compensation from this fund.

But conservatives said the declaration went too far in acknowledging the military’s role in recruiting the women. While the documents showed that the military established the facilities, Mr. Yoshimi did not find documentation that the military had forcibly recruited the women. Conservatives have seized on this distinction to attack the declaration.

Supporters of the women say that the Japanese authorities famously burned incriminating documents or kept them hidden.

At the same time, many former sex slaves have stepped forward in recent years with their stories. Three testified in the United States Congress recently, saying that Japanese soldiers had kidnapped them and forced them to have sex with dozens of soldiers a day.

For Immediate Release
January 31, 2007


Introduces Bipartisan Measure Seeking Justice for Victims of Wartime Sexual Slavery

Washington, DC – Today, Representative Michael M. Honda (CA – 15) introduced a bipartisan resolution before the U.S. House of Representatives calling on the government of Japan to formally and unambiguously apologize for and acknowledge the tragedy that comfort women endured at the hands of its Imperial Army during World War II. More than 200,000 such women suffered gang rape, forced abortions, and other humiliations under Japan’s colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II.

Upon introducing the legislation, Honda noted, “I would like to emphasize in the strongest terms that the purpose of this resolution is not to bash or humiliate Japan,” he said. “This legislation, rather, seeks to achieve justice for the few remaining women who survived these atrocities, and to shed light on a grave human rights violation, that has remained unknown for so many years.”

The resolution is cosponsored by: Representatives Edward R. Royce (CA – 40), Christopher H. Smith (NJ 4), Diane E. Watson (CA 33), David Wu ()R 1), Phil Hare (IL 17), and Delegate Madaleine Bordallo (GU).

Rep. Honda’s statement, entered into the Congressional Record upon introduction of the measure, and the full text of the resolution follow:

Rep. Honda Statement for the Congressional Record Regarding Comfort Women Resolution:

January 31, 2007

“Madam Speaker, I rise today in strong support of the over 200,000 ‘comfort women’ in Asia who suffered unimaginable dehumanization by the Japanese Imperial Army during Japan’s colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II.

“These women, whose experiences were unprecedented in cruelty and were officially commissioned by the Government of Japan, endured gang rape, forced abortions, humiliation, and sexual violence resulting in mutilation, death, or eventual suicide—and to this date, they have still not received justice from this tragedy.

“Their hope is a modest one: That the government of Japan acknowledges, apologizes and accepts full historical responsibility for this crime.

“Today, I am introducing a resolution which calls on Japan to formally and unambiguously apologize and acknowledge the tragedy which the comfort women endured under its Imperial Army during World War II. Not only should Japan’s Prime Minister issue a public apology, Japan must take responsibility unequivocally.

“Some question whether this resolution is necessary and warn that it could affect our nation’s strong friendship and alliance with Japan. Some even argue that Japan has already apologized, and this resolution fails to recognize that. It is true that Japan’s previous Prime Ministers have issued statements related to comfort women. However, it is clear that these statements are not viewed by the government of Japan with unequivocal respect, and the comfort women themselves do not consider them formal apologies. Japan has equivocated in its stance on this issue, which is made clear in their recent attempts to alter previous public statements and their school textbooks.

“For example, in 1993, Japan’s then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono issued an encouraging statement regarding Japan’s comfort women, which expressed the Government’s sincere apologies and remorse for their ordeal. Today, some members of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party strive to review and even possibly rescind Secretary Kono’s statement.

“Further, the Japanese government continues to seek to downplay the comfort women system in its textbooks. We must ask ourselves, if Japan has truly come to terms with its past in acknowledging what its Imperial Army forced upon these women, why are they suppressing the knowledge of this through education? Education on this tragedy is important to ensure that future violence against women, especially in conflicts, should not be tolerated or repeated. Textbook suppression, coupled with efforts to revise Secretary Kono’s 1993 statement, is disheartening and indicates that Japan wavers in its apology to these women.

“I want to make it clear that I recognize and value the importance of our strong friendship with Japan. I appreciate Japan’s efforts to provide monetary compensation to surviving comfort women through the Asia Women’s Fund, a government initiated and largely government-funded private foundation whose purpose was the carrying out of programs and projects with the aim of atonement for the comfort women. The Asia Women’s Fund is to be disbanded on March 31, 2007, and while I agree that the Asia Women’s Fund was important, the reality is that the majority of surviving comfort women refused to accept these funds, and that without an unambiguous and unequivocal apology from the government of Japan, the money was not significant to them.

“The purpose of this resolution is not to bash or humiliate Japan. This is about achieving justice for the few remaining women who survived this atrocity. We must recognize this grave human rights violation, which has remained unknown for so many years.

“Further, this resolution is intended to encourage and provide for reconciliation, as the U.S. Congress did when it passed H.R. 442, the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which was a formal apology made to U.S. citizens of Japanese ancestry who were unjustly put into internment camps during World War II. As someone who was put into an internment camp at a young age, I know firsthand that we must not be ignorant of the past, and that reconciliation through government actions is long lasting.

“I would be remiss if I failed to recognize the efforts that my good friend and former colleague Lane Evans made to push this issue forward in Congress. I am proud to be carrying the torch that Lane passed on, and commend him for the hope he has instilled in the comfort women and the communities that have worked so hard on their behalf by bringing this issue to Congress.

“Madam Speaker, to put it frankly, the few surviving comfort women in the world who live with this burden are dying. We must help them achieve some peace of mind by moving this resolution forward. For the women who survived this brutality, this resolution demonstrates that our nation supports them and hears their voices calling for justice.”