Subject: AP: Japan WWII Emperor Cited on Slavery

Japan WWII Emperor Cited on Slavery The Associated Press, Tue 12 Dec 2000

TOKYO (AP) — In a mock tribunal on Japan's wartime policy of forcing women into sexual slavery, an international panel of judges on Tuesday found the late Emperor Hirohito guilty and demanded the state compensate and apologize to victims.

A Tokyo court of law saw it differently, however.

In rulings handed down just days before Tuesday's mock trail, the Tokyo court said women raped by soldiers during World War II should not get government compensation because, among other reasons, the statute of limitations had expired.

Victims said time had not eased their agony.

``Everytime I relate my story, I feel the pain all over again,'' said Filipino victim Tomasa Dioso Salinog, 71, who told of being kidnapped by Japanese troops as a teen-ager. ``I can never forget what I've been through.''

Historians say Japan forced about 200,000 women to work in military brothels throughout Asia in the 1930s and 1940s. Tokyo has admitted this was the case but refused to provide compensation or an official apology to individuals.

It insists that all government-level compensation was settled by postwar peace treaties and courts say international law does not require damages to be paid.

However, participants in Tuesday's Women's International War Crimes Tribunal said Japan had not adequately acknowledged responsibility. Besides Hirohito, military leaders and Cabinet ministers who led Japan's wartime aggression were among the accused, and the four-judge panel said it would issue a final verdict in March determining their responsibility.

As far as the emperor's role, ``he knew or should've known about the establishment of the system of comfort stations,'' said Judge Gabrielle McDonald. ``He took no action to respond.''

The trial was organized by non-governmental organizations to draw attention to the plight of women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II.

The ruling, which followed four days of testimony from now-elderly former sex slaves and ex-Japanese soldiers, has no legal force. But the victims — who ended the trial by waving white handkerchiefs before a crowd of cheering supporters — said they felt some vindication.

``There's hope for us,'' said Jan Ruff-O'Herne, a Dutch woman victimized by Japanese troops in Indonesia. ``The main thing after this tribunal is that Japan will apologize by acknowledging the wrongs of the past.''

Outside the assembly hall where the tribunal was held, a group of ultra-rightists protested what they called an attempt by ``international communists'' to belittle Japanese heritage and insisted Japan did not force women into sexual slavery.

The victims had a very different story to tell.

In an interview with Associated Press Television, Salinog of the Philippines talked about seeing Japanese soldiers decapitate her father with a sword as he struggled to keep them from abducting her.

``I could bear all the suffering they inflicted on me, but the killing of my father changed my whole life,'' she said. ``I am alone.''

Salinog was one of 80 former sex slaves from the Philippines who lost a court case last week in which they demanded $9 million and an apology from the Japanese government for their suffering.

The Tokyo High Court upheld a lower-court ruling rejecting their demands. The ruling came less than a week after the court rejected a former Korean sex slave's demand for compensation.

Participating in the mock tribunal were women from North and South Korea, the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, East Timor and the Netherlands.

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