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Japan Lobby Stalls US Sex Slave Bill

Posted June. 28, 2006 03:02,   


“Japan should take responsibility for sanctioning military sex slaves during the Pacific War. It should educate its posterity of its actions.”

It was this March when House Bill No. 759, containing the details above was scheduled for a hearing at the House of Representatives. Yet the bill has not once been subject to debate for over three months. This was why the Korean American Association of Washington and the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery held an emergency press conference yesterday at Annandale, Virginia. Kim Young-geun, chair of the Korean American Association of Washington held Japanese lobbying activities responsible for the prolonged delay.

The number of current signatories of the bill stands at a mere 38. This accounts for less than 10 percent of the 435 members of the House of Representatives. The military sex slave issue will be marked as one of the most flagrant organizational human trafficking incidents of the 20th century. Even the Republican Party, well known for its pronounced foreign affairs policy of spreading liberty and human rights, seems unwilling to take a stand on the issue.

There are layers of obstacles in reality. First of all, congresspersons of both parties remain unengaged. They seem to find no reason to become involved in “someone else’s history dating 70 years.” Secondly, there lies the obstacle of the Bush administration’s strategic gains. The administration sees its strategic partnership with Japan a must in overcoming China’s formidable rise to power.

When controversy surrounding the dominium of the Dokdo surfaced April 2006, the administration did attempt a fine-tuning of historical issues surrounding Korea and Japan, through the diplomatic channels of U.S. ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer and Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Shotaro Yachi. At the time, Michael Green, Senior Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council, said, “Between allies, moral issues cannot be put ahead of others. U.S.-Japan relations look to the present and the future.”

Seung-Ryun Kim srkim@donga.com