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[Opinion] War Crimes Lobbyists

Posted January. 15, 2007 03:09,   


“When I think of the eyes of the terrified girls, I don’t think I can close my eyes even after my death.”

Ikeda Masae passed away at the end of last year. He devoted the rest of his life to trying to make up for the six Korean female students that he sent to the fate of a conscript labor and comfort women unit when Korea was under the colonial rule of Japan. With this, one more person is gone who can testify to the existence of military sexual slavery by Japan. After Japan lost the war, Ikeda looked for his students and asked for forgiveness. He devoted the rest of his life to disclosing the Japanese government’s lies.

The Japanese government is making full efforts to deny this actual historic fact. They keep ignoring “Wednesday rallies” of grandmothers who were military comfort women by Japan and are lobbying intensively so that the U.S. House of Representatives would not adopt a resolution on military sexual slavery by Japan. This is the third time since 2000 that the resolution asking for an acknowledgement and an apology on military sexual slavery by Japan has been submitted. The first two resolutions were abandoned even without a standing committee’s discussion. The third resolution submitted last year was passed by the standing committee in unison but wasn’t even able to be presented before a plenary session.

Behind the scene that the resolutions have been derailed every time, Japan’s lobbying with strong money power has been playing a big part. The Japanese government has made contracts with five or six big lobbying firms in Washington and is lobbying for issues regarding their interests including the resolutions. Last year, they stopped the passage of the resolution by hiring Bob Michel, a former congressional leader for 14 years, at 60,000 dollars a month.

The Japanese government hired ex-speaker of the House of Representatives Thomas Polly, a Democratic force who used to be a U.S. ambassador to Japan as a lobbyist to stop the fourth resolution slated to be submitted some time this month. Their lobbying channel has changed from the Republicans to the Democrats. The fact that Japan hired Polly who has a strong say in the U.S. Congress means they are in an urgent situation. Tom Lantos, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs who led enacting the North Korea human rights law has a keen interest in human rights issues and Nancy Pelosi, the first female speaker of the House of Representatives is also active in the issue of military sexual slavery by Japan. If Japan, which lobbies to cover history, wins, it cannot be said that international justice is alive.

Chung Sung-hee, Editorial Writer, shchung@donga.com