June 19, 2013 12:15
The Japanese government has decided to ignore a recommendation by the UN Committee Against Torture to curb denials by Japanese politicians of the country's responsibility for forcing women into sexual slavery during World War II.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Cabinet met Tuesday and decided not to accept the recommendation, saying the body's pronouncements are not legally binding.
UNCAT said the Japanese government should "refute attempts to deny the facts by the government authorities and public figures and to re-traumatize the victims through such repeated denials." Instead, it should inform the young generation in school textbooks of Japanese wartime atrocities so that they are never repeated.
The recommendations came in the wake of highly publicized grandstanding by the rightwing Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, who denies that Japan's Imperial Army forced women into prostitution.
A network of Japanese civic groups who want their government to admit responsibility called the decision "embarrassing" and criticized their government for willful blindness to documentary evidence. The network in a seminar on Tuesday urged lawmakers to admit the wartime government's responsibility and compensate victims properly.
Headquartered in Geneva, UNCAT was established in 1988 to monitor torture and human rights abuses around the world. The 10-member committee reviews violations around the world.
After UNCAT's last review of Japan in 2007, Tokyo argued that the mobilization of sex slaves pre-dates the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which was only enacted in 1987, so no legitimate claims arise. The UN rejected that argument.
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