An apology is inadequate
ALMOST 50 years after the end of World War II, the Japanese Government's attitude to the millions of Asians murdered or brutalised by imperial soldiers remains aloof and callous. In recent years, Japanese leaders have at last proffered the apologies to Asian governments the previous generation could not bring itself to make. But individuals are still treated as if the crimes of which they were the victims had never been committed.
The estimated 200,000 women forced to act as sex slaves for the Japanese forces during the war throughout the Pacific continue to be treated with particularly shameful disdain. It was not until 1993 that the Japanese Government officially acknowledged the military's involvement in running the 'comfort women' programme.
Even then, it set up a $1 billion programme for symbolic regional educational and cultural projects, instead of recognising the women's right to individual compensation. And while those Japanese who lost relatives in the atom bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are now to receive retroactive payments towards their funeral costs, the non-Japanese who suffered in wartime brothels will still get nothing.
Now the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has concluded Japan has a moral and legal duty to pay compensation for the 'unimaginable' violence and cruelty these women have suffered, policies must change. It is unacceptable for the Government to contemplate fobbing off these now elderly women with a letter of apology from the prime minister and money from a private fund made up by voluntary contributions from the Japanese public. This should not be a matter of private charity, but public reparation.