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PSPD    People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy

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  • 2001.04.03
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In the early 1990s, to demand apology and compensation for the atrocities they and others suffered under Japanese military sexual slavery during the War in the 1930s and 1940s in the Asia Pacific region, Asian women began to break almost five decades of painful silence. The courageous revelations of the victimized survivors, euphemistically called "comfort women," inspired hundreds more survivors throughout the Asia Pacific region, to speak out. Together they have awakened the world to the horror of the Japanese military's institutionalization of rape, sexual slavery, trafficking, torture, and other forms of sexual violence inflicted upon an estimated minimum of 200,000 girls and women. Robbed of their youth and their future, they were conscripted and trafficked though force, coercion, and deception and confined to "comfort stations" or, more accurately, sexual slavery facilities, where Japanese troops were situated, including on the front lines. This tribunal is organized by Asian women and human rights organizations and supported by international NGOs to hear the cases of sexual slavery and other crimes involving sexual violence committed against women by Japan.

Here are 5 objectives of the Tokyo Tribunal: (1) To receive from each country evidence highlighting the grave nature of the crimes committed against the "comfort women" and to clarify the consequent responsibility of the Japanese Government and its military; (2) To have a clear analysis of the nature of the crimes and to establish a gender-sensitive approach to the issues of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide; (3) To involve the international community in shedding light about the nature of the crimes committed against the "comfort women" of Asia and to identify steps to be taken by the Japanese Government; (4) To create an international movement supporting women's issues on violence against women under war and armed conflict situations; and (5) To end the impunity with which wartime sexual violence has been committed against women and to prevent such crimes from happening in the future.

The Women's International War Crimes Tribunal 2000 on Japan's Military Sexual Slavery, convened at the very end of the twentieth century, is the culmination of nearly a decade of work by and on behalf of the victimized survivors. The Tribunal was established as a result of the failure of states to discharge their responsibility to accord justice. Initial responsibility of this failure lies with the World War Ⅱ Allies who did not prosecute Japanese officials for these crimes before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Far East, April 1946-November 1978 (IMTFE), despite the fact that they possessed evidence of the sexual slavery. That a court, especially an internationally constituted court, could ignore a systematic atrocity of this dimension is unconscionable. However, primary responsibility lies with the state of Japan for its continuing failure over 55 years to prosecute, apologize, and provide reparations and other meaningful remedies. This inaction has persisted despite repeated demands since 1990 by the survivors, the careful investigations of two Unite Nations Special Rapporteurs, and the formal exhortation of the international community.

The tribunal is called upon to determine the responsibility of various high-ranking officials of the Japanese government and military, including emperor Hirohito for sexual slavery and rape as crimes against humanity. It is important to emphasize that none of the accused have faced charges arising out of the events of sexual slavery. In this regard, the Tribunal sits to do what the IMTFE, the original Tokyo Tribunal, failed to do. Therefore, the Tokyo Tribunal 2000 will apply the then applicable law, adjudge the accused, and accept as established the relevant legal and factual findings of the IMTFE.

This tribunal has concluded as follows: After considering the extensive documentation received by the Tribunal during the course of these proceedings, and in reviewing the applicable law as it stood at the time the crimes were committed, the Tribunal rendered its summary of findings. (The final judgment will be delivered on March 8, 2001.) The tribunal finds, based on the evidence before it, that the prosecution has proved its case against the accused Emperor Hirohito, and finds him guilty of responsibility for rape and sexual slavery as a crime against humanity, under Counts 1~2 of the Common Indictment, and guilty of rape as a crime against humanity under Count 3 of the Common Indictment. Additionally, the Judges determine that the government of Japan has incurred state responsibility for its establishment and maintenance of the comfort system. As to the other accused, the Judges have not had sufficient time to digest the voluminous evidence presented to it to determine criminal liability at this state. Therefore, individual and superior responsibility of the other accused will be determined in the final Judgment.

(*Editor's note: This is an excerpt from the Summary of Findings.)

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