01.29.14

Rep. Schiff Calls on Secretary Kerry to Make Addressing Comfort Women a Diplomatic Priority for State Department in Discussions with Japan

Washington, DC – Today, Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and Scott Garrett (R-NJ) sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to address issues related to the comfort women with the government of Japan. Earlier this month, the Fiscal Year 2014 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Appropriations Bill, which was signed into law as part of the omnibus appropriations bill, made a similar appeal. 

In the letter, the Representatives write: “As you are aware, it is estimated that more than 200,000 women throughout Asia were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Armed Forces of Japan during World War II.  These women—some as young as 14-years-old—were known as “comfort women.”  The Imperial Armed Forces often lured innocent women from their homes under false pretenses, and even resorted to kidnapping, to serve as forced prostitutes serving the Japanese military.  With the remaining survivors now well into their eighties, these women deserve to hear a formal apology from the Japanese government nearly 70 years after the end of the war.  In fact, to bring global attention to this historically important human rights and women’s rights issue, the House also passed H.Res.121 in 2007… We recognize that this issue is deeply important to our constituents and should be a diplomatic priority for the Department of State.  As such, we request that you address this matter with the Japanese government and encourage the recognition of these tragic violations of basic human dignity.”

The full letter is below:

 

January 29, 2014

 

The Honorable John F. Kerry

Secretary of State

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street, NW

Washington, DC 20520

 

Dear Mr. Secretary:

We write today to bring your attention to the committee report (113-185) accompanying the Fiscal Year 2014 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Appropriations Bill, which was signed into law on January 17, 2014 as part of Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014. Specifically, the committee report states:

The Committee notes the passage of H. Res. 121 in the House of Representatives on July 30, 2007 and urges the Secretary of State to encourage the Government of Japan to address the issues raised in the resolution.

As you are aware, it is estimated that more than 200,000 women throughout Asia were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Armed Forces of Japan during World War II.  These women—some as young as 14-years-old—were known as “comfort women.”  The Imperial Armed Forces often lured innocent women from their homes under false pretenses, and even resorted to kidnapping, to serve as forced prostitutes serving the Japanese military.  With the remaining survivors now well into their eighties, these women deserve to hear a formal apology from the Japanese government nearly 70 years after the end of the war.  In fact, to bring global attention to this historically important human rights and women’s rights issue, the House also passed H.Res.121 in 2007.

As members of Congress who represent districts where memorials to comfort women are located, including Hackensack, NJ, Palisades Park, NJ and Glendale, CA, we recognize that this issue is deeply important to our constituents and should be a diplomatic priority for the Department of State.  As such, we request that you address this matter with the Japanese government and encourage the recognition of these tragic violations of basic human dignity.