Wednesday, May 29, 2013

UN Urges Japan to Correct Controversial Remarks on Sex Slaves

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The United Nations has called on the Japanese government to stop its politicians from making controversial remarks about victims of Japan's wartime sexual slavery.

Recently, heavyweight Japanese politicians have made offensive remarks regarding the so-called “comfort women.” This has triggered criticism not only from neighboring countries but also within Japan.

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, a subsidiary body of the UN Economic and Social Council, issued an official opinion last Tuesday. It urged Tokyo to mobilize all means to prevent its politicians from making hate speeches about certain genders and races and comments dishonoring former sex slaves.

The committee also called for educating Japanese people about the sex slave issue. It expressed concern that such remarks prevailing in Japan can adversely affect the rights of those women and provision of compensation for them.

The committee urged Japan to take all possible means to stop those remarks from being made.

The committee regularly unveils views on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by its State parties.

Its latest opinion was announced after considering views by both the Japanese government and civic groups.

Opinions issued by the committee are not legally binding, but state parties to the covenant have the responsibility to sincerely accept the committee’s views.

In its deliberation of this matter concerning Japan, the UN committee also took issue with a Japanese rock band that wrote a song with disparaging lyrics about the former sex slaves. In the song, the women are called prostitutes, and there are even lyrics about beheading Koreans.

The deliberation took place before the recent string of disputed remarks by Japanese politicians came to surface.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has justified Tokyo's foreign invasions and defended paying respects at the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan’s war dead.

Mayor of Osaka, Toru Hashimoto, has said military brothels were necessary and other countries used them also.

Shingo Nishimura, a lawmaker of the Japan Restoration Party whose chief is Hashimoto, also claimed that Japan is currently swarmed with Korean prostitutes. He was expelled from the party after making this remark.

Criticism against this wave of controversial remarks is growing on the world stage and also within Japan.

Japan's Asahi Shimbun daily said the UN committee is apparently deeply concerned about Japanese society’s lack of understanding toward the issue of wartime sexual slavery.

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