(Asahi: March 8, 2016 – p. 3)
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) once again issued tough recommendations for Japan in a document released on March 7. The committee also took issue with Japan’s approach to resolving the comfort women issue based on a deal clinched with South Korea at the end of last year.
At a press conference on March 7, a member of the committee said that from the committee’s point of view, the comfort women issue has yet to be resolved. The member also expressed the view that the victims should be engaged and their voices should be reflected in the agreement reached with South Korea.
In its latest concluding observations, the CEDAW noted that it will “closely watch” Japan’s efforts to resolve the comfort women issue and the bilateral agreement, but demanded that Japan “refrain from behaviors that traumatize the victims through irresponsible remarks by leaders and government officials.” The observations highlighted the comfort women case more extensively than before due to the recent developments concerning the issue, though the committee explained that it did not to intend to do so.
On Japan’s argument that the comfort women issue should not be raised by the committee as it took place before the signing of a UN convention banning discrimination against women, the committee responded that this was “regrettable.”
In February, Deputy Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama stressed at a committee’s question and answer session on Japan that “there was no ‘coercion’ involved in recruiting the victims in documents that the Japanese government discovered.”
“The UN panel had asked the question to understand how Japan is trying to resolve the comfort women issue,” said Yoshiki Mine, representative of the Institute for Peaceful Diplomacy and former disarmament ambassador who has dealt with the comfort women issue at the UN panel. “Sugiyama’s explanation that focused on denying coercion could raise concern that Japan is trying to evade its responsibility.”
The latest document carried over about ten recommendations issued before to convey the panel’s concerns about Japan’s failure to implement past recommendations. (Abridged)