It was learned on Sept. 14 that Japan will be the subject of examination at the UN Human Rights Council meeting to be held in Geneva, Switzerland in November. The Council will compile a recommendation based on the opinions voiced by the member states’ representatives, and it is believed that history issues relating to the comfort women and forced laborers during World War II will be taken up as human rights issues. While the recommendation to be drafted in November will not be legally binding, Japan may face criticism during the deliberation process.
This will be the third time for Japan to come under scrutiny. The Council conducted similar probes in 2008 and 2012. The working group on Japan is scheduled to meet on Nov. 14 and representatives of various governments will speak on human rights in Japan.
The ROK and North Korea demanded compensation from Japan in relation to the comfort women issue at the previous working group meeting. China also criticized Japan for not apologizing. This time, since ROK President Moon Jae-in has stated that the right of forced laborers during the Japanese colonial period to claim compensation has not expired, the ROK may also take up this issue in the upcoming session.
Ahead of the Japan working group meeting, the UN Secretariat will release a compilation of written opinions from Japanese and international NGOs, and these NGOs will be given opportunities to speak at the Human Rights Council.
Amnesty International has submitted a written opinion advocating individual compensation for the former comfort women as “sex slaves.” The member states may use this document as a reference.
A government source noted that “the Human Rights Council can take up any issue deemed to be related to human rights.” The government will send officials from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the Justice Ministry, the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, and other relevant offices to Geneva to deal with the council’s deliberation of all issues, including the history issues. (Slightly abridged)