FW: Bush Govt. Backs Enslaving Women by Imperial Japan in WWII
jcraven at SPAMclark.edu
Wed May 16 09:01:14 MDT 2001
From: Michael Eisenscher[SMTP:meisenscher at igc.org]
Sent: Monday, May 14, 2001 11:48 PM
To: Solidarity4Ever at igc.topica.com
Subject: US Back Japanese Govt. on 'Comfort Women' Suit
To view the entire article, go to
U.S. Resists 'Comfort Women' Suit The Bush administration is seeking the
dismissal of a class-action lawsuit filed against Japan last year on behalf
of hundreds of Asian women who said they were forced into serving as sex
slaves during World War II. Although U.S. officials said they had "deep
sympathy" for the women, they maintained they are bound by U.S. and
international law to step into the case on the side of the Japanese
government. Japan is entitled to sovereign immunity, and its wartime
activities were dealt with decades ago through treaties, they said. The
plaintiffs, known as "comfort women," allege they were kidnapped, tricked
or coerced into serving as sex slaves by the Japanese military during the
1930s and 1940s. The women say they were!
kept in deplorable conditions and raped, beaten and tortured. U.S.
District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. has not set a hearing date on Japan's
motion to throw out their lawsuit, which seeks an unspecified amount of
money from Japan and declarations it acted illegally. "We recognize and
sympathize deeply with the terrible suffering endured by those who were
forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War
II," said a State Department official who did not want to be identified.
"Nonetheless, the United States government position . . . is that the court
does not have jurisdiction and may not hear the case." The Bush
administration entered the dispute late last month by filing a "statement
of interest" that sided with Japan's position. Plaintiffs' lawyers
condemned the U.S. intervention. "I don't use this term or characterization
lightly, but this is one of the most outrageous positions I've ever seen
the United States take on issues involving fund!
amental human rights," said Michael D. Hausfeld, the women's lawyer. The
Japanese government has not paid reparations to any of the estimated
200,000 women, most of whom came from Korea. In 1995, then-Prime Minister
Tomiichi Murayama issued "profound apologies" for what took place. At the
time, Japan set up a fund for private contributions to be used as
compensation for the comfort women, and more than 170 women have received
what Japan calls "atonement money." The Japanese courts have provided no
relief. In March, the Hiroshima High Court overturned a 1998 ruling that
had awarded about $2,400 each to three South Korean women. Hausfeld's
clients want their day in an American court. Now in their seventies and
eighties, the women want to travel to the courthouse in Washington from
homes in Korea, China, Taiwan and the Philippines to tell their story to a
judge and jury. Although the women are not U.S. citizens, they turned to
the courts here under the Alien Tort Claim!
s Act, a 212-year-old federal law that gives foreigners the right to file
federal lawsuits for crimes committed in violation of international law.
Hausfeld and co-counsel Elizabeth H. Cronise said they also have legal
standing under a law passed by Congress last year that bars trafficking of
people for sex. Hausfeld maintained the case is about "mass crimes" and
human rights violations, not military activities. If Japan is found to be
immune from damages, he said, "any country, any time, anywhere, could
enslave women and children, rape them, sterilize them, torture them . .
. and be immunized from legal accountability to their victims." Craig A.
Hoover, a lawyer representing the Japanese government, declined to comment.
U.S. government lawyers made clear they were not defending the soldiers'
conduct, writing, "The horror of plaintiffs' ordeal can scarcely be
overstated." But, they added, the court lacks jurisdiction. Japan is
entitled to sovereign immunity under U.S. !
laws and agreements in effect during the war and under laws enacted
afterward, according to Justice Department lawyers, joined by the State
Department in the court filing. If the court ruled otherwise, government
lawyers warned, the United States could find itself subject to lawsuits in
other countries for acts such as the 1988 incident in which a U.S. warship
mistakenly downed an Iranian jetliner in the Persian Gulf. The United
States later agreed to pay $61.8 million to the families of 248 victims.
The comfort women's lawsuit also cannot move forward, the Justice
Department stated, because Japan satisfied war claims decades ago through
treaties, giving up about $4 billion in assets held in Allied nations. The
government also warned that court action "could have a potentially serious
negative impact on U.S.-Japan relations."
The Nation May 28, 2001
News that the United States has been voted off the UN Human
Rights Commission and the UN international drug monitoring board
has elicited vows of revenge from conservatives in Congress. They
threaten to withhold payment on the long-unpaid dues owed the
UN. They blame our adversaries--China, Cuba, Sudan and others--
for the insult. But the secret votes enabled allies as well as
adversaries to vent their mounting exasperation with US policies. At
the last session of the commission, the United States stood virtually
alone as it opposed resolutions supporting lower-cost access to
HIV/AIDS drugs, acknowledging a human right to adequate food
and calling for a moratorium on the death penalty, while it continued
to resist efforts to ban landmines.
The global outrage is by no means limited to US policies on the
Human Rights Commission. In barely 100 days in office, the Bush
Administration has declared the Kyoto accords on global warming
dead, spurning eight years of work by 186 countries. It banned US
support for any global organization that provides family planning or
abortion services, even as an AIDS pandemic makes this a matter
of life and death. It bade farewell to the antiballistic missile treaty,
while slashing spending on nuclear safety aid for Russia. It casually
bombed Iraq, helped shoot down a missionary's plane over Peru
and enforced an illegal and irrational boycott of Cuba. It sabotaged
promising talks between North and South Korea, publicly
humiliating South Korea's Nobel prizewinning president, Kim Dae
Jung. The nomination as UN ambassador of John Negroponte,
former proconsul in Honduras during the illegal contra wars, is an
insult. "There is a perception," said one diplomat in carefully parsed
words, "that the US wants to go it alone."
Our lawless exceptionalism is a deeply rooted, bipartisan policy
that didn't begin with the Bush Administration. Under previous
Presidents, Democratic and Republican, Washington denounced
state-sponsored terrorism while reserving the right to bomb a
pharmaceutical plant in Sudan or unleash a contra army on
Nicaragua. It condemned Iraq for invading Kuwait while reserving
the right to invade Panama or bomb Serbia on its own writ. The
United States advocated war crimes tribunals against foreign
miscreants abroad while opposing an international criminal court
that might hold our own officials accountable. Our leaders proclaim
the value of law and democracy as they spurn the UN Security
Council and ignore the World Court when their rulings don't suit
them. The Senate refuses to ratify basic human rights treaties. The
US international business community even opposes efforts to
eliminate child labor. And of course, there are those UN dues,
which make us the world's largest deadbeat.
Worse is yet to come. US policy is a direct reflection of its
militarization and the belief that we police the world, we make the
rules. The Bush Administration plans a major increase in military
spending to finance new weapons to expand the US ability to
"project" force around the globe--stealth bombers, drones, long-
range missiles and worse. The tightly strung Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld sounds increasingly like an out-of-date Dr.
Strangelove as he pushes to open a new military front in space,
shattering hopes of keeping the heavens a zone of peace.
As the hyperpower, with interests around the world, America
has the largest stake in law and legitimacy. But the ingrained
assumption that we are legislator, judge, jury and executioner
mocks any notion of global order. From the laws of war to the laws
of trade, it is increasingly clear that Washington believes
international law applies only to the weak. The weak do what they
must; the United States does what it will.
After the cold war, we labeled our potential adversaries "rogue
nations"--violent, lawless, willing to trample the weak and ignore
international law and morality to enforce their will. Now, in the vote
at the UN, in the headlines of papers across Europe, in the
planning of countries large and small, there is a growing consensus
that the world's most destructive rogue nation is the most powerful
country of them all.
This is not a role most Americans support. Public interest
groups and concerned individuals will vigorously remind Congress
of the widespread popular backing in this country for paying our UN
dues, for global AIDS funding and other forms of international
involvement. Unilateralism must be opposed in all its guises, from
national missile "defense" to undermining efforts to curb global
warming. The United States was founded on a decent respect for
the opinions of mankind. Let's keep it that way.
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