By Chung Min-uck
Japan has no interest in following a United Nations recommendation that its politicians stop abusing former sex slaves forced to serve Japanese soldiers during World War II.
Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper quoted the Tokyo government as saying Wednesday it has no intention to abide by the suggestion by the U.N. Committee Against Torture (CAT), saying that it was "not legally binding" and therefore it was "not obligated to abide by it."
The U.N. committee last month adopted a recommendation that called for Japan to take all necessary measures to stop its right-wing government officials and politicians from insulting women victimized by the imperial Japanese army.
The committee also urged Tokyo to verify the truth behind insensitive remarks made by its right-wingers who deny the nation's past enslavement of women from its former colonies.
The move came following Japanese right-wing politicians' defamatory remarks made recently, including Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto's comments that military brothels were "necessary" during the war.
Politicians there are seeking to exploit nationalist sentiment as they brace for an upper house election next month.
Meanwhile, a Civic group in Japan voiced concern that the Japanese government is hiding relevant facts on its mobilization of what it calls "comfort women" in order to avoid responsibility.
"Comfort women" is a euphemistic expression referring to those who were coerced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II. Historians say up to 200,000 women, mostly Koreans, were forced to serve Japanese soldiers.
"Japan should listen to the international community's message that Japanese right-wingers stop the defamation of sex slavery victims," said a Korean foreign ministry official.
Seoul-Tokyo ties have deteriorated recently over controversial remarks and actions by Japanese leaders and lawmakers that deny, or even glorify, their country's colonial era.
Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se canceled his planned visit to Japan in April in a diplomatic protest against a visit by Japanese leaders to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo where the remains of many Class-A war criminals are entombed.
"The CAT's recommendations are not legally binding," said Doh See-hwan, a research fellow at the state-run Northeast Asian History Foundation. "But it sets the guideline for basic human rights conditions to be provided by a U.N. member nation. It is pitiful that, unlike Germany, Japan does not abide by U.N. recommendations."
According to the researcher, Germany is making apologies and compensation up to this date even to newly-identified victims from World War II. In contrast, Japan is sticking to its old position that all compensation has been paid to South Korea, which arguably suffered the most under its colonial rule that lasted for 35 years, following the 1965 Seoul-Tokyo treaty that offered compensation and soft loans.
유엔 고문방지위원회가 최근 일본군 위안부 피해자들에게 상처를 주는 일본 정치인들의 시도를 바로잡으라고 권고한데 대해 일본 정부는 '따를 의무가 없다'는 입장을 밝혔다.
18일 일본 시민단체인 일본 시민단체인 강제동원 진상규명네트워크(공동대표 우쓰미 아이코<內海愛子>)에 따르면 일본 정부는 이날 가미 도모코(紙智子) 공산당 의원의 관련 질문에 대해 '(고문방지위원회의) 권고는 법적 구속력이 없고, 따라야 할 의무가 있는 것은 아니다'라는 답변서를 국회에 제출했다.
유엔 고문방지위원회가 하시모토 도루(橋下徹) 오사카 시장의 일본군 위안부 관련 발언을 거론하며 '일본 정부가 정부 당국자나 공적인 인물의 사실 부정에 대해 반박하고, 관련 자료를 공개하고 제반 사실을 철저히 조사하라'고 요구한 것을 받아들이지 않을 것임을 분명히 한 것으로 풀이된다.
이와 관련해 스가 요시히데(菅義偉) 관방장관은 18일 오후 회견에서 '일본 정부의 입장은 내가 이 회견에서 여러차례 밝힌 바 있다'는 말로 고노(河野)담화를 계승하겠다는 원칙적인 입장을 밝힌 뒤 '(답변서는) 정부가 (이 문제에 대해) 새삼 발언하는 일은 없을 것이라는 취지다'라고 말했다.
일본 정부는 극동국제군사재판(도쿄재판) 기록에 포함된 중국, 동남아 등지에서 일본군의 위안부 강제 연행에 관련된 자료를 국립공문서보관소 등에 둘 게 아니라 내각관방으로 옮겨 강제연행 사실이 있었는지 판단하는 근거로 삼으라는 가미 의원의 요구에 대해서는 명확한 답변을 하지 않았다.