Statement of Protest to NHK, Japan
Regarding the Revision of the Program on the "Women's International War Crimes Tribunal" under the Pressure of Rightwing Forces
To: EBIZAWA Katsuji, President
From: The International Organizing Committee of the Women's International War Crimes Tribunal
As sponsors of the Women's International War Crimes Tribunal, we of the International Organizing Committee, convened in Seoul, Korea, on February 23-24, 2001, strongly protest against "The Question of Wartime Sexual Violence," aired on January 30 as the second program in the four-part ETV 2001 series "How Is War To Be Judged?" (aired January 29-February 1) as a program which promoted prejudice and serious misunderstanding concerning the Tribunal.
First, the program did not even once mention the full name of the "Women's International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan's Military Sexual Slavery, nor did it give any basic information concerning the Tribunal, such as the names of sponsors or its aims; while it spent a considerable amount of time airing comments which criticized the Tribunal, and material which was unrelated to it, and intentionally hiding the fact that Japan's system of military sexual slavery (the "comfort woman" system) was, in fact, wartime sexual violence that amounted to a crime against humanity, even though this was supposed to be the program's theme.
Second, while introducing the Tribunal, the program made no mention whatsoever of its historically important judgement, which found the Showa Emperor Hirohito guilty, and the government of Japan to have incurred state responsibility. The program thereby in effect hindered the reconciliation between Japan and its Asian neighbours that was purported to be its aim. For reconciliation must be offered by the victims' side, and victims and victimized countries throughout the Asia Pacific region can under no circumstances be expected to accept a reconciliation without justice, which fails to reveal Japan's responsibility, or even to acknowledge the fact of victimization.
Third, the program aired unfounded and abusive statements which, furthermore, cast doubt on the credibility of the women survivors' testimonies on the grounds that no corroborating evidence was offered to support them. It dismissed the survivors as having been sold to sex traffickers of their own countries and having been engaged in business(prostitution).
Those on the side of the Tribunal were given no chance to refute or correct these statements. In doing so, the program slandered all the victims of Japan's military sexual slavery, trampling on their dignity and honor for a second time.
Fourth, ignoring the fact that the Tribunal is a People's Tribunal, the program aired statements to the effect that it violated principles of due process that would apply to criminal courts based on state authority. Not only were these statements made by a commentator who was antagonistic toward the Tribunal, but this same critical stance was expressed by the program's moderator, who should have remained neutral. This was an insult not only to the people throughout the world who sponsored and participated in the Tribunal as an expression of the people's right to judge war crimes and crimes against humanity, but also to the whole global civil society which supported it.
Fifth, due to the intervention of rightwing forces that are growing ever stronger in Japan today, NHK made major revisions in the contents of the program until the last moment immediately before it was to be aired. This self-imposed censorship was an abandonment of NHK's responsibility as a public broadcasting corporation to protect the freedoms of speech and of the press, and robbed the people of one of their most fundamental rights, the right to know. It was an act that could lead to the revival of the militarism that was forced on the Japanese people through suppression of the freedoms of speech and of the press, and makes us worry that Japan might once again be led into a situation in which its past war crimes and crimes against humanity will be repeated.
For the reasons stated above, the International Organizing Committee demands that NHK disclose the process of the change of the program, give a sincere apology, and produce and air a program which gives a fair and balanced account of the Tribunal. We strongly urge that you respond promptly to these demands.
February 24, 2001
International Organizing Committee of Women's International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan's Military Sexual Slavery
Conveners: YUN Chung Ok, The Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan
Indai SAJOR, Asian Centre of Women's Human Rights(ASCENT)
MATSUI Yayori, "Violence Against Women in War" Network Japan (VAWW-NET Japan)
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