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U.S. sounds alarm bell for Japan
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20:01, June 28, 2007

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A US resolution has been passed by a Congressional Committee condemned Japan's role in forcing women into sexual slavery during World War II. The Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives approved the resolution by an overwhelming majority of 39 to 2 on Tuesday, or June 26. The resolution has stirred the very sensitive nerve of the Japanese government, as it urges the Japanese prime minister not only to make public statement of apology but to refute Japanese officials' remarks for the denial of the issue on "sex slaves" or "comfort women" openly and explicitly. Furthermore, the resolution demands the Japanese government conduct the correct education in history among people across the nation.

Such tough, stern wording used in international relations among nations and especially among allies can be said to be rare. As an ally, the United States has always turned a blind eye to what Japan says or does on its war crimes, but the question today is that Japan has gone too far. On June 14, scores of Japanese lawmakers, professors and journalists has an ad printed on the Washington Post of the U.S. not only to deny historical facts that Japanese army drove women into sexual slavery during WWII, but to vilify these former "sex slaves" as "prostitutes following the (Japanese) army," who even "earned more money than army generals". And they also quibbled that the US army, too, had proposed setting up similar agencies during its occupation of Japan. This could not but annoy US Congress people. Then, at the foreign affairs committee, they said that the motion should be passed back to the sub-committee.

In his speech before voting, Tom Lantos, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said Japan's excuses had "distorted historical facts" and, therefore, were funny and absurd.

Though this resolution of the House of Representatives cannot have any legal effect, its impact on the Japanese government, however, cannot be overlooked.

First of all, it signifies the internationalization of the "sex slave" issue. This issue, as a matter of fact, has been a global issue from the very beginning, and it was not an issue only China and the Republic of Korea seized and refused to let go as Japan had alleged. Canadian Congress has been reported to discuss or deliberate on a similar resolution, and Australian and Dutch victims have also contended with the Japanese government over the issue.

Secondly, this issue has much to do with the international justice and the dignity of the humankind. These victimized women who had been raped by Japanese soldiers then, cannot stand Japanese politicians' insults and humiliation to their dignity or personality. The massacre of Jews by the German Nazis during WWII was a trampling upon the human justice, and the issue about "sex slaves" is an identical one and has no reason whatsoever to make it fade or weaken. Tom Lantos, chairman of the Foreign affairs Committee, hit the point when he said the postwar Germany made a correct choice whereas Japan tried its utmost to obscure it or forget it.

Thirdly, the "sex slave' issue also has something to do with the future, though it has been a matter in history. The Japanese government is duty bound to face squarely a "dark page" in history and educate the present generation and future generations with a correct concept of history and in the light of historical facts. Only in so doing, can the conscience of humankind and social progress be awakened, and the repeating or restaging of tragedies in history be avoided.

Fourthly, the United States is both the ally and patron of Japan. Consequently, the voice of US Congress can give scope to a certain role of "warning and restraining" Japan.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelos endorsed the resolution. So its is quite possibly and very likely to have it passed and turn into a law once it is submitted to the Full Committee meting of the US House of Representatives. This would fill the Japanese government with great anxiety.

Strategically, the U.S.-Japan ties would not be affected much just because of this resolution alone, nevertheless. The role of this resolution, however, will enable the Japanese politicians to recognize their action in denying Japan's historical crimes is unacceptable for it will dampen its international prestige and smear its global image. Hence, It is high time for Japan to ponder the issue and reflect on its past, as its close ally has already sounded an alarm bell.

By People's Daily Online and its author is Li Xuejiang, the chief PD resident reporter in the U.S.

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