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Dutch parliament to urge Japan to compensate "comfort women"
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09:43, November 10, 2007

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All the parties of the lower house of the Dutch parliament have agreed to a motion urging Japan to offer financial compensation to people forced into sex slavery during World War II, a Dutch parliamentary spokesperson said Friday.

The motion, tabled by the Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD),was signed by all parties in the lower house on Thursday. It will be put to vote next Tuesday, when it will very likely be adopted, spokeswoman Maartje Mol told Xinhua.

It will be the first time the Dutch parliament endorse a motion calling for compensation for the so-called "comfort women," VVD parliamentary spokesman Eric Trinthamer said.

The motion urges Japan to fully recognize the fate of the "comfort women," offer apologies, take full responsibility for what the Japanese military did to the victims, and offer damages to survivors.

The motion also calls on Japan to revise its history text books and give a more accurate picture of World War II, including moves by the Japanese army forcing Asian and Western women into prostitution during the war.

The motion also urges Tokyo not to backtrack on past apologies, which it first offered in 1993.

The motion was tabled by VVD lawmaker Hans van Baalen, a member of the standing committee on foreign affairs of the lower house, during a debate on next year's budget for the Foreign Ministry, Mol said.

After the motion was signed by all the parties, Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen told the parliament that he is prepared to implement it, Trinthamer said.

This means he will convey the request to Tokyo once the motion was formally adopted.

Last week, three women who were forced into prostitution for Japanese soldiers during World War II submitted a petition to van Baalen, asking the parliament to put pressure on Japan regarding its attitude towards former comfort women.

Historians estimate that at least 200,000 women from occupied Asian countries, including Dutch women in the former Dutch colony of Indonesia, were forced to serve the Japanese army as prostitutes during the war.

Japan officially apologized for what it did to the victims in 1993. But since then Japanese politicians repeatedly denied the existence of sex slaves during World War II, sparking much controversy.

Some Dutch civil groups, including the Japanese Honorary Debts Foundation, have been calling for more action from the Dutch authorities to bring Japan to a legally-binding acknowledgment of its past wrongs.

In June this year, Dutch parliamentary speaker Gerdi Verbeet sent a letter to her Japanese counterpart, expressing strong disappointment and indignation at an advertisement in a U.S. newspaper in which Japanese lawmakers denied that Japan forced women into prostitution during World War II.

Source: Xinhua

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