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Dutch parliament urges Japan to compensate "comfort women"
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10:15, November 22, 2007

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The lower house of the Dutch parliament passed a motion unanimously on Tuesday urging Japan to financially compensate the people forced into sex slavery during World War II, a Dutch lawmaker told Xinhua.

This is the first time a national parliament endorsed a motion calling for thorough redressing of the sufferings of the so-called "comfort women" before and during World War II, said Hans van Baalen, who initiated the motion.

All 150 members of the Dutch lower house of parliament voted in favor of the motion, an unusual gesture from the Dutch parliament which is often embroiled in factional squabbling.

"This should send a strong and clear signal to the Japanese government and the Japanese people, that so many years after World War II, people in the Netherlands still want the Japanese to recognize the war crimes of the past and to recognize the victims," said van Baalen, foreign affairs spokesman of the Party for Freedom and Democracy in the parliament.

"The victims are demanding justice. Japan should show remorse to them before it is too late," he said.

The motion urges Japan to fully recognize the fate of the "comfort women," take full responsibility for the war crimes of the Japanese military, and offer formal apologies.

In the motion, the lower house of parliament "requests the (Dutch) government to demand with great force from the Japanese government to make an additional gesture by offering the Comfort Women still alive a form of direct, moral and financial compensation for the inflicted suffering."

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

The motion also urges Tokyo to "refrain from any declaration that will devalue the 1993 declaration of remorse," which was made by the then Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono.

After the adoption of the motion on Tuesday, Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen told the parliament that he fully supports the parliament's demands and he will actively implement it, van Baalen said.

This means he will convey the demands to the Japanese government and seek a reply actively, van Baalen said.

Kono acknowledged in 1993 that the Japanese military and government forced foreign females into being "comfort women" and offered an apology on the part of the Japanese government. But some Japanese politicians have since distanced themselves from that statement.

"Japan's denial of the past war crimes hurts its relations with the Netherlands," van Baalen said, adding that it is a matter still "taken very seriously in the Netherlands" even so long after World War II.

"It will be in Japan's interest to recognize the past and compensate the victims their military mistreated. Only in this way can Japan and its people get over the past and move on," van Baalen said.

The motion was welcomed by the Japanese Honorary Debts Foundation, a Dutch civil group campaigning for compensation for "comfort women."

"It is the first time that a constitutionally elected parliament makes it clear that Japan can no longer ignore its past and has to redress materially the sufferings, pain and cruelty caused by its army in Dutch East Indies during World War II," said Jan van Wagtendonk, president of the foundation.

"It is time for Japan to pay its debts," he said.

In July, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution urging the Japanese government to unambiguously acknowledge and accept responsibility for sexual enslavement of women during its colonial occupation of Asia in the past century.

It was the first resolution ever holding Japan accountable for the "comfort women" issue.

Historians estimated that some 200,000 women were forced to serve as sex slaves for Japanese forces during World War II, including about 300 Dutch women and girls in the former Dutch colony of Indonesia.

Source: Xinhua

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