KASAMA Vol. 13 No. 1 / January-February-March 1999 / Solidarity Philippines Australia Network

The following letter was sent by the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (Australia) to the Chief Judge of the Tokyo District Court about his judgement in October last year against the claims of the Filipina "comfort women". Reprinted from the Qld. WILPF newsletter, February '99

Dear Mr Ichikawa,

Re: Your Judgement on the Case of Filipino "Comfort Women" and Japan's Military Sexual Slavery During World War II

We write in reference to your recent judgement in the Tokyo District Court concerning compensation for forty-six Filipino "comfort women" who are survivors of Japan's military sexual slavery during World War II.

We understand that your ruling did not allow the plaintiffs to present testimony of their sexual enslavement experiences. We further understand that your judgement did not recommend the Japanese Government to take any measures to assist these brave women to heal the wounds from their war-time ordeals.

We are informed that your judgement was in part based on the view that there is no international law recognising individual victims' claims against an occupying state for compensation for harm which that state's military forces inflict on them. We also understand that your judgement assumed that no customary international law exists which requires the state whose members commit such a crime against humanity to pay compensation.

We regard this decision on your part as failing to take account of recent developments in international law regarding gender crimes in war and the particular application of international law in the field of sexual violence and sexual slavery under armed conflict situations.

We regard your decision as an abdication of the responsibility which the Japanese legal system has to contribute to ensuring that such crimes against humanity are prevented in the future. A judgement such as this one of yours amounts to tacit legal encouragement of policies of organised rape in war as quasi-legitimate tools of an occupying force against the citizens of another state.

We therefore regard this failure on your part and on the part of the Japanese legal system as a lost opportunity to work towards the prevention of further sexual violence in armed conflict situations and the protection of the human rights in armed conflict situations of women and children.

Finally, we are pleased to note that the Filipino "comfort women" have decided to appeal to the Higher Court. It is our sincere hope that there they will be treated more justly.

Yours sincerely,

Cathy Picone and Nikki Mortier,
National Coordinators,
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (Australia).

WILPF Australia,
GPO Box 2094,
Adelaide SA 5001
Tel: (08) 8232 6334 -- Fax: (08) 8232 6335
WILPF Queensland,
PO Box 649,
Redcliffe Qld 4020.
Tel: (07) 3880 0164 -- Fax: (07) 3880 0276
Web Site:



 Japanese Comfort Women: One Woman's Story

 Of Pain, Courage and Survival

 Maria Rosa Luna Henson: Woman of courage