Reading for the Day: New York Times Saturday, 28 April 2007

April 27, Tokyo —

In two landmark rulings, Japan’s highest court on Friday rejected compensation claims filed by former wartime sex slaves and forced laborers from China but acknowledged that they had been coerced by the Japanese military or industry.

The decisions were handed down as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe tried to head off a resolution on Japan’s wartime sex slavery in the House of Representatives during a two-day visit to Washington.

It was the first time that the Supreme Court has ruled on lawsuits by Japan’s mostly Chinese and Korean captives during World War II, effectively quashing dozens of similar cases that have been working their way through the lower courts in recent years.

The court said in both cases that the Chinese plaintiffs had lost their rights to seek individual legal claims against the Japanese government and companies because of a 1972 joint statement in which Beijing renounced war reparations from Japan, a decision supporting the government’s position that postwar agreements cleared Japan of responsibility for future individual claims.

China’s Foreign Ministry denounced the rulings, describing them as “illegal and invalid” and calling the court’s interpretation of the 1972 statement as “arbitrary.”

* * * * * *

But in a striking rebuke to nationalist politicians who have tried to play down Japan’s wartime crimes, the court acknowledged the historical facts of sex slavery and forced labor, two practices that continue to fuel anger in Asia six decades after the war’s end.

In its 16-page ruling in a sex slavery case, the court acknowledged that Japanese soldiers had abducted two teenage Chinese girls and forced them to work as sex slaves for months, contradicting Mr. Abe’s recent denial of the practice.

* * * * * *


I’ve been working with the 121 Coalition who are private citizens across the country — mostly Asian American — and predominantly Korean American. Out of 40 or so members, I am the only Filipina working with them. One of the coalition’s mission is to do a serious out reach to the Filipino American community. HELP!

Right now, we need to get 20 sponsors to support House Res 121. The coalition recognizes that they need the Filipino American community to push this issue into high gear — and not too soon for so many of the lolas have already died. We especially need the FIL AM community in Northern Cali to step up and write LANTOS and PELOSI. Daly City is in Lantos’ district. These two congress people are key and then need to have constituents bombarding their email — they need Fil AM email.

So here’s what will help me lead this:

1. I need you guys to use the power of your words and educate your communities through those poems and stories you write, through the lectures and readings you give and through the teaching you do. You are all mentors with access to students. You are all on the road reading and promoting words. Please spread the word and encourage your community to write to your congress person and to sign the petition.

NOTE: When your community has a lot of people writing your congress person and you share that with the coalition, let them know and they will send a representative to that Congressperson’s office to speak directly to him or her on your community’s behalf. So write your congressperson!

2. The coalition invites Filipino American organizations and activists groups to join the coalition. If we want to represent the lolas, we’ve got to be a presence in the coalition. We need sponsors and donors and advocates from the Filipino American community. Your groups can and must educate your members. Do you get the sense the Filipino America knows their lolas are 1000 of the 200,000 abducted and placed into sexual military garrisons? My guess is no. So we need community support to represent and spread the word. I’m pushing to get the images of the lolas into the news coverage so that our community can see and identify with our beloved lolas. We’re cutting a mini doc this week about the story of Lola Dolor Molina for YouTube distribution. When it’s out, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, can you send me the names of groups with contact information and leadership. I will personally call these groups to get them invested. Some places to consider: Filipino American Medical groups and alums of UST, UP and other Philippine universities, organizations who are fighting for the FIL AM Vets — these women are of the same generation as the manongs. The men and women of WWII are our elders and it seems like a good time to support the men and women together. College and youth organizations and collectives are also good resources. At conferences and readings, it seems the college students are inspired by these great women and are willing to act. Facebook has been a good resource and put me in touch with many activist students. Send me names and contact info or make the initial contact for me and I can follow up.

3. You. I invite you to join the coalition with me. Perhaps you can be a contact for your city. I am so grateful for the help many of you have already extended, and I can use your help to educate the FIL Am community at large by email blasts, phone calls, articles, spoken word events. Last week we had a DIE IN at UM for Amnesty International and during the DIE IN several of the students read short testimonies of the lolas … During that time students tabled and got another 90 plus signatures on the petition. Maybe there are poets and spoken word artists interested in having a READ IN of sorts …

4. Publishing venues. If you are an editor or have access to publications who want and need articles and stories on the Comfort Women — especially Filipina Comfort Women — please send me their names and contact info.

So this note is an update, but it’s also an invitation. Much of the country is under the impression that Comfort Women were Korean women … They don’t realize all the other nationalities that were also abducted and abused. The Lolas are getting lost in the media shuffle because the Korean Comfort Women are so present and they are present because their community is backing them up. Well, I’m sure that once our community is aware, we can support the lolas too. We work best when we’re working together. Let’s work together.

Thanks and if you have any great ideas or ways of offering your talent and time, I welcome you to join me.



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