[Stop-traffic] News/JAPAN: UPDATE 1-JAPAN, HIROHITO "GUILTY" IN MOCK SEX SLAVE TRIAL.

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] News/JAPAN: UPDATE 1-JAPAN, HIROHITO "GUILTY" IN MOCK SEX SLAVE TRIAL.
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Wed Jan 03 2001 - 09:31:46 EST


12/Dec/00 JAPAN: UPDATE 1-JAPAN, HIROHITO "GUILTY" IN MOCK SEX SLAVE TRIAL.
By Elaine Lies
TOKYO, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Japan's late Emperor Hirohito was found guilty of
crimes against humanity in a mock trial by activists frustrated by failed
lawsuits brought by women forced to work as wartime sex slaves for the
Imperial Army.
The tribunal, which wants to bring public opinion to bear on the Japanese
government, ruled that Japan must act to redress the harm done to the women
before and during World War Two.
"Today, the judges have found Emperor Hirohito guilty of crimes against
humanity," said Gabrielle McDonald, former president of the Yugoslavia War
Crime Tribunal and one of the judges at the mock tribunal.
"The judges found that the emperor knew, or should have known, the troops
were committing atrocities, such as the Nanking massacre," she said
referring to the estimated 300,000 Chinese killed in that city when
Japanese troops entered in 1937.
Hirohito, who died in 1989, never faced judicial examination of what
responsibility he bore for Japan's wartime atrocities. The postwar
Occupation authorities prevented Hirohito from being hauled before a war
crimes tribunal to avoid provoking resistance among the populace, who had
viewed the emperor as a living god.
Organisers of the mock tribunal - women's support groups and other
non-governmental organisations from eight countries - said they hoped to
put pressure on Japan to make official restitution for forcing an estimated
200,000 women, mostly Asians, to work in brothels catering to Japanese
soldiers.
Girls as young as 10 were sent to the brothels, where they serviced dozens
of Japanese soldiers a day.
A government official reiterated that Tokyo believes all legal issues
relating to wartime compensation were settled by international and
bilateral accords.
"The so-called tribunal has no legal status. It is free to say anything but
whatever it says is not legally binding. Our position has always been
clear. Such wartime issues were settled under international and bilateral
treaties."
OFFICIAL RESTITUTION
The decision by the mock tribunal comes just days after Japanese courts
rejected lawsuits brought by former sex slaves demanding compensation and
apologies.
"The tribunal found that individual victims have a right to claim
compensation from the government of Japan," said another judge, Christine
Chinkin, a professor at the University of London law school. "The state
must act with due diligence to address and repair the harm."
Tuesday's ruling was a summary of the tribunal's findings, with a formal
decision due next March.
No defence was provided for defendants in the mock trial, who included a
number of high-ranking wartime officials in the Japanese military.
Organisers said they invited the Japanese government to take part.
Officials declined.
Jan Ruff-O'Herne, a former sex slave from the Netherlands, said she hoped
the ruling would have a positive impact.
"With all the evidence that has come out during this tribunal, I challenge
the Japanese government to do the right thing," she said.
APOLOGY NOT ENOUGH
In 1995, then-prime minister Tomiichi Murayama issued Japan's strongest
apology to date for its wartime actions, saying these were "entirely
inexcusable," but tribunal officials said this was not enough given the
extent of the womens' suffering.
Japan has not paid direct compensation to sex slaves, saying all claims
were settled by peace treaties that ended the war.
Instead, in 1995, the government engineered the creation of the privately
financed Asian Women's Fund to make cash payments to all surviving wartime
sex slaves.
Japanese courts have recently made several rulings on cases concerning
Japan's wartime actions.
In a landmark agreement last month, Kajima Corp , a big construction firm,
said it would set up a $4.5 million fund for Chinese who were forced to
work for it during World War Two.
The company said the fund was not intended as compensation, but lawyers for
the labourers and their families hailed it as a great achievement and a
possible precedent for future cases.
(C) Reuters Limited 2000.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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