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Could Systematic Sexual Violence against Women During War Time Have Been Prevented? Lessons from the Japanese Case of Comfort Women

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Chapter Summary

Despite the criticisms and actions of the United Nations (UN), the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as well as non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the Japanese Government has refused to take the necessary steps towards reconciliation with the victims of military sexual slavery, namely the "comfort women". The UN special rapporteurs as well as the Women's International War Crimes Tribunal (WIWCT) pointed out that Japan still has a duty to punish perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity including wartime military violence against women. This chapter reviews the history of the Japanese case of military "comfort women" and discusses whether Japan could have prevented such systematic violence against women by relying on legal measures. Finally, it also should be asked, if women had been equally represented in the judicial system as well as in the military and other governmental offices, would the result have been different?

Keywords: comfort women; International Labour Organisation (ILO); military sexual slavery; non-governmental organisations (NGOs); WIWCT



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