Court Cases, Citizen Groups, and the Unresolved Issues of War:

Updates and Brief Commentary

Inokuchi Hiromitsu & Nozaki Yoshiko

(1) The Chinese War Victims' Lawsuits
(2) The Takashima Textbook Lawsuit
(3) Saburo Ienaga's Third Textbook Lawsuit, 1984-1997
(4) Children and Textbooks Japan Network 21
(5) Asia-Japan Women's Resource Center and the Violence Against Women in War-Net Japan

To readers: A number of articles on other court cases and citizens' movements are in preparation and will appear in 2000. Updates and commentaries will be added and/or modified periodically. Names in this section are given in Western name order. 

(1) The Chinese War Victims' Lawsuits

In the mid-1990s, many Chinese victims of Japanese war crimes began filing lawsuits against the Japanese government. Currently twelve separate lawsuits are taking place under the rubric of the Chinese War Victims' Lawsuits. Of the twelve, one was appealed to the Tokyo High Court (see below); the rest are still being fought in the district courts. Each of the cases is concerned with Japanese war crimes on the Chinese front, and the central issues include: the Nanjing Massacre, Unit 731, and indiscriminate bombing; forced relocation to Japan and forced labor; "comfort women"; the Pingdingshan incident (another massacre); and abandoned poison gas and bombs. In 1998 alone, five Chinese plaintiffs (victims) visited Japan to give testimony in court and to appear in public lectures.  

On September 22, 1999, Chief Justice Ito at the Tokyo District Court delivered the decision on one of the cases concerning the Nanjing Massacre, Unit 731, and indiscriminate bombing. The case had been filed on August 7, 1995, and is the first of the twelve to have been decided. While the decision recognized the sufferings of the plaintiffs as historical facts, the plaintiffs nonetheless lost the case. The decision was, at best, highly contradictory and its argument seems in part to be illogical. On the one hand, the decision did recognize as undeniable all the historical facts of Nanjing Massacre, the live body experiments by the Unit 731, and the indiscriminate bombing, despite some controversy regarding the extent of damage. It also stated clearly that the plaintiffs suffered terrible damages caused by those incidents. Further, and unconventionally, the judge suggested that the Japanese government sincerely apologize to the Chinese victims, and that it consider seriously what it can do to build friendly relations with China.

On the other hand, the decision rejected the victims' claims, holding that in this case, individuals do not have the right to ask directly for compensation from the Japanese government. According to international law, the judge stated, the issues of compensation for damages caused by an enemy nation are generally resolved by diplomatic negotiations between the nations, not by individual suits against the former enemy nation. Regarding the war crimes committed by the enemy nation, the victims as individuals could logically have the right to claim for redress of the violation by the assailant nation. However, he concluded, "considering the justice of the whole human race, the problems of compensation with respect to former enemy nations should be solved comprehensively by the postwar friendship treaty between the nations, even if it is the case that each individual's justice can not be restored in terms of civic law." Most problematically, he found that "denying individual rights to claim compensation for damage (in the case of war) is reasonable, if we presume that avoiding another war is the supreme cause." It is needless to say that the plaintiffs immediately chose to appeal the decision to the higher court.

The headlines of most Japanese newspapers on the day the decision was announced were relatively positive regarding the decision, citing the judge's suggestion to the Japanese government for further apology and consideration. The plaintiffs themselves were appalled when they heard the decision, and stated at the press conference that the judge was a coward (in that he was afraid to criticize the government). The plaintiffs' chief attorney, Hiroshi Oyama (who was the head attorney for Saburo Ienaga's textbook case), commented that it seemed the judge began with the conclusion (of rejecting the victims' right for compensation) and developed his desperate line of reasoning later. Especially incredible was that the judge's view that individual compensations could be the potential cause of another international military conflict.   The twelve lawsuits have been supported by the Society to Support the Demands of Chinese War Victims, one of the largest organizations of its kind. Saburo Ienaga, who has been known for his long battle of textbook lawsuits became one of the core members in the organization's representative committee, since the major points of Ienaga's third lawsuit concerned Japan's war crimes on the Chinese front. Other representative members include: Katsuichi Honda, a famous journalist who has written several books on the Nanjing Massacre, including _The Nanjing Massacre: A Japanese Journalist Confronts Japan's National Shame _ (M.E. Sharpe, 1999); and Seiichi Morimura, the author of _Akuma no Hoshoku _ (The Devil's Gluttony), a book that publicized the war crimes of Unit 731. Some of the attorneys working on these lawsuits are the same who fought Ienaga's textbook lawsuits. Currently, the Society is conducting an international letter campaign supporting the "Nanjing Massacre, Unit 731, and the Indiscriminate Bombing" lawsuit.

If you wish to obtain further information about the activities of the Society and the progress of each suit, please refer to the Society's Japanese-English bilingual Web site, or contact the following addresses:

The Society to Support the Demands of Chinese War Victims

Address: Rapasu-biru 6F, 2-33-10 Minami Otsuka, Toshima-ku, Tokyo, 170, Japan Phone: +81 (0) 3-3942-8591 Fax: +81 (0) 3-3942-8593

Email: Homepage:  


(2) The Takashima Textbook Lawsuit

The Takashima Textbook Lawsuit, filed in 1993, questions the legality of government's textbook screening. Nobuyoshi Takashima, now a professor at Ryukyu University, Japan, was at the time a high school social studies teacher. Takashima has been an active advocate for addressing Japan's war responsibility, and has organized numerous study tours to Southeast Asia (especially to Singapore and Malaysia) to hear and record the voices of the victims of Japanese invasion (see below).

Takashima was one of the authors of the 1992 edition of the "Contemporary Japanese Society" textbook, for which he wrote two discussion columns. During the screening process, however, finding it difficult to accept the Ministry of Education's requests, he quit the project. The Ministry had ordered him to change (1) his description concerning the mass media's excessive coverage of the death of Emperor Hirohito, as well as (2) the manipulation of the mass media by the multi-national forces involved in the Gulf War. The Ministry also asked Takashima (3) to drop a quotation from Meiji philosopher Yukichi Fukuzawa's "Breaking from Asia" (Datsua-ron), which Takashima represented as an example of Japanese colonialist thought of the period. In addition to Fukuzawa's quote, he was also asked to drop former admiral Kaishu Katsu's words of more positive evaluation of Korea (see below). The Ministry also suggested (4) that Takashima change his descriptions of Southeast Asian countries' responses to the dispatch of Japanese minesweepers to the Persian Gulf.

The district court decision on the Takashima lawsuit was made at the Yokohama District court, April 22, 1998, with Takashima gaining a partial victory. He won two points (the judges decided that the Ministry's suggestions to eliminate Katsu's words and to change the descriptions of Southeast Asian countries' responses to the dispatch of Japanese minesweepers were illegal). The results were not entirely satisfactory for Takashima, however, because he had not won the point concerning Fukuzawa's Japanese colonialist thought. He has appealed the ruling to a higher court (the government also appealed to a higher court).

At the appeals court (the Tokyo High Court), Takashima and his legal team are focusing on the dispute over Yukichi Fukuzawa's "Datsua-ron." In "Datsua-ron, " Fukuzawa argues that Japan should build itself not as a part of Asia but by way of breaking away from Asia. (Post-war Japanese researchers have termed his thought "Datsua Nyuo" [Breaking away from Asia and joining Europe]). Takashima has seen it as the beginning of a modern Japanese view, which, in looking down on people of other Asian countries, mentally enabled wartime Japanese to commit atrocities. (Takashima as a scholar also wishes to reexamine Masao Maruyama's view representing Fukuzawa as a liberal enlightenment scholar. Maruyama's view has, to date, continued to be influential among the Japanese and Japanese textbooks of various kinds.)

The dispute concerning Fukuzawa's "Datsua-ron" is closely related to another concerning the passage Takashima quoted from Katsu Kaishu's _Hikawa Seiwa_ (since, in including them, it was Takashima's intent to compare Fukuzawa's view to Katsu's). The Yokohama District Court has held that the Ministry's request that Takashima reconsider the inclusion of passage was an improper use of its power. _Hikawa Seiwa_ is a collection of Katsu's talks in his last years. Seeing the argument for "Seikan-ron" (The theory of conquering Korea) becoming stronger, and in light of the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95), Katsu stated that "About Korea, [some people] despise it as a country half ruined, or a country poor and weak, but I think the time has already come for Korea to revive. . . . It is just a recent phenomenon that [the Japanese] make little of Korea. In old days, the seeds of Japanese civilization were all imported from Korea. . . . Several hundred years ago, Korea was the master teacher of the Japanese. 

Outside his court battle, Takashima has been a well respected teacher, researcher,and social critic. Takashima studied geography at the Tokyo University of Education (Ienaga Saburo was a professor of Japanese history there, but, according to Takashima, he was not particularly interested in Ienaga's lectures or his lawsuit). He graduated from the university with a masters' degree in 1968, and he became a geography teacher at the laboratory high school attached to the university. While teaching at the high school, he later taught social studies education and other education-related courses at several universities. He was also an instructor of high school correspondence courses of NHK education television. He was part-author of the geography high school textbooks published by Jikkyo Shuppan, and, until he withdrew it, he was one of the authors of high school contemporary society textbooks published Hitotsubashi Shuppan. He has written a number of articles concerning social studies education, the textbook controversy, and other areas of education.

As a progressive and innovative geography teacher, Takashima conducted field research on war atrocities, and this is perhaps what distinguishes him most from others. He first began to visit Okinawa in 1969 to collect some teaching materials, and while there he was informed of the atrocities committed by the Japanese army during the Battle of Okinawa. Around this time, very little had been written about it in school textbooks, but he began to include the subject in his teaching. 

In 1972, he had the opportunity to tour the Malay peninsula, where he saw the cenotaphs built for the victims massacred by the Japanese army during the Asia Pacific War. Having known of the atrocities the Japanese army committed in China (a subject he had included in his teaching), he thus came to realize that the Japanese army had committed the same kinds of atrocities in Southeast Asia. Upon his return to Tokyo, Takashima looked for materials to teach about Japan's war crimes in Southeast Asian countries. When he found almost no such teaching materials available, he decided to collect the stories of the victims by himself. Since 1975, he has gone to the Malay peninsula every summer to conduct his research, and he has used the materials he has gathered in his teaching. Since 1983, he has organized more than twenty study trips to visit various sites of the massacre and to record the voices of war victims in Southeast Asian countries. The trips have been mainly for teachers, but prominent scholars in Japanese modern history and education have also participated.

The supporters of the Takashima lawsuit include teachers and scholars, some of whom have formed an organization called The Support Group for the Takashima Textbook Suit (Takashima Kyokasho Sosho o Shiensurukai). The suit was originally filed in Yokohama, and he has worked with 125 attorneys in the Yokohama area.The trial has been moved from the Yokohama District Court to the Tokyo High Court, so the support organization is now looking for more volunteers from the Tokyo area. If you wish to learn more about his case, please contact the Support Group at the following addresses:

Takashima Kyokasho Sosho o Shiensurukai

Address:Konan-biru 5F, 1-18 Aioi-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa-pref.,231-0012, Japan Phone:+81(045)671-9282 Fax:+81(045)664-7822 Homepage: N/A  

(3) Saburo Ienaga's Third Textbook Lawsuit, 1984-1997

Saburo Ienaga's thirty-two-year challenge to the Japanese government's textbook censorship came to an end in August 1997, when Japan's Supreme Court, consisting of five judges, handed down its decision on his third lawsuit. The court avoided addressing Ienaga's central claim of the unconstitutionality of the state textbook screening, but it ruled in his favor on several points, including ones regarding his descriptions of Japan's wartime conduct. Moreover, in delivering his opinion, Chief Justice Ono, specifically stated that Japan's school textbooks should include descriptions of the suffering Japan's past aggression had caused its neighbors, and that such inclusion constituted a positive educational consideration.

It was 1984 when Ienaga filed his third lawsuit against the Japanese government. In that suit, as in the first and second suits, Ienaga's central objective was to demonstrate that state screening of textbooks was unconstitutional. To make his case, he attempted to prove the Ministry of Education's abuse of power in requesting eight specific revisions of descriptions in his textbook. Of the eight, six involved wartime issues: the use of the term "aggression" (shinryaku) to describe the Japanese invasion of China, the description of Nanjing Massacre, the reference to Japanese soldiers' rape of Chinese women (in Nanjing as well as in Northern China), the reference to Unit 731, the reference to Korean resistance against Japanese force during the Sino-Japanese war, and the description of the Battle of Okinawa.

Regarding Ienaga's points concerning the Nanjing Massacre and the rape of Chinese women by Japanese soldiers, the Ono decision basically supported the 1993 Tokyo High Court decision, which awarded Ienaga a partial victory. In a footnote of his 1980 text, Ienaga had originally written this about the Nanjing Massacre: "The Japanese Army killed numerous Chinese soldiers and civilians immediately after the occupation of Nanjing." The Ministry, in order to eliminate the impression that the Army had carried out a systematic killing, ordered Ienaga to alter the sentence to either "Chinese soldiers and civilians who were involved in the chaos (or confusion) were killed" or "Chinese soldiers and civilians were killed by the Japanese Army during the chaos (or confusion)." Ienaga finally changed it to "The Japanese Army, breaking through the strong resistance of Chinese Army, occupied Nanjing in a rage and killed numerous Chinese soldiers and civilians," and the Ministry approved.

In the third lawsuit, the illegality of state action was disputed in terms of both the cause of the Massacre (whether the Massacre was an organized act of the Japanese Army) and the time line (when it should be understood as having taken place), because the phrases addressing those points were the ones that were actually altered and removed. The Tokyo High Court ruled that the phrasing representing the Massacre as happening because of "rage" was a one-sided explanation, and that, therefore, the state's order to compel Ienaga to change the original phrasing was illegal. It ruled, however, that the period in which the Massacre occurred was not limited to the period "immediately after the occupation," and that, therefore, the state order was legal. The basis of the decision was "the commonly accepted academic view of 1984."

Concerning the point of the rape of Chinese women, Ienaga wrote in a footnote of his 1983 text: "When occupying Nanjing, . . . not a few of the Japanese officers and men raped Chinese women"; and in another footnote: "Because of this [meeting with fierce resistance from Chinese guerrillas in northern China], the Japanese Army almost everywhere caused immeasurable damage to lives, chastity, and property of the Chinese people, including the killing of local residents, . . . and the rape of Chinese women." The Ministry ordered Ienaga to eliminate the mention of rape in both footnotes because, it argued, "rape [in war] by military officers and soldiers is a common phenomena all over the world, so that it is inappropriate to refer only to the rape committed by the Japanese Army."

The Tokyo High Court made a distinction between the rape that happened in Nanjing and the rape that happened in the northern part of China, and ruled that the research reporting the frequent rape that occurred in Nanjing had been sufficient, but that it was insufficient in the case of the rape that occurred in northern China. Thus, the court found that the Ministry's order to remove the reference in the first instance (with respect to Nanjing) was illegal, but that it was legal with regard to northern China. The Ono decision basically supported that court decision, but not unanimously. Judges Ono and Ozaki, in their minority opinions, opposed making the distinction between the rape that took place in Nanjing and the rape that occurred in northern China, and stated that the Ministry's order to eliminate the reference to rape should be considered entirely illegal.

While in principle supporting the lower court decision on the above points, the Ono decision ruled in favor of Ienaga on one additional significant point--the one concerning the reference to Unit 731. Ienaga wrote a footnote in his 1983 text: "In the suburbs of Harbin, [the Japanese Army] established a bio-warfare unit called Unit 731 and continued to commit atrocities such as capturing non-Japanese, for the most part several thousand Chinese, and killing them in live experiments conducted over a period of several years, until the Soviet Union's declaration of war." In its screening of that passage, the Ministry ordered Ienaga to remove the entire portion describing the Unit because, it argued, "it is premature to include the reference to Unit 731 in school textbooks, since credible research, i.e., articles and books, has not been presented." Ienaga was thus forced to eliminate that particular passage completely.

The Tokyo High Court ruling found with the state on this point, regarding the scholarly research on the Unit (as of 1983) as insufficient. The court regarded Akuma no Hoshoku, one of the first three books written on the topic by Seiichi Morimura, as diverging from a true academic form of writing. The Ono decision, however, ruled that the Ministry's order to eliminate the description of Unit 731 was illegal, because, no scholarly work had denied the existence of Unit 731 and its cruel experiments. Interestingly, Judge Sonobe, in his opinion supplementing the decision, denied a point that school textbooks cannot include description of events that have not been fully elucidated, arguing that, for a variety of reasons (e.g., the death of the persons involved), many wartime events cannot necessarily be cleared up with respect to such particulars as the cause, development, and the exact number of victims.

Ienaga's third lawsuit focused more on the issue of the depiction of "history" than did the first and second. Though some may feel that Japan's judicial system has recently been attempting to determine what constitutes historical facts, and what correct textbook descriptions were, this is not really the case. In most cases, the courts considered whether the requests made by the Ministry of Education in the process of Ienaga's textbook screening were "reasonable" (the criteria used by the Tokyo High Court), or "unerring" (that of the Supreme Court), in light of commonly accepted academic views.

For the most part, the courts avoided entering the historians' debate; rather, they seem to have built rules of textbook writing and authorization. By and large, the courts took a position that the Ministry's requests should be based on facts verified by the academic research of the time. In that sense, the decisions, especially that of the Supreme Court, will put pressure on the Ministry of Education, since, strictly speaking, it cannot ignore "commonly accepted views" and "verified facts" in history studies when it imposes its views on textbook authors. However, as pointed out by Judge Sonobe's opinion above, it is often impossible to verify every particular of wartime events because of loss or destruction of the records, or because of the death of all the victims-as illustrated by the case of Unit 731. The judges' opinions show that they debated this point without coming to a unanimous conclusion.

Another interesting feature of the Ono decision is its implicit reference to Japan's current right-wing history revision movement, led by Nobukatsu Fujioka of Tokyo University. Fujioka's movement was outside the lawsuit, so the Supreme Court judges did not directly refer to the movement or its argument, but several of the judges included implicit references in their opinions. As Judge Sonobe stated: "It is undeniable that the actual situation of the wartime events such as the Nanjing incident . . . has in part been unknown to this date; however, it does not mean that the Nanjing incident . . . did not happen." This clearly refutes the logic used in the right-wing revisionist discourse of "Nanjing incident as an illusion." Even Judge Chikusa, who opposed the decision that the Ministry's request concerning Unit 731 was illegal, admitted the need for letting the younger generation understand accurately Japan's past acts, even when those are disgraceful to Japan.

Chief Justice Ono's opinion is especially notable. First of all, he argued for further restrictions regarding the occasions upon which the Ministry would be allowed to request revisions. Then, he directly quoted the words of Ryotaro Shiba, a popular historical fiction writer who died several years ago, and whose work has been appropriated by the history revision movement to justify its position and appeal to the public. The quotation was: "A nation telling a lie in the textbooks . . . would eventually be ruined." Thus, the words Ono quoted speak directly against that movement. Further, in his opinion, Ono argued strongly for writing about Japan's wrongdoings during the war and its colonial rule in Asia.

Because of his age and poor health, Ienaga decided not to file another lawsuit; however, he expressed his full support of another textbook lawsuit, one filed in 1993 by Nobuyoshi Takashima (a former high school teacher, currently a professor at Ryukyu University) regarding the screening of a textbook on "contemporary society" (a high school subject). In April 1998, at the Yokohama District Court, Takashima won a partial victory (see Takashima Textbook Lawsuit).

As Ienaga's textbook lawsuit concluded, the major organization supporting Ienaga's lawsuits, the National League for the Support of the School Textbook Screening Suit, disbanded, having served its purpose. Another grassroots organization, Citizens Thinking of the Textbook Issue, which was organized in the early 1980s, also ended its activities. Currently a new organization called Children and Textbooks Japan Network 21, is developing a network to counter the right-wing nationalist movements in education (see Children and Textbooks Japan Network 21).

For further discussion of Ienaga's textbook lawsuit and the Japanese textbook controversy of 1990s, see a special issue of Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, Vol. 30, No. 2 April-June 1998, and Laura Hein and Mark Selden, eds., Censoring history: Citizenship and war in the twentieth century, New York: M.E. Sharpe (forthcoming).

(4) Children and Textbooks Japan Network 21

Children and Textbooks Japan Network 21 (Kodomo to Kyokasho Zenkoku Netto 21, hereafter CTJN21) was established in August 1998. Basically, the organization is intended to succeed the National League for the Support of the Textbook Screening Suit, the major support group of Saburo Ienaga's textbook suit, which disbanded when Ienaga's lawsuit was concluded in August 1997 (see Saburo Ienaga's Third Textbook Lawsuit, 1984-1997). The organization's representative committee members include Hiroshi Oyama, Itsuko Teruoka, Rumiko Nishino, Giichi Fujimoto, and Masami Yamazumi. Yoshifumi Tawara is the secretary general of the organization.

CTJN21's major interest is to democratize Japan's textbook production and adoption systems, so its bimonthly newsletter regularly reports on the latest developments of Japan's Ministry of Education's textbook policies, national and regional struggles over textbook adoption issues, and other textbook-related news items, such as the Takashima textbook suit (see the Takashima Textbook Suit). In particular, the newsletter always features the latest changes in the Ministry's curriculum guidelines and its textbook screening policies and practices.

The organization also occasionally issues public statements. For example, in 1998, it issued a public statement requesting the resignation of Shoichi Nakagawa, then Minister of Agriculture, Forest, and Fishery. While speaking in a press conference, Nakagawa had expressed his doubt about the legitimacy of the inclusion of a reference to comfort women in school textbooks, because in his view it could not be said clearly whether or not the coercion of comfort women took place. In 1998, along with six other organizations, the CTJN21 also lodged a protest against the Ministry of Education when it became known that a textbook company had revised the description of the Yasukuni Shrine in its high school politics/economics textbook because of indirect pressure from the Ministry and the right (e.g., in the media, some Diet members, and Yasukuni Shrine).

Most recently, the CTJN21 has mounted a significant effort to report on the issue of the coercive enforcement of the national flag and anthem in schools at all levels. In August 1999, the legislature passed the National Flag and Anthem Act, which designates Hinomaru (Rising Sun) as the national flag and Kimigayo ("Your Sovereignty," a song praising the emperor's sovereignty) as the national anthem. While the Act does not speak of implementation of singing Kimigayo and raising the Hinomaru in schools, the right-wing nationalists are now openly arguing that schools should, and in fact many public schools at all levels have begun to do so. The CTJN21 has thus been gathering and reporting information about the coersive enforcement of singing Kimigayo and raising the Hinomaru in schools. It has also reported that the Ministry of Education has informally requested textbook companies to revise their descriptions of the flag and song in their textbooks.

The CTJN21 takes up various kinds of educational issues, such as children's rights, school reform, school choice, class size reduction, youth delinquency, school violence, corporal punishment in schools, and sexism and racism in schools and textbooks. It also promotes peace and justice education. The CTJN21 holds occasional study meetings and gives lectures. Currently, its membership has expanded to 1740 (including 97 groups), making it one of the largest organizations of this kind. It encourages citizens to establish their own local chapters, plan their own activities, and form networks with other citizen groups.

Yoshifumi Tawara, who has been working for a textbook company and been actively involved in the democratization of textbook production and adoption processes, was named the secretary general of the organization. He has long been a workers' union activist in the publishing industry, and is currently one of the most active writers criticizing the right-wing nationalist movement in history education led by Tokyo University Professor Nobukatsu Fujioka.

Tawara's recent publications report and discuss the nationalist movements' attack on textbooks, including references to the issue of comfort women. See, for example, Dokyumento "Ianfu" Mondai to Kyokasho Kogeki (A document: The "comfort women" issue and the attack on textbooks) (Tokyo: Kobunken, 1997) and Kyokasho Kogeki no Shinso: "Ianfu" Mondai to "Jiyushugishikan" no Sajyutsu (The Extent of the attack on textbooks: The "comfort women" issue and the trick of "the liberal view of history") (Tokyo: Gakushu no Tomosha, 1997).

For further details of the networks' activities, please contact the following addresses:

Children and Textbooks Japan Network 21

Address: Iidabashi 2-6-1, Komiyama Biru 201, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 102-0072, Japan Tel.: +81(03)3265-7606 Fax: +81(03)3239-8590

E-mail: Home page:

(5) Asia-Japan Women's Resource Center and the Violence Against Women in War-Net Japan

The Asia-Japan Women's Resource Center was established in 1995 as an extension of the Asian Women's Association (AWA). Yayori Matsui, an internationally known feminist journalist, became its first director. The center has been making efforts to establish a linkage to, and exchange information with, women's NGOs and feminist activists worldwide. It focuses on the following six areas as its main concern: (1) women's movements in Asia, (2) women's human rights, (3) women in development, (4) women and the environment, (5) violence against women in war and armed conflict situations, and (6) women's international cooperation.

Matsui, a feminist activist in Japan, has long been concerned the issues of women of Asia. Her major interest has been in the issues regarding economic inequality and women's human rights in Asia, and, along with many other activities, she has been involved in campaigns against sex tours in Asia. Her recent publications include Women's Asia (London: Zed Books, 1989). In reflecting Matsui's own view, the center pays close attention to Japan's role in the development of Asia in terms of women's experiences.

The center has been concerned with the safety of Asian migrant women in Japan, including those "trafficked" women who are recruited into the Japanese entertainment/sex industry, the improvement of working conditions of women employed by Japanese multinational companies in Asia, and the welfare of migrant women and international marriages in Japan. The center is well organized to support NGOs working for women's issues, and, following the 1995 World Conference of Women in Beijing, it has taken as active role in preparing for post-Beijing conferences.

The center has developed a number of programs and activities including the publication of Women's 21st Century (quarterly, Japanese) and Women's Asia 21-Voices from Japan (annually, English), organizing "Women's Empowerment Seminar" and "Women's Study Tours," leading several research groups, and coordinating domestic and international workshops and conferences. Now, it also opens its own library. In recent years, the center was also involved in the campaign on the issue of wartime "comfort women." It supports the survivors of Japan's military sexual slavery to demand the Japanese government take legal responsibility. The Violence Against Women in War-Net Japan (hereafter, the VAWW-Net Japan) was formed from this effort.

VAWW-Net Japan was formed out of the International Conference on Violence against Women in War and Armed Conflict Situations held in Tokyo in November 1997. At the conference, more than forty international participants gathered from twenty countries including South Korea, Philippines, Serbia, Uganda, Srilanka, India, Cambodia, and East Timor. It examined the realities of violence against women under war and armed conflicts, and discussed the redefinition of the violence against women, the abolishment of sexual violence, the restoration of the justice of victims, and the strengthening of support. The conference concluded with the Tokyo Declaration commiting itself to world demilitarization from the perspective of women's human rights.

Following the conference, an international coalition VAWW-Network was formed of conference participants to include women of similar interest from various places in the world. The international VAWW-Network exchanges information and its members' views through an e-mail (and fax) network. In Japan, the concerned participants of the conference also formed the VAWW-Net Japan to continue their efforts. It became the most active center regarding the movement, demanding formal compensation from the Japanese government for "comfort women," the victims of Japan's military sexual slavery. The VAWW-Net Japan has launched campaigns for the issue of "comfort women," lobbying the Japanese government as well as international communities.

The net is currently planning to hold a women's international tribunal for Japan's military sexual slavery (in Tokyo in December 2000). The international tribunal will attempt to examine concrete cases of violence committed by Japan against women during the period of Asia-Pacific War (1931-1945). The net also tackles the issue of sexual violence connected to the presence of U.S. military bases in Asia, and promotes women's actions aimed at creating peace. Among members of the network, Rumiko Nishino, a feminist journalist who has written numerous articles on the issue and spoken out in many occasions, is taking a very active role in leading various activities of the net.

Currently, the Asia-Japan Women's Resource Center is looking for volunteers interested in working for its various programs and activities. The VAWW-Net Japan is also inviting persons from within/without Japan who wish to participante in the international tribunal. If you wish to have further information about programs and activities of the Asia-Japan Women's Resource Center and/or VAWW-Net Japan, please contact the following addresses:


Asia-Japan Women's Resource Center

Address: Sakuragaoka 14-10-311, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0031, Japan Tel.: +81(03)3780-5245 Fax: +81(03)3463-9752 

E-mail: page:  


Address: Shiomi 2-10-10, Koto-ku, Tokyo 135-8585, Japan Fax: +81(03)5337-4088

E-mail: page:


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