(TRENTON) – A measure sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gordon Johnson and Connie Wagner to help provide redress to the many women forced into internment by the Japanese Army and subjected to horrific conditions during World War II was approved 75-0 by the full Assembly on Thursday.
The concurrent resolution (ACR-159) commemorates and supports “comfort women” in their fight for proper acknowledgement by the Japanese government of the suffering they endured during their forced internment in military comfort stations.
“Some of these women were sold to comfort stations as minors, others were deceptively recruited with the promise of employment and financial security, and still others were forcibly kidnapped and sent to ‘work’ for soldiers stationed throughout the Japanese occupied territories,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “Although many have long since passed, they still deserve the dignity of having these crimes acknowledged by their perpetrators with the hope that it will never be repeated again.”
The term “comfort women” is a euphemism used by the Japanese government to describe women forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese military between 1932 and 1945. The majority of comfort women were of Korean or Chinese descent but women from Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Australia, and the Netherlands were also interned in military comfort stations run directly by the Imperial Japanese military or by private agents working for the military.
“The crimes against these women are too horrific to ignore or gloss over with historical inaccuracies,” said Wagner (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Approximately three-quarters of comfort women have died as a direct result of the brutality inflicted on them during their internment. Of those who survived, many were left infertile due to sexual violence or sexually transmitted diseases and many are now dying without proper acknowledgment by the Japanese government of the suffering they endured during their forced internment in military comfort stations.”
Johnson and Wagner noted that the lack of official documentation, most destroyed on the orders of the Japanese government after World War II, has made it difficult to estimate the total number of comfort women. Most historians and media sources approximate that about 200,000 young women were recruited or kidnapped by soldiers to serve in Imperial Japanese military brothels.
The measure also calls upon the Japanese government to accept historical responsibility for the sexual enslavement of comfort women by the Imperial Japanese military and educate future generations about these crimes.
The bill now heads to the Senate for further consideration.