Early last month, the Dutch Lower House passed a unanimous resolution to seek from the Japanese government an official apology to and restitution for the comfort women*. The U.S. Congress had set the bar for both non-binding resolutions and the Japanese non-response thereto, so it was not only imperative but also easy for the Dutch Lower House (and the Canadian legislature for that matter) to pass a motion of little practical consequence.
Now the Dutch women probably have the most clear-cut case against the Japanese government on the comfort women issue (even Yoshiko Sakurai has acknowledged their allegations, if not their demands), so, if you do not think that the Kōno Statement, the subsequent letters from Japanese Prime Ministers, and the “fund” are sufficient**, then you are more than within your rights in airing your views and demanding rectification. But it’s one thing for individuals like you and me to focus on a single issue with total disregard of consistency, and for the government to do so. To quote:
"We should not go into semantics. What is important is that we delivered a message that has been very clearly received in this country and comes straight from the heart."
- from Jakarta, Ben Bot, Foreign Minister, Netherlands, 2005.
Well, that was then. Actually, Ben makes a lot of sense. Remember, it was semantics that got Prime Minister Abe in trouble.
And in case you’re wondering, the Indonesian authorities did not insist.
*You probably missed it, because it seems to have been ignored by the mainstream British and American media.
**Just for the record, I support the Japanese government’s position. More specifically, I believe that it is within the range of justifiable positions, given what I’ve viewed and read that have dealt with this subject as well as other sources that have no direct bearing on the facts but illuminate the issue, and that, on balance, I see no reason to change it. More significant than my personal views, I believe that the resolutions have at best merely served to freeze debate in Japan, and that they have made any change in official policy towards the direction that their proponents desire even less plausible. I’ll elaborate all this in a post of its own if I can create some background while minimizing speculation.