“So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived! All of these new things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation. In other words, God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ, by not counting people’s sins against them. He has trusted us with this message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors who represent Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17-20).
The United Methodist Church affirms all persons as equally valuable in the sight of God. We therefore work toward societies in which each person’s value is recognized, maintained, and strengthened. We support the basic rights of all persons to equal access to legal redress for grievances, and physical protection. We deplore acts of hate and violence against groups or persons based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, or economic status (Social Principles, ¶ 162).
The United Methodist Church also regards nations as accountable for unjust treatment of their citizens and others living within their borders. While recognizing valid differences in culture and political philosophy, we stand for justice and peace in every nation (Social Principles, ¶ 165).
The urgency for the ministry of reconciliation has never been greater. For over fifty years the sexual enslavement of more than 200,000 women from Korea (80 percent), Malaysia, Burma, China, Taiwan, East Timor, Indonesia, and the Pacific Islands by the Japanese military and government, remains one of the greatest unresolved injustices of the Second World War as stated by the judges of the Women’s War Crimes Tribunal. They further stated, there are no museums, no graves of the unknown comfort women, no education of future generations, and no judgment days, for the victims of Japan’s military sexual slavery. Many of the women who have come forward to fight injustice have died unsung heroes. While the names inscribed in history’s pages are often those of the men that commit the crimes, rather than the women that suffer them, this judgment bears the names of the survivors that took the stage to tell their stories, and thereby, for four days at least, put wrong on the scaffold and truth on the throne (The Hague, December 4, 2001). The urgency is the need to find justice before the survivors of Japan’s sexual slavery die, never knowing whether the Japanese government agreed to be accountable for their monstrous treatment of women inside and outside their borders. David J. Scheffer, United States Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes suggested that a conservative estimate (based on each woman being raped five times a day for five years) would amount to 125 million rapes. Thousands of women were raped up to 60 times a day.
The United Nations Commission on Human Rights accepted the Final Judgment of the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal of Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery (held in Tokyo in 2000) as an official document of its 58th Session and reminded Japan to do the honorable thing and recognize its state responsibility.
The United Methodist Women have taken action to help pass US Federal legislation calling on the Japanese government to apologize to and to compensate comfort women or the surviving family members of comfort women.
We call on The United Methodist Church to:
urge United Methodists to become informed about and supportive of the continuing struggle of the survivors of sexual slavery and urge the General Board of Global Ministries to make resources available; and,
urge United Methodists to be supportive of the remedial measures recommended by the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal and find innovative ways in partnership with Asian women to put pressure on the Japanese government to make a response.
Therefore, be it resolved, that the 2004 General Conference calls upon the General Board of Global Ministries to continue to to urge the government of Japan to do the following:
acknowledge fully its responsibility and liability for the establishment of the comfort system and that this system was in violation of international law;
issue a full and frank apology, taking legal responsibility and giving guarantees of nonrepetition;
compensate the victims and survivors and those entitled to recover as a result of the violations declared herein through the government and in amounts adequate to redress the harm and deter its future occurrence;
establish a mechanism for the thorough investigation into the system of military sexual slavery, for public access and historical preservation of the materials;
consider, in consultation with the survivors, the establish-ment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission that will create a historical record of the gender-based crimes committed during the war, transition, and occupation.
recognize and honor the victims and survivors through the creation of memorials, a museum, and a library dedicated to their memory and the promise of never again;
sponsor both formal and informal educational initiatives, including meaningful inclusion in textbooks at all levels and support for scholars and writers, to ensure the education of the population and, particularly, the youth and future generations concerning the violations committed and the harm suffered.
Be it further resolved, that the General Board of Global Ministries report its efforts and the response of the government of Japan to the 2008 General Conference.
revised and readopted 2008
Resolution #6022, 2008 Book of Resolutions
Resolution #284, 2004 Book of Resolutions