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The Politics of National Atonement and Transnational Negotiation of Justice: The Case of Filipina "Comfort Women" Lawsuits in Japan

A Colloquium with Hideko Mitsui, Department of Social & Cultural Anthropology, Stanford University

Wednesday, March 17, 2004
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
10383 Bunche Hall
UCLA Campus
Los Angeles, CA 90095

In the early 1990’s, survivors of World War II Japanese military sexual slavery, also known as “the comfort women system,” began speaking out about their experiences, and debates have intensified over the extent of responsibility of the wartime government and the Emperor.  Since then, survivors from all over Asia, in cooperation with Japanese citizens’ groups and lawyers, have filed civil lawsuits in Japan, demanding public apology and state compensation from the Japanese government.

This talk will discuss the violence committed against civilians by the Japanese military in Southeast Asia during WWII, and how the Japanese government dealt with the issue of wartime violence against women up to the early 1990s.  It will situate the chronology of the Filipina “comfort women” lawsuits since the 1990’s at the intersections of, and within the web of, the intentions of the Japanese government, feminist activists and supporters, and of the Filipina survivors themselves.

Specifically, it will trace how one original prosecution team for the Filipina survivors-plaintiffs eventually spilt into three over the years, and the role that the Japanese government-initiated, semi-private “atonement enterprise" played in the process of transnational negotiation of justice.

Hideko Mitsui is a doctoral candidate in Cultural and Social Anthropology at Stanford University, and currently a fellow at the Stanford Conflict and Negotiation Center (SCCN) at the Stanford Law School.  Her dissertation research is on the community of citizens in Japan who take part in narrating, recording and transmitting the knowledge about the Japanese Imperial Army’s controversial conduct during WWII.  She has worked for the Non-Governmental Organization that hosted the “Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal for the Trial of Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery” held in Tokyo, 2000.  Her research interests include gender, nationalism, memories of wartime violence, and (post)coloniality in East Asia.

Cost: Free and open to the public.

For more information please contact

Barbara Gaerlan
Tel: 310-206-9163

Sponsor(s): Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Gender Studies

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