Digital Museum: Comfort Women Issue and Asian Women's Fund
  Atonement Project of the Asian Women's Fund >Projects by country or regio - Netherlands

 Projects by country or regio - Netherlands
Country or Region Period for Applications & Project Implementation Project Description
The Netherlands 15 July 1998 - 14 July 2001 Provision of medical and welfare goods and services (valued at 245 million yen)

When the Netherlands signed the San Francisco Peace Treaty, in accordance with Article 14 of the Treaty, it waived all reparation claims, claims to material restitution and the right for claim both at national and individual levels. The position was that, although Japan had an obligation to pay reparations, it was not possible to obtain payment in light of the need to maintain the possibility for Japan's economic survival.

With regard to the persons who had suffered hardships as prisoners of war, Japan paid compensation under Article 16 of the Treaty through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). However, the interned civilians were not subject to the provisions of Article 16, and from the point of view of civilian sentiment, this situation was not acceptable. In this regard, on 7 and 8 September 1951, just before the Netherlands signed the San Francisco Treaty, Foreign Minister of the Netherlands Dirk Stikker exchanged letters with Prime Minister of Japan Shigeru Yoshida, and both sides came to an agreement under which the Governments of the Netherlands stated that it did not consider that waiving reparations claims under Article 14(b) of the Treaty would extinguish the right of individual Dutch nationals to claim compensation. In response to this, the Japanese Government stated that it did not consider that the private right to claim of nationals of the Netherlands would immediately become non-existent, but that, under the Peace Treaty, allied nationals would not be able to obtain satisfaction regarding such claims, although there were certain types of private claims of allied nationals which the Japanese Government might wish to deal with voluntarily.

The Stikker-Yoshida Agreement eventually led to the signing, on 13 March 1956, of the Protocol between the Government of Japan and the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Relating to Settlement of the Problem Concerning Certain Types of Private Claims of Netherlands Nationals. The Government of Japan tendered the amount of 10 million dollars "voluntarily" to the Government of the Netherlands "in order to express sincere remorse and regrets for the irreparable pain suffered by the Dutch Nationals."
In this way, the Peace Treaty legally settled the post-war issues between Japan and the Netherlands, and the above-mentioned Protocol between the two countries confirmed that the Government of the Netherlands would not make any claim against the Japanese Government. Despite the measures set out in the Protocol, however, the incurable physical and psychological trauma suffered by the victims during World War II still remained.
Thus, for example, the Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts (JES, established in the Netherlands in 1990) demanded that the Japanese Government recognize legal responsibility and pay compensation. It began a campaign demanding about 20,000 dollars per person. JES also took up the issue of comfort women. The standpoint of JES was that only the Japanese Government was directly responsible for compensation.

Immediately after the Asian Women's Fund was established in 1995, the Foreign Ministry of Japan began preparations to facilitate implementation of Asian Women's Fund projects in the Netherlands. Because the right to claim reparation for war damage had been already settled through the San Francisco Peace Treaty, the Government of the Netherlands urged Japan to speak directly with those concerned. As the result, discussions took place with those who were related to the JES.

It appeared that in choosing the type of projects to be implemented, the wishes of the Governments of the Netherlands was taken into account, and that it was carefully considered how to achieve a balance with the types of projects already being discussed for other countries. During the discussions, payments to individual victims were requested by the Dutch side. After long negotiations, it was agreed that medical and welfare assistance was to be provided for the individuals and the total amount of the fund from the Japanese Government was to be 255 million yen.

In order to implement the above projects, from the Dutch side an organization had to be erected. Under Dutch law, an organization must have the legal status and independence to work together with other parties and to operate independently. General of Army (ret.) G.L.J. Huyser was willing to establish such a foundation, namely, Project Implementation Committee in the Netherlands (PICN). As the first chairman of the PICN, General ret. Huyser signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the PICN and the AWF on 15 July 1998. On behalf of the AWF, Tatsuo Yamaguchi, then the Vice-President signed the MOU(Full Text).

On the same day, the then-Prime Minister of Japan, Ryutaro Hashimoto sent a letter to Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Willem Kok(Full Text), expressing the Japanese Government's feelings of apology and remorse for the comfort women issue. The letter, as explained below, was said to have brought former comfort women a great solace.



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