Digital Museum:The Comfort Women Issue and the Asian Women's Fund
 Archives > Documents of the Japanese Government and the Asian Women's Fund
 Document of Japanese Government and the AWF
The Legal Position of the Japanese Government Regarding Implications of Acceptance of Support from Asian Women's Fund Projects
(Memorandum issued by Bunbei Hara, President, Asian Women's Fund)
October 1996
The Government of Japan has communicated to us its legal position with regard to the implications of acceptance of support from Asian Women's Fund projects. This position is explained below.
In light of this position, we sincerely request your understanding of and cooperation with the Asian Women's Fund.

1. The following is the Japanese Government's position with regard to the question whether, when a former comfort woman accepts to receive atonement money from the Asian Women's Fund in accordance with the AWF's procedures, she should accept it under the condition that she will drop a lawsuit or refrain from instituting a new lawsuit

(Position of the Japanese Government)

The Government of Japan does not request that a former wartime comfort woman agree to any conditions when the Asian Women's Fund provides her with atonement money.

2. The following is the Japanese Government's position with regard to lawsuits demanding individual compensation.

(Position of the Japanese Government)

(a) Atonement money provided by the Asian Women's Fund is an expression of the feeling of atonement of the vast majority of Japanese people. The money is obtained through the AWF's campaigns to raise donations, and through its various activities to encourage the awareness and understanding of the Japanese people regarding the wartime comfort women issue, in order to fulfill moral responsibility.

(b) Therefore, it is the opinion of the Japanese Government that atonement money from the Asian Women's Fund is a matter which is set apart from legal issues, and that the acceptance of atonement money does not prevent that individual from instigating a lawsuit or demanding a decision with regard to that issue in a Japanese court of law.

(c) The legal position of the Japanese Government with regard to this issue is the same as before, and it has not changed.

(d) It may also be added here that, at a ceremony in the Philippines on 14 August 1996, Ms. Maria Rosa L. Henson was presented with atonement money, the letter from the Prime Minister of Japan, and a letter from Mr. Hara, the AWF President, at which time Ms. Henson said that she was pleased to accept the Prime Minister's letter and was satisfied with its contents. She also referred to the ongoing lawsuit she had personally initiated before the Tokyo District Court, and stated that she had already forgiven Japan, and that if she had not forgiven Japan, that God would not forgive her. She added that, although her lawsuit was continuing, any further action she would take would be through a lawyer.

The Japanese Government is of the understanding that Ms. Henson, after fully understanding the significance of the measures being taken by the Japanese Government and the Asian Women's Fund, accepted the Prime Minister's letter and atonement money from the people of Japan, and will nevertheless continue with the lawsuit.

Copyright(c) Asian Women's Fund. All rights reserved.