Digital Museum:The Comfort Women Issue and the Asian Women's Fund
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 Documents of Japanese Government and the AWF
Letter from Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto to Prime Minister Willem Kok
15 July 1998
The Government of Japan is painfully aware of its moral responsibility concerning the issue of so-called wartime comfort women, and has been addressing this issue in all sincerity, in cooperation with the Asian Women’s Fund, which is implementing projects to express the atonement of the people of Japan for this issue.
I recognize that the issue of the so-called wartime comfort women was a grave affront to the honor and dignity of many women and was conducted with the involvement of the Japanese military of that time. I therefore wish to convey to Your Excellency the deep feelings of apology and remorse that I bear in my heart for all the former comfort women who underwent numerous painful experiences and suffered incurable physical and psychological damage.
As a result of talks with the concerned people in your country aimed at giving concrete expression to these feelings, it has been agreed that the Asian Women’s Fund will support projects in your country conducted by the Project Implementation Committee which was established in the Netherlands, and which will provide goods and services in medical and welfare fields to those who experienced difficulties during the past war as so-called wartime comfort women.
I would be grateful if your Government would show understanding and support for these projects of the Asian Women’s Fund, which express the sincere feelings of the Japanese people.
Through the statement issued by the Prime Minister of Japan in 1995, the Japanese Government renewed its expression of deep remorse and stated its heartfelt apology for the great damage and suffering inflicted by Japan during a certain period in the past on the people of many countries, including the Netherlands. My Cabinet has not modified this position in the least, and it was with those heartfelt feelings that I personally laid a wreath at the Indisch monument when I visited your country in June last year.
In order to further promote mutual understanding between our two countries, the Government of Japan has been supporting two major types of projects, historical research and the expansion of exchanges, under the Peace, Friendship and Exchange Initiative. The aim of the Initiative is to work together to further develop a forward-looking relationship between your the Netherlands and Japan.
We Japanese recognize that we must not evade the weight of the past or avoid our responsibility for the future. Japan intends to face up squarely to its past history, to ensure that this history is taught accurately to future generations, and to do its utmost to further promote friendly relations with the Netherlands, relations that will mark their 400th anniversary in the year 2000.

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