A subtext to Japan's desire to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council is accountability to international law and the UN's evolving human rights regime. The scrutiny given to Japan by the UN's human right's bodies has not always been kind; and Tokyo has not been necessarily responsive. The 2008 review criticized Japan for its death penalty, illegal incarcerations, wartime forced labor, and comfort women.
The internationalization of the Comfort Women issue came via the UN and its Commission on Human Rights (now call the Human Rights Council). In February 1992, Japanese lawyer Totsuka Etsuro through the UN-recognized NGO International Educational Development (IED), made the first oral intervention before the UN Commission on Human Rights in which Japan was condemned for its crimes against humanity onto the Korean and other Asian "sex slaves" (UN doc. E/CN.4/1992/SR.30/Add.1.).
Dr. Totsuka Etsuro is a Professor of International Human Rights Law at Ryukoku University's School of Law. Dr. Totsuka has dedicated his legal career to defending human rights and has won several awards recognizing his commitment to justice in this area.
He advocates for mentally ill patients in Japan and successfully advocated for the 1997 amendment to the Mental Health Act. He frequently appears before UN bodies in defense of victims of human rights abuses, including the Comfort Women, and represents UN NGOs, such as the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR) and the Japan Fellowship of Reconciliation (JFOR). He currently serves as the main Geneva representative for the JFOR developing overseas educational programs at the United Nations for students of Ryukoku University. He also serves as the General Secretary of the Research Institute of International Human Rights Law Policies.
Dr. Totsuka is speaking on the evening of April 7th at 8:00 PM on Korean Comfort Women: The Pros and Cons of Using International Human Rights Law as an Advocacy Platform. If you can attend, please send back a report.