Fifty years have elapsed since the war came to an end.

The war caused enormous horror and ravaged the people of Japan and
many other nations, especially those in Asia. Particularly brutal
was the act of forcing women, including teenagers, to serve the
Japanese armed forces as "comfort women," a practice that violated
the fundamental dignity of women. No manner of apology can ever
completely heal the deep wound inflicted on these women both
emotionally and physically. Yet we should, by whatever means, do
our best to appreciate their pain and make the greatest possible
effort to salve their suffering in any way we can. We believe the
obligation to do so today hangs heavy over Japan, the country that
inflicted the suffering.

The Government of Japan has expressed its deep remorse, albeit
belatedly, apologizing to the victims through the Chief Cabinet
Secretary's statement of August 4, 1993, and the Prime Minister's
statement of August 31, 1994. Further, on June 14 of this year,
the Cabinet announced a concrete action plan, which is to be based
upon four pillars. (1) Support will be given to the establishment
of a fund that invites the people of Japan to atone for the
institution of "comfort women." (2) The Government will
contribute funds to the welfare and medical care of these women.
(3) The Government will express remorse and apologize.
(4) Historical documents and materials will be collated that will
help make this a lesson to be drawn on.

Moneys from the fund--donated by the Japanese as an offer of
atonement to the "comfort women"--will be delivered to the women,
as well as be used to provide support for measures to cope with
current-day issues such as the eradication of violence against
women. We have gathered together to propose this fund in the
conviction that atonement in the form of compensation by the
people of Japan to the victims of the institution of "comfort
women" is urgently needed now, along with an apology by the Govern

Some of us proponents differ in our views. Some, for example,
believe Government compensation is absolutely necessary, while
others believe such compensation will be difficult to realize in a
prompt manner because of legal and practical impediments. We are,
however, united in one regard--our burning desire to take action
immediately, because the time left to compensate these women of
advanced age is running short.

We will continue to urge the Government to spare no effort in
bringing to light all the facts of the case, and to express a
heartfelt apology, in order that the honor and dignity of the
victims of the institution of "comfort women" be restored. At the
same time, we will be vigilant in our effort to make sure the
Government apportions ample budgetary outlays and uses these funds
to fully provide, in good faith, for the welfare and medical care
of the victims. We will continually demand that our Government
pursue an active policy of working to prevent still remaining
infringements upon the dignity of all women, both in Japan and
throughout the world.

Of paramount importance, however, is the need for as many Japanese
citizens as possible to appreciate the suffering of the victims
and to express a genuine desire for atonement. The indignities
and pain suffered by these women, both during the war and in the
fifty years since, can never be fully compensated for. But we are
convinced that, if each and every citizen of Japan would do his or
her best to understand the plight of the victims, and then act in
a concrete manner to make amends, and if such a commitment--
coming,as it must, from the heart--could reach the women involved,
then our actions would help mitigate, to some extent, the trauma the
have lived through and continue to live with.

It is the Japanese nation of the past that created the "comfort
women." But Japan is not the government alone. Like others,
Japan is a nation in which each citizen must shoulder the legacy
of the past, live in the present, and create the future. To make
amends for the past, then, fifty years after the fact, is our
responsibility--we, the present generation, owe it to the victims,
to the international community, and to future generations.

We sincerely urge you to take part in and contribute to this
national fund, in order that as many Japanese citizens as possible
translate into action the desire to make amends.

July 18, 1995

Proponents for the "Asian Women's Fund"

Shinkichi ETO Toshiko OKITA
Yoshiko OTAKA Yasuaki ONUMA
Shunsuke TSURUMI Aiko NODA
Kuniko NONAKA Nobutoshi HAGIWARA
Tadashi YAMAMOTO Haruki WADA

July 1995

Statement by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama

I would like to share with you my sentiments on the occasion of
the establishment of the "Asian Women's Fund."

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the end of the War, an
event that caused many people, both in Japan and abroad, great
suffering and sorrow. During these past 50 years we have worked
hard to cultivate, step by step, friendly relations with our
neighbouring Asian countries and others. However, the scars of
war still run deep in these countries to this day.

The problem of the so-called wartime comfort women is one such
scar. This problem, involving the Japanese military forces of the
time, seriously stained the honor and dignity of many women. This
is entirely inexcusable. I offer my profound apology to all those
who, as wartime comfort women, suffered emotional and physical
wounds that can never be closed.

Established on this occasion and involving the cooperation of the
Government and citizens of Japan, the "Asian Women's Fund" is an
expression of atonement on the part of the Japanese people toward
these women and supports medical, welfare, and other projects. As
articulated in the proponents' Appeal, the Government will do its
utmost to ensure that the goals of the Fund are achieved.

Furthermore, to ensure that this situation is never again repeated,
the Government of Japan will collate historical documents
concerning the former wartime comfort women, to serve as a lesson
of history.

Turning from yesterday to today, we still see many women suffering
violence and inhuman treatment in many parts of the world. The
"Asian Women's Fund," as I understand it, will take steps to
address these problems facing women today. The Government of
Japan intends to play an active role in this regard.

I am convinced that a sincere effort on the part of Japan to
implement these measures will further strengthen the true
relationships of trust we share with our neighbours in Asia and
other nations around the world.

The Government of Japan intends to cooperate, to the greatest
extent possible, with the "Asian Women's Fund," in order that its
aims are achieved. I call on each and every Japanese citizen,
asking for your understanding and cooperation.