Ronald Walters erred in his Dec. 4 letter about reparations for descendants of slaves when he stated that the Japanese government had settled the claims of Korean "comfort women." No such settlement has taken place.
The Japanese government initiated the creation of the Asian Women's Fund, a pool of privately raised dollars to be paid to former comfort women who would agree to abandon their claims against the government. Mutsuko Miki, former president of the Asian Women's Fund, resigned from her post after announcing that the "settlement" proposed by the fund is a "thinly veiled trick." Many of the victims share that view and have refused to accept such payments.
The victims of the Japanese rape camp system have much in common with the African women shipped against their will to the United States, Brazil and other countries during earlier centuries. Like the Africans, the comfort women were kidnapped and forced into slavery, according to a recent U.N. report and a score of other studies.
One difference is that several hundred victims of the Japanese rape camp system still survive. Public pressure on Japan to meet its legal responsibilities, such as the recent resolution passed by the California state assembly, is needed if these women are to live the remainder of their lives with the dignity and honor they deserve.
DONGWOO LEE HAHM
The writer is president of the Washington Coalition for Comfort Women Issues Inc.