Newsletter. UNSCR 1325 Okinawan and Japanese comfort women

Newsletter No 4. November 2020 UNSCR 1325 a catalyst for ways forward for Okinawan and Japanese comfort women 

23.11 2020

Overview of content:
UNSCR 1325 a catalyst for ways forward for Okinawan and Japanese comfort women
More information and Further reading
Download the MHHRI GBV manual

Dear friends and colleagues,

UNSCR 1325 a catalyst for ways forward for Okinawan and Japanese comfort women. This year marks 20 years of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325), on women, peace, and security. This resolution reaffirms 1) the excessive impact of violent conflict and war on women and girls and 2) that conflict prevention and peacebuilding are more sustainable when women are involved.
We still have a long way to go and it is crucial to listen to what survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) have to say. In this newsletter, we give voice to Betsy Kawamura who is a survivor of GBV herself. She is an initiator for the women4nonviolence-website that was created in response to survivor-groups who wished to ‘catch up’ on the latest news and developments regarding UNSCR 1325 and allied resolutions. As Betsy Kawamura also emphasizes: “It is important to acknowledge what we have already achieved, but we are far from done. Survivors of gender-based violence still don’t receive full recognition for their suffering.” Hence, we encourage further implementation of UNSCR 1325. It is possible that UNSCR 1325 may have been a catalyst for this issue to be raised.

An excerpt of Betsy’s letter

I am engaging with the United Nations (UN) in NYC to encourage the Republic of Korea (ROK) comfort women to join forces with remaining Okinawan and Japanese comfort women to rally international recognition and support. We realize that time is running out for remaining Okinawan/Japanese women who sexually served the Allied Forces post WWII; and that they need support and a platform as they are mostly octogenarians. In great contrast to the ROK comfort women, those of Okinawa and Japan have hardly received any recognition, not to mention even any state funded trauma care or rehabilitation.

We are hoping ultimately that the voices of Korean, Okinawan and Japanese comfort women and refugees will be supported.


Given the current international focus on peace-making initiatives in North Asia, and the emergence of UNSCR resolutions of 1325 and allied ones, I feel it is of timely and critical value for the international community and Asia Pacific states to be better informed of historic and current Women Peace and Security issues. This is to provide an intelligent basis of information from which forthcoming authentic and transparent strategies for healing of survivors and peace negotiations can be achieved, with positive global impact. Such discussions could further catalyze the inclusion of women, especially survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, in high-level, peace-negotiations through-out Asia Pacific.

These women should be taught of UNSCR 1325 and allied resolutions designed to amplify their voices.

I reviewed the ROK National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 and was hoping for stronger wording of protection of North Korean refugee women in China. I have not seen as of yet, any mention of protecting North Korean refugee women in the Japanese National Action Plan (NAP), nor of other countries who expressed ‘grave concern’ over North Korean human rights, with the exception of ROK’s NAP.

I had hoped that the 2018 Women Peace and Security meeting in Beijing would provide opportune timing for participants to discuss Secrecy issues clearly and in the open; and discuss why the USA and Japanese governments are reluctant to take actions that will enable swift, efficient redress and prosecution of sexual and gender-based violence in Far East Asia and Asia Pacific. This lack of will does nothing to empower or heal victims and prevent of sexual and gender-based violence. It is the anti-thesis of the heart of UNSCR 1325 and allied resolutions to protect women.


I had also corresponded with UN desk officers for North Asia in NYC about investigating the plight of Japanese women and girl-children who were recruited by the Japanese government post WWII as ‘comfort women’ to sexually serve Allied forces shortly after Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. Apparently about 55,000 Japanese women including teenaged girls were recruited by the Japanese government under the “Recreation and Amusement Association” in 1945 to sexually serve the occupying forces as a means to ‘appease’ them. The ‘comfort stations’ were financed by Japanese banks and operated under the knowledge of General Douglas MacArthur, who was the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP)  during the Allied occupation of Japan and Okinawa following World War II.

I solemnly believe that the dignity of the Japanese and Okinawan women, their families and others affected by sexual slavery are owed reverent acknowledgement, apologies and remuneration.

In all, I do have hope that open, collective discussions at international State levels could pave the way for enlightenment, healing and future improvements, with the passionate support of the international community.

You can read the whole letter here

More information and further reading

Here you will find different resources about this topic.

Formulating Japan’s UNSCR 1325 national action plan and...

2018Hisako Motoyama

In September 2015, the Japanese government announced its first national action plan (NAP) to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1325, just ten days after forcefully legislating controversial security bills that would effectively lift the consti...

Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic...


On 21 March 2013, at its 22nd session, the United Nations Human Rights Council established the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Resolution A/HRC/RES/22/13 mandates the body to investigate the ...

Us Too. Sexual Violence Against North Korean Women ...

2018James Burt

UsTooNK This publication is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence, with the exception of all photos and graphics. You may copy, distribute, transmit, and adapt this publication, except for its photos and graphics, pr...

Conversation with Betsy Kawamura and Dr. Henrik Syse on...

2021Betsy Kawamura

Betsy Kawamura, founder of Women4NonViolence​ dialogues with Dr. Henrik Syse of PRIO and co-editor of “Journal of Military Ethics” about Women Peace and Security (WPS) in North Asia (Okinawa, Japan and the Korean Peni...


All manuals can be downloaded from the MHHRI website

There are three different manuals, which respectively address working with women, with boys and men, and with children who have experienced sexual violence.

The manuals are translated into several languages. The page numbers in each manual remain the same across languages. This allows survivors and helpers to work from copies in their preferred language and read the same content on the same pages. It also makes it easier to teach participants when participants and trainers work in more than one language. The manuals include a toolbox. Survivors can use it individually to regulate their own emotions through grounding exercises or in collaboration with a helper. Helpers can also use grounding exercises to take care of themselves as helpers.

Upcoming Events 

 IRCT symposium in Georgia – postponed
2021 IRCT Scientific Symposium & General Assembly
Overcoming the Extreme: Life after Torture
2021 in Tbilisi, Georgia (more information will follow)

17th biennial conference of the European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
Trauma and resilience through the ages: A life course perspective.
01- 04 June 2022Northern Ireland.

The 11th International Society for Health and Human Rights (ISHHR) Conference
All being well, the International Society for Health and Human Rights looks forward to welcoming you to the 11th ISHHR Conference and programme of capacity building in Medellin, Colombia Winter 2021/22
The ISHHR Conference and Capacity-Building Workshops will focus on themes relevant in a Colombian and Peruvian context, for both local and international participants, in cooperation with Región and Reconectando and CAPS Peru (Centro de Atención Psicosocial).

  • Strengthening Women’s Rights to Mental Health and Freedom from Violence – by changing behaviour, practices and attitudes and facilitating safe and adequate care.
  • Supporting Human Rights Defenders who risk their lives in difficult and dangerous situations, side by side with families of victims of enforced disappearance and internally displaced (IDPs).
  • Treatment methods after traumatic human rights abuse. Remembering the body, promoting resilience; arts and culture, traditional and indigenous approaches.
  • Post-conflict reconciliation, reconstruction and re-socialisation Community mental health, justice human ecology, ethnic approaches to social action, empowerment and reconciliation.

We appreciate feedback and comments 

The Mental Health and Human Rights Info Newsletter is a newsletter with the aim to provide insight on a certain subject across the scope of our work; human rights violations in war and conflict areas and mental health. Our intention is to deliver a newsletter as a short “lecture” where you can find relevant information regarding a specific subject with a mental health perspective.

We would appreciate your thoughts and suggestions on other issues you would like to see in this newsletter or if you are planning an event on related issues, please let us know so we can include your event in our newsletter.

If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving this e-newsletter, please forward it, and encourage them to sign up.
Stay well – and wishing you all the best.

Sincerely yours

Betsy Kawamura and the MHHRI team
Mental Health and Human Rights Info