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International Committee for Joint Nomination of Documents
on the Japanese Military ‘Comfort Women’ to UNESCO Memory of the World Register

Voices of the 'Comfort Women' 

“Throughout the history forever,
we have to preserve the facts of slavery we were forced into.”

In 2014, we, 14 groups from 8 countries as Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Indonesia, and East Timor organized <the International Committee for Joint Nomination of Documents on the Japanese Military ‘Comfort Women’ to UNESCO Memory of the World Register(ICJN)> and have made special efforts to register the documents related to the Japanese military 'comfort women' as UNESCO Memory of the World.

In 2016, we, ICJN, together with Imperial War Museum in England, have applied for the registration of UNESCO Memory of the World with the total of 2,744 documents under the title of “The Voices of 'Comfort Women'”. On February 2017, the documents are valued “unique and irreplaceable” by RSC of UNESCO.

In 2016, some right wing groups in Japan applied for the registration in UNESCO Memory of the World Program with 6 cases, which, they presumed, show Japanese military ‘comfort women’ were not forced to be mobilized and not sex slaves, which was proposedly designed to interrupt our registration. In 2017, IAC in UNESCO, regarding the two applications were in conflict, postponed the decision for registration on either side and suggested ‘talk’ through the third party between two applicants. In the background of such decision were threat to UNESCO not to pay the national contributions and intense lobbying by Japanese government who wanted to block our effort to registration. UNESCO recommended ‘talk’ between two applicants, which is neither for its law nor accorded with its spirit that it is to be fair. As of 2019, there isn’t still any process for ‘talk’.

We, the ICJN, are committed to the process for ‘talk’ proposed by administration office of UNESCO Secretariat.

ICJN requests that the Secretariat the administration office proceed with the ‘talk’ process

fairly and quickly in accordance with the spirit of UNESCO.

ICJN asks Japanese groups to also faithfully join the UNESCO’s process for ‘talk’.

If Japan is a country that respects human rights, it should not interfere with the registration of the documents related with Japanese military ‘comfort women’ as UNESCO’s Memory of the World. Voices of the ‘Comfort Women’ sounds small but strongly speaks out that there is honor and human rights that must be respected. 

Please join us with your voices and cry out that preservation of the documents related with the Japanese military

‘comfort women’ is the very way to record and remember the history of recovering female’s human rights. 


Signature :

Activities of the ICJN

Voices of the ‘Comfort Women’,
As a record for the recovery of human rights and peace,

Should become a registered UNESCO Memory of the World!

UNESCO should not forget its spirit to safeguard world heritage that is endangered of loss or destruction!

What/Who were Japanese Military ‘Comfort Women’?

To the Japanese Military, ‘Comfort Women’ was a euphemistic term referring to the women who were mobilized by the Japan Empire and forced to live under the conditions of sex slavery for the Japanese Army during World War II. The victims were found in almost all Asian territories from Korea (at the time, Chosun) to Taiwan, which both were also once colonies of Japan, with extensions to other conquered areas including Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, and East Timor. Japanese citizens were also among those forced into sex slavery as well. After the war, these women and their stories have been abandoned and hidden.

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union at the end of the late 1980s, the collapse of totalitarian rule led to a new evaluation of history as well as a recovery of the voices of war victims in Europe and Asia, particularly with respect to the rise of new democracies and individual human rights. Korea, a nation pitted between and pulled apart by two world powers during the cold war, also brought an end to its military dictatorship through the movement of democratization. Thus, naturally people could begin to openly talk about human rights violations.

In 1991, a victim of Japanese Military ‘Comfort Women’, Hak-soon Kim, took her great courage and opened her life-time shame.… Colony. Sexual victimization. Poverty. Female. Old age. Having suffered from demeaning and degrading status for her long lifetime, Hak-soon Kim eventually realized that all these social and political stigmas that she thought were her own fault were “not my[her] fault.” Her voice resounded, with this short and simple remark, around the world. From the Netherlands to Taiwan and China came the voices of former Japanese Military ‘Comfort Women’ who said, “I [too] was a victim”. With these voices International Solidarity Committee was formed, and its actions have led to a growing consensus evincing Japanese Military’s human rights violations. Responding to these voices and effort, citizens from various countries have worked together for a movement and restoration of ‘human rights’ for the victims of Japanese Military ‘Comfort Women’. The movement has tried to win the sincere and genuine apology, with appropriate liability from Japan. This movement has made a great contribution toward promoting the human rights of women in Asia.

The testimony to inform the truth of victims of Japanese Military ‘Comfort Women’, and the movement, embracing that testimony, to ask for Japan’s sincere and genuine apology are the humanity’s precious effort to recover ‘human rights’ lost and destroyed in the war.

The documents on Japanese Military ‘Comfort Women’ meet the regulation of UNESCO Memory of the World Register program

The standards of registration as UNESCO Memory of the World

UNESCO has decided the registering list of Memory of the World once in every other year according to the standards as following.

1) (Time) : Is the documents important to understand the historically significant period, or that represents the period in a special way?

2) (Place) : Does the document contain crucial information about a locality important in world history and cultural development?

3) (People) : Is the document related to the prominent individuals contributing world history and culture?

4) (Subject/Theme) : Does the document record important matters in world history or culture?

5) (Form and Style) : Does the document show outstanding aesthetic style?

6) (Social/Spiritual/Community Significance) : Does the document have outstanding scientific, cultural, and spiritual value?

In addition, authenticity, uniqueness, and living significance are followed as extra standards. Standard of uniqueness and living significance refers the documents which is going to be registered are unique and irreplaceable. Also, their loss or damage brings harmful impoverishment to humanity and therefore the documents have historical significance in a certain period of time and in a special culture. Another standard is completeness that means the documents are completed very finely, or peculiar or rare.

RSC evaluated the documents on Japanese Military ‘Comfort Women’ as “unique and irreplaceable”

The historical significance of the documents on Japanese Military ‘Comfort Women’ is not simply on the tragedy of war victims, but on their way of self-recording, that is, to do testimony, to be understood, and to form sympathy, overcoming their own damaged past. The documents on Japanese Military ‘Comfort Women’ are a record of tragedy of the war which reflects the wide range of war crimes committed by the Japanese Empire during the Second World War. The damage of “Comfort Women’ by Japanese military has been found not only in Asia but also in Europe; there have been male victims as well. Among the documents on Japanese Military ‘Comfort Women’ are historical documents which tell of the system, operation, and return of Japanese Military ‘Comfort Women’, the testimony of the victims and the records of their medical check, and the civil communities’ movement to resolve the problem regarding the victims of Military ‘Comfort Women’. We collected and compiled 2,774 cases of the documents which were once scattered all around the world: Korea, Japan, China, the Netherlands, Taiwan, Indonesia, the Philippines, East Timor, England U.S.A., and Australia, and then applied to the program of UNESCO Memory of the World Register. This pile of documents have been evaluated as “unique and irreplaceable” by the UNESCO registration committee (RSC).

Japan has continually denied Japanese Military ‘Comfort Women’ (mobilization, sex slavery).

Japan has interrupted our documents to be registered as UNESCO Memory of the World Register. Some powerful groups in Japan have denied the various voices which have evinced the fact that Japanese Military mobilized ‘Comfort Women’ and forced them to live as sex slaves. They have also systematically damaged the statue of ‘Little Girl’, which is a memorial statue made to honor the victims of Japanese Military ‘Comfort Women’ at the main cities in the world. If we do not stop these malicious attempts, there is the possibility that the ‘unique and irreplaceable’ documents related to Japanese Military ‘Comfort Women’ are also to vanish by damage or destruction. UNESCO ought to protect these critical and endangered documents on Japanese Military ‘Comfort Women’ by registering this documentation to the UNESCO Memory of the World Register program.

UNESCO ought to observe the principle that UNESCO preserves records in peril.

UNESCO should not be swayed by financial pressure and Japanese government. Please echo the causes and goals of UNESCO Memory of the World Register program that led to the start of this business. Also please don't forget that UNESCO starts this business to improve the accessibility of the world's record heritage, confronting the threats of preserving world record heritage, which include: war and social change, robbery and illegal exchange, destruction, and inappropriate protecting facility.

UNESCO must maintain these rules with resolved in the opposition of the intentions of powerful nations such as Japan who want to exclude these records of weak communities and civil organizations by degrading its authority. When UNESCO shows the firm determination, the world will fully recognize the authority of UNESCO Memory of the World Register.

Records of the Japanese military comfort women


November 2014 – June 2015
·Make the list of documents on the Japanese Military ‘Comfort Women’
·Contact the civil community in China, Japan, the Netherlands, Taiwan, and Korea
May 21 2015
·Organize the ICJN(East Northern Asia Foundation, Seoul, Korea)
August 14 2015
·2015 International Academic Symposium: In Commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of Liberation,
“Thinking of Women in the Era of War & Violence―Japanese Military ‘Comfort Women’ and Colonizaton: Responsibility & Accountability
November 27 2015
·International Academic Conference to analyze the name list of Japanese Military ‘Comfort Women’ in Korea and abroad
December 2015
·Visiting Indonesia and East Timor in order to discuss joint nomination and to check the related materials
Dec. 15-16 2015
·The 2nd ICJN Meeting(Seoul, Korea)
February 2016
·Visiting Australia to ask cooperation for joint nomination
  ­National Archive in Australia
  ­War Memorial Museum in Australia
March 15-16 2016
·The 3rd ICJN Meeting(Seoul, Korea)
May 18 2016
·Held an event signing up the application for joint nomination of UNESCO Memory of the World
May 31 2016
·Complete the application process for joint nomination of UNESCO Memory of the World
­Main agents for nomination: 15 communities and organizations from 8 countries
­Organizations permitting nomination: 19 organizations and 2 individuals
­Nominated Documents: 2,744 cases
Sep. 2-12 2016
·A special exhibition of the documents on war·violence·women’s human rights, and the materials related to Japanese Military ‘Comfort Women’ (The 5.18 Archives, Kwangju, Korea)
Sep. 9-11 2016
·International Symposium “For the Nomination of the Documents on the Japanese Military ‘Comfort Women’, Why was UNESCO Memory of the World made?” (Tokyo, Japan)
Oct. 21-23 2016
·The 4th ICJN Meeting(Shanghai, China)
·The 4th ICJN Meeting(Shanghai, China)
·Press interview announcing the launch of international fund-raising campaign for UNESCO contributions by Korean National Commission for UNESCO
November 16 2016
·International Academic Conference “Voices of the ‘Comfort Women’: Their Resonance and Amplification”(Seoul, Korea)
·The 5th ICJN Meeting(Seoul,Korea)
Dec. 10-11 2016
·The 6th ICJN Meeting(Taipei, Taiwan)
Dec. 28-30 2016
·The 7th ICJN Meeting(Tokyo,Japan)
April 10 2017
·RSC of UNESCO evaluated the documents “unique and irreplaceable”
July 5 2017
·The 8th ICJN Meeting(Nanjing, China)
September 23 2017
·Contest for Arts and Contents on Japanese ‘Comfort Women’ for nomination of UNESCO Memory of the World, “Voices of victims of ‘Comfort Women’, How shall we remember?” sponsored by Seoul City
October 2017
·IAC of UNESCO resulted “postponement pending dialogue”
October 24-29 2017
·Participate in IAC meeting on the evaluation and result of application for nomination in order to express our opinion (Paris, France)
·The 9th ICJN Meeting(Paris,France)
Nov. 17-18 2017
·International Academic Conference “「Voices of ‘Comfort Women’」 :Overcoming War and Building Peace”
·The 10th ICJN Meeting(Seoul,Korea)
December 18 2017
·The 11th ICJN Meeting(Seoul, Korea)
April 30 2018
·The 12th ICJN Meeting (Seoul, Korea)
May 24 2018
·Appoint the facilitator, Anthea Seles
September 18 2018
·The 13th ICJN Meeting(Seoul,Korea)
Nov. 10-11 2018
·International Symposium “Voices of ‘Comfort Women’: Remembering and Reconstructing” (Tokyo, Japan)
·The 14th ICJN Meeting(Tokyo,Japan))
December 7 2018
·Resign of Anthea Seles, the facilitator, in the middle of ISC’s planning to visit Paris
June 20 2019
·Appoint the second facilitator, Ingrid Parents
July 2019
·Begin the world sign-in campaign in earnest hoping for nomination of the documents on the Japanese ‘Comfort Women’ as UNESCO Memory of the World
December 17 2019
·The 16th ICJN Meeting and 2020 Strategic Meeting(Seoul,Korea)

Applicant and License Authority

International Committee for Joint Nomination of Documents On the Japanese Military ‘Comfort Women’ to UNESCO Memory of the World Register

Organization & Homepage
Republic of Korea
War and Women’s Human Rights Museum, Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan
Republic of Korea
The Museum of Sexual Slavery by Japanese Military, The House of Sharing
Republic of Korea
Women and War Museum, Busan Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan
Republic of Korea
HEEUM The Museum of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, Daegu Citizen Forum for Halmuni
Republic of Korea
Masan, Changwon, and Jinhae Civil Assembly for Japanese Military Sexual Slaves
Republic of Korea
Tongyeong and Geoje Civil Assembly for Japanese Military Sexual Slaves
Research Center for Chinese ‘Comfort Women’ at Shanghai Normal University
Beijing Fangyuan Law Firm
Chinese Taipei
Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation
The Japanese Committee for Joint Nomination to the UNESCO MoW Register
The Netherlands
The Foundation of Japanese Honorary Debts
The Philippines
Lila Pilipina Lolas Center Inc
Solidarity Network for Indonesian ‘Comfort Women’
HAK Association

Imperial War Museum London

Organization & Homepage
United Kingdom
Imperial War Museum London