"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] Letter from AWF President to Former Comfort Women

[Date] 1996
[Source] Digital Museum: Comfort Women Issue and Asian Women's Fund
[Full text]

Dear Madam,

The Asian Women's Fund, established in cooperation with the Government and people of Japan, herein conveys to you the sense of atonement held by the Japanese people for the unbearable suffering you were forced to endure as a wartime "comfort woman."

At a certain time of war in the past, many comfort stations were established with an involvement of the former Japanese armed forces, and many women were recruited and forced to become "comfort women" for officers and soldiers. There were cases where young women, including 16-17 year-olds, were recruited without an indication of the fate before them, and, in occupied areas, there were cases where direct coercive means were also used. I understand that you were one of such victims.

This cruelty truly denigrated the fundamental dignity of women. As clearly acknowledged in the Prime Minister's letter, the Government and people of Japan today bear moral responsibility for the acts inflicted upon you. We also extend our heartfelt apologies to you.

I know that you not only experienced intolerable suffering during the war, but through more than 50 years since, have lived with physical damage and cruel memories.

In such recognition, the Asian Women's Fund, in cooperation with the Government of Japan, appealed to the Japanese people in a year-long campaign for contributions. Many thoughtful people responded with contributions to the AWF. Many letters accompanying contributions expressed sincere apologies and sense of atonement shared in the hearts of the Japanese people.

We know that the pain you have endured could never be atoned for with words of apology or with a monetary payment. However, we sincerely hope that you will accept our atonement as a token of our people's resolve to never repeat what happened in the past.

In cooperation with the Government of Japan, the Asian Women's Fund will launch medical and welfare assistance programs as one of the AWF's activities for atonement, the intention of which is to fulfill our moral responsibilities. The AWF will furthermore strive to make known the true facts relating to the "comfort women" issue, and proceed with study and research programs which examine relevant documents and materials to serve as lessons of history.

Since you stepped forward to pronounce your case, our eyes have been opened anew to the events of the past. The Japanese people will never forget your suffering and your courage. With all our hearts, we sincerely hope that you are able to find somewhat more peace in your life.


Bunbei Hara


The Asian Women's Fund

(Subsequent President who signed the letter is Tomiichi Murayama)