Tags: Japan | WWII | history | sex | prostitution

Former Sex Slaves Demand Apology from Japan

Saturday, 31 May 2014 07:16 AM

Six former "comfort women" joined an international activist meeting in Tokyo Saturday to demand Japan formally atone for sexual slavery in its wartime military brothels, an emotive legacy still haunting the country.

The Asian Solidarity Conference has been held 12 times since 1992 to press the Japanese government to admit responsibility for coercing thousands of women into providing sex to Japanese imperial army soldiers across the region.

The six former comfort women attending the meeting from South Korea, the Philippines and Indonesia and the daughter of another from China also called on the Japanese government to provide compensation to the former sex slaves.

It comes after Tokyo announced a review of its landmark 1993 statement, in which it apologized for the military's involvement in the coercive brothel system but did not admit the government's complicity in it.

"We will discuss how the government should apologize and what measures it should take to put the apology into action," the local organizers of the meeting said in a keynote address.

On Wednesday the Japanese government, led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, promised to appoint an expert team to review how the 1993 statement was drawn up and the historical facts on which it was based..

Abe is often noted for his revisionist views of wartime history, but his top spokesman Yoshihide Suga has ruled out the possibility of revising the statement.

The move came after U.S. President Barack Obama, on a tour of Asia last month, blasted the forced recruitment into prostitution before and during World War II as a "terrible, egregious violation of human rights".

It is unclear what will happen if Tokyo's review is at odds with the 1993 statement, which was largely based on testimony from 16 Korean former comfort women, many of whom have since died.

 

 

"The Japanese government seems to be waiting for us to die," said 88-year-old South Korean Kim Bok-Dong at the meeting, who claims she was forced into the brothel system in 1941 aged 15 and served in "comfort stations" across Asia for nearly five years.

The issue of wartime sex slaves draws particular resentment in neighboring South Korea, the half of the Korean peninsula colonized by Japan from 1910 to 1945.

While many Japanese accept the country's guilt, some senior politicians including Abe have suggested that the issue is overblown, putting a chill on Japan-South Korea relations. 

With few official records available, many researchers have estimated the Japanese enslaved up to 200,000 women, mostly from Japan and Korea but also from China, Indonesia, the Philippines and Taiwan.

Japan previously offered money to former comfort women through a private fund set up in 1995 that ran until 2007.

But some survivors refused the cash because it did not come directly from the government.

 

© AFP 2017

 
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Six former "comfort women" joined an international activist meeting in Tokyo Saturday to demand Japan formally atone for sexual slavery in its wartime military brothels, an emotive legacy still haunting the country.
Japan, WWII, history, sex, prostitution
459
2014-16-31
Saturday, 31 May 2014 07:16 AM
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