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Activists vow to keep fighting for comfort women's rights

2012/08/15 17:24:40

Taipei, Aug. 15 (CNA) Activists said Wednesday they will continue to demand an apology from Japan for having driven thousands of women -- known euphemistically as comfort women -- into sexual slavery during World War II.

Some 100 people took to the streets in Taipei and held a rally outside Japan's Interchange Association Wednesday morning, holding self-made placards that read "Never Forgotten," "Apologize," and "Where is Your Conscience?" while chanting slogans at the same time.

The Interchange Association represents Japanese interests in Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic ties between the two countries.

A man in a suit received a letter of protest on behalf of the association, but he did not make any comments, said Kang Shu-hua, executive director of the Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation, which organized the protest.

"We feel deep regret over the fact that Japan's representative is still silent on the comfort women issue," Kang told CNA, adding that she and other activists will keep fighting before it is too late.

Kang accused the Japanese forces of acting like criminals because of their brutal behavior during the war, but she worried that time was running out for Japan to make meaningful amends.

According to the foundation, more than 2,000 Taiwanese women were forced into sex slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army during the war, but only nine Taiwanese women who have spoken openly of their suffering at the hands of Japanese forces are still alive.

Japan's Interchange Association told CNA that it would not comment on the issue and declined to identify the official who received the protest letter.

Among the protesters was Lukas Vanek of the Czech Republic, the only foreign national to participate in the Taipei event.

"It doesn't really matter where you come from or who you are," said Vanek, adding that as long as there is injustice in the world, people should come out and voice their discontent.

"You need to stand up; otherwise, injustice might happen again and might happen to you even though it has happened to someone else before," he said.

The foundation has been dedicated for the last two decades to helping Taiwanese comfort women cope with their mental anguish and seek justice and compensation from Japan.

The Aug. 15 protest was part of a global movement that is also joined by countries such as South Korea, whose women were also forced into sexual servitude by the Japanese during World War II, the foundation said.

(By Elaine Hou and James Lee)