Protesters demand justice from Japan on 'comfort women' (update)

2013/08/14 17:46:32

Taipei, Aug. 14 (CNA) Over 100 people joined a rally in Taipei Wednesday to demand an official apology from Japan for having driven thousands of women -- known euphemistically as comfort women -- into sexual slavery during World War II.

As part of a global campaign to have Japan formally apologize for atrocities committed during World War II, the protesters gathered outside the Taipei Office of Japan's Interchange Association, chanting slogans such as "Give justice to our grandmothers."

Aug. 14 has been designated as an international memorial day for the "comfort women."

The Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation, which organized Wednesday's rally, also gave a list of the group's demands to a senior official with the Interchange Association, which represents Japanese interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties.

Among them, the group said, is that Japan's prime minister should issue an official and sincere apology to former "comfort women" and offer them formal compensation.

The Japanese government should also acknowledge that it forced women into sexual slavery and pass a law that prohibits any comments distorting the truth about "comfort women," the foundation said.

In addition, foundation executive director Kang Shu-hua delivered more than 3,000 postcards the group collected in recent months in support of former "comfort women" and the campaign to get Japan to apologize.

"The official promised he will pass on the demands to the Japanese government but he didn't say anything else," Kang said.

The association was not immediately available to comment on the issue.

Wednesday's protest came in the wake of controversial remarks on the women forced into sexual slavery made by Japanese politicians in recent months.

Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto said in May, for example, that "comfort women" were "necessary" for Japan's wartime troops.

Many young adults showed up to support the foundation's calls. One of them, 21-year-old university student Kuo Chia-yu, told CNA, "I want to call for more public attention to the 'comfort women' issues."

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

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

The Aug. 14 protest was part of a global movement that was also joined by countries such as South Korea and the Philippines, whose women were also forced into sexual servitude by the Japanese during World War II, Kang said.

Meanwhile, a documentary produced by the foundation to chronicle the lives of Taiwan's former "comfort women" is set to premiere in late September, Kang said.

"This is one initiative we've taken to continue to raise public awareness of the issue," she said, adding that a museum on "comfort women" is expected to be opened by the end of this year.

(By Elaine Hou)
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