Taipei, Aug. 14 (CNA) A Taipei-based group said Thursday that it wants to set up a museum in memory of the Taiwanese women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II -- known euphemistically as comfort women.
"We hope more and more Taiwanese people will support our call for such a museum," said Kang Shu-hua, executive director of the Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation, which organized an annual rally that day outside the Taipei Office of Japan's Interchange Association, the de facto embassy in the absence of bilateral diplomatic relations.
To set up the museum, the foundation is raising funds from the public, she told the media on the sidelines of the rally. "Relevant government agencies are helping us to find a location for the museum," she added.
Her remarks came in response to reporters' questions on the progress of setting up the museum after President Ma Ying-jeou urged the central government and the Taipei city government in July to help the foundation set up a permanent exhibition about the "comfort women."
"We hope to find a suitable location by the end of this year," Kang said.
She noted that most of the surviving former comfort women are now in their 90s and that their health is deteriorating.
"These A-ma (which means grandmother in Taiwanese) will all die someday, but the past should not be forgotten," she said. "We hope the museum will be set up when they are still alive."
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 five Taiwanese women who have spoken openly of their suffering at the hands of Japanese forces are still alive.
The establishment of the museum will help the next generation to learn more about the history of "comfort women," she said.
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.
Since it began looking into the issue and interviewing Taiwanese former comfort women about 20 years ago, the foundation has collected many first-hand documents to display, Kang said.
"The establishment of the museum is very important and an urgent issue," she added.
(By Elaine Hou)