Former Filipino sex slaves mark end of WWII anniversary with protest

About 50 aging Filipino women forced into sexual slavery during World War II and their supporters gathered in front of Japan's embassy in Manila on the 62nd anniversary of Japan's surrender to the Allied forces on Wednesday to protest Japan's "official si

Former Filipino sex slaves mark end of WWII anniversary with protest

The former "comfort women," now in their 70s and 80s, reiterated their longstanding demand for an adequate official apology and compensation and called on Japan's new parliament to be more sympathetic to their plight.

They also welcomed the U.S. House of Representatives resolution July 30 calling for a fresh apology from Japan for its wartime atrocities and the moves of some Philippine lawmakers to pass the same resolution in the lower and upper chambers of Congress.

The group has also been lobbying the Philippine Congress to pass a similar resolution.

Nelia Sancho, the national coordinator of comfort women in the Philippines, said the former sex slaves are hopeful their plight will be considered in debate by Japan's opposition-dominated upper house.

She added that the victory of the opposition in last month's election means the bill for the victims of sexual slavery during the war that was voted down several times by the Liberal Democratic Party stands a chance for deliberation.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's LDP lost control of the House of Councillors at the polls last month following a string of scandals in his administration.

The Japanese government has consistently refused to pay direct compensation to individual victims, saying all war claims were officially settled by postwar treaties.

Instead, it established in 1995 a private fund, the Asian Women's Fund, allocating hundreds of millions of yen for medical and welfare projects to assist the former comfort women that ended last March.

Many of the women have refused to accept money from the fund, saying Japan must "pay legal reparations" to sufferers.

Then Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono and former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi issued separate statements in 1993 and 2002 to the victims, acknowledging the Imperial Japanese Army forced women into sexual servitude for its soldiers.

Abe, Japan's first prime minister born after World War II, came under fire last March for remarks suggesting claims the Japanese military forced foreign women into sex slavery during the war were wrong.

Coming from nearby provinces, the aging former Filipino comfort women hoisted placards that carried their calls for justice and told how they were forcibly recruited and detained to provide sex for soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army during the war.

"Where is justice?" asked 77-year-old Emilia Mangilid of Pampanga Province north of Manila. "There's no justice so long as the Japanese government continues to ignore us."

Another former sex slave, 78-year-old Maxima Dela Cruz, said she will not get tired of marching in the streets despite her age "if our call for justice will fall on deaf ears as what the Japanese government does."

Mangilid and Dela Cruz are from Mapanique village in Pampanga.

They both shared a collective memory, together with dozens other women from their village, when on Nov. 23, 1944, Japanese soldiers stormed through their village, torching houses and killing all the men they could find.

Mangilid said they were herded to a red mansion that was turned by Japanese soldiers into a brothel where soldiers took turns raping them.

Up to 200,000 women, mostly from the Korean Peninsula, the Philippines and Taiwan, were forced to provide sex to Japanese soldiers before and during World War II, according to historians.

About 450 such Philippine women have surfaced since 1992 to demand justice from Japan. Eighty-four of them have since died.

AP

Last Mod: 15 Ağustos 2007, 12:44
Add Comment