The Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation yesterday said the Japanese government should also apologize and compensate Taiwanese women who were forced to become “comfort women” for the Japanese army after Japan and South Korea yesterday reached a landmark agreement over the issue.
“Since Japan has resolved the comfort women issue with South Korea, other countries that are handling the same issue are likely to seek similar reparations from Japan as well,” foundation executive director Kang Shu-hua (康淑華) said.
The foundation has been seeking justice on behalf of Taiwanese comfort women since 1992, Kang said, adding that it is a long process filled with frustrations and failures.
As the number of elderly victims has begun to dwindle increasingly fast, Kang said the foundation hoped that the Japanese government would offer the group an official apology and compensation while they are still alive.
Historians estimate that there were about 2,000 Taiwanese women forced to become comfort women during the Japanese colonial era, Kang said.
The foundation opened a telephone line between 1992 and 1997 for former comfort women to come forward and tell their stories, but only 58 did so, as a majority choose to remain silent, Kang said.
Four of those 58 are still alive, and have an average age of 91.
Kang said the compensation that Japan had agreed to pay to the South Korean former comfort women exceeded expectations, which showed that Japan wanted a quick end to the issue that had poisoned relations between the two nations for decades.
“Both sides apparently made some compromises to reach a settlement,” she said.
The agreement is indeed “progress,” and the culmination of a series of actions undertaken by the Japanese government to address the comfort women issue after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recognized the existence of the comfort women in a speech in August to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, she said.
Whether the agreement is acceptable to South Korean human rights groups remains to be seen, she said.
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