Sun, Apr 24, 2005 - Page 4 News List

Japan's apology for war crimes `not enough by far': Aboriginal lawmaker

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

Continuing her outcry against Japan's attitude on its actions in World War II, Aboriginal Legislator May Chin (高金素梅) yesterday said that Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's public expression of remorse Friday was not enough "by far" to make up for the country's grievances.

"If the Japanese government was sincerely apologetic, then I would like to ask them about how they treated our Taiwanese comfort women when they went to Japan to seek compensation," Chin said at a press conference yesterday, saying that the apology was not enough.

"We are asking for the traditional Japanese apology; but how to apologize? Japanese people have told me the traditional apology involves kowtowing," said feminist lawyer Wang Ching-feng (王清峰) at the press conference yesterday.

Japanese aggression in World War II in Southeast Asia became front-page news this month when massive anti-Japanese rallies broke out in China to protest Tokyo's approval of a new history textbook that critics say downplays Japan's wartime atrocities.

In an attempt to smooth the increasingly rocky relations between his country and China, Koizumi apologized for his country's actions in World War II during remarks at a summit of Asian and African leaders in Jakarta Wednesday.

comfort women

Both Wang and Chin yesterday referred to violence done to Taiwanese Aboriginals during Japan's 50-year occupation of Taiwan, and Japan's refusal earlier this year to compensate seven Taiwanese who had been forced to be comfort women during World War II.

In response to Koizumi's statement and Chin's response, Voyu Yakumangana of the Tsou tribe, executive director of the Association for Taiwan Indigenous People's Policies, said yesterday that while the Japanese prime minister's statement is a "positive" development, he finds it lacks true meaning.

"[Koizumi's] statement is a positive development, but it should have been made long ago. It is a friendly gesture, but I personally do not think it has any concrete significance," Voyu said yesterday.

compensation

The amount of compensation Japan pays to its wartime victims and its actions, rather than words, are more important, said Voyu.

Despite Chin's vocal protests and demonstrations against Japan's attitude, Voyu said that such disgruntlement is not necessarily representative of the Aboriginal community in Taiwan.

"The Aboriginal community is very diverse. There are some, like Chin, who remember the Japanese a certain way. However, there are also many Aboriginal elders that remember the period of Japanese colonial rule fondly," Voyu said.

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