Wed, Aug 01, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Japan urged to face WWII legacy

APOLOGY TIME Four female lawmakers joined activists in calling on Tokyo to admit its culpability for the `comfort women' scheme -- while some of the women are still alive

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Lai Shin-yuan, left, holds hands with former ``comfort woman'' Wu Hsiu-mei at a press conference at the legislature yesterday. The Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation called on the Japanese government to officially apologize for forcing women into prostitution during World War II.


Inspired by a US House of Representatives resolution seeking an apology from Japan to World War II-era "comfort women," the Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation and four female legislators yesterday urged Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to face the issue with a "political conscience."

The US House of Representatives on Monday passed a nonbinding resolution demanding "an official, unequivocal and unambiguous apology for the indignity the comfort women suffered."

Foundation executive director Fran Gau (高小帆) said the US resolution had historical significance and highlighted the fact that the world is giving more weight to the "comfort women" issue.

Wu Hsiu-mei (吳秀妹), a 91-year-old woman who was forced to work as a "comfort woman" during World War II, said she was happy when she heard of the resolution.

"My health was ruined [by being a `comfort woman'] when I was young ... The Japanese government is shameless for not wanting to admit [the `comfort women' program]," she said.

"The resolution represents the fact that the world hopes Japan would look at the harm it did during World War II, particularly the harm to the most disadvantaged `comfort women,' with a different attitude," Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Joanna Lei (雷倩) said.

"If Japan can own up to its war crime and apologize for this `historical shadow,' it can also release itself from the fetters of the past," Lei said, urging Japan to use the resolution as an opportunity for reflection.

"As we can see, many of the women are very old now. How many of them will live to see an apology [from Japan]?" she said. "Belated justice is not justice."

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英) said the US resolution was only a first step toward demanding an official apology and compensation from the Japanese government.

Gau and the legislators urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to offer more assistance to surviving comfort women.

Gau said that the foundation and eight former "comfort women" will proteste in front of the Interchange Association (Taipei Office) on Aug. 15 -- the anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II.

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