Legislators across party lines unanimously passed a resolution yesterday demanding a formal apology and compensation from the Japanese government to former “comfort women” in Taiwan.
“[We] hereby demand that the Japanese government officially admit, apologize for and take the historical responsibility for Japanese military’s sex slave system during the World War [II] in a clear and unambiguous fashion,” the resolution said.
“[Tokyo] should directly apologize to and compensate the victims [of the system] who are still alive to restore the reputation and dignity of the [former] comfort women. It should also take the advice of the UN Commission on Human Rights to teach this and the next generation the correct historical facts,” the resolution said.
“Comfort women” is a term used to describe women from countries and regions occupied by Japan — including Taiwan, Korea, China and the Philippines — who were forced to provide sexual services to Japanese soldiers in military brothels during World War II.
Taiwan’s resolution in support of the women came after the US Congress and the Dutch, Canadian and European parliaments took similar action last year and earlier this year.
The proposal — initiated by Democratic Progressive Party legislators Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英), William Lai (賴清德) and Pan Meng-an (潘孟安) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Yang Li-huan (楊麗環) — enjoyed widespread support by lawmakers across party lines.
Huang said passage of the resolution was encouraging to those who had been fighting for compensation for former “comfort women” in Taiwan.
“Taiwanese ‘comfort women’ came forward and began fighting for compensation in 1992. [Sixteen] years have passed, but the response we have received from Japan’s Interchange Association has been lukewarm,” Huang said.
Of the 58 Taiwanese women that came forward to request compensation in 1992, only 20 remain alive, Huang said.
“We hope Japan will recognize the harm it did to these women in the war,” Yang said.
Ninety-two-year-old Wu Hsiu-mei (吳秀妹) — the oldest living former “comfort women” in Taiwan — said she was very happy about the resolution.
“Japan’s apology and compensation are of the utmost importance [to me]. It [Japan’s use of comfort women] is true, but Japan still refuses to admit it,” Wu said.
Chen Shu-li (陳淑麗), a board member of the Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation, said that she hoped the Ministry of Education would include details of the women’s 16-year campaign in the nation’s human rights education curriculum.