A Taipei-based human rights group is set to release a documentary early next year chronicling the painful 20-year fight for dignity and for an official apology from Japan to local women who were forced into sexual slavery during World War II by the Japanese.
The 70-minute film was made to show that the women, known euphemistically as “comfort women,” are no longer victims of the atrocities of the past, according to the Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation.
“The filming will be completed in mid-August,” foundation executive director Kang Shu-hua (康淑華) said yesterday. “The whole project is expected to be finished by the end of this year.”
In the meantime, the foundation is continuing to raise funds from the public to help complete the project, she added.
The foundation has so far invested about NT$1 million (US$33,370) in the film and has raised about NT$800,000, but an additional NT$1 million is needed, Kang said.
“We need more funds because we want the documentary to be screened in cinemas,” she said, adding that this will help remind people of a past that should not be forgotten.
The documentary project, which began in late 2010, has been a race against time because the surviving comfort women are all nearly 90 years old, said the foundation, which has been dedicated for the past two decades to helping the women cope with their mental anguish and seek justice and compensation from Japan.
Two of them have died since the project began, Kang said.
At present, only nine Taiwanese women who have spoken openly of their suffering at the hands of Japanese forces are still alive, she added.
The film mainly documents the recent lives of six former comfort women and their participation in the foundation’s activities to heal their wounds, Kang added.
More importantly, the film shows how the women have moved on with their lives, despite their painful memories.
“Through the film, we want to send the message that their roles of ‘victim’ have changed to that of ‘survivor,’” Kang said.
The women have experienced a bumpy road in their fight for justice, Kang said, saying that a group of Taiwanese comfort women lost a lawsuit against the Japanese government in 2005.
“Even so, they have not given up,” she said.
The foundation will also continue its tradition of staging a protest on Aug. 15 in front of the Interchange Association, Japan, in Taipei to demand an apology from the Japanese government, Kang said, adding that similar protests will be held on the same day in other countries, such as South Korea, whose women were also forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese.
The association represents Japanese interests in Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic ties between the two countries.
According to the foundation, thousands of Taiwanese women were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army.