On the 67th anniversary of Japan’s surrender to the Allies, ending World War II, more than 100 people demonstrated outside the Interchange Association, Japan, in Taipei yesterday, urging Japan to apologize for forcing Taiwanese women to serve as “comfort women” during the war.
Holding placards demanding that the Japanese government apologize for using comfort women, photographs of Taiwanese comfort women and five wheelchairs that represent former comfort women who were unable to attend the demonstration, more than 100 demonstrators chanted slogans as they marched from Zhongxiao E Road to Japan’s representative office in Taiwan, located on Qingcheng Street.
“It’s been 20 years since former Taiwanese comfort women started their campaign to demand an apology from the Japanese government. At the time, there were 58 former comfort women, but now, only nine are still alive,” Taipei City Women’s Rescue Foundation executive director Kang Shu-hua (康淑華) said. “How long do they have to wait for justice to be served? Will they really see justice in their lifetimes?”
Kang said that while some former comfort women had taken part in demonstrations in past years, none were able to attend this year because their health was too fragile.
Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Lin Shih-chia (林世嘉) and Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wu Yi-chen (吳宜臻) also took part in the demonstration.
“It isn’t shameful to recognize the mistakes of the past,” Lin said. “The former comfort women are now in their 80s or 90s. Their youth was destroyed by you [Japan], they deserve a formal apology from you.”
Wu accused the government of not helping former comfort women.
“President Ma Ying-jeou [馬英九] met with former comfort women in June and heard their call for help. Why hasn’t he said anything yet?” Wu asked. “We demand that the government defend the rights of Taiwanese nationals.”
Masahiko Sugita, Economic Affairs Director of the Japanese representative office, accepted a letter of complaint from the demonstrators and promised to forward the letter to the appropriate party.
When Sugita stepped out of the office, the crowd started to shout “apologize.” As Sugita returned into the office with the letter without responding to the crowd, they tore up small Japanese military flags.