A Taipei-based human rights group will release a documentary this year chronicling the painful 20-year fight for an official apology from Japan by local women who were forced into sex slavery during World War II by Japanese forces.
The film will show that the women — known euphemistically as comfort women — are no longer victims of the atrocities of the past, Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation executive director Kang Shu-hua (康淑華) said.
“The filming was completed in December,” Kang said. “We plan to have the premiere in late April or early May.”
With a budget of about NT$2 million (US$67,230), the project documents the lives of six comfort women and their participation in the foundation’s activities designed to help heal their wounds, Kang said.
Those featured in the documentary include Huang Wu Hsiu-mei (黃吳秀妹), the world’s oldest comfort woman from Taiwan, who died from respiratory failure in November at the age of 95 in Taoyuan, the foundation said.
In 1940, at the age of 23, Huang Wu was forced into servitude as a comfort woman for Japanese soldiers in China’s Guangdong Province, the foundation said.
More importantly, the film tells the stories of how the women moved on with their lives despite these painful memories, Kang said.
The film aims to send the message that “their roles as ‘victims’ have changed into those of ‘fighters for life,’” she said.
The foundation is continuing to raise funds from the public to obtain enough financial support to get the documentary screened in cinemas, she said.
This will help remind more people of a past that should not be forgotten, she added.
Beginning in late 2010, the documentary project has been a race against time, as the surviving comfort women were 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.
Only eight Taiwanese women who have spoken openly about their suffering at the hands of Japanese forces are still alive, Kang said.
The women have traveled a bumpy road in their fight for justice, Kang said, adding that a group of Taiwanese comfort women lost a lawsuit against the Japanese government in 2005, but they have not given up.
The foundation is also planning to open a museum dedicated to comfort women and on the violence suffered by women in time of war, Kang said.
More than 2,000 Taiwanese women were forced into sex slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army, the foundation said.