An exhibition that chronicles the stories of “comfort women” is to open today on Bopiliao Old Street (剝皮寮歷史街區), a historic area in Taipei’s Wanhua District (萬華), in support of women coerced into sex work by the Japanese military during World War II.
Hosted by the Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation, the exhibition features photographs and documentaries that depict the lives of Taiwanese comfort women and are aimed at rallying support for a prolonged campaign to demand another official apology from the Japanese government.
The foundation said at least 1,200 Taiwanese women, along with a large number of women from other Asian nations, were forced to have sex with Japanese soldiers in military brothels.
“We hope the stories of these brave women can inspire courage in contemporary women who are struggling against sexual abuse or violence,” foundation director Kang Shu-hua (康淑華) said at a news conference yesterday, adding that just five Taiwanese comfort women remain alive, each more than 90 years old.
The exhibition also features a project of participatory art initiated by Hong Kong artist Phoebe Man (文晶瑩), who invited more than 800 people to express their thoughts on the issue with written messages and drawings.
The drawings — plastered onto the walls of the exhibition venue — all feature either a red circle in the middle, evoking the Japanese flag, or a red heart symbolizing love and peace.
Along with participants from Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea and the UK, many Japanese also contributed to the project, showing solidarity with the comfort women and calling on the Japanese government to address the issue, Man said.
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