The plaque on a museum dedicated to Taiwanese “comfort women,” who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II, was unveiled on Tuesday, International Women’s Day.
It was a momentous day in the history of the women’s rights movement in Taiwan, Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation chairwoman Huang Shu-ling (黃淑玲) said.
After more than a decade, the foundation has realized its dream of establishing a museum in memory of Taiwanese comfort women, Huang said at a ceremony in Taipei, which was attended by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Chen Lien-hua (陳蓮花), a former comfort woman.
The Ama Museum promotes peace and human rights, Ma said, adding that it opens a new chapter in the history of Taiwanese comfort women.
That part of history must be preserved not for revenge, but to reveal the truth and remember the lessons of the war, Ma said, urging Japan to do more in dealing with the issue of comfort women.
Chen, 92, said she was grateful to see the establishment of the museum.
She is one of three surviving Taiwanese comfort women who have spoken openly about their suffering during the war.
In response to questions about Japan’s handling of the issue, she said that the Japanese government has not responded to their demands, adding that she feared that she might not live long enough to see the day when Japan issues a formal apology and offers compensation.
“Ama” means “grandmother” in Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese). The foundation calls former comfort women “ama,” as most of them are in their late 80s or early 90s.
The foundation said it hopes that the museum would become a home for comfort women and a place where they would always be remembered. One of the goals of the foundation is to inform future generations about the history of comfort women and women’s rights, it added.
Housed in a two-story building and covering 150 ping (496m2), the museum is to feature a permanent exhibition on Taiwanese comfort women, displaying photographs, documents and videos related to them, as well as the exchanges over the past two decades between foundation members and Taiwanese comfort women, the foundation said.
In addition to the exhibition, the foundation is to organize workshops and seminars at the museum on topics such as human rights and sexual abuse, it added.
The museum is located in a renovated building in Taipei’s historic Dadaocheng (大稻埕) area and its formal opening is scheduled to take place in September, the foundation said.
The opening is to mark the foundation’s 25 years of efforts in helping comfort women cope with their mental anguish and seek justice and compensation from Japan. Over the past two decades, it has collected many first-hand accounts since it began interviewing the women, the foundation said.
More than 2,000 Taiwanese women were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during the war, according to the foundation.