Tue, Aug 16, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Protesters demand Japan apologize to ‘comfort women’

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff Reporter

A protester who is painted sits next to a photograph of statues of “comfort women” to urge Japan to apologize outside the Interchange Association, Japan, in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

More than 100 protesters from a range of civic groups rallied outside the Interchange Association, Japan, in Taipei yesterday, demanding that the Japanese government apologize to Taiwanese “comfort women” and provide them compensation.

The rally, which corresponded with the anniversary of Japan’s announcement of surrender during World War II, saw protesters shouting that history could not be erased nor justice compromised.

Advocates promised to carry on working in the interests of the nation’s “comfort women,” even though recent deaths have left only three known “comfort women” remaining.

While protesters said that the advanced age of the remaining victims prevented them from attending, a street performer covered in golden metallic make-up represented them, sitting motionless in a chair beside protesters in an imitation of a bronze statue erected by South Korean activists outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul.

Advocates presented the “statue” with offerings of flowers before the performer walked with them to offer their petition to an association representative.

“The demand of comfort women is the same as it has been for [the movement’s] 25 years: A formal restoration of their honor by the Japanese government, a formal apology and legally binding indemnities,” Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation executive director Kang Shu-hua (康淑華) said.

She criticized a recently agreed Japanese-South Korean accord on the issue because it had failed to include a formal apology and formal indemnities.

She also panned the Japanese government for seeking the removal of a bronze “comfort girl” statue outside its Seoul embassy as part of the agreement, saying that Tokyo’s actions showed it still was not willing to engage in soul-searching over historic human rights abuses.

“Every year when we come here, I am saddened because the [comfort women] a-ma (阿嬤, grandmothers in Hoklo, commonly known as Taiwanese) keep passing away with unresolved resentments, regret and helplessness,” Taiwan Women’s Link chairperson Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英) said. “At their age, they do not care about the difference between ‘compensation’ and ‘indemnities’ anymore — all they want is an apology that returns their dignity by acknowledging that they were coerced, deceived and abused.”

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