A painful 20-year fight by Taiwanese women for dignity and for an apology from Japan after being forced into sexual slavery during World War II is being recorded in a documentary by a Taipei-based rights group.
The short film aims to show that the women are no longer victims of the atrocities of the past, the Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation said.
The project, which began in late 2010, has been a race against time as the surviving “comfort women” are all nearly 90 years old, the foundation said.
Two former comfort women have already died since the project began, said the foundation, which for the last two decades has been dedicated to helping former comfort women cope with their mental anguish and to seek justice and compensation from Japan.
At present, only nine Taiwanese women who have openly spoken of their suffering at the hands of Japanese forces are still alive, the foundation said.
“If we don’t do it now, it will be too late,” foundation executive director Kang Shu-hua (康淑華) said.
The foundation has so far invested about NT$1 million (US$33,000) in the film, but an additional NT$1.5 million needs to be raised to fully complete the project, Kang said.
The film, provisionally titled Grandma’s Springtime, mainly documents the recent lives of five comfort women, who all regularly participate in the foundation’s activities to heal their wounds, Kang said.
She said that other women also share their traumatic experiences.
Grandma’s Springtime shows how the women are moving on with their lives despite the traumatic memories they have.
In the film, one woman puts on an exhibition of her own photographs, another engages in art therapy and one woman summons the courage to make friends with Japanese nationals.
“If I can live with these wounds, so can you,” one of the women said in the documentary. “There is nothing in life that is unbearable.”
Echoing the remarks, Kang said: “Through the film, we want to send the message that the role of ‘victim’ has changed into that of ‘life fighter.’”
These women have experienced a rough road in the fight against Japan, Kang said, citing the example of a group of Taiwanese women who lost a lawsuit against the Japanese government in 2005.
“Even so, they have not given up,” she said.
“We hope the 40-minute documentary will be finished by the end of this year,” she said, adding that she expected the film to eventually be screened in theaters as a reminder of a past that should not be forgotten.