Five former victims of Japan’s wartime sex slavery and their supporters submitted hundreds of official documents to the government on Monday, demanding that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acknowledge Japan’s past atrocity and formally apologize.
Several support groups backing the women, who are from Indonesia, the Philippines and South Korea, said the documents collected from around the world include clear evidence of coercion.
Japan apologized in 1993 over the “comfort women” system of military prostitutes before and during World War II, but it insists there is no proof the women were systematically coerced by the government, citing the lack of official Japanese documents stating so.
The Cabinet in an Abe-led government in 2007 underscored the lack of proof. Abe recently promised Japan will not change its 1993 apology, but is re-examining the study that was the basis of the apology. Neighboring countries have criticized Japan over its review, particularly a re-examination of interviews with former South Korean victims, as an attempt to discredit the women and the issue.
“That’s a lie. We have evidence. I’m a living proof,” said Estelita Dy, an 84-year-old victim from the Philippines who was kidnapped by Japanese soldiers in 1943 when she was 12.
“I feel outraged every time I hear people say we were not forced into this. That’s why I have to keep telling my story,” she said.
She said she was happy to see the new documents and the group’s demand to Abe being submitted to the government. Dozens of fellow victims in the Philippines have died, she said, calling for a quick resolution.
The support groups criticized the government for looking the other way since the 1993 apology and now trying to discredit the content of studies under previous governments more willing to atone for Japan’s wartime actions.
The victims and their supporters demanded that Abe officially acknowledge Japan’s wartime government and military established and ran the brothel system, and that the women were forced into the system against their will. They also demanded the Abe government disclose all official records related to the issue, conduct an additional investigation and promote education.
Historians say tens of thousands of women from across Asia were forced to provide sex to Japanese soldiers at front-line brothels. Japanese nationalists insist the women were voluntary prostitutes, not sex slaves.
In 1995, Japan set up a private fund that provided ￥2 million (US$20,000) each to about 280 women in Taiwan, the Philippines and South Korea, and funded nursing homes and medical assistance for Indonesian and former Dutch sex slaves. In South Korea, more than 200 women came forward and were recognized as eligible recipients, but only a fraction accepted the money due to criticism of the private fund instead of official compensation.
Yang Chingja, a leader of Japanese supporters, said Abe’s government has tried to trivialize the issue as a bilateral dispute between Japan and South Korea, instead of a universal problem of sexual abuse of women.
Yoshiaki Yoshimi, a Chuo University historian and a respected expert in the topic, said the 529 documents he and other historians have compiled since 1993 contain proof the Japanese military and the government were directly involved in setting up and recruiting the girls and women from around Asia, often by deception and kidnapping.
More than one-third of the documents came from Japanese Ministry of Defense archives. Dozens were obtained from foreign militaries and governments, including Taiwan, US, China and the Netherlands — a former colonizer of Indonesia. A document recently discovered in a Japanese Ministry of Justice archive showed a cover-up by a military police official using the military budget, Yoshimi said.
He said the women were clearly forcibly taken away and placed under slave-like conditions at the brothels.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
A squad of gun-toting police officers patrolled Myanmar’s sacred site of Bagan under the cover of night, taking on plunderers snatching relics from temples forsaken by tourists due to COVID-19 restrictions. Each evening as dusk falls, about 100 officers fan out across the plain of Bagan covering 50km2, sweeping flashlights over the crumbling monuments to scour for intruders. “Our security forces are patrolling day and night,” Police Lieutenant Colonel Sein Win told reporters. “We have it under control for the moment, but it’s a challenge.” The central Burmese city is strewn with more than 3,500 ancient monuments — stupas, temples, murals and sculptures