When the Tokyo High Court rejected a lawsuit by a small group of elderly Taiwanese “comfort women” in 2004, Cheng Chen-tao (鄭陳桃), one of the plaintiffs, burst into tears in the courtroom.
Six years later, 89-year-old Cheng is still angred by the defeat, but said she and other comfort women would continue the decade-long legal battle against the Japanese government.
“I will not acknowledge defeat even though the court rejected our claims. I was forced to be a comfort woman when I was a student and I suffered all my life. It’s unacceptable that the Japanese government still refuses to apologize for what it did,” she said yesterday at an exhibition at the Taipei City Police Department’s Datong (大同) branch chronicling the women’s legal battle.
Photo: Wang Min-wei, Taipei Times
Cheng is one of 13 Taiwanese comfort women still alive. She joined eight other women to file a lawsuit against the Japanese government in 2001 for “recruiting” — most often through deception and coercion — tens of thousands of women from its colonies and occupied areas to serve as military sex slaves during World War II.
Cheng said she traveled all the way from Pingtung to attend the opening of the exhibition and asked for President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) assistance to help the surviving comfort women find justice and dignity.
“We flew to Japan several times, but they would not let us victims testify in court,” she said.
With the assistance from the Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation, a non-profit organization that helped support the women’s case, the plaintiffs demanded ￥10 million (US$80,300) each in damages and an official apology from the Japanese government. However, Tokyo refused to admit it had recruited comfort women and has declined requests for an apology or compensation.
“These grandmothers don’t want monetary compensation from the Japanese government. They only ask for an official apology,” foundation chairwoman Liao Ying-chih (廖英智) said.
Speaking at the opening of the exhibition, Ma said he regretted the Japanese government’s failure to acknowledge its mistakes and promised to seek justice for the women.
“It is the responsibility of the Japanese government to admit its mistakes and apologize … The battle is not over yet and it is regretful that the Japanese government still refuses to face its mistakes,” he said.
Germany has made efforts to confront its historical atrocities and even puts details of concentration camps in history textbooks, Ma said.
“It is a great pity that there are places or nations that have not achieved this stage,” he said.
Ma said it was important for governments to address their mistakes and promised that as president he would not avoid major incidents in Taiwan’s history, including the 228 Massacre and the White Terror era.
“We can forgive historical mistakes, but history cannot be forgotten. The government should not be afraid [to face] disgraceful events and it should not avoid its responsibility to offer a formal apology,” he said.
Ma praised the three comfort women who were present yesterday for their courage and held a private discussion with them after the ceremony.
Liao said that during the past year, the foundation has been seeking assistance from the Japanese Diet in the hope that laws can be passed to oblige Tokyo to apologize for the country’s treatment of the comfort women.
The number of comfort women conscripted by the Japanese government during World War II is estimated to stand at 500,000, with women and girls taken from Taiwan, Korea, China, the Philippines and other countries, Liao said.
Titled A Long Way Gone, the exhibition features documents and media coverage of the women’s lawsuit against the Japanese government, which marked its 10th anniversary this year. The exhibition runs until Feb. 28.
Additional reporting by CNA
‘LOW PROBABILITY’: China still ‘has a ways to go to develop the actual, no-kidding capability’ to seize Taiwan militarily, US General Mark Milley said The US’ top general on Thursday downplayed concern that China would attempt a military takeover of Taiwan in the near term, saying Beijing does not have the capability to do so. While there has been rising concern in Taiwan and among US lawmakers about Chinese military activity near Taiwan, such as flying jets in Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), US military officials said that such moves are not overly concerning. US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley told lawmakers that while Taiwan was still a core national interest of China, “there’s little intent right now, or motivation,
The Canadian House of Commons on Thursday unanimously passed the first reading of a proposal to create a legal framework for efforts to strengthen relations with Taiwan. The Canada-Taiwan Relations Framework Act was introduced by Canadian Member of Parliament Michael Cooper, who said that not having a formal diplomatic relationship with Taiwan has complicated interactions between the two nations. Taiwan is one of Canada’s largest trading partners, and the two share strong people-to-people links and common values, he said. Taiwan “is a vibrant economy and one of the world’s top 20 economies. It is time Canada’s relations with Taiwan reflect
A Kaohsiung woman who thought that she was dating Hollywood actor Keanu Reeves was found not guilty of abetting fraud, the Kaohsiung District Court has ruled. Citing insufficient evidence to prove intent, the court on May 27 dismissed fraud and money-laundering charges against the woman, surnamed Chang (張), saying that the evidence suggested that she had been duped. The verdict can be appealed. The verdict said that police opened an investigation into Chang after her bank account was linked to an online catfishing scheme, which involves luring someone into a relationship by using a fictional online persona. The scheme claimed two victims, including a
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday condemned Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Institute of Revolutionary Practice director Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) for calling the government a “vaccine beggar” for receiving a donation of COVID-19 vaccines from the US. “Lo is still living in feudal China,” DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) told a news conference. “When Taiwan needs unity, he uses malicious words to malign our president’s character and Taiwan’s national integrity. This person is either evil or he is completely ignorant,” she said. Taiwan donated 2 million masks to the US, and provided 2 million masks and 50,000 protective gowns to Japan when they