Liu Huang A-tao (劉黃阿桃), the first Taiwanese woman to accuse the Japanese government of driving thousands of Taiwanese women into sex slavery during World War II, died on Thursday at the age of 90.
Liu Huang united eight other Taiwanese self--proclaimed former “comfort women” to file lawsuits against the Japanese government. Her death, from natural causes, marked a chapter in the women’s battle for justice against the atrocities allegedly perpetrated by occupying Japanese forces.
The leader of a women’s group said “Grandma A-tao” had waited 66 years for justice, but did not receive a word of apology from the Japanese government before she passed away.
Photo Courtesey of the Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation
Kang Shu-hua (康淑華), chief executive of the Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation, which helps Taiwanese comfort women seek justice and compensation from Japan, described what happened to Liu Huang before she returned to Taiwan in 1945 after Japan surrendered to the Allied forces.
Foundation chairwoman Huang Shu-ling (黃淑玲) said Japan had tried in 1995 to make “private” peace with the surviving comfort women through an “Asian Women’s Fund” in an attempt to evade public responsibility for its war-time atrocities.
She said Liu Huang was encouraged by a South Korean comfort woman who said: “It is not us, but the Japanese government, that should feel ashamed.”
After hearing that, Liu Huang decided to publicly accuse the Japanese government of inhumane treatment of Taiwanese women, Huang said. Liu Huang led eight other former comfort women to file international lawsuits against the Japanese government from 1999 to 2005, demanding an apology and compensation.
Sixty-nine years ago, Liu Huang was duped into service in Southeast Asia, being told she would work as a nurse, but was actually forced into providing sex services to Japanese soldiers, Huang said. Three days after she landed in Indonesia, she was injured during a battle and had to have her womb removed, Huang said, adding that Liu Huang kept all these tribulations to herself after she returned to Taiwan in 1945.
She later married a retired soldier whose love and patience informed a new phase of life. They adopted a child and raised a family together.
The assertion by the South Korean woman prompted Liu Huang to become the first Taiwanese to make public accusations of sex slavery against Japan, Huang said.
During the process of filing lawsuits against Japan, Liu Huang said: “We’re all cherished daughters in the eyes of our parents. Since the Japanese army robbed us of our virginity, it’s not too much to demand an apology from such a government.”
Kang said many comfort women had taken their stories with them to their graves, adding that they had never heard a single word of apology from Japan while they were alive.
It’s truly sad, Kang said, that after Japan ruined so many lives, those lives have now ended. She vowed to use her foundation’s resources to continue to help the surviving former comfort women fight for justice, which she said would be one way to respect the memory of Liu Huang.
With the passing of Liu Huang, only 10 Taiwanese comfort women remain. They are all waiting for an apology from Japan, Kang said.
Liu Huang’s actions encouraged other victims to shed their sense of shame and join hands to confront Japan and demand justice, Kang said.
Huang recalled a moment when Liu Huang showed her a scar on the right side of her abdomen and said: “This is where my pain is, do you know?”
In 2002, the Taiwanese comfort women lost their lawsuit against Japan. From that point, the Taipei Women’s Rescue -Foundation changed its strategy, joining forces with Japanese and South Korean legal associations to push for Japanese parliamentary legislation to address the issue. Japan’s parliament vetoed the -legislative -proposal, but the foundation launched a new round of efforts last year to urge Japan to compensate the women.
Liu Huang’s funeral service will he held on Saturday.
Days after it was banned in China, a Mandarin ballad satirizing nationalistic Chinese Internet users is trending at No. 1 on YouTube in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Fragile (玻璃心), by Taiwan-based Malaysian rapper Namewee (黃明志) and Australian singer Kimberley Chen (陳芳語), offers a tongue-in-cheek apology to “little pink” Internet users, a disparaging term that describes patriotic “keyboard warriors” from China. After racking up more than 9 million views on YouTube, the song reached No. 3 on the site in Malaysia on Thursday, according to Kworb, a Web site that analyzes music data from around the world. It is also the only Chinese-language
NO CHANGE: US officials indicated that the ‘one China’ policy remains in place, while the NATO chief avoided discussing Biden’s comment in an effort to ease tensions US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said on Friday that the Pentagon would continue to support Taiwan’s military, but he declined to say if US troops would defend the island against China, after US President Joe Biden said there was a US “commitment” to do so. “As we’ve done over multiple administrations, we will continue to help Taiwan with the sorts of capabilities that it needs to defend itself,” Austin said at NATO headquarters. “So we’ll stay focused on those things, and I won’t engage in any hypotheticals with respect to Taiwan,” he told reporters. Biden on Thursday sparked a new firestorm
PROTECTION: The Ministry of Health and Welfare is aiming for a full vaccination rate of 30 percent, and allowing mixed first and second doses to boost coverage rates Whether Taiwan reopens its borders would depend on the nation’s vaccination coverage rate and the COVID-19 situation in other countries, Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Shih Chung-liang (石崇良) said yesterday. The Ministry of Health and Welfare is aiming for a 70 percent first-dose vaccination coverage and 30 percent two-dose coverage as part of its consideration, Shih told a media briefing following the weekly Cabinet meeting. In spite of a relatively stable COVID-19 situation in Taiwan, and calls from foreign missions and businesses in the country to allow more international travelers, the government is maintaining strict border control measures. Since March last year,
SCENIC TRAIN TOURS: TRA Director-General Du Wei said experts on aesthetics and railway culture have worked for 10 months to restore the blue locomotive Breezy Blue, the Taiwan Railways Administration’s (TRA) tourism train, is to be launched on the South Link Line on Saturday. The railway operator spent about 10 months restoring the blue diesel-powered train, which first provided service to students and commuters before being outsourced to Lion Travel, which organizes railway tour packages. TRA Director-General Du Wei (杜微) told reporters on the sidelines of a ceremony in Pingtung County’s Fangliao Township (枋寮) that the agency hopes that the restored Breezy Blue would provide an authentic experience to railway fans as well as those with fond memories of riding the blue trains to work or