A Taiwanese documentary chronicling the later years of Taiwanese women who were forced into sexual slavery during World War II is to hit moviehouses this week to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the end of the Sino-Japanese war.
The 76-minute-long Song of the Reed (蘆葦之歌) was produced by the Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation and directed by Wu Hsiu-ching (吳秀菁), an assistant professor at National Taiwan University of Arts.
It documents how some of the “comfort women” in Taiwan overcame grave physical and mental trauma and developed their attitudes toward life over the years, the foundation said, adding that the film focuses on women who attended various workshops organized by the group.
“The documentary portrays the strength of life and courage” demonstrated by the women, foundation executive director Kang Shu-hua (康淑華) said.
It is to start showing in cinemas in Taipei, Taoyuan and Kaohsiung tomorrow.
“It is meaningful” that the film is being screened at a time the nation is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Kang said.
The film follows six Taiwanese women who have openly spoken of their suffering at the hands of the Japanese, but four of them have died since the completion of filming in 2013, the foundation said.
Recounting the three years she spent filming the women, most of whom were in their 80s, Wu said the process was filled with challenges.
The crew had to cultivate their relations with the a-ma (阿嬤, grandmothers in Hoklo, commonly known as Taiwanese) in the movie, and it took a while for the a-ma to overcome the difficulties.
However, “our hearts finally won the a-ma over with real friendship,” she said.
“The documentary records true stories,” Wu said, urging young people to watch the film “to know more about what happened on our home soil.”
Yoko Shiba, a member of a Japanese advocacy group for comfort women issues, said that having met several Taiwanese comfort women over the years, she was very touched by the documentary and greatly misses those who have passed away.
A granddaughter of one of the comfort women featured in the documentary also attended the event, recalling her grandmother, who passed away in June 2013, as an optimistic person.
The film has been screened in five special showings across the nation, as well as in New York, Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan, the foundation said.
Last year, it won the Best Anthropology Concern Award at the International Gold Panda Awards for Documentary in Chengdu, China.
Song of the Reed is the second film on comfort women produced by the foundation.
More than 2,000 Taiwanese women and many more across Asia were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II, the foundation said.
The issue is still a point of contention today between countries in the region — particularly South Korea and China — and Japan.
Over the past two decades, the foundation has been dedicated to helping comfort women cope with their mental anguish and seek compensation from Japan. It has launched many initiatives in this regard, including documentaries, art exhibitions and counseling workshops.
Despite the foundation’s repeated calls for an apology and compensation for the comfort women in protests held every year, the Japanese government has never given them a satisfactory response.
With the assistance of the foundation, a group of Taiwanese comfort women filed a lawsuit against the Japanese government in 1999, which they lost in 2005.
Individual tourists who arrive in Taiwan from tomorrow are eligible to receive limited-edition lucky bags to mark the Lantern Festival, Tourism Administration officials said yesterday. The Lantern Festival-themed lucky bags each contain a Year of the Dragon red envelope, a mini lantern, a NT$300 coupon for an amusement park ticket and a NT$500 Taiwan PASS coupon, the officials said. To get a lucky bag, visitors must present a passport or residence certificate and proof of their date of entry at a tourism center at either terminal at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) or Kaohsiung International Airport, they said. The
TAKE PRECAUTIONS: Never hike alone and prepare food, water and appropriate equipment for Taiwan’s mountains, particularly in the winter, officials said Two mountain hikers were rescued yesterday, a day after a body was airlifted out of Yushan National Park, one of several deaths related to mountaineering or hiking in the past two weeks, the Ministry of the Interior said yesterday. A Nantou County mountain rescue team called for a helicopter while responding to a call yesterday morning. They said a woman surnamed Chen (陳), 31, and a man surnamed Lin (林), 32, got lost in the mountains around the Batongguan Historic Trail (八通關古道), while traveling west toward Dongpu Township (東埔). They were directed to a nearby alpine meadow, where the helicopter landed with four
‘CORRECT CALL’: The navy said the captain was right to send crew out to fix an issue with a buoy, and that the buckles connecting two of them to the safety line came loose Equipment and environmental reasons, not human error, were to blame for the loss of three submariners on Dec. 21 last year, the navy said yesterday. The navy would not punish any of the Hai Hu’s (海虎) crew after an investigation determined that the captain was correct in sending crew to retrieve a safety buoy, it said in a news release. Three crew members — a master chief petty officer surnamed Lin (林) and two petty officers surnamed Yen (顏) and Chang (張) — are still unaccounted for after being swept from the submarine’s deck by a wave while trying to retrieve the
A student at a Taichung high school who committed suicide in February last year was bullied by school officials, the school said on Saturday, reversing its previous findings after the student’s father asked that the case be reinvestigated. In a statement, Feng Yuan Senior High School said its latest investigation found that four staff members — the director of student affairs, the chief military instructor and two safety instructors — bullied the student, who killed himself on Feb. 18 last year. That contradicted its previous conclusions that the staff’s actions had not amounted to bullying. The student’s father said his son was subjected