Comfort women video testimony made public after 21 years

With the Japanese government taking steps to subvert the Kono Statement, which acknowledged that women had been forced to serve as sex slaves for the Japanese imperial army, the Association for the Pacific War Victims made public a video recording showing Japanese government investigators receiving testimony from former comfort women about 20 years ago. Since this material served as the grounds for the Kono Statement, the group had agreed to a request from the Japanese government not to publish it.

The association met with reporters at the Seoul Press Center on Sept. 15 and released a 15-minute video showing Japanese government investigators listening to the testimony of 16 former comfort women. The video was recorded 21 years ago, at the end of July 1993, just before the release of the Kono Statement. The video is one segment of a recording of the testimony. The comfort women provided the testimony at the association’s office, which was located in the Yongsan District of Seoul at the time.
The released video contains scenes of the former comfort women telling the Japanese government investigators through interpreters about the brutality they had suffered and arranging the schedule for their testimony.
“When I was 18 years old, I spent two or three weeks in an attic after my uncle told me that young women were being taken away. After that I came down from the attic to find something to eat when all of a sudden a Japanese policeman appeared in front of me, grabbed me by the arm, and dragged me off,” said Kim Bok-seon in the recording. Kim, a former comfort woman, died on Dec. 12 at the age of 86.
“I was weeping with fear, clinging to the pillar in the room. I tried to run away, but in the end they took me to Busan. I became a comfort woman for the Japanese imperial army, and was moved to Simonoseki and then Osaka,” said Yoon Sun-man, 83.
“I got beat a lot for being disobedient. My arms were twisted and still are today,” Yun said, lifting her weak knees and her left elbow, which is still crooked though decades have passed.
While it was not included in the video released on Monday, the association also made public the written testimony of Kil Gap-soon, who also took part in the Japanese investigation.
“When I refused to sleep with the Japanese soldiers, they tortured me by searing my back with a red-hot soldering iron,” Kil said. She raised her blouse and showed the Japanese investigators the burn marks that still remained on her back. Gil passed away in 1998 at the age of 74, five years after giving her testimony.
“Aside from Yoon Sun-man and Kim Kyung-sun, the other 14 of the 16 women who testified at the time have already died. Now the Abe government is showing its blatant intention to attack the Kono Statement,” said Kim Young-man, 58, Gil’s son.
“We refrained from publishing the material for 21 years at the request of the Japanese government. But now that the Abe government is distorting the truth of the Kono Statement, we decided to publish part of the recording. In the future, we will prepare a white paper about the Kono Statement and submit it to the UN for the consideration of the entire world,” said Yang Soon-im, president of the association who was present during the testimony.

By Han-kyo-rae News Daily

Video of testimony by from former comfort women to Japanese government investigators is played during a press conference held by the Association for the Pacific War Victims at the Seoul Press Center on Sept. 15. (Yonhap News)
Video of testimony by from former comfort women to Japanese government investigators is played during a press conference held by the Association for the Pacific War Victims at the Seoul Press Center on Sept. 15. (Yonhap News)

The Violence Against Women Act By Joe Biden

Twenty years ago today, the Violence Against Women Act was signed into law. It remains my proudest legislative achievement — but it didn’t happen because of me.

It happened because, at a time when kicking a woman in the stomach or pushing her down the stairs was not taken seriously as a crime — and at a time when domestic violence against women was considered a “family affair” — something remarkable happened.

Incredibly brave and courageous women began speaking up.

Women like Marla, a model whose face was slashed by two men because she’d refused her landlord’s entrees, and who was questioned for 20 minutes during the trial about why she was wearing a miniskirt. As if she had asked for or welcomed this repugnant act of violence. Marla spoke out.

Women like Christine, who was raped in a dorm room by a friend’s boyfriend. Christine said she hadn’t even known she’d been raped, because she’d known the man. But Christine added her voice.

There were so many more. Women who had their arms broken with hammers and heads beaten with pipes, who were among the 21,000 women who were assaulted, raped, and murdered in a single week in America at the time.

All of these women are victims. But they’re also survivors.

And because they spoke up, the conversation changed and a national consensus formed to do something to protect them. Their stories — experiences shared by millions more women — put this issue front and center before the American people. The country was forced to see the rawest form of violence and acknowledge the culture that hid it. And they began to demand change as a result. Local coalitions of shelters and rape centers led the way. National women’s groups and civil rights organizations got on board. And a bipartisan group in Congress got the bill to President Clinton’s desk.

That’s how we got this law enacted.

And with each reauthorization, we added more protections. In 2000, we included a definition of dating violence. In 2005, we invested in health providers to screen patients for domestic violence and associated long-term psychological and physical health. And in 2013, we made VAWA services available to LGBT Americans and restored authority for tribes to prosecute non-Indian offenders. As a result, over the years, we’ve seen domestic violence rates drop significantly, fundamental reforms of state laws, and higher rates of convictions for special-victims units.

But we know our work here is never done. This past week, I announced that we’ll bring together legal experts, scholars, and advocates to convene a White House Summit on Civil Rights and Equal Protection for Women because we know bias against victims of rape and sexual assault still exist in our criminal justice system — and we must make clear every victim has a basic civil right to equal protection under the law.

And if you need information and resources about how to respond and prevent sexual assault in our schools and on our college campuses, you can visit NotAlone.gov.

And if, God forbid, you’re experiencing this sort of violence or know someone who is, you can get help. You can do it right now. There is a network of passionate and dedicated folks all across the country who are ready to listen. It’s anonymous, and it’s safe. In fact, VAWA created the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which you can visit here,* or dial 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) right now for help and advice.

Twenty years after the Violence Against Women Act was enacted, I remain hopeful as ever that the decency of the American people will keep us moving forward.

They understand that the true character of our country is measured when violence against women is no longer accepted as society’s secret, and where we all understand that even one case is too many.

Thank you,

Vice President Joe Biden

Free E-Book: ‘Balsamina: Touch-me-not’

Balsamina: Touch-me-not

Click above title, and you will be linked to the download site, where you can read the book in ibook version and others.

Cover of a E-book
Cover of a E-book

‘Balsamina: Touch-me-not’ is written by the author, Jung-mo Yoon, who is a popular writer and receives many awards for his work in Korea’s literary circle. He takes great interests in history and writes many history novels, including ‘Balsamina: Touch-me-not’, a journey of a young girl who got kidnapped as a comfort woman in her early age.

We -‘Justice for comfort women’- hope that this story will reach hearts of many people across the world, and let people know the issue is still with us.

S.Korea vice foreign minister visits facility for former ‘comfort women’

South Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae Yong on Thursday visited a facility in Seoul for former “comfort women” who seek a formal apology and compensation from Japan for coercing them into sexual slavery during wartime.

The move came as South Korea and Japan prepare to hold a “strategic dialogue” this month in Tokyo involving Cho and his Japanese Foreign Ministry counterpart Akitaka Saiki, which is likely to take up the comfort women issue.

If realized, it will be the first such meeting since South Korean President Park Geun Hye took office in February last year.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Roh Kwang Il said Cho’s visit to the facility for former comfort women is in line with the country’s long-standing practice of paying courtesy calls on the elderly ahead of Chuseok, the harvest moon festival that starts Monday.

Noting that the women “suffered greatly their entire lives,” he said the vice foreign minister visited them “to explain about the government’s efforts to resolve the issue.”

The issue remains one of the biggest stumbling blocks in improving strained ties between South Korea and Japan.

The South Korean government backs the women’s demands for a formal apology and compensation, stressing that time is of the essence as the dozens who remain alive are all advanced in age.

In a statement issued last Friday, the Foreign Ministry said, “The issue of sexual slavery victims drafted for Japan’s Imperial Army during World War II is a current issue of universal human rights and sexual violence against women in wartime.”

Urging a settlement “as soon as possible,” it said the Japanese government “should squarely face the essence and nature of the issue of its military sexual slavery victims and present a solution to the issue that is specific and acceptable to the victims.”

Japan maintains that issues relating to its 1910-1945 rule over Korea, including reparations and claims by individuals, were legally settled with South Korea by a 1965 treaty in which the two neighboring countries normalized their relations.

It also says clear expressions of remorse and apology have been made by the government on various occasions regarding the comfort women issue and other issues relating to Japan’s wartime actions.

In a 1993 statement issued by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, the government then admitted that the Japanese military was involved in the establishment and management of comfort stations and that the women were recruited against their will in many cases.

But the current government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, while expressing sympathy for the “immeasurable pain and suffering” experienced by comfort women, has not recognized the existence of evidence they were forcibly rounded up and taken away to comfort stations.

by Kyodo International