The life-sized bronze statue representing the Filipino comfort women victims(Nelia Sanch’s Facebook)


A statue paying tribute to the victims of sexual slavery under the Imperial Japanese army, euphemistically referred to as the “comfort women,” has been erected in Caticlan on the island of Panay in the Philippines, the gateway to the famous vacation hotspot Boracay.

Japanese daily Sankei Shimbun reported on Feb. 6 that Filipino activist Nelia Sancho had erected a life-sized bronze statue representing the Filipino women victims of the Japanese comfort stations, and held an unveiling ceremony. Sancho is the head of an international solidarity conference calling for the resolution of Japan’s wartime past. The bronze statue was completed in July 2018, with about 700,000 pesos (US$13,381) of personal and donated funds, and is engraved with words that salute the “Filipino comfort women who were victims of sex slavery by the Japanese military during the Second World War.”

The statue was built by sculptor Carlos Anorico Sancho over two months. Sancho erected the statue in a parking lot she owns along Caticlan Jetty Port Road, a close walk to a port where tourist board Boracay-bound boats. Sancho said, “Now [the Japanese government] cannot pressure us to remove the statue.” In 2017, a stone monument to the comfort women was erected in Manila, the Filipino capital, and in December 2018 a statue of a young girl donated by a Korean organization was erected in San Pedro, near Manila. However, due to pressure from the Japanese government both monuments were removed. Sancho, then, was referring to the fact that because her statue was erected on private property, she would not have to remove it, regardless of pressure from the Japanese government.

There were approximately 20 participants from Taiwan, North Korea, South Korea and Japan at the unveiling ceremony on Feb. 5, and about 70 students from a local high school, who recited a poem honoring the victims of wartime sex slavery. Japan invaded the Philippines in 1941, when it was part of US territory, and Filipino women became the victims of the Japanese military’s “comfort stations.” Since the testimony of Kim Hak-soon (deceased) in 1992, Filipino victims have also come out to testify.


By Cho Ki-weon, Hankyoreh