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China, Taiwan Apply Pressure to Japan Over ‘Comfort Women’ Issue

 

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A Chinese girl from one of the Japanese Army’s “comfort battalions” sits on a stretcher, awaiting interrogation at a camp in RangoonA Chinese girl from one of the Japanese Army’s “comfort battalions” sits on a stretcher, awaiting interrogation at a camp in Rangoon

Image Credit: UK Imperial War Museums

On December 28, Japan and South Korea announced a landmark deal to resolve the issue of “comfort women,” the euphemism used for women forced to sexually service Imperial Japanese Army troops during World War II. The deal announced last Monday sees Shinzo Abe apologize, as Japan’s prime minister, for the women’s suffering. Japan’s government also pledged to provide 1 billion yen ($8.3 million) to a fund for the women, to be established by the South Korean government.

The “comfort women” issue, and the degree to which Japan’s government will (or won’t) accept responsibility for the forced recruitment of the women, has been a major flashpoint in Japan-South Korea relations. However, South Korea isn’t the only country from which “comfort women” were drawn, and the deal between South Korea and Japan has sparked mixed reactions from other states — most notably China and Taiwan.

China (along with South Korea) has been the most vocal in accusing Japan’ of “whitewashing” history. Unsurprisingly, then, Beijing adopted a cautious stance on the comfort women deal, insisting that it would have to “wait and see” whether Japan’s actions matched its words. When the deal was announced, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang spent more time highlighting the historical issue than addressing the deal. “The forced recruitment of the ‘comfort women’ is a grave crime against humanity committed by the Japanese militarism during the Second World War against people of Asian and other victimized countries,” Lu said, urging Japan to “face up to and reflect upon its history of aggression and properly deal with the relevant issue with a sense of responsibility.”

The general consensus in Chinese state media is that the comfort women deal does not go far enough. Xinhua in particular has repeatedly called Japan’s sincerity into question in its articles on the agreement (see here, here, and here for examples). In particular, Xinhua argued that by making a deal specifically with South Korea, Japan was not acknowledging the full extent of the “comfort women” issue. “Apart from Korean women, victims also include the women of China, the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries, who also deserve an apology and compensation,” one Xinhua editorial pointed out.

The last surviving member of a group of Chinese comfort woman seeking to sue the Japanese government passed away in November at the age of 89. Yet the issue continues to live on, with China’s first memorial to the comfort women opening in December in the city of Nanjing. Beijing also sought to have documents related to the comfort women issue inscribed in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register, though that attempt was unsuccessful.

When asked if China would hold its own talks with Japan on the comfort women issue, Lu simply repeated China’s call for Japan “to face squarely and reflect upon its history of aggression and deal with the relevant issue in a responsible manner.” Though Chinese state media has called for Japan to apologize to and compensate comfort women of all nationalities, there’s no indication the that government is seriously negotiating on the issue with Japan.

By contrast, Taiwan is preparing to enter negotiations with Japan, seeking a deal similar to the one announced with South Korea. On December 29, President Ma Ying-jeou reiterated his government’s stance on the comfort women issue, saying, “The Republic of China government has always said that Japan should apologize to Taiwanese comfort women and offer compensation to them.” The same day, Foreign Minister David Lin said Taiwan would “continue negotiating with Japan to restore the dignity of Taiwan women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese army.” He said Japan had agreed to adopt a “flexible” stance and conduct negotiations, which will start in January in Tokyo.

On Tuesday, a cross-agency working group (which including a comfort women advocacy group, the Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation) met to hammer out a strategy for negotiations with Japan. According to Taiwan’s Central News Agency, Taipei will ask Tokyo to “issue a formal apology to Taiwanese comfort women, offer compensation to the surviving women, and restore their reputation.” Taiwan’s top representative in Japan, Shen Ssu-tsun, met on Monday with the head of Japan’s Interchange Association, which handles relations with Taiwan, to discuss the issue.

Charles Chen, a spokesperson for Taiwan’s Presidential Office, confirmed on Tuesday that Taiwan wants the same deal that Japan offered to South Korea. However, Taiwan was unnerved by comments from Japan’s chief cabinet secretary that Tokyo does not, in fact, intend to start a new round of negotiations with other countries based on the South Korea deal. Yoshihide Suga told reporters that Japan has dealt with the issue “in a sincere manner considering each circumstance” in different countries. He indicated that the situations in other countries were “different” from the one in South Korea, suggesting that Japan will not extend to same offer to other governments.

According to the Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation, there were around 2,000 Taiwanese women forced into sexual slavery during World War II. Of the 58 who came forward to demand an apology and compensation from Japan, four are still alive.

By Shannon Tiezzi from The Diplomat

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Former brothel a memorial to WWII’s ‘comfort women’

A MEMORIAL for “comfort women” during World War II opened to the public in east China’s Jiangsu Province on December 2, 2015.

It is the first in China’s mainland dedicated to the group, and was identified by victims as a military brothel run by the invading Japanese more than 70 years ago.

The memorial in Nanjing, Jiangsu’s capital, covers more than 3,000 square meters and comprises eight two-story buildings.

The Japanese took the city, then China’s capital, on December 13, 1937, where they killed 300,000 people within six weeks in what was later dubbed the Nanjing Massacre, or the Rape of Nanking.

The brothel is the largest former “comfort station” still standing.

An estimated 200,000 women from China and many others from the Korean Peninsula, the Philippines, Indonesia and some other countries, euphemistically known as “comfort women,” were forced into sexual servitude by Japanese troops.

In Nanjing alone, there were more than 40 military brothels.

In the courtyard of the memorial, there are sculptures of three “comfort women,” including one who is pregnant.

That woman was Pak Yong-sim from Korea. Once living in Room 19 of building No. 2, Pak revisited the site on November 21, 2003. She died in 2012.

More than 1,600 artefacts and 680 photos are on display, including potassium permanganate given to the memorial by late victim Lei Guiying. The powder was used in the brothel for disinfection..

“My mom was raped at the age of 9, and became a ‘comfort woman” at 13,” said Tang Jiaguo, Lei’s adopted son. “She didn’t want to talk about her past until 2006, when she testified for the crime of Japanese.”

Lei died in 2007. In her will she wrote, “May the tragedy not be repeated. May there be no more wars.”

“For a long time, the history of ‘comfort women’ was buried,” said Su Zhiliang, a professor at Shanghai Normal University.

“In recent years, the Japanese made repeated attempts to tamper with history. The move angered many whose countries had been plagued by the ‘comfort woman’ system. That is why countries like China research and protect the history.”

Yun Ju-Keyng from South Korea, president of the history museum Independence Hall of Korea, was at yesterday’s opening ceremony.

“This year marks the 70th anniversary of China’s victory over Japanese invaders, and also independence of the South Korea,” she said. “Denial of the Japanese government over the past crimes hurt the victims, who are elderly now, a second time. China and South Korea should join hands in exposing the atrocities of the Japanese imperial army, so former ‘comfort women’ can live to see the offenders apologize.”

Movie on China’s last surviving ‘comfort women’ debuts at Busan Film Festival

To go with Entertainment-film-festival-SKorea-Busan-China,INTERVIEW  This undated handout image received from the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) on October 9, 2015 shows a still image from the documentary film "Twenty Two". The documentary by Chinese filmmaker Guo Ke sets out to tell the story of what were the last 22 surviving 田omfort women� living in China. Three have died since filming finished in mid-2014.   AFP PHOTO / BIFF             ---- EDITORS NOTE ---- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE   MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / BIFF"   NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS  -  DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS - NO ARCHIVES
To go with Entertainment-film-festival-SKorea-Busan-China,INTERVIEW
This undated handout image received from the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) on October 9, 2015 shows a still image from the documentary film “Twenty Two”. The documentary by Chinese filmmaker Guo Ke sets out to tell the story of what were the last 22 surviving 田omfort women� living in China. Three have died since filming finished in mid-2014. AFP PHOTO / BIFF —- EDITORS NOTE —- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE MANDATORY CREDIT “AFP PHOTO / BIFF” NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS – DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS – NO ARCHIVES

BUSAN, SOUTH KOREA – For 89-year-old Zhang Xiantu, there is only one way to cope with the horrors that haunt her from the time she spent in sexual slavery during the Japanese occupation of China.

“When I start to remember,” says Zhang. “I force myself to forget.”

Zhang is among the subjects of “Twenty Two,” a documentary by Chinese filmmaker Guo Ke that sets out to tell the story of what were the last 22 surviving “comfort women” living in China. Three have died since filming finished in mid-2014.

Estimates of the women, forced to provide sex for Japanese troops before and during World War II, vary between 20,000 and 200,000.

“Twenty Two” made its world premiere at the Busan International Film Festival, which ended Saturday in a week where tensions between Japan and China have once again flared over wartime history.

Japan on Saturday lashed out at UNESCO’s decision to inscribe China’s “Documents on Nanking Massacre” in its Memory of the World register, describing it as “extremely regrettable” and unfair, and calling for the process to be reformed.

On Friday, the U.N. cultural and scientific body agreed to accept 47 new inscriptions, including a request by Beijing to log documents recording weekslong ordeal of mass murder and rape committed by Japanese troops after the fall of Nanking in 1937. The name of the city is now pronounced Nanjing.

Last month, China staged massive nationwide commemorations to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of its conflict with Japan and has long fought for what is calls a “sincere apology” to the victim nations.

“I did not want these women lost to history,” Guo said on the sidelines of the festival in Busan.

“No one can fully understand what they must have gone through, but I wanted to put their stories down before they are lost to history and I wanted to world to see that these women are heroes,” he said.

With the help of the Shanghai-based Research Center for Chinese Comfort Women, Guo took two years to track down the survivors and film them in their rural villages.

Some were willing to talk about the past and some refused, while age and infirmity rendered some unable to respond at all.

Among their number are those who were kidnapped from other territories occupied by Japan at the time, including the Korean Peninsula.

“These women were often brought to China from other parts of Asia and then when the war ended, they just didn’t want to go home to face their families again after what they had lived through,” Guo said.

The film shows the remains of the cells and caves in which the women were held, some of which are within walking distance of the homes where they still live.

There are those, such as 90-year-old Lin Ailan, who lives in a tiny village in southern Hainan province, who were captured while fighting against the Japanese and forced into sexual slavery.

She recalls how the Japanese suggested she marry one of them and she thought: “If I did, I could cut his throat.”

Guo set his cameras up to follow the women as they got on with everyday life, and often simply focused on their faces as they sat in silent contemplation.

At such times, the director said he hopes his audience will think about what the women must still be carrying around inside.

“Some of them talk but there is always a time when the memories become too much,” he said.

Guo first turned to the topic with the short film “Thirty Two” in 2013, after hearing of the plight of Wei Shaolan, who was enslaved at 24 and escaped captivity while pregnant and went on to raise a son fathered by a Japanese soldier.

“These women could be our grandmothers — yours and mine,” he said. “I think it is wrong for history to forget them.”

In “Twenty Two,” Guo also interviewed some of the people who have over the years taken up the women’s cause, from a South Korean photographer, to a Japanese student nurse, to a farmer-turned-lawyer who has fought on their behalf for financial compensation.

That fight, Guo said, is now over because the women have collectively decided it is no longer worth the effort.

“They want now to be left with their dignity as they try to find peace,” he said.

Censorship issues mean it will not get clearance to screen in China, but the director hopes to show the film internationally.

“It is not a topic that China likes to discuss, but I would like for the rest of the world to give these women honor and respect,” he said.

By The Japan Times

San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passes ‘comfort women’ memorial resolution

Following hours of testimony at San Francisco’s City Hall, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to pass a resolution urging the creation of a memorial in San Francisco for the so-called “comfort women” of World War II Sept. 22.

The resolution pertains to the women the Japanese Imperial Army enslaved for sex during World War II and euphemistically called “comfort women.” While no official record of how many women were part of the “comfort women” system, it is widely reported that an estimated 200,000 women from the Korean Peninsula, China, what is today the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam and other Asian and Pacific Islander countries were enslaved.

San Francisco’s memorial would follow Glendale, Calif.’s memorial that was erected in 2013, and would be the first major U.S. city to have such a memorial.

The language of the resolution, which drew support from a wide coalition of people, but opposition from some Japanese American community members and outright denial from Japanese right-wing nationalists, now aims to help begin a “healing process,” said District 1 Supervisor Eric Mar, who introduced the resolution.

Diverse Coalition of Supporters

Mar said the memorial would honor the “comfort women” and also address the 20.9 million people who are victims of human trafficking today. The resolution, which passed with amendments, was spearheaded by the “Comfort Women” Justice Coalition, which originated from the Rape of Nanking Redress Coalition. The supporters reflect a wide range of race and creed including 87-year-old Yong Soo Lee, a “comfort woman” survivor who came from Seoul and called herself “living evidence to history” at the Sept. 17 Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee meeting at San Francisco City Hall.

Speaking through an interpreter, she told Mar and his subcommittee, that she hates the crimes Japan committed, but not the people. “For the sake of our next generation … we need to teach accurate history. I want to tell you, the truth will come out no matter what,” she said in Korean.

She went on to urge Japanese leaders to change course and apologize, and for San Francisco to build a memorial, citing only 47 survivors remain in Korea.

“To me, power is emanating from many of you that are here but especially from Grandma Lee, Halmoni (Korean for “grandmother”) Lee, who has come to us from Seoul with a tremendous gift of peace and love and healing and justice,” Mar said Sept. 22 at the full Board of Supervisors meeting.

Following the resolution’s passage, Mar said he and the coalition is working with the Mayor and city departments to discuss the memorial’s design and location. He said the “Comfort Women” Justice Coalition has raised some $140,000 in private funds for a memorial to be built on public land, similar to San Francisco’s Holocaust and Armenian genocide memorials.

Mar said he is talking with the San Francisco Unified School District to confirm its current curriculum and develop materials on the “comfort women.”

“The memorial alone does almost nothing unless there is a community keeping the memory alive,” he said. Mar said he envisions education and programs, similar to the Day of Remembrance ceremonies to remember the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans, could help future generations remember and carry on the message for justice.

Proponents for the memorial said it serves to send a message to Japan, calling for an apology and restitution to “comfort women” directly from the Japanese government as well.

Mar, who said he hoped the memorial would be the starting point for education and healing, told the Nichi Bei Weekly that it aims to “keep the issue alive when some in Japan are trying to silence the issue.”
A pan-ethnic coalition of supporters came together to support the memorial’s creation. Starting with the Rape of Nanking Redress Coalition, the memorial gained support from San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, who serves as honorary co-chair for the “Comfort Women” Justice Coalition, said Julie Tang, a retired Superior Court judge and coalition leader. Among others, the resolution received support from the San Francisco Interfaith Council, the Filipina Women’s Network, Veterans For Peace, the Korean American Forum of California, and other groups and individuals.

Judith Mirkinson, activist and National Lawyers Guild member, said the “comfort women” deserve to be recognized. “Why do we want a memorial to the so-called ‘comfort women’? Is it because we don’t want to talk about other atrocities? No. It’s because we want to remember what happened to them. We want to remember the courage of these women and the sacrifices that they made,” she said. Mirkinson said the “comfort women” speaking out on their experience led to the United Nations declaring “rape during war as a crime against humanity.”

JAs React to Resolution

While the memorial enjoyed broad support from many people in and around San Francisco, several Japanese American community members felt that they had not been consulted.

At the Sept. 17 meeting, Caryl Ito said she wanted Mar to support an amended version of the resolution forwarded by District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, “to reduce the hatred, division and racism the current tone could create in our city of peace and love.” She said that social justice should not come at the expense of another ethnic group.

Mar countered that the amendments “undercut the spirit of what the ‘comfort women’ coalition came up,” and asked Ito, “where is the hatred in the language of the resolution?”

The amendments in question, while not deleting any language, added other instances of sexual slavery and misogyny throughout history and emphasized the San Francisco Japanese American community’s incarceration during World War II in concentration camps.

Ito did not give specific examples to Mar at the hearing and did not respond to inquiries from the Nichi Bei Weekly at press time.

Community member Steve Nakajo, also spoke at the Sept. 17 subcommittee hearing, and asked Mar to consider the amendments. Nakajo told the Nichi Bei Weekly in an interview that Mar had been dismissive of him and Ito despite meeting with them. Nakajo, said he felt the Japanese American community lacked sufficient opportunity to discuss the resolution with Mar. While Nakajo acknowledged Mar’s intentions were to make it about “peace and love,” he said the resolution “without our input, … doesn’t work within that spirit.”

The Japantown Task Force’s board unanimously voted Sept. 16 to ask the Board of Supervisors to delay the vote on the resolution to allow the Japantown community to seek outreach and education about the resolution.

However, some in the Japantown community cited that the “comfort women” issue has nothing to do with the Japanese American experience. Paul Osaki, executive director of the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California, criticized amendments that mention the Japanese American wartime incarceration. “Personally, I think that it has no business being in the resolution, because it has nothing to do with the crimes against women in Asia during WWII,” he wrote in an e-mail to the Nichi Bei Weekly. “It’s not our memorial, it’s theirs.”

Lillian Sing, a retired judge and co-founder of the Rape of Nanking Redress Coalition, who spoke at the Sept. 15 Board of Supervisors meeting, also stressed that the resolution is not meant to be “Japan-bashing” and pledged the “Comfort Women” Justice Coalition would aid the Japanese American community should it face any backlash. “The argument that this resolution will hurt Japanese Americans is simply all wrong,” she said. “Japanese Americans have done nothing to deserve such an association … and we will fight against any hate crimes against Japanese Americans because of this resolution.”

Ultimately, the Board approved two sets of minor amendments. One, submitted by Wiener cited that while “it does not in any way excuse the actions of the Japanese Imperial Army,” there are other women who have been victimized by other countries. Mar also submitted his own set of amendments focusing on the victims of human trafficking today and the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans. He also added language to “explore opportunities to educate the community” on the “comfort women.”

What’s Next?
With the passage of the resolution, the discussion now focuses on the memorial’s design and placement. Mar said he hopes to involve more Japanese Americans in creating it. In retrospect, he said he wished he had done more outreach to the Japanese American community. While he had been in conversation with Adachi and Emily Murase, the executive director of San Francisco’s Department on the Status of Women, he said the coalition could have done more to reach out to the broader Japanese American community. “The goal is to erect the memorial in a year. … Some (of the other memorials) took a shorter time, but I wanted to develop trust with the Japanese American community.”
Tang said the coalition will develop a forum to discuss the resolution to share concerns with the Japanese American community. “The object is to engage individuals who come in good faith to explore concerns with us,” she wrote in an e-mail to the Nichi Bei Weekly. “On the other hand, if there were people whose minds had been made up and the purpose is to detract, delay and destroy the building of such a memorial, we will flush them out and not waste our time with them.”
Denialists Denied
Throughout the hearings, members of the Japanese right-wing spoke in opposition to the resolution, stating “comfort women” such as Lee were a fabrication. During the Sept. 17 meeting, Koichi Mera, plaintiff in a lawsuit against Glendale’s “comfort women” memorial, which was ruled frivolous by federal court, contested Lee’s testimony to which Lee stood up to yell, “You are a liar!” in Korean.
Supervisor David Campos, following public comment on Sept. 17 addressed the Japanese American community, acknowledging that their opinions were divided on the effects the resolution would have on Japanese Americans. Having said that, he turned his attention to the nationalists and said, “Shame on you,” for the denial of what happened and the personal attacks on Lee. “I think the denial of what happened is a disservice to the Japanese American community, I think it’s a disservice to the people of Japan, I think it’s a disservice to all of us, actually, as human beings,” he said. Campos said peoples denial of historical fact shows that “we do need a monument, because if people are denying it after all these years, we need a testament to what happened.”

By TOMO HIRAI, Nichi Bei Weekly

Photo exhibition on ‘comfort women’ from across Asia to open in Tokyo

A South Korean photographer whose past exhibition was called off amid protests will showcase portraits of wartime “comfort women” from across Asia at a Tokyo gallery from Sept. 4.

Ahn Se-hong’s newest exhibition, titled “Juju: Inerasable vestige,” will feature around 70 pictures of 46 former comfort women, who were forced to provide sex in front-line brothels for the Japanese military during World War II.

Since 1996, the Nagoya-based Ahn, 44, has photographed about 60 former comfort women from South Korea, China, the Philippines, Indonesia and East Timor.

In 2012, the Nikon Salon gallery in Tokyo, a prestigious venue for photographers, canceled Ahn’s comfort women exhibition amid numerous protests and threats by those who accused him of falsifying history.

The Tokyo District Court ordered the exhibition to proceed, and it was held with metal detectors at the entrance. Ahn said he was forbidden to freely talk to visitors at the venue and from displaying titles and captions for his pictures.

In an ongoing civil suit at the Tokyo District Court, the photographer is demanding compensation from Nikon Corp., the operator of the gallery, and others involved, for their decision to call off the exhibition.

“I hope it will never happen again for a photo exhibition to be canceled just because the theme touches upon a specific social issue,” Ahn said.

The photographer started interviewing and photographing former Korean comfort women at the House of Sharing nursing home for such women in South Korea in 1996.

He started taking photos of former comfort women in China in 2001 and made trips to the Philippines, Indonesia and East Timor to meet with surviving women in 2013 and 2014.

In his upcoming exhibition, the subjects include a Chinese woman from Shanxi province in her 90s who said she was taken away by Japanese soldiers in 1941. She was pregnant at the time and suffered a miscarriage.

She told Ahn that she was then forced into service as a comfort woman and gave birth to a child of a Japanese soldier. As she was convinced that the child would be loathed and discriminated against in her village, she abandoned the infant in the mountains.

An East Timorese woman in her mid-80s said she was taken away from her home to become a comfort woman in 1942 when she was in her early teens. Her arm still bears the tattoo of a name of a Japanese woman.

She said she was forced to provide sex to Japanese soldiers for three years, as people managing her brothel threatened to kill her family members if she fled.

“Women who were forced into service as comfort women have never truly overcome the pain they suffered 70 years ago,” Ahn said.

The title of the exhibition, “Juju,” which translates as “thick layers,” is meant to express the agony of these women, symbolized by their thick wrinkles, the photographer said.

“Adding to the tragedy is the burden they have shouldered during the postwar period as they have been harshly discriminated against in their communities,” Ahn said.

The photo exhibition will run through Sept. 13 at Session House gallery in Shinjuku Ward. Admission is free. For more information, call the event organizer at 080-6952-7849.

Taiwan reveals first memorial hall for comfort women

The local government in Taiwan plans to reveal its first memorial hall for comfort women in Aug. 2015, Taiwanese leader Ma Ying-jeou said at a meeting on June 30.
The term “comfort women” was coined to refer to the many women, mostly Asian, who were forced into sex slavery by Japanese soldiers during World War II (1939-1945).

The memorial hall will be accessible to the public in Dec. 2017, marking the 70th victory of the war.
“A decades-old grudge could be removed easily, unfortunately, this is not the reality,” according to Ma.
There were thousands of Taiwanese women who experienced the sad fate and traumatic experience of being forced into performing sexual acts during the Second World War, Ma added.
The government is active in forming and organizing a wide range of activities in remembering and honoring the victory.
“It was almost 20 years ago that I began helping Taiwanese comfort women fight for rights and justice. But, sadly, we have failed to win legal remedy from Japan,” stated Ma.
The ceremony will be opened by the relative of an unsung hero, a female American missionary who devoted herself, mainly during the Nanking Massacre, in protecting 10,000 Chinese war refugees, most of whom were comfort women.
Another memorial hall, in northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, was opened at Harbin Station last year to honor Korean independent activist Ahu Jung-geun for upholding justice and fighting against the Japanese during the war.
Rows of bronze statues were erected in 2014 as a sign of protest for the torture that comfort women endured. Many of the statues represent the very figures they stand for, hoping for the justice they long deserve.
A memorial hall, which also showcases the lives of former Korean comfort women, was opened in Seoul in Aug. 2014.
The hate brought about by war is a horrible thing that the comfort women had to go through, but their history must remain true and unaltered in Asian heart, Ma stated.
Read more: http://en.yibada.com/articles/43602/20150707/taiwan-reveals-first-memorial-hall-commemorate-comfort-women.htm#ixzz3fN4lCdHh

Silence Broken: Shanxi’s Comfort Women Remembered in Feature Film ‘Great Cold’

A former-comfort woman from north China's Shanxi Province sheds tears while sharing the nightmare-like experience with audiences as soon as the film is finished on May 18. The powerful and emotional movie "Great Cold", about Chinese comfort women directed by Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yueping is announced to be completed on May 18. It is considered the first film centered on comfort women from north China's Shanxi Province. [Chinanews.com]
A former-comfort woman from north China’s Shanxi Province sheds tears while sharing the nightmare-like experience with audiences as soon as the film is finished on May 18. The powerful and emotional movie “Great Cold”, about Chinese comfort women directed by Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yueping is announced to be completed on May 18. It is considered the first film centered on comfort women from north China’s Shanxi Province. [Chinanews.com]
A powerful and emotional movie about Chinese comfort women directed by local filmmaker Zhang Yueping, was completed on May 18, according to an official announcement. “Great Cold” — which will be released in the region — is the first such feature film to center on comfort women from north China’s Shanxi Province.

A Moment of Heartbreak

The film is set in several different cities across Shanxi in the early 1940s, where numerous Chinese women and girls, the so-called comfort women, were forced into sexual servitude by the Japanese Imperial Army before and during World War II (1939-1945).

Addressing various psychological problems faced by those female survivors during the war, the film reflects on how their past nightmarish memories and experiences affected them. The film’s plot-line relied on a survey and traveling investigation conducted by a former primary school teacher Zhang Shuangbing.

In fact, Zhang’s involvement into the world of comfort women was almost an accident. Around 30 years ago, he returned from a school trip one fall and was struck by the sight of a solitary old woman, who was harvesting millet with great difficulty.

“Helping her with the farm work, I later learned that the woman named Hou Dong’e was raped and put into sex slavery by Japanese Imperial officers. At that time, China had no files or records about the comfort women. Shocked by Hou’s situation, I made several visits to certain places in Shanxi to record the miserable lives of more female victims, taking down their accounts of humiliation and helping them file lawsuits,” recalled Zhang.

According to Zhang, thousands of Asian women were bound into sexual enslavement, among which at least 60 percent were divorced or unprovided for. As for Shanxi alone, 127 former comfort women were identified and 300 witnesses’ stories were recorded. Together with his team of volunteers, Zhang wandered through Shanxi Province and recorded what he saw and felt about those comfort women’s current lives. Later, in 2011, Zhang compiled his findings into a book titled “Women in Japanese Wartime Camps.”

“The film is shot based on my findings”, he said.

“Only 12 survivors are now alive. More than a hundred victims passed away without receiving any official apology from the Japanese government. Our great promises for the anti-war times and wishes for peace are still forthcoming,” said Zhang, adding that it was an urgent need to convey more about the vulnerable groups through the film, which can be seen as its main motivation.

“We want to remind people through the familiar or realistic scenes about Chinese comfort women, not to instill hatred, but for peace,” explained Zhang.

Implied Meaning Just for Peace

The feature film’s title “Great Cold” refers to the last solar cycle in 24 solar cycles. It comes around January 20 each year, and symbolizes the cold atmosphere and attitude that those who committed the crimes (the Japanese Imperial Army) took to the comfort women mainly in Asia.

“We named it after the last solar term of the Chinese lunar calendar because of our great hope for the upcoming warmth after the severe cold,” explained the director.

“Just as in the line ‘If winter comes, can spring be far behind?’ by British poet Percy Shelley from his ‘Ode to the West Wind,’ we hope that film can warm victims’ hearts by exposing the facts in a proper and real way,” said Zhang.

When mentioning the special shooting locations in Shanxi, filmmaker Zhang describes how Yu County was one of the places that suffered the worst destruction by the Japanese Imperial Army, as well as the place where the most women and girls were raped. Therefore, including Yu County in the upcoming film makes it all the more vivid for viewers.

Great Expectation for Facing It Squarely

Earlier in May this year, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe used the term “victims of human trafficking” as an alternative term for “comfort women”, causing a stir worldwide.

Senior officials from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) criticized Abe’s remarks as an intolerable insult to victims. Spokesperson Hua Chunying from China pointed out that Abe’s misleading statement would exert a negative influence on China-Japanese relations.

In fact, China, along with South Korea and other Asian countries that were invaded by the Japanese Imperial Army, has always been, insistently, supplied evidence to testify to the existence of comfort women.

South Korea has established memorial sculptures and a museum to remember the terrible history about comfort women who suffered during World War II. Meanwhile, people from southeast China’s Taiwan built the “Comfort Women & International Women’s Rights Museum” to educate more people on the topic.

Last year, China released its first comfort women themed drama “Er Yuelan” in Nanjing, another place where individuals were raped by the Japanese Imperial Army, partly based on the book the “The Rape of Nanking” by the American journalist of Chinese origin, Iris Shun-Ru Chang (1968-2004).

Memoirs of comfort women were released one after another to refute Abe’s distorted views about those affected. Meanwhile, the ongoing commemoration of the 70th anniversary to celebrate the victory of China’s anti-aggression war provided another facet of evidence to the terrible behavior conducted at the time by the Japanese Imperial Army. As one of the foundation blocks to provide evidence for comfort women, the above-mentioned film is scheduled to premiere in September this year.