Tag Archives: Comfort women

Seoul to present ‘comfort women’ issue at manga festival in France


SEOUL–At the initiative of the South Korean government, a special exhibition devoted to the painful “comfort women” issue will feature at one of Europe’s leading manga festivals that gets under way this month.

More than 20 manga and anime works depicting the ordeal these women faced will go on display at the Angouleme festival in France.

“Comfort women” is a euphemism for women forced to provide sex for Japanese soldiers before and during World War II.

Many of the women were from the Korean Peninsula, which was a Japanese colony from 1910 to 1945.

“We expect the works to help a wider range of people become aware of the tragedy of comfort women and the seriousness of wartime sexual violence,” said Cho Yoon-sun, minister of gender equality and family, in announcing the decision Jan. 14. “We hope they will move the hearts of people around the world.”

The manga and anime works, all created by South Korean artists, will be exhibited under the theme of “Flowers that never fade.” The festival will start Jan. 30 and continue through Feb. 2.

Working with Amnesty International, Seoul is determined to have Japan come to terms with this festering sore in their shared history.

The problem is complicated because Tokyo says the issue was resolved under a bilateral agreement on rights to compensation claims that was signed when the two countries normalized their diplomatic relations in 1965.

At President Park Geun-hye’s initiative, the South Korean government late last year opened the first government-led exhibition themed on comfort women in Seoul to urge Japan to make aggressive efforts to “settle” the issue.



Comfort women may be listed in UNESCO Memory of the World

Seoul, Jan. 15 (CNA) South Korea plans to partner with Taiwan, China and Southeast Asian countries in seeking to obtain United Nations world documentary heritage status for “comfort women,” a Korean official said Wednesday.

“We will file an application with the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to list ‘comfort women’ in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register,” said Kim Un-ji, a section chief with the Korean Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.

In the process, Kim said, South Korea will cooperate with countries that fell victim to Japanese colonization and saw their women turned into sex slaves — euphemistically known as “comfort women” — by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.

Kim pledged that South Korea would seek Taiwan’s support in the pursuit because the two countries have maintained close cooperation on the issue.

Former Taiwanese comfort women have on many occasions voiced support for their Korean counterparts’ efforts to seek a formal apology from Japan for its previous brutality, Kim said.

The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family is collecting “comfort women”-related data and information from South Korea, Taiwan, China, major Southeast Asian countries and Japan, according to a recent Yonhap News Agency report.

The ministry is scheduled to finalize compilation of all data and documents by the end of this year and will submit it to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism early next year in preparation for filing an application to inscribe “comfort women” in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register, the report said.

The United Nations must decide on the application within one year after receiving it.

If all goes well, “comfort women” could be designated as a UNESCO documentary heritage in 2017, the Yonhap report said.

The Korean government will sponsor a series of seminars and activities to help the world better understand the need to list “comfort women” in the Memory of the World Register, the report added.

(By Jiang Yuan-jen and Sofia Wu, Focus Taiwan Channel)

S Korean ‘comfort women’ still waiting for apology after 22 years


Supporters of South Korean women forced into sexual slavery in Japan’s military brothels during and after World War II have held a rally outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul.

Rallies in support of the victims – known as comfort women – have been held every week for 22 years.

They are calling for a formal apology and compensation for the thousands of women affected.

Tom Santorelli reports.(BBC)

Testimony by ex-Indonesian comfort woman: ‘I was taken to a Japanese army tent’ By Asahi newspaper, Japan

More than 70 years after the Japanese occupation of Indonesia began, victims of the Imperial Japanese Army are telling their stories of being forced to serve as “comfort women” and being sexually assaulted by Japanese troops.

Asahi Shimbun reporters visited Indonesia and met many women who were cast aside by their families and have never told of the circumstances of the harm inflicted on them or had their stories investigated.

A support group for former comfort women, who were forced to provide sex for Japanese soldiers during World War II, is located on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia, which sits just below the equator. Asahi Shimbun reporters asked the group to introduce them to people who had not previously been interviewed. An Asahi Shimbun investigative team spent about two weeks in Sulawesi, where it met 20 or so people who claimed to be former comfort women or witnesses.

The first was Bacce, who lives in Sinjai Regency, an administrative division on the southwest part of the island. At a stilt house built decades ago, Bacce, in her mid-80s, wore a sarong, cloth around her waist, and was hunched back. She is not married and lives with the family of her relatives.

“Did Japanese soldiers do anything frightening to you at that time?” she was asked.

She murmured as she started to speak.

“I was in my mid-teens then. One hot evening when I was cooking at home, two men came and pulled me outside against my will.”

The words the men spoke were not Indonesian, and they held guns. Seeing this, Bacce says she figured they were Japanese soldiers. Tears welled up in her eyes 10 minutes or so into the interview.

Bacce was pushed onto the bed of a truck before her father’s eyes as he screamed, “Don’t take my daughter away!” Bacce says there were other girls around the same age riding with her.

The place they arrived at “had Japanese army tents set up.” Bacce was taken inside one, where she said she was raped by several men.

The Asahi Shimbun talked to an Indonesian man named Hamzah, who had gone in and out of that location.

“The Japanese army set up three tents and kept seven women inside,” he said. “I saw her (Bacce) there. Japanese troops who controlled the area had taken her.”

Hamzah said at that time the community was fearful of Japanese soldiers turning young women into comfort women.

Bacce was released after about three months, but her family chased her off, saying they “do not need a defiled human.” After walking barefoot for two full days, Bacce says she survived while helping to work the fields in a village where an acquaintance lived.

“I’m angry at the Indonesian government,” she says. “They haven’t done anything for me.” When the interview was over, her flushed face was a mess of tears.


The Asahi Shimbun’s investigative team sought out the site where the women say they were assaulted.

Ipatimang, who lives in Pinrang Regency, also in the island’s southwest, gave a detailed account. During the occupation, a man holding a pistol grabbed her by the arm inside the yarn-making factory where she was working. His face did not look Indonesian; she thought he was a Japanese soldier.

Ipatimang says they rode in a truck for about 15 minutes, and she was taken to the Malimpung area.

“I was put inside a big wooden building. There were many small rooms along each side of the hallway.” Inside, Ipatimang says Japanese soldiers came in one after another to rape her.

“I wailed loudly. I was scared, and I couldn’t stop crying.” She said that soon after her release three months later, the war ended.

Asahi Shimbun reporters went to Malimpung, about 10 km from Ipatimang’s home. A man who has lived nearby for a long time led the reporters to a broad pasture and said, “A long time ago, there were a lot of Japanese troops here. It was a big base.”

There were no traces of buildings remaining, but his testimony supported the story that the Japanese army had been there.

Ipatimang remembers clearly the Japanese company that ran the factory where she had worked. It is still a big enterprise today.

Relying on her testimony, the reporters headed for a corner of a residential district in Pinrang Regency, where the factory had apparently stood. Today it is all private homes, with no signs of a factory once being located there. There, the reporters met Ikalau, a women who lives near there.

Even though no mention of the factory was made to Ikalau, she mentioned the name of the same Japanese company in Ipatimang’s account. “There was a factory here when the Japanese army was around,” she said. Ikalau added, “My mother told me, ‘Don’t go near the factory. They’ll make you a Japanese man’s wife.’ Everyone was afraid.”


In accordance with a bilateral peace treaty with Indonesia that took effect in 1958, Japan made reparations of approximately $220 million and, as part of an effort to heal the wounds of war, provided economic assistance and other support worth approximately $180 million.

The Asian Women’s Fund, a project to atone for the comfort women issue established in 1995 and led by the Japanese government, also provided support with 370 million yen of atonement money.

The Indonesian Ministry of Social Affairs set the funds aside for repairs and construction of 69 nursing homes.

According to the Asian Women’s Fund’s records, there were 21 comfort stations in Sulawesi and just under 40, perhaps more, throughout Indonesia, where there were more than 300 comfort women.

While an investigative report found there were comfort women in Indonesia who were from China, Korea and Taiwan, the fund pointed out that many were recruited in local communities.

It also said that “certain units acted on their own to recruit women and had private comfort stations for their exclusive use” that were separate from the army-run comfort stations.

On-the-ground research conducted by the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) in 1993 received testimony from eight women who said they were “turned into comfort women.”

The JFBA report concluded, “Comfort stations were set up throughout the country and young women were forced to have sex.”

The Asahi Shimbun has obtained thousands of diplomatic papers from the 1990s pertaining to the comfort women issue through the information disclosure law.

Combining these with accounts given by senior government officials and other sources involved at the time, the paper ran a detailed story in its Oct. 13 morning edition on a behind-the-scenes Japanese diplomatic effort to prevent the comfort women issue from becoming an even bigger controversy.

The article told of how Tokyo feared at the time that the comfort women, which had become a major issue in South Korea, could have a ripple effect in other countries, and that the government responded by trying to avoid conducting interviews in Southeast Asia.

(This article was written by Tamiyuki Kihara and Hiroyoshi Itabashi.)