Tag Archives: Filipino comfort women

Filipino veterans, comfort women remember Japanese invasion

MANILA – Former Filipino World War II fighters and victims of Japan’s military brothels remembered on Tuesday the 74th anniversary of Japan’s invasion of the Philippines and the start of the greatest war in the Pacific.

“On Dec. 8, 1941, I was a fourth year student. One day, when the war broke out, we were told, ‘get out,’ and we joined the Hunters,” recalled Proculo Mojica, 92, a former member of a paramilitary service composed of students that fought against the invading Japanese soldiers until the end of the war in 1945.

The Hunters ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) guerrillas were one of the armed groups that resisted the Japanese occupation in the Philippines. It was formed in January 1942, a few weeks after Japan’s invasion of the country, growing from an initial 70-member force to more than 25,000 in its final form.

Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on Dec. 8, 1941 was immediately followed by attacks on what was then a U.S. colony, the Philippines, leading to its occupation through 1945.

Speaking in a forum, Mojica, who has authored a book on the group’s struggle, was joined by fellow Hunter member Domingo Reyes, 88, Chinese guerrilla Dee Kong Hi, 92, and former comfort women Hilaria Bustamante, 89, and Estelita Dy, 85.

The Chinese guerrilla group was called the Wha Chi, or the Philippine Chinese Anti-Japanese Guerrilla Squadron, and was formed in May 1942. Playing key roles in various anti-Japanese battles in the country, the group was only demobilized in September 1945 after Japan’s announcement in August that year of its unconditional surrender.

The two “comfort women,” a euphemism for women who were forced to work in Japanese military brothels during the war, meanwhile, are members of Lila Pilipina (League of Filipino Grandmothers).

“We should remember that today is the 74th anniversary of the start of World War II in the Philippines, and we are meaningfully commemorating it with our very special guests in order to help build peace all over the world and in Asia,” forum organizer and moderator, Wilson Lee Flores, said.

In his testimony, Dee recounted the abuse he experienced and witnessed from Japanese soldiers, as well as the hardships, mainly due to lack of food, faced during wartime.

Bustamante and Dy, for their part, reiterated their demand for an official public apology and just compensation from the Japanese government, as well as the inclusion of sexual slavery during the war in Japan’s historical accounts.

They also lamented over the lack of support from the Philippine government for their struggle.

“Our struggle is against the Japanese government. The lolas (grandmothers) wanted compensation from the Japanese government…it was perpetrated by the soldiers, and it was policy from the top to the bottom of the Japan Imperial Army. So the responsibility lies with the government. We want the Japanese government to recognize, accept and be accountable,” Rechilda Extremadura, executive director of Lila Pilipina, said.

Of the estimated 200,000 victims of Japanese military sexual slavery in Asia during World War II, some 1,000 were from the Philippines, she said.

The forum revealed the difference between the status of comfort women, a number of whom are still crying for justice to this day, and Filipino war veterans, who, aside from enjoying continuing aid from a bank set up using part of the war reparations from Japan, were also able to get assistance from the government of the United States.

Miguel Angelo Villa-Real of the Philippine Veterans Bank said his organization is willing to help document and propagate the stories of comfort women, as they did for war veterans, while Philippine Sen. Cynthia Villar expressed approval of the possibility of congress helping comfort women get compensation from the national budget.

It is estimated that more a million Filipinos died during the war, the bulk of whom died during the major battles leading to the end of the war. Thousands of foreigners, including American and Japanese soldiers, suffered the same fate.

After the war, the Philippines’ capital Manila was said to be second only to Warsaw in Poland in a list of Allied capital cities which sustained the most damage.

By Kyoto News


Filipino ‘comfort women’ survivors call for justice at Manila rally

MANILA – Six Filipino victims of alleged Japanese military sexual abuse during World War II staged a rally Thursday in front of the Japanese Embassy over what they say is the continuing disregard by the leaders of the Philippines and Japan of their plight and cries for justice.

The members of Lila Pilipina (League of Filipino Grandmothers) reiterated their demand for justice from the Japanese government ahead of the arrival of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings in Manila next week.

Of the 174 original members of Lila Pilipina, only about 90 are still alive. Another group of victims, called Malaya Lolas (Free Grandmothers), had around 90 original members, but only one-third of them remain.

Around 1,000 Filipino women were believed to have been sexually abused by Japanese soldiers during their occupation of the country from 1941 though the end of the war in 1945.

The women, now in their 80s, are asking for a formal apology and just compensation from the Japanese government, and inclusion of the so-called comfort women system during WWII in Japan’s historical accounts and education textbooks.

Narcisa Claveria, 85, said in her remarks at the protest that the group did not regard apologies by Japanese officials as an official apology by the Japanese government.

She likewise criticized Philippine President Benigno Aquino for not understanding their pleas and for not supporting their struggle.

The organization also reiterated its opposition to the strengthening military ties of the Philippines and Japan, warning of a possible repeat of the abuses, especially against women, committed during the war.

The executive direction of the organization said it may not be able to hold another rally when Abe arrives in Manila for the APEC forum next week because of the frail condition of the elderly members.

by Japan Times

WW II ‘comfort women’ push fight for justice, compensation


Manila (Reuters) — For decades, Filipino former World War II sex slaves have been fighting for recognition and compensation for the horrors they endured at the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army.

But their campaign has seen little success and now the few surviving “comfort women” left in the Philippines, are hoping the next generation will continue their fight.

The group called themselves “Pamana”, or “Inheritance” in Filipino, consisting of a handful of supporters and descendants of the former Filipino “comfort women”, a Japanese euphemism for sex slaves.

Members of the “Pamana” were in charge of spreading information and joining protest actions on behalf of the former Filipino comfort women.

They regularly hold meetings at a run-down resource center, which was being co-managed by their group and women’s rights organization Lila Pilipina.

Former comfort women Hilaria Bustamante and Estelita Dy act as caretakers of the center, which holds the records of all documented Filipino sex slaves under the three-year Japanese rule from 1942-1945.

Bustamante, 89, was abducted from her home and raped inside a Japanese garrison when she was 16. She said she suffered psychological trauma growing up and cannot forget the ordeal even today.

“It’s not easy to forget what happened. We will bring this memory down to our graves. even if they give an apology, it is still difficult to forget. It is already marked in us,” she said.

Bustamante and Dy decided to offer their support in the early 90s, joining various street protests to demand compensation and justice from the Japanese government. They now live inside the center and teach visitors about the importance of women’s rights and the lessons of war.

“We just don’t want another war because if there’s another war, what happened to us may happen again to the newer generations,” said 85-year-old Dy.

Melinda Relos, a member of Pamana whose mother was a former comfort woman, said the centre was facing challenges in funding for upkeep and maintenance.

She said the center operates solely on grants and donations from non-profit groups, making it difficult to preserve and maintain the documents which were slowly crumbling with age.

Despite the challenges, Relos said members of Pamana like her will not leave the centre nor their advocacy for the former Filipino comfort women.

“Even if there are no longer any grandmothers present, we are still here. There are still surviving children, grandchildren and supporters that can join and continue the fight of our mothers,” she said.

Lila Pilipina has records of 174 Filipino comfort women when they started documentation in 1992, but said the total surviving victims could be less than 70 with many of the survivors dead due to old age.

Like their counterparts in China and South Korea, the Filipino former comfort women have been demanding justice through compensation and a public apology from the Japanese government.

Japan acknowledged in 1993 that the state played a role in forcing Korean and Chinese women into military brothels and set up a fund to provide compensation to survivors in 1995. However, Japan has refused to pay direct compensation to survivors.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a former critic of the 1993 statement, now says he will uphold it. Many Japanese conservatives say there is no proof that authorities directly coerced the women.

Filipino comfort women protest at Japanese embassy in Manila

Eight Filipino women who were victims of sexual abuse by Japanese soldiers during World War II held a dance protest on Wednesday in front of the Japanese embassy in the Philippine capital Manila, reiterating their demand for justice from the Japanese government.

The activity was part of the One Billion Rising for Justice global campaign to end violence against women and girls which will culminate on Feb. 14 with an expected one billion people from 207 countries gathering for a dance protest, global campaign director Monique Wilson said at the rally.

Narcisa Claveria, 84, one of the so-called former comfort women, told reporters, “Many of us have died already in our 22-year-old struggle. But we will not stop until we get justice. Even if we die, our children and grandchildren will continue the fight.”

The comfort women, a euphemism for women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese military during World War II, are demanding an official apology and adequate compensation from the Japanese government, as well as inclusion of the issue in history textbooks.

They have also asked the Philippine government to back their claims, criticizing President Benigno Aquino’s lack of commitment to discuss the issue with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“We reject the claims by Japanese officials that this issue has long been settled. The sexual slavery issue is not even in their history books,” Wilson told Kyodo News.

Following their dance protest, Claveria said, “I can still do it (dance). I don’t feel any discomfort, and I will continue this fight until I get justice.”

Richilda Extremadura, executive director of a comfort women group from Manila called Lila Pilipina (League of Filipino Women), said that of the 174 founding members, only 98 remain alive.

Another group, the Malaya Lolas (Free Grandmothers) based in Pampanga province north of Manila, said only around 30 members out of their 90 founding members are still alive.

By Kyoto News Agency