Tag Archives: the Japanese Imperial army

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.”


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

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

Forget her not….. : My name is Kim Bok-soon(2014)

The revised performance of ‘My name is Kim Bok-soon’, the dance performance received great reception among critiques and general audience. With the Korean traditional song, ‘Arirang’, as a background music, the performance narrated the life of a comfort woman before she was abducted and after her soul got damaged. The performance ends up with a hope.


Choreographer, Jung-hoon Ahn
Choreographer, Jung-hoon Ahn

photo 3-14

photo 1-16

Main choreographer: Jung-hoon Ahn


               Hyung-sup Kim, Myung-hoon Chung, Hye-yeon Han, Sun-hee Cho, Ka-ram Yo, Hyun-suk Lee, Hyun-kon Cheon,

               Byoung-hee Choi, Hyun-sang Yoo, Myoung-seong Kwon, Ye-rin Lee, Da-hye Yoo, Joo-ae Lee, Ji-yoon Chung, 

               Su-jeong Hwang, Sol Han, Jung-in Hong, Ji-hyun Ha, Ha-rang Choi

Performed at the National Theater of Seoul, S.Korea

Murayama critical of Japan’s historical stance

Tomichi Murayama, the former prime minister of Japan
Tomichi Murayama, the former prime minister of Japan

In critical remarks against Japan’s current administration, former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama said that “Japan cannot survive as a nation” should it deny its history of wartime aggression.

“The Murayama Statement is the Japan nation’s official historical perception and has become an international pledge, so it is impossible to review it,” Murayama said at a forum held yesterday by the Northeast Asian History Foundation in central Seoul.

Murayama is known for his shaggy white eyebrows and a resilience that doesn’t betray his 90 years. But he is most recognized internationally for his landmark statement made on Aug. 15, 1995, to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II.

In this address, Murayama, who served as Japan’s prime minister from June 1994 to January 1996, expressed “heartfelt apology” that Japan “through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries.”

“Any person who has become the prime minister of Japan has to uphold [the Murayama Statement], and any person who is not able to uphold it cannot stay in office,” he elaborated in a Korean-language translation of his full speech.

Regarding Japan’s military’s sexual enslavement of girls and women during World War II, Murayama said, “The leaders of each country need to sit down and speak frankly on what is the best method to resolve the issue.”

Murayama further told a panel of 28 current and former Korean and Japanese lawmakers, scholars and heads of civilian organizations: “I never thought that the Murayama Statement would become such a problem now.”

The 1995 Murayama Statement and the preceding 1993 Kono Statement are now considered fundamental pillars for bilateral ties. Both played important roles in advancing relations between the two countries. The Kono Statement, delivered by Yohei Kono, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary at the time, effectively apologized to the women forced to serve in Japanese military brothels during the war.

He added that when Abe first became prime minister in 2006, he claimed he would honor the Murayama Statement, though since he was elected for a second term in 2012, he has made remarks that appear to deny that.

In 2013, Abe said that there is no definitive answer either in academia or within the international community on what constitutes aggression and that he might not honor the entire statement. After much backlash, however, he finally conceded to uphold it.

During the gathering, the former prime minister also emphasized the importance of educating Japanese youth about the country’s history of wartime invasion and added that the recent controversies “may be a good opportunity” to promote such education.

“What is decisive is the people, so the people need to raise their voices on what is good or bad,” he said, regarding Japan’s history of invasion and concerns surrounding collective self-defense. “If the public’s voice becomes bigger, their votes can change the National Diet.”

“I don’t know how many years I have to live,” he added, “but I will pledge my remaining life on this.”

By Joong-ang Daily

UN Human Rights Official blasts Japan over Comfort women issue

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.

The United Nations’ top human rights official blasted Japan for what she described as its failure to “provide effective redress to the victims of wartime sexual slavery.”

“It pains me to see that these courageous women, who have been fighting for their rights, are passing away one by one, without their rights restored and without receiving reparations to which they are entitled,” said U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in a statement Wednesday.

Ms. Pillay, a South African national whose tenure as commissioner will soon come to an end after six years, criticized the lack of “any public rebuttal by the government” of Japan against “denials and degrading remarks” by public figures.

This year, Tokyo conducted a review into how a 1993 official apology was drafted. The review, prompted by conservative lawmakers who have long questioned the Japanese military’s direct involvement in recruiting World War II “comfort women,” said it couldn’t be confirmed whether the women were “forcefully recruited.”

Ms. Pillay said the issue was “a current issue, as human rights violations against these women continue to occur as long as their justice and reparation are not realized.”

When asked Thursday about the newest U.N. condemnation–just last month, the U.N. Human Rights Committee advised Japan to investigate and prosecute wartime perpetrators–Japan’s top government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, reiterated the government’s longstanding view. “Our country’s consistent position has been that the issue of comfort women has been settled between Japan and South Korea” in a 1965 treaty, he said.

Mr. Suga said Japan has provided aid to the women “from a moral standpoint.” Japan will “continue to patiently explain its position,” he said.

Ms. Pillay’s comments were the latest to keep the comfort-women issue on the front burner, nearly 70 years after the war ended. This week, South Korea said it would publish its first comfort women white paper—in English, Chinese and Japanese.

Additionally, Japanese conservatives claimed vindication this week when the liberal daily Asahi Shimbun retracted some stories it ran in the 1980s and 1990s that seemed to back allegations about the imperial army abducting Korean women.

By Wall Street Journal Asia

Fullerton supports ‘comfort women’ apology

FULLERTON – The city gave its support Tuesday night to a House of Representatives resolution that asks Japan to acknowledge and apologize for forcing Korean women into sexual slavery during World War II.
A bill co-authored by 39th District Rep. Ed Royce and passed unanimously in 2007, recognizes the plight of so-called “comfort women,” sex slaves used by the Japanese army in World War II.
Acting on a recommendation of the Korean American Forum of California, a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness about comfort women, the City Council, by a 3-2 vote Tuesday, supported the resolution.
Council members Doug Chaffee, Greg Sebourn and Jennifer Fitzgerald voted to support the resolution.
“I see this as a statement on human trafficking and the damage it causes,” Sebourn said. “It’s not about the Japanese government or the Korean government. … It’s about humanity.”
Bruce Whitaker and Jan Flory turned in the dissenting votes.
“While I certainly condemn the acts that led to comfort women being exploited during World War II … I think it’s inappropriate for a city council to weigh in on it,” Whitaker said.
Dozens of Korean and Japanese citizens filled the Council Chambers. Comments, were split among the dozen or so who addressed the council.
“It’s only to acknowledge so it is not repeated,” said Phyllis Kim of the Korean American Forum.
Those opposed said facts regarding comfort women are distorted.
“It creates prejudice and wrong ideas about certain populations,” said Amy Watanabe, a social worker from Chino Hills.
In the coming months, the Fullerton Museum Foundation will vote on whether to display a monument honoring comfort women as part of an exhibit on the issue scheduled for 2015.

By Lou Ponsi, Orange County Register News