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Street of Munich fill with support for comfort women

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The streets of Munich, Germany, were filled with the voices of people declaring that imperial Japan’s comfort women system was a war crime and a crime against humanity and that the comfort women issue could not be resolved until the Japanese government offered a sincere apology.
There is ongoing criticism of the behavior of the South Korean and Japanese governments, which are attempting to use an ambiguous grant of 1 billion yen (US$9.9 million) to close the book on the comfort women issue as if it had been “finally and irreversibly” resolved.

On Aug. 15, the European Network for Progressive Korea, a reform-minded group of ethnic Koreans living in Europe, posted pictures and a message on Facebook to share the news that they had joined with artists and human rights activists from around the world to call for a real resolution to the comfort women issue in Munich, Germany, on Aug. 13.
The group held placards that said, “[A] Crime Against Humanity is Everyone’s Business” on the streets of Munich as they urged locals to pay attention to the comfort women issue. The event coincided with [a similar event held in Seoul called] Global Action on the 4th Day of Remembrance for Comfort Women around the World.
“The surviving comfort women, who were the victims of daily rape and violence during World War II, are still waiting for an official apology from the Japanese government, and most of them don’t understand why this issue isn’t being widely discussed inside Japan,” said Bjorn Jensen, a German film director who attended the event.
“Even if the current Japanese government is not directly responsible for something that happened 70 years ago, it is responsible for taking appropriate measures for the former comfort women and for future generations so that the history of the comfort women is not forgotten,” he said.

In June, Jensen released a documentary titled “Forgotten Sex Slaves: Comfort Women in the Philippines” at the Seoul International Women’s Film Festival.
“Remembering the crimes that humans have committed in the past is very important for commemorating the victims and for preventing those crimes from happening again. The Japanese government needs to clearly apologize for its comfort women crimes and to provide legal compensation to the surviving comfort women,” said Corina, a Chilean women’s rights activist and painter.
“I’m reminded of Brazil’s unfortunate past. During the military dictatorship between the 1960s and 1980s, many women were tortured and sexually assaulted in prison,” said Christopher, a human rights activist from Brazil. “Violence against women in a patriarchal society is an issue that the whole world should be interested in.”
“I truly respect the former comfort women for fighting for 25 long years not only to restore their own reputations but also to create a society in which human dignity is respected. I hope the day will soon come when the former comfort women can see for themselves justice being done,” the European Network for Progressive Korea quoted one person in Munich as saying.

From HanKyoRye NewsPaper

China, ROK Experts Urge Protection of “Comfort Women” Documents

Experts from China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) have agreed to strengthen cooperation in protecting documents on “comfort women” and to apply for their registration on the Memory of the World, a UNESCO program to preserve documentary heritage.

Su Zhiliang, director of the “comfort women” research center at Shanghai Normal University, said that experts are collecting materials on the “comfort women” issue before making their proposal to the commission.

“The proposal will help preserve the historic records and provide materials for people and experts in the future to understand, research, rethink and condemn,” Su said on the sidelines of the just-concluded forum on “comfort women” held in Shanghai.

Jointly held by Shanghai Normal University and Sung Kyun Kwan University, the forum attracted experts from China, the ROK and Japan to discuss strengthening cooperation and research on the issue.

“Because of misleading by Japanese officials and mass media, many ordinary people, especially the younger generation, have grown suspicious toward history. However, denying history is unwise,” said Matsumoto Kan, who works for a Japanese non-governmental group.

Government document archives, oral records of victims, and witnesses’ testimonies all proved the Japanese government and military’s role in abducting, trafficking and forcing women to provide sex to Japanese soldiers.

“Of those Chinese women who identified themselves as former sex slaves, fewer than 20 are alive,” said Su. “It’s the final moment for us to demand justice and to preserve the historic materials.”

The experts have agreed to strengthen exchange of the records and to build a website on the issue.

Historians estimate that 200,000 women were forced into sexual servitude by Japanese forces during WWII, most from countries invaded by Japan at the time.

By XinHua News Agency

‘Comfort women’ memorial day will be designated

The Ministry of Gender and Equality and Family on Tuesday said that it will soon designate a day to commemorate the suffering endured by victims of sexual slavery perpetrated by the imperial Japanese military.Reporting its plans to President Park Geun-hye, the ministry said a pool of experts will be invited to select a date soon in order to have it observed this year.

“We’ll make greater efforts to let the world know about the issue of sexual slavery under Japanese military rule, which again came to the attention of the world during a recent international cartoon festival,” the ministry said, referring to the Angouleme International Comics Festival held in France between Jan. 30 and Feb. 2.

The Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, an NGO, already observes Aug. 14 as a commemorative day.

The imperial Japanese military took women from occupied countries and forced them used them to be sex slaves for its soldiers.

Somewhere between 20,000 and 200,000 were victimized by Japan’s state-forced prostitution.

Victims were mostly from Korea, China, the Philippines and other occupying countries in Asia.

The comics featured at the Angouleme festival will also receive support for another international tour.

A total of 20 comics by Korean cartoonists and four videos were presented at the festival in France. Japan’s failed attempt to obstruct the Korean exhibition made sweeping headlines in Korea.

The ministry will be involved in organizing festivals, conferences and contests related to the issue.

Also, it will continue to build up an archive of the victims’ accounts, laying the groundwork for its registration to the UNESCO Memory of the World Register by 2017.

By the Korea Times

China, ROK experts urge protection of “comfort women” documents

SHANGHAI, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) — Experts from China and the Republic of Korea (ROK) have agreed to strengthen cooperation in protecting documents on “comfort women” and to apply for their registration on the Memory of the World, a UNESCO program to preserve documentary heritage.

Su Zhiliang, director of the “comfort women” research center at Shanghai Normal University, said that experts are collecting materials on the “comfort women” issue before making their proposal to the commission.

“The proposal will help preserve the historic records and provide materials for people and experts in the future to understand, research, rethink and condemn,” Su said on the sidelines of the just-concluded forum on “comfort women” held in Shanghai.

Jointly held by Shanghai Normal University and Sung Kyun Kwan University, the forum attracted experts from China, the ROK and Japan to discuss strengthening cooperation and research on the issue.

“Because of misleading by Japanese officials and mass media, many ordinary people, especially the younger generation, have grown suspicious toward history. However, denying history is unwise,” said Matsumoto Kan, who works for a Japanese non-governmental group.

Government document archives, oral records of victims, and witnesses’ testimonies all proved the Japanese government and military’s role in abducting, trafficking and forcing women to provide sex to Japanese soldiers.

“Of those Chinese women who identified themselves as former sex slaves, fewer than 20 are alive,” said Su. “It’s the final moment for us to demand justice and to preserve the historic materials.”

The experts have agreed to strengthen exchange of the records and to build a website on the issue.

Historians estimate that 200,000 women were forced into sexual servitude by Japanese forces during WWII, most from countries invaded by Japan at the time.

CHINA, S.KOREA to cooperate in urging Japan to reflect on ‘comfort women’

China will work with South Korea in urging Japan to understand and reflect on history regarding the issue of “comfort women,” who were coerced into sex slavery by Japanese forces during World War II.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei made the comment on Thursday in response to a South Korean plan to apply to register records with UNESCO on Japan’s wartime sex slaves.

Forcing women into sexual slavery was a grave crime against humanity by the Japanese military during WWII, causing suffering in China, South Korea and some other Southeast Asian countries, Hong said.

China and South Korea have similar experiences and concerns on historical issues relating to Japan, Hong said.

“China is willing to work with other victim countries, including South Korea, to maintain historical justice,” Hong said, adding that Japan should work to gain the trust of its neighbors and the international community through concrete action.

South Korea’s Ministry of Gender Equality and Family plans to examine and archive relevant materials scattered in the victim countries and apply next year, in order to get Japan’s use of wartime sex slaves registered at UNESCO’s Memory of the World program, the Yonhap News Agency reported.

The Memory of the World program was launched in 1992 to preserve heritage around the world.

The US House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a spending bill in which a document is attached, calling on Secretary of State John Kerry to encourage Japan to address the issue of “comfort women,” the contemporary euphemism for sex slaves.

The document referred to Resolution 121, which was adopted by the house in July 2007, calling for Japan to “formally acknowledge, apologize and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner.”

South Korea on Thursday welcomed the house’s call for Japan to apologize to the coerced sex slaves, while a foreign ministry spokesman said that there was little time left for Japan to resolve the issue.

Historians estimate that 200,000 women were forced into sexual servitude by Japanese forces during WWII, most from countries invaded by Japan at the time.

By GLOBAL TIMES, CHINA

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)