Tag Archives: WW2

“Pope Francis gave me a Butterfly badge..everything will be all right.”

91 year old Kim, Yang-joo, surviving comfort woman
91 year old Kim, Yang-joo, surviving comfort woman
Pope Francis led a mass with the Butterfly badge on him.
Pope Francis led a mass with the Butterfly badge on him.

On the bed of a nursing home, while suffering from early Alzheimer, Kim, Yang-joo, 91 years-old, former comfort woman said in a clear voice,”Pope Francis gave me a butterfly, so everything will be all right.”

Even her memory has started fading, Kim, Yang-joo remembered the day at Myoung-Dong Catholic Church, where she and other 5 comfort women attended a mass with Pope Francis. Pope Francis shared and acknowledged the pain of comfort women by attaching a Butterfly badge, which is a symbol of protesting assault,discrimination against women, at the mass.

Kim, Yang-joo, borne in 1924,with her mother, ran away home from abusive father when she was young. They were so poor, Yang-joo followed a person who offered her a good job. However, she was taken as a comfort woman.

Since then, her life has been so difficult. She has never married, earning her living as a maid to many households.

At the age of 91, her health gets deteriorated and her only wish is now that Japanese government acknowledges the fact and takes responsibility, and apologizes to her.

Not much time is left for her.


Japanese historians contest textbook’s description of ‘comfort women

Washington Post

TOKYO — A group of Japanese historians and academics is urging McGraw-Hill, the American publisher, to “correct” a college textbook that they say contains “many erroneous expressions” about sex slaves used by Japanese soldiers during World War II.

Saying that the women were simply prostitutes, the group is taking up an official Japanese effort to win support for its perspective on the euphemistically known “comfort women,” a particularly sensitive part of its wartime legacy.

“There are women in Amsterdam who sit in windows displaying their services and in Japan we have Soapland, which is part of the sex trade,” said Ikuhiko Hata, a Harvard- and Columbia-educated emeritus professor at Nippon University, likening the comfort women to those working in the red light districts in the Dutch and Japanese capitals.

Prostitutes have existed at every time in human history, so I do not believe that comfort women are a special category,” Hata told foreign journalists in Tokyo on Tuesday.

The issue of the comfort women is at the core of the political friction between Japan and the victims of its wartime actions in Korea and China. Seoul and Beijing contend that Japan is trying to whitewash its history of coercing as many as 200,000 women and girls — from occupied countries such as Korea, China, the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations — to work as sex slaves, while Tokyo says that it has dealt with the issue already.

Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, is weighing how to address the issue in several high-profile speeches marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the war this year. Some conservatives are pushing Abe to overturn a two-decade-old apology for Japan’s wartime “aggression” toward its neighbors.

As soon as Wednesday, 19 Japanese university professors will send a letter to McGraw-Hill taking issue with eight phrases in the two paragraphs about the “comfort women” in “Traditions and Encounters,” a 900-page history textbook used in U.S. colleges.

Japan’s Foreign Ministry has already attempted to persuade both McGraw-Hill and Herbert Ziegler, the University of Hawaii professor who wrote the paragraphs, to change the wording, and was rebuffed by both. Ziegler last month told The Washington Post that he viewed the request as “an infringement of my freedom of speech and my academic freedom.”

Twenty American professors published a letter in this month’s edition of the American Historical Association’s journal to express their “dismay at recent attempts by the Japanese government to suppress statements in history textbooks both in Japan and elsewhere.”

Now Japanese professors, led by Hata, are taking action, writing to McGraw-Hill to contest the textbook’s statement that as many as 200,000 women were forcibly recruited to be comfort women for Japan’s imperial army. Hata says the real number is about 20,000.

They also take issue with the claim that the women were “a gift from the emperor.” “This is too impolite expression for a school textbook, which defames the national head,” the Japanese letter says.

The Japanese historians also criticize the estimate that the women serviced 20 to 30 soldiers a day. If that were true, Hata said, “the soldiers would have had no time to fight the war; they would have been too busy going to the brothel all the time.”

“I have never seen so many mistakes in such a textbook,” he said at a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, a heavily annotated copy of the book on the table in front of him.

“Historians, including myself, have decided to lodge a complaint and point out to McGraw-Hill the errors that they have made in their textbook, asking them to correct their errors,” he said, noting that he always thanks readers who write to him to correct errors in his books. “I’m full of great hopes that McGraw-Hill will be grateful to us, too.”

In a statement quoted by the Wall Street Journal in January, after the Foreign Ministry’s request to change the textbook, McGraw-Hill said: “Scholars are aligned behind the historical fact of ‘comfort women,’ and we unequivocally stand behind the writing, research and presentation of our authors.”

Japan’s Foreign Ministry has been promoting Hata to international media organizations, including to The Post, as an expert on the comfort women issue.

But the government has not been involved in the academics’ initiative, said Takako Ito, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman. “In any case, the government of Japan respects and values the freedom of thought and freedom of expression in the United States and elsewhere to the fullest,” she said.

By Anna Fifield, who is The Post’s bureau chief in Tokyo, focusing on Japan and the Koreas. She previously reported for the Financial Times from Washington DC, Seoul, Sydney, London and from across the Middle East.

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

The stories of Filipina ‘comfort women’

It’s been 67 years since the end of World War II, but its shadows still haunt those who survived it.

Dozens of Philippne women say they were used as sex slaves by Japanese soldiers.

Al Jazeera first reported the story of the so-called “comfort women” 5 years ago.

Now as part of our “What Happened Next” series, Marga Ortigas revisited some of the women, who are still waiting for justice in the Philipine capital.