‘COMFORTWOMEN’ STILL WAIT­ING FOR APOL­OGY

‘THE SOL­DIERS JUST ... WAITED IN LINE. I CAN­NOT RE­MEM­BER HOW­MANY TIMES IWAS MAL­TREATED EACH DAY’

China Daily (Canada) - - NEWS IN REVIEW - By HUANG YIMING in Haikou huangy­im­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Women raped dur­ing wartime in Hainan province are still await­ing an apol­ogy from Ja­pan, even though most of them are now in their 80s.

China Daily learned that only eight of fewer than 100 sur­vivors in the south­ern province are still alive.

About 200,000 women in China were forced into sex­ual slav­ery dur­ing the war. In Hainan, which was in­vaded and oc­cu­pied by the Ja­panese for six years from 1939, about 10,000 were forced to be­come “com­fort women” at around 60 com­fort sta­tions, ac­cord­ing to Su Zhil­iang, a pro­fes­sor at Shang­hai Nor­mal Univer­sity study­ing the history of com­fort women.

Most of them were from the lo­cal Li and Miao eth­nic groups. Dur­ing those six years, most of them died from the tor­ture they re­ceived, with fewer than 100 of them sur­viv­ing the war, suf­fer­ing trauma both phys­i­cally and men­tally.

Huang You­liang, 88, is one of the eight from Hainan who are still alive. She has long had a se­ri­ous rheumatic dis­ease and can­not walk unas­sisted.

SinceHuang has been con­fined to bed with her ill­ness for many years, she is sup­ported in her will to live by the hope of an of­fi­cial apol­ogy from the Ja­panese gov­ern­ment.

Her night­mare can be traced to 1941, when the Ja­panese army oc­cu­pied Ling­shui Li au­ton­o­mous county where she lived. Just 14 years old then, she was caught by pa­trolling Ja­panese sol­diers while she was work­ing alone on a farm one day in Novem­ber.

Af­ter be­ing raped and beaten at her home ev­ery night for nearly three months, she was taken to a lo­cal Ja­panese mil­i­tary brothel, the Liangqiao com­fort sta­tion, suf­fer­ing from the ef­fects of tor­ture.

“They (the sol­diers) just came to the sta­tion and waited in line. I can­not re­mem­ber how many times I was mal­treated each day,” Huang said.

She said she had no choice but to be sub­mis­sive, or the sol­diers would have killed her par­ents.

In June 1944, she fi­nally es­caped from the com­fort sta­tion by ly­ing that she had to hurry back for her fa­ther’s fu­neral, with her fam­ily say­ing she had died of grief af­ter her fa­ther’s death. The fam­ily even built two graves near their home to fool the Ja­panese.

Huang and her fam­ily tried to lead anewlife by mov­ing to Baot­ing, a county more than 100km­from her home. But she feared she would be re­cap­tured even when she moved back to her home­town af­ter the war.

Chen Yabian, another for­mer com­fort woman from Ling­shui county, suf­fered six mis­car­riages be­fore hav­ing her only child.

She said that for many years she re­fused to say any­thing to her fam­ily about the time she spent at the com­fort sta­tion from 1941 to 1943.

“I of­ten woke up and cried in the evening,” she said, tears stream­ing down­her face. “I was al­ways in pain, phys­i­cally and men­tally. Noth­ing could help me cure this pain.”

She said her ha­tred of the Ja­panese only deep­ens ev­ery time she re­calls these times.

Su, the Shang­hai Nor­mal Univer­sity pro­fes­sor, said: “Many vic­tims were no longer phys­i­cally able to make a liv­ing. Some of them were also looked down on by other peo­ple, es­pe­cially those who knew lit­tle about their suf­fer­ing.”

Huang’s youngest son, Hu Yaqian, had to cope with peo­ple’s “fin­ger­point­ing” at school be­cause of his mother’s ex­pe­ri­ence as a com­fort woman. This is still go­ing on to­day, with Hu’s son now a ju­nior high school stu­dent.

In 2001, Huang, Chen and six other for­mer com­fort women in Hainan de­cided to speak out and file a law­suit against the Ja­panese gov­ern­ment, seek­ing an of­fi­cial apol­ogy and in­di­vid­ual com­pen­sa­tion.

It was the fourth law­suit brought by Chi­nese for­mer com­fort women since 1995, ac­cord­ing to Qiu Peipei, di­rec­tor of the Asian Stud­ies Pro­gram atVas­sar Col­lege in theUnited States.

Chen went to Ja­pan three times to tes­tify in Tokyo Dis­trict Court in 2001, 2003 and 2006, but re­turned dis­ap­pointed each time.

Five years of wait­ing ended in de­feat when the court ruled against the plain­tiffs. On Aug 30, 2006, it fi­nally de­nied the women’s de­mands.

Qiu wrote in her book Chi­nese Com­fort Women: Tes­ti­monies from Im­pe­rial Ja­pan’s Sex Slaves that the court said that an in­di­vid­ual Chi­nese per­son had no right to sue the Ja­panese state.

The book was co-au­thored with Chi­nese scholars Chen Lifei and Su, the Shang­hai Nor­mal Univer­sity pro­fes­sor.

Six of the group of eight for­mer com­fort women who filed the law­suit 14 years ago have since died. Chen Yabian and Huang are the only two still alive.

Asked if she would make another at­tempt, Chen Yabian said the like­li­hood was slim.

“I feel that my life is fad­ing and I am wor­ried I can no longer bear the fa­tigue of a long jour­ney. Trav­el­ing to another city in Hainan is no easy feat for me, not to men­tion go­ing to Ja­pan again,” she said.

“But I will be wait­ing (for an apol­ogy) as long as I live.”

PHOTOS BY HUANG YIMING / CHINA DAILY

Zhuo Tian­mei, with her daugh­ter-in-law, cov­ers her face and weeps while de­scrib­ing her or­deal as a “com­fort woman”, the term for those forced into sex­ual slav­ery dur­ing wartime by Ja­panese sol­diers, at her home in Sufeng vil­lage, Ling­shui county, in 2005. Zhuo, who was born in 1926, has passed away.

Ev­ery­day life for for­mer “com­fort woman” Huang You­liang, 88 (left), is lim­ited to just a few paces in front of the door at her home in Jiama vil­lage, Ling­shui county, Hainan. She has had a se­ri­ous rheumatic dis­ease for years and can­not walk unas­sisted. Huang is sup­ported in her will to live by the hope of an of­fi­cial gov­WangZhifeng,87,aformer“com­fort­woman”,restsin­herbed­roomath­ome­inTu­lon­gapol­o­gyfromtheJa­panese ern­ment. vil­lage last year. She lives with her son.

Zheng Jin­nyu sheds tears while re­call­ing the past at her home in Nongqing vil­lage, Ling­shui county, Hainan province, in 2005. She was born in 1926 and passed away in 2006. She was raped by three Ja­panese sol­diers while work­ing in the fields when she was 16, and later forced to be­come a “com­fort woman”. For­mer “com­fort woman” Chen Yabian, 88, shows her home­grown man­goes to visi­tors at her home in Zux­iao vil­lage in Ling­shui county in 2005. For many years she re­fused to say any­thing to her fam­ily about the time she spent at the com­fort sta­tion.

Li Mei­jin, 88, a for­mer “com­fort woman”, en­ters her home in Tu­long vil­lage last year.

For­mer “com­fort woman” Fu Meiju, 90, en­joys happy twi­light years with her grand­son’s fam­ily at Tu­long vil­lage of Cheng­mai county in Hainan last year.

For­mer “com­fort woman” Chen Lin­cun, 89, stands in front of her home in Damao town, Wan­ning, in Hainan, with her grand­daugh­ter this year.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.