‘Com­fort women’ de­mand jus­tice

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By XIN­HUA in Manila

Filipino “com­fort women” staged a protest on Thurs­day in front of the Ja­panese Em­bassy in Manila ahead of the visit by Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe.

The protesters urged Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte to raise their plight in his meet­ing with Abe, who will visit Manila and Davao, Duterte’s home city.

Duterte, who vis­ited Ja­pan in Oc­to­ber last year, will wel­come Abe at the Mala­canang pres­i­den­tial palace, where a state ban­quet is planned, Duterte’s of­fice said.

“We call on Duterte not to for­get to bring up with Abe the still un­ad­dressed de­mands by our fast ag­ing and di­min­ish­ing lo­las (grand­moth­ers) for a for­mal apol­ogy from the (Ja­panese) gov­ern­ment to all Asian com­fort women and resti­tu­tion for the hurt they in­flicted on thou­sands of women,” said Rechilda Ex­tremadura, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Lila Pilip­ina, an or­ga­ni­za­tion that sup­ports World War II com­fort women.

“Our lo­las also want Duterte to re­sist re­new­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ties of let­ting new Ja­panese troops con­duct ex­er­cises, train lo­cal se­cu­rity forces and make bases in our coun­try to avoid another bru­tal cam­paign of war and pil­lage.”

She also crit­i­cized pre­vi­ous Philip­pine ad­min­is­tra- tions, ac­cus­ing them of ig­nor­ing the plight of the Filipino women who were forced to work in Ja­panese mil­i­tary broth­els as sex slaves dur­ing World War II.

Gabriela, a women’s or­ga­ni­za­tion, also warned Duterte not to ditch the “com­fort women” is­sue in fa­vor of eco­nomic aid.

“Duterte should not take the so-called aid and loans as cos­metic beams to pa­per over the cries of com­fort women for gen­uine jus­tice and recog­ni­tion,” said Joms Sal­vador, sec­re­tary-general of Gabriela.

Like Bayan and Lila Pilip­ina, Gabriela also raised alarm over Ja­pan’s plan “to re­turn to its ag­gres­sive wartime stance”.

Dwin­dling num­ber

Lila Pilip­ina (League of Filipino Women) has doc­u­mented 174 “com­fort women” who have gone pub­lic since the early 1990s. Only 70 of them re­main alive, in­clud­ing Bus­ta­mante.

Another group, the Malaya Lo­las (Free Grand­moth­ers), has doc­u­mented 90 but the num­ber has since dwin­dled to 33.

Both groups are de­mand­ing of­fi­cial apol­ogy, just com­pen­sa­tion, and in­clu­sion of the com­fort women is­sue in Ja­pan’s his­tor­i­cal ac­counts and text­books.

The Philip­pine gov­ern­ment has so far avoided dis­cus­sion of the is­sue in bi­lat­eral talks with Ja­pan.


For­mer “com­fort woman” Nar­cisa Clave­ria, 87, protests out­side the Ja­panese em­bassy in Manila on Thurs­day, ahead of Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe’s two-day visit to the Philip­pines, which started Thurs­day.


Protester Reme­dios Day­alino (se­cond right) is joined by fel­low “com­fort women” at a demon­stra­tion in front of the Ja­panese em­bassy in Manila.

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