Rare footage shows pain of 'com­fort women'

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By LIA ZHU in San Fran­cisco li­azhu@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

Newly un­cov­ered footage of seven "com­fort women" pro-vides video ev­i­dence of the Japa-nese Army; sex­ual en­slave­ment of hun­dreds of thou­sands of women from Asian coun­tries dur­ing World War II.

The black-and-white foot-age shot in 1944 by a US Army pri­vate in South­west China's Yun­nan prov­ince shows seven women stand­ing out­side a brick house. They were bare­foot and looked ner­vous.

Af­ter a two-year search through US archives, re­search-ers from Seoul Univer­sity un­cov­ered the video at the US Na­tional Archives and Records Ad­min­is­tra­tion. The women were filmed af­ter they were lib­er­ated by US-China Al­lied Forces as the troops re­claimed Song­shan, in Yun­nan, from the Ja­panese.

The re­searchers iden­ti­fied the women as Korean by match­ing their clothes and fa­cial ap­pear­ances with ex­ist­ing his­tor­i­cal pho­tos- a set of pho­tos taken by a pri­vate of the US Amy Sig­nal Corps' 164th Pho­to­graphic Unit and un­cov­ered in 2000.

"The film clearly shows the fear and anx­i­ety on the women's faces and body move­ments. As a woman, I can clearly iden­tify with these women as they stood bare­foot so help­less and scared" said Lil­lian Sing, co-chair of the San Fran­cisco-based Com­fort Women Jus­tice Coali­tion.

Call­ing the footage "the most pow­er­ful and per­sua­sive ev­i­dence'', Sing, a re­tired Su­pe­rior Court judge in San Fran-cisco, said, "In a court of law, this film is con­sid­ered as the best ev­i­dence and a smok­ing gun show­ing what hap­pened in 1944."

Be­fore the video clip sur­faced, the only vis­ual images had been still pho­to­graphs and ac­counts from sur­vivors.

"This is vivid, mov­ing, pro-ac­tive, and al­most alive film, and what it showed can­not be de­nied:' said Sing.

The dis­cov­ery of the footage is sig­nif­i­cant as it re­futes con­vinc­ingly Ja­pan's claim that there is no ev­i­dence of 'com­fort women': said Peipei Qiu, pro­fes­sor of Chi­nese and Ja­panese at Vas­sar Col­lege and au­thor of the award-win­ning Chi­nese Com­fort Women: Tes­ti­monies from Im­pe­rial Ja­pan's Sex Slaves.

"This footage tied in with wartime records. The area of Teng­chong, Song­shan and Longling in Yun­nan prov­ince was an im­por­tant fortress on the vi­tal wartime sup­ply line in China," said Qiu. Her book also records this his­tory.

Ac­cord­ing to the West Yun­nan NGO Re­search As­so­ci­a­tion for the Un­re­solved Is­sues of the Anti-Ja­panese War, the Im­pe­rial Ja­panese Army oc­cu­pied Longling County in 1942, and within two weeks set up a mil­i­tary com­fort sta­tion there.

Sol­diers of­ten fought about who got to use the sta­tion, so the Ja­panese Army trans­ported about 100 more "com­fort women" from tai­wan and set up two other com­fort sta­tions at a tem­ple and a church, said Qiu.

The Ja­panese sol­ders also raped the cap­tured lo­cal women and then de­tained them, set-ting up more com­fort sta­tions. Be­sides lo­cal women, lo­cal res­i­dents also saw Ja­panese and Korean women con­fined in the com­fort sta­tions.

""What hap­pened to the com­fort women' in this sta­tion when the Ja­panese forces with­drew re­mains un­known, although there have been re­ports that, in nearby La­meng Town­ship and Teng­chong County, Ja­panese troops forced Korean 'com­fort women' to take mer­curic chlo­ride, while they shot and killed Chi­nese com­fort women:" Qiu said.

While ap­plaud­ing the dis­cov­ery of the footage, Sing ques­tioned why the film sat in the US Na­tional Archives and Records Ad­min­is­tra­tion for so many years.

"We only have 22 'com­fort women' alive in China and 37 alive in South Korea. Jus­tice can­not be de­layed any longer:" said Sing.

SCREEN­SHOT OF VIDEO / US NA­TIONAL ARCHIVES AND RECORDS AD­MIN­IS­TRA­TION

Re­cently un­cov­ered video footage shows seven "com­fort wome if' stand­ing out­side a brick house. They were filmed af­ter be­ing lib­er­ated by US-China Al­lied Forces from the Ja­panese in 1944 in Song­shan, South­west China's Yun­nan prov­ince. The footage was lo­cated by a South Korean re­search team af­ter a two-year hunt in US archives.

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