Pres­i­dent blasts de­bate over whether ‘com­fort women’ forced or not

The China Post - - LOCAL -

Pres­i­dent Ma Ying-jeou ( ) stressed Sun­day that it is a his­tor­i­cal fact that “com­fort women” were forced into sex­ual slav­ery dur­ing World War II, and said the de­bates sur­round­ing whether these women were forced paint Tai­wan in a bad light.

“We should not ar­gue over these ques­tions any­more. They were forced,” Ma said af­ter a screen­ing of the doc­u­men­tary “Song of the Reed” ( ) at the Pres­i­den­tial Of­fice. The doc­u­men­tary chron­i­cles the later years of Tai­wanese “com­fort women” — women forced into sex­ual slav­ery by Ja­panese forces dur­ing World War II.

Ma pointed out that these women are his mother’s age and all lived through a chaotic time. The pres­i­dent choked up sev­eral times af­ter view­ing the doc­u­men­tary.

“If we are still de­bat­ing this is­sue to­day, it means we are not a civ­i­lized coun­try,” the pres­i­dent said, re­fer­ring to re­cent protests against changes to high school history cur­ricu­lum guide­lines that touch upon the is­sue of “com­fort women.”

While most of the protesters’ anger is di­rected to­ward what they are call­ing “black-box” or se­cre­tive changes to the cur­ricu­lum to make it present a “Chi­na­cen­tric” view, some op­po­nents have also ques­tioned a mod­i­fi­ca­tion re­lated to the “com­fort women.”

The change de­scribes the vic­tims of Ja­panese sex slav­ery dur­ing World War II as “women forced to be­come com­fort women” rather than sim­ply as “com­fort women.” Some op­po­nents ar­gue that not all the women were forced.

Ma noted that a 1996 United Na­tions re­port has al­ready de­scribed the “com­fort women” is­sue as “mil­i­tary sex­ual slav­ery” and the United States, Canada and the Euro­pean Union have all de­manded over the years that Ja­pan apol­o­gize and com­pen­sate the women.

The pres­i­dent said the Tai­wan public should help and sup­port these women, adding that the “com­fort women” is­sue is not a po­lit­i­cal is­sue, but a his­tor­i­cal fact and a hu­man rights is­sue.

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