The so-called “comfort women”, victims of Japan’s wartime system of sex slavery, are once again bringing their complaints into the spotlight, as Tokyo officials refuse to present an official apology and to offer compensation to the South Korean victims.
Japan’s chief cabinet secretary had said the evidence given by the women forced to work in military brothels needs to be re-examined.
The victims are constantly organizing a rally outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul every Wednesday and are making the same demands – an official apology and legal reparation.
A statue of a girl – representing the comfort women – was set up outside the embassy in 2011. Since then, it has attracted visitors from home and abroad.
In the 1990s, a total of 239 former sex slaves came forward to register with the South Korean government, the international press reports.
“It really hurts me to see her go like this without getting the Japanese’s apology or compensation. All she heard were those reckless remarks made by Japanese leaders,” said Kim Jung-hwan, the adopted son of Hwang Keum-ja, a “comfort woman” who passed away this year at the age of 90.
According to historians, between 1932 until the end of the war, more than 200,000 women from across Asia were forced by the Japanese military into sex slavery.
Although the Japanese government has formally apologized, it has refused to offer direct payment to the victims.
Activists and the victims say that simply means Tokyo does not want to officially acknowledge what has happened.