Tokyo citizens raise awareness of Japan’s military ‘comfort women’ sex slave issue

Tokyo citizens raise awareness of Japan’s military ‘comfort women’ sex slave issue


Japan’s wartime sexual enslavement of women
has long been an contentious issue for Seoul and Tokyo. Fuelling the anger of victims is the Japanese
government’s attitude, that there’s nothing more to discuss,… and most of its history
textbooks have removed the issue from their pages. For a change we take a look at those in that
same country who beg to differ. Oh Soo-young met with the Japanese citizens
who believe settling the past does not mean sweeping it under the carpet… for our news
feature tonight. Marking the decades-long cries for recognition,
reparation and healing,… the Statue of Peace outside the Japanese Embassy in Seoul represents
the women and girls forced into sexual slavery by Japan in the early 20th century. The statue has inspired similar models around
the world,… but its meaning is lost on many Japanese. “I haven’t learned much about it, but I’ve
heard about it on TV.” “I remember hearing about it briefly at high
school. But they don’t teach it these days. I think that’s wrong.” “It’s not in the curriculum. I haven’t been taught about it. I think we need to learn more about history
to move past conflict.” “It seems most of the Japanese public aren’t
aware of Japan’s wartime sexual enslavement of women. Here in Tokyo, there are a number of people
working to change that.” Tucked away in a room at a small publishing
house in Tokyo.. a young girl waits to see daylight. Yuka Okamoto, a writer and publisher, was
entrusted with a duplicate of the statue of peace,… by the sculptors of the original. “It’s been two years, but we haven’t found
a place for her. We’re worried the conservatives will clamp
down on us.” Moved by a victim’s testimony in 1991,…
Okamoto joined local efforts to raise awareness of the sexual slavery issue in Japan. “Because the issue has been erased from most
school textbooks– young people don’t know about it. And the Japanese media pumps out biased reports
that stir up distrust and the misconception that the statue is anti-Japanese.” She digs for historical evidence and resources
and publishes the findings through printed and online contents. By building a better understanding among the
Japanese public, she hopes some day the girl in her backroom can sit in the sun. “The offender has no right to tell the victims
to remove the statue. If anything, Japan is more in need of it,
so it never forgets the past.” Preserving memories before they are forgotten,… A museum in Tokyo,… holds records from nine
countries where women were forced into so-called ‘comfort stations’. “Tokyo denies evidence that women were forced
into sex slavery, claiming the issue was settled with the countries. So we collect official documents, journal
entries and personal testaments for our database available for anyone to access.” Under pressure and even threats from right-wing
groups,… the activists here believe that, as Japanese citizens, it’s their duty to ensure
that history does not repeat itself. “It’s a human rights issue– a case of gender-based
violence– which applies today in warzones all over the world. We must not forget the terrible acts of our
ancestors to warn the world against it.” However, they are in a race against time to
collect more evidence and testimonies,… as many victims and witnesses have already
passed away,… and the traces of the events continue to be erased from Japan’s history
textbooks. Yang Jing-ja, a Korean-Japanese translator,…
sometimes wonders if she’s fighting a losing battle. For more than 20 years,… she’s led a civic
group that calls for Tokyo to fully acknowledge its past atrocities. This is a military journal. It says, “wherever the Japanese soldiers conquer,
they rape the women again and again. So they need to set up a sexual ‘comfort’
station as soon as possible.” That’s what it says here. Along with other evidence,… Yang turned
the records over to Japanese authorities in 2014. Did you get a response? A year later, they gave it back. They just said, “We return your documents.” What keeps Yang going,… is the enduring
spirit of the Korean victims. “When granny Song Shin-do, a victim, lost
her 10-year-long court case against the Japanese authorities, our team wept and wept. But do you know what she said? She said ‘I’m okay. My heart is still unbroken.’ The Japanese government may be unmoved. But we have seen the victims come out of their
shells and transform over the years. And that changed us. Seeing their humanity and goodness despite
everything. We must pass their message to the next generation.” Mirei Yamagata, an actress and dancer in her
thirties,… speaks to her generation. She first encountered the sex slavery issue,
when she was cast to play a Korean victim in the early days of her career. “I wondered how to get into that mentality
of woman who underwent that terrible experience but also I felt a strong responsibility as
a Japanese woman to play the role of a Korean comfort woman.” Years later, after visiting a residence for
the victims in Korea,… she was inspired to create her own solo piece, which she performed
in Japan and Taiwan. “The moment they were put in these comfort
stations, their lives could not go back to normal. I wanted to make the piece a requiem for them,
to soothe their souls, give them a place where they could live the life they couldn’t have.” Beyond political and cultural differences,…
Yamagata hopes to inspire humanity. “We need to look at this issue as a big mistake
by mankind. I think it’s very important that at least
in schools, people get taught more about it. To understand the psychology or the situation
of why these events occured and what’s going to prevent that from happening again.” Settling the past does not mean to forget
and apologies mean nothing without an admission of wrongdoing. It’s by no means a political agenda. It’s a human issue that weighs heavy on the
conscience of those who choose to ignore it. Oh Soo-young, Arirang News, Tokyo.

Comments

  1. Post
    Author
  2. Post
    Author
    百地三太夫

    S.Koreans have been denying their former comfort women for US and S.Korean army.
    They are nothing more than hypocrites. Fuck you guys!!
    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-southkorea-usa-military-idUSKBN0FG0VV20140711

  3. Post
    Author
  4. Post
    Author
    jagaimoization

    Testimony about 'forcible taking away of women on Jeju Island': Judged to be fabrication because supporting evidence not found

    Check out the fact that the article of forcible taking away of women in Korea was fake.

  5. Post
    Author
    cloudyyo

    Karma doesn’t just go back to the individual, entire countries feel its effect. Yet the severity of karma may be assuaged by repentance. Confucius preached honesty. It is becoming of a true samurai to be honest and live up to your mistakes. Whether the Jappos ever decide to do the right thing instead of hiding behind deceit while finger pointing at others for their human rights abuses, will be their own karma…..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *