Published in the Fall 2007 issue • Newsflash
Continued from page 2
This past June, 44 members of the Japanese parliament ran an ad in the Washington Post titled “The Facts.” The full-page paid announcement denied the existence of the ianfu — the “comfort women” from China, Korea, the Philipines and Japan who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during the World War II.
Though women have come forward with stories of rape and horrific abuse at the hands of Japanese soldiers, members of the Japanese Diet (the government body) maintain that these women, some as young as 12, were actually licensed prostitutes paid much better than Japanese generals.
What? Back in 1993, after a study estimated that more than 200,000 comfort women were forced to serve in military brothels, the Japanese government issued an apology called the Kono Statement (though compensation is still nowhere to be seen).
Then in March of this year, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe publicly denied the historical proof (Abe later ate his words after some finger-wagging from world leaders, including Canada’s then-foreign affairs minister Peter McKay). Now the global community is putting the pressure on Japan to acknowledge the crimes committed against these women.
In June, the US Foreign Affairs Committee approved a nonbinding resolution urging Japan to take responsibility for the suffering of the comfort women. And a study released by Chinese legal groups in July proved the existence of 17 women forced into sexual slavery when Japan controlled parts of China during the war.
Canadian groups are also taking up the cause and speaking up on behalf of these women. The Canada Association for Learning and Preserving the History of WWII in Asia (ALPHA) has launched a campaign to get Canadian government on the case. They are urging the Canadian government to pass House of Commons Motion 291, which would officially call on the Japanese government to acknowledge the comfort women.
Speak out! Join the campaign and send word to your MP at www.alpha-canada.org. Find personal stories of women who survived life in the military brothels. Discover the facts for yourself.