South Korea – Commemoration Memorial Day for World War II “Comfort Women”
Date: August 20, 2020
By Yonhap – Article & Photo
August 14, 2020 – South Korea held various events to commemorate the international memorial day on Friday for Asian women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II.
The government-led national ceremony marking the International Memorial Day for Comfort Women took place at the Hill of National Commemoration in Cheonan, south of Seoul, with the slogan of “memory for the future.”
About 100 people, including elderly Korean women sexually enslaved by the imperial Japanese army, participated in the event.
In a video message, President Moon Jae-in vowed to make constant efforts to resolve the issue that has been a source of diplomatic rifts with Japan for decades.
South Koreans have called on Japan to offer a sincere apology and compensation for the victims, but the neighboring country has remained silent.
“The most important principle of resolving the problem is ‘victim-centrism,'” he said. “The government will do its best to map out realistic and practical methods so that the victims’ courage and dedication can get repaid with the restoration of dignity and honor.”
It is the third time that the government has hosted a national ceremony commemorating the day since 2018, when it was designated a national memorial day.
The International Memorial Day for Comfort Women falls on Aug. 14, the day when the late Kim Hak-soon, a former comfort woman, first publicly testified about Japan operating an organized military brothel program during the war in 1991.
It is also the eve of Liberation Day, which marks the end of the 1910-1945 Japanese colonial era.
Also during the ceremony, Lee Jung-ok, minister of gender equality and family, said it is time for the current generation to respond to those who dedicated their lives to shed light on the comfort women issue.
“The testimony by Kim Hak-soon resonated across the globe, revealing the truth and the violence against women,” she said. “Now we have to think of what we can learn from the tragedy in history.”
The government then opened a digital archive that stores more than 500 files of documents and materials on “comfort women,” a euphemistic term for the former sex slaves. The online depository includes reports by the United Nations forces during the Korean War and official statements by the Japanese government.
According to historians, up to 200,000 women, mostly Koreans, were coerced into sexual servitude in front-line Japanese brothels when the Korean Peninsula was a Japanese colony. (Yonhap)
Remember Comfort Women – “Comfort Women” is the Japanese Imperial government’s euphemism for the women and children they trafficked as sex slaves between 1932 and 1945, until the end of World War II. Most of the victims were Korean and Chinese, although many others were from the Philippines, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Australia, East Timor, Hong Kong, and Macau. While some were recruited by false advertisements promising work as house maids, factory workers and nurses, the majority were abducted and violently coerced into sexual slavery for Japanese soldiers at government sponsored “comfort stations” intended to improve army morale, as a strategy of war. It is estimated that some 400,000 women and children were forced to be sex slaves for Japanese soldiers and officers at these government-sponsored rape camps. The “Comfort Women” were often kept in sub-human conditions and suffered from starvation, physical and psychological abuse, disease, infections.