Filipino 'comfort women' seek apology from Japan
Victims say they suffered same fate as Korean women in WWII
Filipino comfort women call for apology from the Japanese government during a protest rally. (Photo courtesy of Gabriela)
Filipino "comfort women" today demanded an apology and compensation from the Japanese government for being forced into sexual slavery during World War II.
"What is applicable to Korean comfort women should also apply to Filipino comfort women," said Rechilda Extremadura, executive director of Lila Pilipina, an organization of Filipino comfort women.
Lila Pilipina today staged a protest outside the Japanese Embassy in Manila to highlight their plight.
Extremadura said historical accounts would affirm that what Korean comfort women experienced at the hands of Japanese soldiers "were the same as what our comfort women underwent."
Comfort women is the term used for women and girls forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II. The term is a translation of a Japanese word which means "prostitute."
In 1993, Japan released a statement apologizing for the phenomenon of sexual slavery during the war.
The statement, issued by Japan's chief cabinet secretary Yohei Kono, acknowledged that the Japanese military was involved in the recruitment of "comfort women" from the Korean Peninsula. It included an official apology to the women.
Extremadura said the former comfort women were seeking similar justice.
"The lolas (Filipino term for grandmother) are not getting any younger," she said. "They hope to see justice served to them before their last breath. Compensation is a just demand because they need it especially in their twilight years," Extremadura said.
In a statement, Lila Pilipina criticized Philippines President Benigno Aquino, who arrived last night from a state visit in Japan, "for not even putting on the agenda the plight of Filipino comfort women."
Estimates vary as to how many women became victims of Japanese soldiers during the war. Estimates range from as low as 20,000 to as high as 200,000. Many of the women were from countries occupied by Japan, including Korea, China, and the Philippines.
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