Philippine 'comfort women' rally for recognition
'Even if we die, our children and grandchildren will continue the fight'
Narcisa Claveria, 85, joins others in calling for recognition and compensation from Japan. (Photo by Vincent Go)
Women who suffered at the hands of Japanese soldiers during World War II held a protest rally in front of the Japanese Embassy in Manila on Thursday to mark the International Memorial Day for Comfort Women and demand compensation from Japan.
"Many of our members have died already, but we will not stop until we get justice. Even if we die, our children and grandchildren will continue the fight," said 85-year old Narcisa Claveria, a former comfort woman.
Claveria recalled how Japanese soldiers killed her father, raped her mother and bayoneted two of her younger brothers. She was only 14 years old when soldiers abducted and raped her and her two elder sisters in 1943.
"The Japanese government should respond and compensate us because we were used as sex slaves," Claveria told ucanews.com.
"We have been fighting for this for 69 years already, we've been seeking for justice for a long time, and I will fight for this till I die," she said.
"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."
The protesters belonging to the League of Filipino Women also criticized the Philippine government for its "lack of commitment" to discuss the issue with the Japanese government during President Benigno Aquino's visit to Japan last June.
As well as compensation, the women want historical inclusion in Japan's account of World War II.
In 1994, the Japanese government set up the Asian Women's Fund (AWF) to distribute additional compensation to South Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan, the Netherlands, and Indonesia.
At least 60 Korean, 13 Taiwanese, 211 Filipino and 79 Dutch former comfort women were provided with a signed apology from the then prime minister Tomiichi Murayama.
But Richilda Extremadura, executive director of comfort women's group Lila Filipino said that accepting compensation from the AWF "is not the same as something formally coming from the Japanese government for their responsibility over the war crimes."
Estimates vary as to how many women became victims of Japanese soldiers during the war; they range from 20,000 to as high as 200,000.