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No more 'comfort women' should die without official apology

By Rabi Sankar Bosu | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-08-18 08:46
No more 'comfort women' should die without official apology

Representatives of grossroots community organizations hold pictures of "Comfort Women" during a rally on the sidewalk in front of Japanese Consulate General in San Francisco, the United States, on August 14, 2017. [Photo/Xinhua]

On August 15 China marked the 72nd anniversary of Japan's unconditional surrender in World War II. We know that war is hell. World War II, the deadliest catastrophe in the history of humankind, pawed its dirtiest claws on thousands and thousands of innocent girls and women. In this regard, the Imperial Japanese soldiers like hungry hyena pounced on Chinese and Korean girls and women, as well as, other Asian women forcing them to fulfill their sexual desires. The atrocities committed by the Japanese soldiers before and during World War II shocked the civilized world. Unfortunately, Japan has long attempted to whitewash its militarized sexual violence against women which is an unspeakable shame.

The heart-wrenching saga of these comfort women, the term for those forced into sexual slavery during the war by Japanese soldiers, haunts the mind. The United Nations Commission on Human Rights observed that throughout history, through the Massacre of Nanjing (1937) to the present, women and young girls have been forced into wartime brothels. The senseless, brutal atrocities that Chinese comfort women suffered during World War II has remained one of the most pathetic chapters in a history that has left a deep imprint. Their wounds, their scars, both mental and physical, have never healed.

Even today, 72 years after the surrender of Japan, when we read the nefarious deeds carried out by the Japanese troops before and during World War II to Chinese and other Asian women, we shudder. The shocking stories of Chinese comfort women like Wan Aihua, Lei Guiying, Wei Shaolan, Lin Ailan , Zhang Xiantu, Zheng Jinnyu, Zhuo Tianmei, Hao Yuelian, Cao Heimao, Pian Huanying, Hao Juxiang, Liu Fenghai, Li Ailian, Li Meijin, Fu Meiju, Chen Lincun, Yang Abu, Chen Jinyu, Wang Zhifeng, Chen Yabian and Huang Youliang, just to name a few, are painful to read. They reveal the darkest crimes on the spectrum of sexual violence carried out under the aegis of the dehumanized Japanese military men.

Young girls then, they are old women now. They will die one day, but their tearful stories will continue for many generations to come. Comfort women warrior Huang Youliang died at the age of 90 at her home in the village of Yidui in China's southern island province of Hainan on August 12, four days before International Comfort Women Day. She was caught by patrolling Japanese soldiers and raped at the age of 14 while she was working alone on a farm one day in November 1941. For the next four years, she was raped, enslaved and tortured by Japanese troops in a wartime brothel known as the Liangqiao comfort station.

The death of Huang Youliang leaves only 14 surviving comfort women on the Chinese mainland. It's extremely painful to realize that she didn't receive any apology or compensation from the Japanese government before she died. More importantly, to date, no one in Japan has been tried or held accountable for the militarized sexual enslavement of the Chinese comfort women.

Historical research shows that 200,000 Chinese women were forced to work as comfort women to provide sex to Japanese soldiers and many of them did not survive the torment. An estimated two thirds of them died before the end of the war. According to the documents from 1938 through 1945 released by China's State Archives Administration, it is known that the Japanese military often targeted schools and many of the victims were children aged 14 to 18 — so that the military men could take their virginity. Most of these "women" were not women at all, but girls pushed into the comfort stations as soon as they reached puberty.

It is important to point out that the Japanese government has so far refused to acknowledge its legal responsibility for the comfort women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences and suffered incurable physical and psychological wounds at comfort stations established by the Japanese occupiers between 1932 and the Japanese defeat.

It should also be noted that 24 Chinese comfort women sued the Japanese government, demanding an apology for wartime rape and sexual enslavement. However, on August 30, 2006 a Japanese court rejected their appeals saying that an individual Chinese person had no right to sue the Japanese state.

They wrote to Japan's former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, Yukio Hatoyama and present Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hoping that the Japanese government would solve the issues, apologize and pay compensation, but they did not get a reply. Over the past five years, Shinzo Abe has constantly let the world down by acknowledging only the “historic hurt” committed by the Japanese. His deceitful denial of his country's past aggression has shown flagrant disregard for comfort women.

What Japan did to China in World War II is very dangerous and Japan should bear the consequences. The piercing pain experienced by comfort women can no longer be hidden from history despite the Japanese government's denial. The comfort women's stories have become part of the emerging transnational memory of World War II.

It's an issue which has affected Japan's relations with China for years. Today's Japanese leaders must not evade the weight of the past. During China's epic V-Day parade on September 3, 2015, President Xi reiterated that the Chinese government will continue seeking justice for Chinese women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese during World War II.

Undoubtedly, the use of comfort women was a terrible, egregious violation of human rights. World War II ended 72 years ago but comfort women have still not received one word of apology from the Japanese government for the massive violation of human rights. China should expose the atrocities of the Japanese imperial army, so former comfort women can live to see the offenders apologize.

The whole world should give these comfort women honor and respect. We must never forget the suffering and humiliation inflicted upon them by the Japanese military during World War II so that it can never be repeated again. We should bear history in mind, honor all those who laid down their lives and cherish peace and open up the future.

Germany has apologized for its war crimes but Japan had not apologized for its war crimes. Japan should face up to its history and deal with the issue in a responsible way. The Japanese government should apologize and compensate comfort women in China and all countries. We must salute Chinese comfort women - the heroes of history.

Sources:

News Reports of China Daily, CRIENGLISH ,CCTV , Xinhua,China.org.cn

"Chinese Comfort Women: Testimonies from Imperial Japan's Sex Slaves": Peipei Qiu

"Documents on Rape of Nanking": Timothy Brook

"A Foreigner's Eyewitness Account of the Atrocities Committed by the Japanese": Harold John Timperley

Rabi Sankar Bosu is the Secretary of New Horizon Radio Listeners' Club in West Bengal, India.

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