Long-awaited apology still unrealized for comfort women

Huang Panyue
2019-08-16 10:47:24

Despite the fact that women sexually enslaved by the Japanese militarists during the WWII still cannot receive an apology as they approach death or already lie in a graveyard, people from the affected countries promised to continue to fight on their behalf at the seventh World Comfort Women Day commemorated on Aug. 14.

The nightmare of Wei Shaolan, a 99-year-old Chinese woman of Yao ethnic group, finally ended on May 5, 2019, the day she passed away, three months ahead of the seventh World Comfort Women Day.

Over the past decades, her identity as a comfort woman sexually abused by the Japanese military intruders who captured her in the winter of 1944 when she was 24, pained her ever after.

Three months after her captivity, she escaped from the camp where she’d been incarcerated, but found herself pregnant. She spent the rest of her life with her son, Luo Shanxue, having decided to give birth, despite the strong discrimination which prevented her ever marrying.

In December 2010, she and her son headed to Tokyo and Kyoto, where Wei testified at a rally comprising victims and living witnesses against the atrocity on women sexually enslaved by the Japanese army during WWII. However, their attempts to win court recognition through a lawsuit failed.

According to Su Zhiliang, director of the Research Center for Comfort Women at Shanghai Normal University, the victims remaining alive in China have now reached an average age of 94, which means most are in their final stages in life.

"Among those victims, only a few have been able to set their minds free from the past and choose to forgive. Most refused to do so because the invaders still owe them an apology," Su said.

Being raped, bullied and beaten repeatedly, more than 200,000 women during WWII suffering as comfort women, and the majority died before the end of the war. They were either tortured to death or committed suicide.

"Women should never be raped in war; rape should not be accepted because it's war," said Jan Ruff-O’Herne, an Indonesia-born Australian, who was continuously tortured by the horrible scenes of her wartime experience, in an interview in 2016.

In December 2015, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered an apology to the comfort women, along with millions of dollars of compensation. But it was limited to victims in South Korea. Meanwhile, Ruff O'Herne and women of other countries still wait for justice.

"He's waiting for us all to be dead but I'm not going to die, I'm going to live forever," said Ruff O'Herne. By this she meant that, even after her own death, her family will take up the fight.

Nowadays, only 18 Chinese and 20 South Korean victims are known to be still alive.


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