Taiwan seeks redress for ‘comfort women’
TAIPEI—Taiwan on Friday called on Japan to apologize and compensate the island’s wartime sex slaves after Tokyo and Seoul reached an agreement on the emotive issue.
Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou urged Japan, which ruled the island from 1895 to 1945, to take the same measures for Taiwanese comfort women.
“South Korea is only the beginning and Japan should consider how to resolve the issue with the ageing comfort women in Taiwan, China, the Philippines and Indonesia who expect an apology and compensation,” said Kang Shu-hua, director of the Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation.
The issue of “comfort women,” a euphemism for women who were forced into Japanese military brothels during World War II, continues to be an emotional and politically charged issue in these countries that Japan invaded and occupied. Up to 200,000 women, many of them Korean, are estimated to have been sexually enslaved by Japan during World War II.
In the agreement reached with South Korea on Monday, Japan offered a “heartfelt apology” and a one-billion yen ($8.3 million) payment to the South Korean comfort women. It was hailed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as a “new era” for relations between the two countries, which had been soured by the unresolved issue.
Taiwan’s Ma demanded the same for Taiwanese women.
“The government’s stance is to demand the Japanese government apologize to the comfort women from our country during World War II, to compensate them and to return justice and dignity to them,” he told reporters yesterday.
“We hope the Japanese government can do better and take better care of the comfort women’s welfare and dignity. Our stance has not changed,” he said.
Foreign Minister David Lin said Taipei had called for further negotiations with Tokyo on the issue.
“We hope for concrete progress for the matter in the near future… Japan understands our demands and is willing to consider,” Lin said.
“We think there will be progress on the matter but we can’t predict the results.” The issue of comfort women and a Japanese apology remains politically charged in Taiwan, with regular protests. AFP
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