Time to change ‘comfort women’ moniker in textbooks: women’s group

Taipei,  The government should change how the women who were forced into prostitution by the Japanese army during World War II are referred to in Taiwanese schools and textbooks, a women’s group said Friday.

The Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation urged that the standard euphemism of “comfort women” seen in junior high and high school curriculums and textbooks be changed to “comfort women: military sexual slaves,” citing a 1995 United Nations report.

The U.N. Human Rights Commission defined “comfort women” as “military sexual slaves” and Taiwan should follow suit, the foundation said at a press conference on International Memorial Day for Comfort Women on Friday.

The foundation also reiterated its longstanding call for the Japanese government that established the military sexual slavery system during the war to give formal apologies to comfort women and compensate the victims.

An apology is essential, the foundation said, if Japan seeks to become one of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

The issue has reverberated throughout Asia in places the Japanese Imperial Army occupied, most notably in South Korea and Taiwan, and Japan reached agreement with South Korea in December 2015 to issue an apology to the victims and set up a US$8.3 million fund to help them.

Despite repeated lawsuits, however, Taiwanese comfort women have never received the same treatment. Japanese courts have ruled against requests for compensation and its government has been reluctant to recognize their plight.

More than 2,000 Taiwanese women were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II, the foundation said, and only two are still alive that it knows of.

“The foundation helps people remember the history of the ‘comfort women’ every year on International Memorial Day,” said Yeh Der-lan (葉德蘭), president of the foundation that has championed the rights of the women for nearly three decades.

Speaking of the two women who remain alive, Yeh said the foundation has only been able to offer a “meager” amount of help in view of the pressure these victims of sexual violence have faced.

“But the resilience they have shown and their ability to find harmony in their lives are worthy of emulation and respect,” Yeh said.

The foundation will continue to push its appeals even if only two comfort women in Taiwan are still alive, it said, but it will soon be without an important tool it has had to educate the public on the issue and tell the women’s stories.

The Ama Museum, founded in December 2016 in Taipei’s Dadaocheng area, will close on Nov. 10 because of losses exacerbated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Friday’s press conference was the last one to be held there on International Memorial Day.

Ama is a term in the Taiwanese Hokkien dialect used by Taiwanese to address their grandmothers and is also used to refer to the “comfort women” because they were in their 60s and 70s when the issue gained attention in the 1990s, according to the foundation.


Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel

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