Voices of the Filipino survivors of Japan’s military sexual slavery Collected on March 7, 2007, by Shibazaki Haruko, Group in Support of the Former “Comfort Women” in the Philippines, at the Lolas’ House of Lila Pilipina, Manila, the Philippines Prime Minister Abe, your words have humiliated us and hurt us very much.
You must ask our forgiveness and apologize for the crimes the Japanese soldiers committed against us. You denials hurt us so much that we cannot sleep at night. Please come to meet with us in person, any day, any time.
Anastacia Cortez (age 86) I was so hurt and angry that fury rose inside me when I heard Prime Minister Abe’s denial. We were innocent.
We were children. We did nothing wrong, yet the Japanese soldiers raped and abused us. The Prime Minister is responsible for the crimes committed by Japanese soldiers. Wouldn’t it be right for the Prime Minister to appear before us, repent, and beg our forgiveness for these crimes? Shouldn’t you apologize?
Ever since I heard these recent statements, I haven’t been able to sleep at night. I can never forget what I had to suffer then, but when I heard those mean and humiliating words, I was hurt even more. Now my memory comes back even worse, and I cannot sleep.
I did not speak out for the sake of getting payment. I needed courage to come out. I made my children suffer for it, too.
I demand apology from Prime Minister Abe so that justice be restored. I will not stop until justice is restored. Please come directly see us any day, anytime.
Pilar Frias (age 80) Yesterday I went out front of the Japanese Embassy and cried, to rid my heart of the anger and anxiety piled up there. Prime Minister Abe has called us prostitutes, saying that we sold ourselves to make money. But I was only fifteen then. Could a girl of fifteen think of such a thing?
It has been more than sixty years, yet anger rises up inside me each time I look in the mirror and see the scar on my face carved by a Japanese soldier.
Virginia Villarma (age 78) The recent statements by Prime Minister Abe pierced our hearts with pain. Please pass on to him our anger through our supporters in Japan. He calls us prostitutes, but then he has no evidence whatsoever to prove that we were. What he is saying is not right. He is telling a lie. I would fight until the day he takes back those words.
I am Tomasa Dioso Salinog, 78 years of age and a resident of San Jose, Antique, The Philippines.
I was only thirteen years old and an only child and living alone with my father when Japanese soldiers forcibly entered our home in 1942 in San Jose, Antique. The soldiers killed my father when he tried to prevent them from taking me away.
For about two years I was kept as a slave to be raped and abused by Japanese soldiers. They took away the only member of my family. Alone, in abject poverty and with no one to take care of me, I could not go back to school and had to work in order to survive. The war and sexual slavery had destroyed my life and my future.
I am now old and my health is failing. The illnesses brought about by the abuse I suffered in the hands of the Japanese soldiers and the hard work in order to survive, persist and have become more serious.
Despite my poverty and poor health, I rejected the Asian Women’s Fund. The atonement being offered by the Asian Women’s Fund could not compensate for the violation of my rights as a woman and the grievous crimes that were committed against me. The government of Japan should be accountable for its responsibility for what the Japanese military did to my father and me.
I am appealing to you, Prime Minister Abe to acknowledge the truths we have told. This is the justice I have been longing and praying for. We are aware of Japan’s efforts for peace but there can be no peace in this world unless there is justice. I hope justice will come before I die . . . TOMASA SALINOG
Please Make an Official Apology and Provide State Compensation to the Survivors of Japan’s Wartime Sexual Violence NOW! March 29, 2007 （日本語はこちら）
Dear Prime Minister of Japan Abe Shinzo,
We are citizens and groups working in various ways towards an honest solution to the issue of wartime sexual violence that Japan committed in the past.
The problem of an official apology and compensation to the survivors of Japan’s military “comfort women” has been daily news ever since you became Prime Minister. Unfortunately, this is not a result of Japan accepting responsibility for its past wrongdoing, but of your irresponsible comments concerning efforts overseas to seek Japan’s accountability. This is more than just embarrassing for us citizens of Japan.
Now, criticism and protests against your denials have spread, not only in countries where the victimized women are from, namely Korea, China, Taiwan, the Philippines and the Netherlands, but also in other countries such as the United States and Canada. This is because there is a large gap in understanding between the international community and the Prime Minister. International anger has arisen from the following:
1. The dishonesty of the Prime Minister’s repeated ambiguous and insincere personal apologies and denials of facts, in place of making efforts for an official State apology and compensation You stated when taking office as Prime Minister that you would sustain the 1993 “Kono Statement.” Soon afterwards, however, you noted that “there was ‘coercion in the broad sense’ including inappropriate ways of recruitment, but no ‘coercion in the narrow sense’ such as forcible taking of the women by officials”, which generated international condemnation. Then, you underlined that “the comfort women went through hardships and suffered in the heart. My feeling of apology is the same as that of my predecessors.” Yet, you subsequently stated “I will not apologize even if the U.S. Congress adopts the resolution”, furthermore issuing a Cabinet decision which says that “there was no reference found in the materials located by the government which directly suggested that there had been such things as the so-called forcible taking committed by the officials of the military or the government”, re-inviting international condemnation.
2. The discriminatory attitude against the women of foreign origin: discrimination against different gender and ethnicities Prime Minister Abe made the following comment in 1997: "[It is argued] that the society was so Confucian they had to remain silent for fifty years. Is Korea really such a society?
In South Korea there are many kisaeng houses and many people just go ahead doing those things there. So, such acts are not something out of the ordinary; rather I even think that they may be significantly integrated into their lives." ('Young Diet members' league to consider Japan's future and history education' ed., "Rekishi Kyokasho e no Gimon" (Questions About History Textbooks), Tenten-sha, 1997) At the time, you were the Secretary General of this league who published this book. This comment of yours is blatantly discriminatory.
3. The downplaying of Japan’s military sexual slavery in order to highlight the “issue of abduction of Japanese citizens committed by North Korea, an insult to the Japanese nation”When you served as the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary in 2005, you posted to your website the following criticism of NHK’s (Japan’s national broadcaster) program on the 2000 “Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery”: “I suspected that this was a part of North Korean propaganda in which North Korea tried to smooth over the Abductees Issue to emphasize itself as the victim.” In your statements, the “comfort women” issue is always portrayed as something confronting the “abductee issue”. That is why your attitude is criticized as being against the purpose of and efforts for reconciliation and living together peacefully with our Asian neighbors.
Japan’s military sexual slavery began roughly at the time of the Nanjing Incident in 1937. Now seventy years has passed. The lack of formal apology and compensation from the Japanese State to the victims after so many, many years is a focus of international criticism. Those who were made “comfort women” during the war, including girls sometimes younger than ten-year-old, were torn from their lives and made sex slaves. Moreover, they had to suffer again for more than sixty years after the war without the wounds on their body and hearts remaining unhealed. Their lives were destroyed first by the Japanese military, then by the irresponsibility of the Government of Japan. And now, many of those women are leaving for good one by one, without their sense of human dignity having been returned to them.
The Government of Japan must now be courageous and accept responsibility for its past wrongdoing. It must provide an official apology and state compensation to the survivors. We believe that this will lead to peace within Asia as well as the world at large. We also believe that such a decision will also give rise to the possibility of eliminating sexual violence under armed conflict and peacetime in all our societies, today and in the future.
Alarmed by the Prime Minister’s denial of even the slight acknowledgement embodied in the “Kono Statement”, we began this petition as an effort to prevent its revision. Now, regardless of how many times members of the Japanese Government repeat their commitment to the “Kono Statement” and regardless what token words of apology the Prime Minister offers, the international community has learnt that this is not a genuine, sincere response. The world now strongly demands the government of Japan deliver a formal and genuine apology to the survivors. We as citizens of Japan earnestly hope that our government takes immediate action to provide such an apology and legal state compensation that is long overdue.
Today we bring to you 14,406 signatures from Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Germany urging you to support the “Kono Statement” as a bare minimum. We also have put together a brochure explaining why your argument denying “coercion” does not stand. We earnestly hope that our Prime Minister will genuinely share the pain that we share with the surviving women, and that you will demonstrate to the international community that you are a true leader of an honest government, committed to fulfilling responsibility for the State’s past wrongdoings.
Japan Action Network for the “Comfort Women” Issue c/o Japan Anti-Prostitution Association 2nd Kyofu-kai Bldg., 2-23-25, Hyakunin-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo