By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA — Almost seven decades have passed since Japan surrendered and marked the end of the second world war. More than one decade has passed since Gabriela Women’s Party filed House Resolution No. 124 to seek justice and compensation for comfort women, Filipinas who were used as sex slaves by the Japanese Imperial Army. Today, justice remains elusive.
In a speech prepared by Gabriela Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan on Aug. 17, she emphasized why these comfort women would never forget the horrors of the war. “Many of them were barely in their teens when the Japanese Imperial Army occupied the islands of the country. Some were as young as 13 or 14 years old when the Japanese soldiers took them from their homes and forced them to become sex slaves,” Ilagan stated in her manifestation.
Narcisa Claveria, one of the lolas who came to the House of Representatives last Aug. 17, was one such comfort woman. Her memory still sharp, the 79-year-old Lola Narcisa recounted everything that she went through in the hands of the Japanese soldiers who raped her repeatedly every night.
Japan has been criticized by the international community for its “irresponsible” handling of the cases of the comfort women. In Ilagan’s speech, she mentioned that Japan has recently expressed its desire to retract the apology of then Chief Cabinet secretary Yohei Kana in 1993 for the ordeal of the women victims.
Ilagan said the Japanese government claims that they have no obligation to provide compensation to the women victims since it was already settled when the San Francisco Treaty and other bilateral treaties were signed.The San Franciso Treaty, signed on Sept. 8, 1951 by 49 nations, served to officially end World War II, to end Japan’s position as an imperial power and to allocate compensation to allied civilians and former prisoners.
As a response to the international pressure, the Japanese government founded the Asian Women’s Fund that collected “sympathy money” from their citizens; the drived ended in March 2007. “But this is obviously only to evade its legal responsibilities as a state in addressing the cases of the comfort women,” Ilagan said.
“This is not simply about the money. It is about stolen innocence. It is about being treated as nothing more than instruments of pleasure,” Ilagan pointed out.
Gabriela Women’s Party authored House Resolution No. 124 with an objective to restore the dignity and honor of the comfort women. But remains pending in Congress.
In the meantime, the lolas are dying. Francisca Acido, known to her family and friends as Lola Kikay, is the 63rd Filipino comfort woman to die. Lola Kikay was one of the Filipino comfort women who braved social discrimination and stigma to seek justice for the crime committed against them.
“About 60,000 of the 200,000 Japanese sex slaves all over Asia survived their ordeal and about a thousand are still alive,” Ilagan said. “It is criminal if they died without receiving any justice.” (Bulatlat.com)