WWII sex slavery victims in Philippines urge Japan to recognize war crimes
Surviving Filipino women sexually enslaved by Japan's World War II military on Tuesday urged the Japanese government to acknowledge its war crimes, resolve the "comfort women" issue, and stop "warmongering."
"It is very unjust on the part of the Japanese government to continue ignoring the issue of Filipino comfort women who have suffered long enough, more than half a century in silence," Sharon Cabusao-Silva, the executive director of Lila Pilipina, told reporters.
Lila Pilipina is a Philippine organization helping women forced into Japanese military brothels in their fight for justice. There are only a few survivors, and most are in their 90s and sick.
Silva said Japan must recognize the trauma inflicted on the women by the Japanese Imperial Army.
"We urge Japan to finally acknowledge its war crimes against Asian nations and take the necessary steps toward a fair and long-overdue resolution of the 'comfort women' issue," the group said.
Lila Pilipina's call came when Japan was set to present its human rights report for the Fourth Cycle of the United Nations' Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights in the country.
"We are outraged that Japan has chosen to ignore once again the issue of its wartime military sex slavery of thousands of Asian women in the fourth human rights report it submitted to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC)," it added.
While declaring its achievements in various human rights areas, the Japanese government was utterly silent about the "comfort women" system which is also at the core of these issues, the group said.
The group added Japan "totally ignored" the recommendations made by other countries "for Japan to finally address this long-standing issue."
The group sounded the alarm over Japan's "aggressive actions toward war spending and production with the development of its missile and other defense capabilities."
The group also expressed alarm "by how Japan has militarized its Official Development Assistance programs in the Philippines through the sale of war material."
As living witnesses and victims of war, Narcisa Claveria and Estelita Dy said they experienced cruelty and hardships during World War II at the hands of the Japanese military.
"We were abused, forced to wash and iron their clothes by day, and repeatedly raped at night by Japanese soldiers. That is why I reject war," Claveria told reporters.
"War is brutal; you will suffer even if you have not done anything wrong because they accuse you of doing something even if you did not," she added.
Estelita Dy said the new generation must not experience war. "We do not want the new generation to experience the atrocities of war; what we went through during the war, so we are against war," she told reporters.
During World War II, hundreds of thousands of women and girls from China, the Korean Peninsula, Southeast Asia and other countries and regions were forcibly conscripted by Japanese militarists as sex slaves and experienced horrific sexual violence, both mentally and physically.