Activists demand justice for 'comfort women'

By Lia Zhu in San Francisco | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-08-15 12:44

Activists demand justice for 'comfort women'

Activists rally in front of the Japanese consulate in San Francisco on Monday, demanding justice for "comfort women" around the world, in commemoration of the international "Comfort Women" Day of Remembrance. LIA ZHU/CHINA DAILY

Human rights activists and organizations on Monday rallied in front of the Japanese consulate in San Francisco, demanding justice for "comfort women" around the world, in commemoration of the international "Comfort Women" Day of Remembrance.

"In court we say, justice delayed is justice denied," said Lillian Sing, co-chair of the Comfort Women Justice Coalition (CWJC) and a retired judge of San Francisco's Superior Court. "On this International Comfort Women Day, we call upon Japan to do what Germany did over 70 years ago - apologize, take responsibility for your crimes and resolve the 'comfort women' issue according to the international standard."

Led by CWJC, a San Francisco-based grassroots coalition consisting of more than a dozen multi-ethnic organizations, around 100 people turned out at the demonstration, holding signs of "women's rights are human rights" and chanting "comfort women justice now".

Individuals from ally organizations also spoke during the rally in solidarity with the survivors and supporters around the world.

On August 14, 1991, the late Hak-soon Kim, a former "comfort woman", first broke the silence to demand justice from the Japanese government.

During World War II, hundreds of thousands of other victims from more than a dozen different countries suffered from the system of military sexual slavery by the Imperial Army of Japan.

The Japanese government, however, has never acknowledged its state responsibility for the institutionalized sexual slavery in what is known as the largest case of sex trafficking in the 20th century.

"The world cannot wait any longer. Justice has been denied for too long. It is already a crime to delay it all this time," said Sing. "Today only 14 comfort women from China are still alive out of an estimated 200,000 Chinese girls and women who were kidnapped and sexually enslaved by Japan during World War II," she said.

Huang Youliang, the last victim to have sued the Japanese government over sex slavery on the Chinese mainland, died on Saturday at the age of 90 at her home in Yidui Village in China's southern island province of Hainan.

In October 1941, the 15-year-old Huang was raped when Japanese troops invaded her hometown. She was later forced into military prostitution for two years.

"This news (Huang's death) adds great sadness and a sense of urgency that we must move quickly to add pressure on the Japanese government to formally acknowledge its government responsibility and offer an official and unequivocal apology to all victims around the globe," said Phyllis Kim, executive director of the Korean American Forum of California and a member of the CWJC executive committee.


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