Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou said Dec. 9 that the government will do its best to help Taiwan’s former comfort women preserve relevant historical evidence in their fight for compensation from the Japanese government.
Ma made the remarks at the 11th Asian Solidarity Conference for the Issue of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan held by Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation and attended by support groups from Japan, mainland China, the Philippines and South Korea.
“The Japanese army’s sexual enslavement of Asian women during World War II is a recognized fact,” Ma said. “In 1995, the U.N. listed comfort women as military sex slaves, but regrettably, the Japanese government has never admitted its mistakes. Some politicians have even denied that the Japanese military used forced prostitution, or claimed the evidence is insufficient.”
Nevertheless, the Japanese government established the Asian Peace and Friendship Foundation in 1995, offering each former comfort woman NT$500,000 (US$17,241) in exchange for agreeing to drop all claims against Japan.
This offer was rejected by the women, and the ROC government and private sector raised NT$38 million as a show of support, providing each former comfort woman in Taiwan NT$1 million for a lawsuit against Japan.
“History can be forgiven, but cannot be forgotten,” Ma said. “Only when we learn from our past mistakes can we prevent such tragedies from happening again.”
The president further urged Japan to face its history, apologize to and compensate victims of military sexual slavery.