Japan, South Korea agrees on ‘comfort women’ but not the Philippines

Eighty-six year old Filipino Lola Fidencia David was a “comfort woman” sex slave to the Japanese during the Second World War as she spoke during a  press conference in Winnipeg, Man. on October 17, 2013. (BRIAN DONOGH/WINNIPEG SUN/QMI AGENCY)

By Ted Alcuitas

As Japan and South Korea announced an agreement Monday (Dec. 28) to compensate Korean “comfort women” who were forced to serve Japanese soldiers sexually in World War II, questions remain as to the fate of Philippine women (over a 1,000) who were also forced into sex slavery.

Japan has maintained that the issue was settled when diplomatic ties were normalized in 1965, when Tokyo offered financial aid to South Korea in return for Seoul dropping all damage claims related to its 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. Mr. Abe has in the past questioned whether comfort women were coerced and declined to personally apologize.

There are no reliable records on how many women were involved, but mainstream historians’ estimates range from 20,000 to 200,000. Many were from Korea, then a Japanese colony, as well as other Asian nations and a few Westerners. Despite differences in the historical details, former comfort women have provided consistent accounts of females as young as teenagers being coerced or tricked into joining the brothels.

We reprint the following article from the Winnipeg Sun Octobeer 17, 2013 for background.

The Philippines native had to speak through an interpreter but her emotions needed no translating even more than half a century after she suffered sexual abuse at the hands of Japanese soldiers during World War II.

Lola Fidencia David was just 14 when she was captured, witnessed her grandmother being raped and later killed, and was raped repeatedly by the soldiers.

“It was very painful,” David said through Cristina Lope Rosello, a friend and therapist, at the Chinese Cultural Centre on Thursday. “I want wars to stop because the women are usually victimized during wartime.”

David’s voice shook and she was on the verge of tears as she recalled her nightmare in vivid detail.

David, 86, was invited to Winnipeg by the Canadian Museum for Human Rights to continue speaking out on behalf of about 200 women who were forced to become “comfort women” by the Japanese. Although most have since passed away, their stories will become a part of the museum’s oral histories.

“The women who were victimized were still suffering serious psychological effects,” CMHR CEO Stuart Murray said. “To help the global community face up to what happened, the women themselves first had to face the past as well. This is an inspirational story. It’s a story of healing.

“By facing the past and learning its lessons, we can help shine a light on human rights abuses that continue today, including wartime rape and human trafficking.”

David still wants a formal apology from Japan and compensation paid to the families of the women involved.

Fidencia David was 14 when she watched Japanese bombs drop in her Philippine village in 1942 during the Second World War. Soldiers burned down David’s house and used her as a sex slave for 10 days.
She escaped and for years lived in shame and silence. But she has since found her voice. In the ’90s, David became an activist, part of a vocal group of survivors who demanded an official apology and compensation from Japan
Now 86, David was one of more than 200,000 “comfort women” from across Asia. Therapist and author Cristina Rosello translated her answers into English during an interview with the Toronto Star.