"Trostfrauen", "Comfort Women"
Launching an International Campaign for a UN-proclaimed Memorial Day for Japan’s Military “Comfort Women”
On August 14 in 1991, Kim Hak-sun of the Republic of Korea became the first survivor to come forward and testify that she had been a victim of Japan’s military sexual slavery, the so-called “comfort women” system. Inspired by her courage, other survivors in Asia broke the 50 years of silence and testified about their sufferings, denouncing the responsibility of the Japanese government. Their testimonies not only made clear the reality of Japan’s military sexual slavery system, but also gave courage to survivors of sexual violence in recent armed conflicts, including those in the former Yugoslavia, to reveal the brutality inherent in the military itself.
Let's make August 14 a day to commemorate the courage of Kim Hak-sun! On International Human Rights Day in 2012, December 10, at the 11th Asian Solidarity Conference for “Comfort Women” held in Taipei, survivors and supporters decided to make August 14 the International Memorial Day for the “Comfort Women.”
The government of Japan, on the other hand, has not acknowledged its responsibility for Japan’s military sexual slavery system, and has even made moves to review the 1993 statement by the then Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono Yohei that admitted the involvement of the government and military in the “comfort women” system and the coercion imposed upon the women victims. In addition, a number of remarks have been made by Japanese politicians in attempts to deny and distort historical facts, and references to “comfort women” have been deleted from history textbooks used in junior high schools, depriving children in Japan of opportunities to learn the historical facts of the “comfort women” system.
It is the hope of the survivors to uncover the historical truth. It is the hope of the survivors for the historical facts to be forever remembered, in order to prevent such things from ever being repeated. We have to remember the courage of the “comfort women” survivors who have shown to the whole world, with all their strength and hearts, that sexual violence is a crime even during armed conflicts. We have to pass on the realities of the inhumane wartime sexual violence to all generations throughout the world. For this purpose, we have launched a campaign for making August 14, the day on which women in the world started efforts to denounce sexual violence under armed conflict, an international day officially observed by the United Nations.
We do not want to remember the women who were made into “comfort women” as victims of an unresolved issue. We want to remember that the courage of these women changed history, and that the survivors themselves became the agents for change. We will therefore make the best use of the campaign process to have the Japanese government acknowledge the facts, offer an apology and compensation to the survivors in a manner that is acceptable for them, and implement education while as many survivors as possible are still alive.
In August 2013, we, the participants of events held across Japan and the world to commemorate the first International Memorial Day for Japan’s Military “Comfort Women”, hereby declare that we will act in solidarity to make the August 14 a UN-observed international day, and to make the world free from wars and violence.
Japan Action for Resolving the Issue of "Comfort Women"
Participants of the Rally to Commemorate the 1st Memorial Day for the "Comfort Women"