As Another "Comfort Woman" Dies, The Window For Reparation Grows Ever-Smaller


Jung Yoon-hong, one of the few remaining “comfort women” — Korean women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II — has died, leaving only 79 women to fight for their long-denied compensation.

Although it’s unclear exactly how many comfort women survive (since many are believed to have refused to admit to it, out of shame) the number of those, like Jung, who protested for compensation is growing smaller every year; nine women died in 2010 alone. For several years, Jung lived in one of the houses established by the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, and was a regular participants in protests outside Seoul’s Japanese Embassy. Said a representative from the Council, “The strain of time is upon the government and our society to make efforts [to remunerate these women] as soon as possible.”

To date, there have been reports of Japanese military “Comfort Stations” in Korea, China, Japan and Philippines, as well as Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Indonesia. The question is still highly controversial, and the level of government involvement and coercion is hotly debated in Japan. Due to a lack of documentation — many documents were burned during the latter stages of the war — former Prime Minister Abe Hiroshi stated that there was no basis for a formal written apology or monetary compensation. And while the government has apologized since 1995, it denies any official involvement in the comfort stations. Nevertheless, the Japanese government has created an Asia Women’s Fund which is funded by donations. Women like Jung feel this is insufficient — particularly in lieu of an apology.

Japan’s Responsibility Toward Comfort Women Survivors
[Japan Policy Research Institute]
Korea’s ‘Comfort Women’: The Slaves’ Revolt [Independent]
The Politics Of Apology For Japan’s ‘Comfort Women’ [NY Times]

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