Jan Ruff-O’Herne, an Australian woman who has admitted to being coerced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army in the Second World War, has spoken out against the current intention of the Japanese government to “revise” the landmark 1993 apology that was given in acknowledgement of this particular wartime atrocity. Ruff-O’Herne has spoken on record that she was raped and beaten multiple times during WWII, and for her, this attempt to deny the “comfort women” issue is unacceptable.
“It’s just hideous to not acknowledge it, there are so many witnesses who have spoken out about this,” Ruff-O’Herne, now 91 years of age, said from her home in Adelaide. Ruff-O’Herne firmly suggests that the current Japanese leadership – whose conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been criticized for his nationalist tendencies – must come to terms with the Japan’s history of war crimes. The Australian national said that she was captured as a teenager with her Dutch parents on Java, Indonesia, and later forced into an army brothel. She had migrated to Australia in the 1960s. “First it was only the Korean women, and nobody took any notice because ‘they were only Asian women’. But then when a European woman spoke out the world suddenly took notice,” Ruff-O’Herne added.
The international pressure at that point – helped in large part by Ruff-O’Herne’s testimony – led to the Japanese government issuing a remarkable statement of ”apologies and remorse” for abused women in 1993, famously known as the Kono Statement. The Japanese government at that point also promised to teach people about what had taken place. Currently, this stand seems to be far from where Abe’s government is, saying that the government “would like to consider” verifying the accounts of the 16 women and revise the apology from an academic perspective. This statement by the Japanese government has of course been soundly criticized by South Korea, and it seems only a matter of time for China and the other Southeast Asian nations who have “comfort women” among them to take up the cause.
[via The Age]
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