Activist groups in Japan are calling on other human rights activists, in the local and international scene, to request that August 14 be appointed as a day to remember the sex slaves of the Second World War. The request will be made to the United Nations and is seen as a way to counter Japan’s denial of their atrocious acts towards the “comfort women.”
In Japan, 44 groups have agreed to lobby the request to the U.N. and are planning for a rally on August 14 in key cities in the country like Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, and Hiroshima. Activist groups in Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines will also launch local rallies. Even western countries like Canada, the United States, and the Netherlands will join in the campaign. Surprisingly, former Imperial Japanese ally Germany also shows support for the cause.
The activist groups chose August 14 as a proposed designated day to remember the sex slaves of WWII because on the same day in 1991, the late Kim Hak-Soon bravely stepped up and identified herself as a victim of Japan’s forced sex slavery, becoming the first woman to do so. According to Secretary Mina Watanabe of Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace, what Kim did encouraged other former sex slaves to come out in the open.
The campaign began during a global conference on atrocities, which was hosted by Taiwan back in December. With some sectors in Japan still denying atrocities committed during the war, especially on issues on forced sex slavery, the international community especially those that have been under the Imperial Japanese rule have decided to find ways on how to oppose Japan. Watanabe said that the current administration is “denying a historical fact by resorting to sophistry” albeit the Kono Statement, the official apology of Japan delivered by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, in August 1993. She believes that should this denial continue, Japan will be isolated from the international community.
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