As the Japanese Self-Defense Forces send troops to the Philippines to help the relief and disaster recovery efforts of the storm-ravaged country in the wake of the destruction caused by super typhoon Haiyan, it may be inevitable that some World War II issues may be ignited again – as the Philippines was under Japan during that period and has been one of the countries who have been vocal about the Japanese Imperial Army’s sex slave system. But a right-wing historical organization has dismissed these “comfort women” claims as “ridiculous.”
This reaction was due to an interview that Kyodo News published where Richilda Extremadura, executive director of the Lila Pilipina support group for former “comfort women”, said there were still some who feared Japanese troops and saw them as a threat. Hiromichi Moteki, secretary-general of the Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact, said that “It’s ridiculous. These women are always saying the same thing, they accuse Japan without any evidence at all. They are professional accusers and I do not believe them.” The right-wing group has continued to claim that any women who provided sex for the troops were mere prostitutes earning a living and they have consistently disputed suggestions that the Japanese military were systematic in taking women from occupied areas and forced them to work in war brothels.
These reactions may be very isolated cases, as the general feeling of survivors of the typhoon Haiyan for the “return” of Japanese troops were gratitude. Eulalia Macaya, a 74-year-old resident of Leyte, said she remembered being terrified by Japanese troops as a little girl. “We were hiding in holes dug under the floor of our homes,” she recalled. “We were so afraid.” But Macaya said she was very pleased of the help that the Japanese SDF were offering to typhoon survivors this time. “I don’t hold any grudges any more. There’s no more bad blood between us,” she said.