A veteran from the Japanese military of World War II spoke out about his experiences during the war, talking about the injustices that the comfort women, or those who were forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese military, had to endure in the brothels catering to soldiers. He came out with this statement after all the controversy over Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto‘s opinions about the necessity of comfort women for the Japanese soldiers during the war.
91 year old Masayoshi Matsumoto, now a retired Christian pastor, feels that it is now his mission to speak for the thousands of Asian women, mostly Chinese and Korean, who suffered at the hands of the Japanese military when they were forced to work as sex slaves in brothels for the soldiers. “I feel like a war criminal. It is painful to speak of such things and I would rather cover it up. It is painful, but I must speak,” Matsumoto said. He is one of the few number of veterans who are still alive who were able to see for themselves that the brothels did exist. Matsumoto said that it was years after the war when he realized that what his country did was horrible and wrong because they were taught then that what the soldiers were doing was to liberate Asia from European colonialism and so they went to war “gladly” and did not think of the consequences of any of their actions. He feels like one of the reasons why he’s still alive is to talk about these things so the public would understand and not forget what these women went through.
The topic of comfort women has always been a source of pain and disagreement between Japan and its neighbours, even seven decades after the war. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, during his first term in 2006-2007, courted controversy when he said that there was no hard evidence that women were coerced to becoming prostitutes during the war. However, now he is distancing himself from the Hashimoto controversy by saying that his current government stands by what the previous administrations have stated about comfort women, which is to apologize to those countries who were victims of this travesty.
[ via Reuters ]