Demonstration by victims of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery
Christians in South Korea, Japan, and elsewhere, led mostly by women, joined on December 14 to mark the 1,000th Wednesday demonstration in Seoul demanding dignity and justice for victims of the Japanese military’s sexual slavery during the Second World War.
In Seoul, about 2,000 people participated in the weekly demonstration in front of the Japanese embassy, demanding Japan’s official apology and reparations to the victims, the so-called “comfort women.” Similar demonstrations reportedly took place in 27 other places in South Korea.
The demonstration’s organiser, the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan — led by a female Christian minister, Rev. Han Kukyom, and Yoon Mee-hyang — urged the Japanese government to “stand up for the solution of the problem.” Among the council’s founding member organisations is Korean Church Women United.
The committee on the equality of both sexes of the Seoul-based National Council of Churches in Korea released a December 14 statement urging the Japanese government to “implement a thorough investigation of the truth [of the problem],” calling for its “official apology and legal reparations” and demanding it “acknowledge its war responsibility in the past and make every effort for peace.”
The council also demanded that the South Korean government “make positive efforts to solve the problem of ‘comfort women’ for the protection of the human rights of its own nationals.”
The first demonstration began on January 8, 1992, after Kim Hak-Sun declared she had been forced to serve as a sex slave by the Japanese Army in Korea during the Second World War. More than 200 of the South Korean women who spoke up were more than 80 years old, and only 67 are still alive.
In Japan, two civic groups, Japan Network against Wartime Sexual Violence and Japan Action 2010 for Resolution of the “Comfort Women” Issue, organised nationwide demonstrations on December 14.
In Tokyo, about 1,300 people surrounded the ministry of foreign affairs building in a human chain and held a rally at the Second House of Representatives Members’ Hall.
By Hisashi Yukimoto, Ecumenical News International