[Letter to the editor]itizens, take action on comfort womenThe term “comfort women” refers to women who worked as sex slaves for Japanese soldiers during the Japanese imperial war. Their ages ranged between 12 and 40. They were mostly abducted and tricked in to service of the Japanese soldiers, dozens each day, and were often beaten. Their human rights were seriously violated. After the Japanese defeat, most of the women were killed. The survivors who came back to their homes lived difficult lives because of the people’s misconception that the comfort women were prostitutes.
The comfort women issue has long remained unresolved among the victims, their countries and Japan. Japan’s past attitude toward the issue was very ignorant and negative until more evidence was found later.
However, the Japanese government still denies the issue, arguing that there is not enough proof and that the women had worked voluntarily. Shinzo Abe, the current prime minister of Japan, kept denying the women were forcibly taken, he previously stated his willingness to exert efforts to resolve the comfort women issue.
Although Abe spoke about being sorry for the women’s suffering, he seems to avoid taking the action that he needs to take.
The comfort women issue is gaining international attention. Legislators of the United States have declared that it is essential for Japan to acknowledge the fact and to take responsibility for it.
People worldwide expect Japan to make an official apology to the comfort women. The most effective way to show their apology is through compensation. What the women truly want is an official apology from the government, not financial support from civil organizations. The surviving comfort women, many of them living difficult lives, gather in front of the Japanese Embassy here every Wednesday to keep urging Japan to officially apologize. Despite their efforts and their continuing difficulties, no progress has been made to resolve the issue.
We, as international citizens, need to help in urging Japan to apologize to the comfort women. We should appeal to the international community to exert stronger pressure on Japan. Japan’s apology will have an effect on the prevention of such war crimes from happening again. Therefore, the international community will be willing to give a hand to solve this problem.
To educate and inform the world’s citizens, we will have to start by improving how we educate students about comfort women. As a student, I found that textbooks currently put less emphasis on the issue than they should.
The subject should be taught in elementary and middle schools for compulsory study. Furthermore, memorials should be established in order to commemorate the women’s suffering so that the public can give them more attention. The current situation will be resolved by the unified power of citizens to move the Japanese government to action.
Yunji Kim, a senior at Seohyun High School