Japanese women sorry for slavery

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Japanese women sorry for slavery


Some 500 Japanese women bow their heads at City Hall Plaza in central Seoul yesterday to apologize for sexual enslavement against young Korean women by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II, on behalf of their native country. [NEWSIS]

“We sincerely apologize for the suffering brought upon young women sexually abused during World War II,” a group of 500 Japanese women dressed in hanbok, Korean traditional clothing, and kimonos, or Japanese traditional clothing, read in a statement yesterday at City Hall Plaza in central Seoul, two days before National Liberation Day.

“I had never heard of so-called ‘comfort women,’ or women forced to provide sexual service to Japanese soldiers, before I came to Korea for marriage,” said Ida Yukari, one of the 500 participants.

“I have met with some elderly women who were once gravely suffering at the hands of the Japanese, and I became really sorry for them. So I decided to come here today.”

The event in the capital was organized by some 500 Japanese women who have settled down in Korea, mostly by marrying Korean men.

Members of the group, named “Group for a Better Relationship to Overcome the Past,” submitted a petition to the Japanese Embassy on Sunday, requesting their native country to form a special commission to look into the matter.

“I was dumbfounded when I first learned of the atrocities committed against young women by my ancestors during the war,” said Hashimoto, who brought her son and daughter to the event.

Holding picket signs reading “Better relations between the two” and “We apologize for sexual enslavement,” the 500 women marched from the plaza to Tapgol Park in Jongno District, central Seoul, where the first wave of the March First Independence Movement was launched in 1919 against Japanese colonial rule.

The event was not limited to Seoul. Thirteen cities across the country, including Busan and Daegu, held rallies of Japanese women, drawing around 1,200 participants in total.

One of the main causes that have driven these women to take to the streets and apologize for atrocities by their ancestors is the dilemma facing their children, born to a Japanese mother and a Korean father.

“My three children must have gone through a challenging time during their adolescence, knowing what their mother’s country did to their father’s country,” said Miyajaki Sayoko, who was at a rally in Cheongju, North Chungcheong.

“About 7,000 Japanese women have married Koreans and now reside in the country,” said Erikawa Yasue, the organizer for the event. “We are hoping to see all of them in our next rally to continue the cause for the two countries.”

By Shin Jin-ho, Song Ji-young [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]
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