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Taiwan again urges Japan to apologize to 'comfort women'

Taiwan again urges Japan to apologize to 'comfort women'

Taipei, Aug. 27 (CNA) The Taiwan government on Thursday repeated its call for Japan to formally apologize to Taiwanese women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II and offer compensation to the women, known euphemistically as "comfort women." "Over the past years, our stance has been that Japan should issue a formal apology and offer compensation to the comfort women," said Chou Shyue-yow (???), deputy director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, at a news briefing, in response to questions on the issue. Chou also took the opportunity to refute comments by former President Lee Teng-hui (???) that the comfort women issue was settled in Taiwan and did not have to be raised further. He made the controversial comment in an article in the latest edition of the Japanese monthly magazine Voice. "It is untrue that the issue has been resolved," Chou said, adding that Taiwan has never reached an agreement with Japan on the comfort women issue. The government will continue its efforts to help Taiwanese comfort women demand a formal apology and compensation from Japan, he told reporters. In addition to continuing to raise the issue with Japan, Chou said, the government has also taken several concrete actions to help these women suffering from Japan's wartime atrocities. In 1992, the government set up a cross-agency task force to tackle comfort women-related issues and the task force decided to allocate NT$21 million (US$646,850) to offer compensation to the Taiwanese comfort women in 1997, he said. By January 1998, each of the 42 people identified as comfort women received NT$500,000 in compensation, he said. The government offered the compensation because the Japanese government has refused to provide any "official" compensation, he said. "We will continue to negotiate with Japan on the issue," he added. Meanwhile, the government has continued to allocate a budget every year to sponsor campaigns by local women's rights groups to demand Japan issue a formal apology and compensation, he said. More than 2,000 Taiwanese women and many more across Asia were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II, according to the Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation. Only four of the Taiwanese women who have spoken openly of their suffering at the hands of Japanese forces are still alive, said the foundation, which has been dedicated to helping Taiwanese comfort women cope with their mental anguish and to seek justice and compensation from Japan. With the assistance of the foundation, a group of Taiwanese comfort women filed a lawsuit against the Japanese government, but they lost the suit in 2005. The comfort women issue is still a point of contention today between countries in the region -- particularly South Korea and China -- and Japan. (By Elaine Hou)


Updated : 2021-09-18 05:42 GMT+08:00