Comfort Woman to Testify About Life of Horror Before Congress
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Uschools.com (59 months ago)
Comfort Woman to Testify About Life of Horror Before Congress
By Jane Han
Kim Koon-ja, center, a former sexual slave of the Japanese military, poses with Korean-American student Seok He-in, left. Seok and Jackie Chang, right, co-planned Kim’s 11-day-long “As Long As I Live” testimony trip to California./ Yonhap
For 16-year-old Kim Koon-ja, nothing was sweet about her Sweet 16th birthday.
That was the year when she was dragged into sex slavery by Japanese soldiers, raped, beaten and beaten again, which would leave scars in her mind and body for the rest of her life.
More than six decades after the abduction, former ``comfort woman’’ Kim stands in front of hundreds to share her horrific testimony of surviving through a ``living hell.’’
``I am embarrassed to stand here, but I wanted to share the brutality Japanese soldiers knifed in hundreds of thousands of young Korean women,’’ said 81-year-old Kim, who is currently in San Francisco, California, touring the western U.S. as part of an 11-day-long ``As Long As I Live’’ testimony trip that began last Sunday.
The trip was organized by two graduate school students _ Korean-American Seok He-in and Chinese-Vietnamese Jackie Chang, both students at the California Institute of the Arts _ to promote awareness of the sexual slavery carried out by the Japanese military during World War II. An estimated 200,000 girls were abducted and forced to live as sex slaves from 1937 to 1945.
``As the trip was being planned, I contacted area schools interested in inviting Kim for a firsthand account over this devastating history that tarnished many people’s lives,’’ Seok said from San Francisco in a Korea Times interview. The response was good as Kim was invited to speak at the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of California, Berkeley; Fullerton State University; Stanford University and California Institute of the Arts, and at a Los Angeles station Radio Korea.
Seok, who was born and raised in the U.S., was inspired to plan a testimony trip after visiting the House of Sharing in Korea, which is home to some of the living comfort women, and seeing the lives of the victims who are growing older without a formal apology or compensation from Japan.
``What we have is an issue that is far from being resolved,’’ said Seok. ``But a lot of times, people forget about it and feel that history will just fade out.’’
The 29-year-old student stressed that other countries must be aware of the wrong that’s been done to increase pressure on Japan.
``Hopefully, this trip helped pull that effect,’’ said Seok, adding that much support was provided by organizations, friends and especially her school. ``They gave one third of the funds for this trip,’’ he said. The budget was set at a minimum of $6,000.
The film major student, who is nearing completion of a documentary on life at the House of Sharing, played clips of her piece, and Kim spoke for about 45 minutes at each event.
``Speaking in front of so many people in an unfamiliar setting makes me feel somewhat uneasy,’’ said Kim, who was hard of hearing but had a strong voice. ``I am determined to get an apology from Japan and that’s why I keep going.’’
Kim, an orphan living with her grandmother, was kidnapped and taken to Hunchun, China when she was in her mid-teens. She attempted to escape a few times, but each time she was caught, beaten and raped.
She also attempted suicide during the three years she was kept in sexual slavery, but failed and had to live because dying didn’t come easy to her.
Kim was released when Korea was freed from Japanese rule. She returned to her hometown to the man she loved, but because of his family’s denial, he committed suicide.
Twenty-something Kim was pregnant at the time, but her baby girl died after five months. She had lived alone since then.
``I began living in the House of Sharing in 1998 with eight other comfort women,’’ said Kim, who donated her life savings of 100 million won she got from the Korean government as compensation money to the charity organization Beautiful Fund last year.
After the California part of the trip, Kim will fly to Washington D.C. to attend and testify before the U.S. Congress in a hearing scheduled for Feb. 15.
The hearing was pushed after Rep. Michael Honda, D-California, introduced a resolution urging Japan to apologize for wartime sexual enslavement. The hearing is expected to be significant, as it will be the first time for comfort women to testify before the U.S. Congress.
``I’m not nervous,’’ said Kim. ``There are people on the opposite side simply stalling for time and waiting for living victims like me to die, but I know that changes must come before then.’’
Uschools.com (59 months ago)
Comfort women victims testify at Congress, demand Japan's apology
Three elderly women, all victims of Japan's wartime sexual enslavement, testified before the U.S. Congress on Thursday, denouncing Tokyo for its refusal to apologize and vowing that they will not let the issue die out.
Two Korean and one Dutch woman appeared before a House subcommittee in what was the first congressional hearing on "comfort women," a euphemism for the young girls, mostly from Korea, who were lured or forcibly taken to frontline brothels to provide sex to Japanese soldiers.
"I am so embarrassed. I am so ashamed. But I have to tell my story," said Lee Yong-soo, a 79-year-old South Korean who was 16 when she was put in a brothel where she was often beaten and tortured until she lost consciousness.
"I will never leave Japan alone," she said, her voice cracking in tearful emotion.
"You cannot leave Japan alone. Never," she told the congressmen in a hearing room so packed that people waited outside or were turned away.
Estimates vary, but about 200,000 women, including those from China and Europe, are believed to have been sexually enslaved by Japan, which from 1910 to 1945 colonized the Korean Peninsula. The plight of comfort women is one of the primary historical issues Tokyo is accused of refuting to this day.
Japan acknowledged that comfort women existed but denies that its imperial government was involved in running the brothels. Its officials have expressed "regrets" to the victims, but there has been no official apology from the government.
The U.S. State Department expressed sympathy for the victims but said it believes Japan has taken steps to deal with the issue.
The privately organized Asian Women's Fund was established by Japan to give monetary compensation to the victims, but the payments have been refused by many who demand an apology.
Last month, Rep. Michael Honda (D-California) submitted a House resolution that calls on Tokyo to unambiguously apologize by having the prime minister make a statement. Thursday's hearing was scheduled based on the resolution.
A previous resolution, submitted by now-retired Rep. Lane Evans, passed a House committee but was shelved at the end of the last congressional term. The ones before it did not even pass the committee.
Japanese protest has been fierce, especially in light of new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to Washington expected in the spring.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-California) was rebutted when he said the Japanese government did apologize.
"I have grave doubts about the wisdom, and even the morality, of going any further in adopting a resolution," he said.
"This issue of an apology has been fully and satisfactorily addressed...so let us not beat someone after they have apologized."
He was referring to remarks by former Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, who in 1994 expressed "my profound and sincere remorse" to the comfort women.
Rep. Honda noted that the phrases used by him and other Japanese officials were "my" regrets.
"It was a personal acknowledgement of their regrets. It seems to me it doesn't represent the government," he said.
"I never received an apology," Lee said. "I am the victim. Why is it that I never received an apology but he has?" she said, pointing to the seat left empty by Rep. Rohrabacher's departure.
Rep. Ed Royce (R-California) said Japan may claim to have closed the books on history but others do not agree.
"To this day...Japan maintains that all potential claims by individuals for sufferings inflicted in the war were closed by treaties normalizing its ties with other Asian countries," he said.
"Clearly, many feel differently."
Jan Ruff O'Herne, a Dutch woman forced into a brothel after Japanese troops invaded the Dutch East Indies, said the war never ended for victims like her.
"We still have the nightmares," she said in her testimony.
The private compensation from Japan was an insult to the victims, O'Herne said. "How dare they?" What she wants is Japan to face true history, the "real" history, she said.
Kim Koon-ja, a South Korean victim, arrived in a wheelchair and testified about her life as a comfort woman that began at the age of 16.
"My body is forever marked and scarred with those beatings, and in some cases, stabbings with a knife," she said.
Her "owners" would not only stab her, but also would twist the knife inside her, she said.
"Money will not change my life, heal my scars, or make my memories change," Kim said.
Honda, speaking to reporters after the hearing, said he wants a floor vote on his resolution after Abe's visit to Washington.
"It doesn't matter," he said when asked when he expects the vote.
"I suspect that we would like to see it after that visit so that he can speak with our members here."
Washington, Feb. 15 (Yonhap News)
Uschools.com (59 months ago | reply)
美国众议院星期四进行了有关二战期间日本政府运作慰安妇问题的听证会，两名韩国受害妇女和一名来 自澳大利亚的荷兰妇女，在听证会上苦诉她们受日本政府强迫所经验的遭遇。他们的哭声在太平洋对岸 的韩国激起了共鸣。下面是自由亚洲电台驻韩国特约记者刘水的报道。
由日裔众议员马克-本田在美国众议院提议的"慰安妇决议案"，星期四在众院 外交委员会亚太环境小委会举行。一起美国国会的内政，却由于慰安妇问题受害者大多数是无辜的韩国 人，出席听证会的三名证人当中，两人来自韩国，触及了韩国人的神经，遥隔太平洋激起了韩国人的共 鸣。
据韩国传媒发自华盛顿的报道，今年81岁的金君子老太太16岁时被日本政府送往中国，在慰安所里 每天接受20到40名日本军人的强奸。她在美国众院的听证会上表示，她需要的不是金钱补偿，而是 公道，他要求日本政府认清对人权蹂躏和战争犯罪需要付出其代价。
出席听证会的另一位老太太李容洙，今年79岁。她在二战期间被日本政府派往台湾，每天遭受强奸、 毒打和污辱等。她回忆当时的日子，认为活的不及猪或狗。李老太太表示，她说："我们不 应该再一次姑息日本的谩行。性犯罪和性暴力是今天世界最为关心的问题，若要解决这些有关性的问题 ，则有必要先解决日本的慰安妇问题，日本政府必须先对此道歉谢罪。"
荷兰老太太吴海伦今年85岁，目前居住澳大利亚。她在听证会上表示，日本政府蹂躏了她的青春和人 生。在形式上二战虽已结束，但是对慰安妇来说，她们心里的二战尚未结束，还在等待日本政府的道歉 和谢罪。她说："我们花了50年的时间才把慰安妇被日本政府撕毁的人生，发展成为一项 人权问题。对慰安妇来说，二战尚未结束。"
据提案者本田议员的交待，对于犯罪行为的道歉没有所谓"为时已晚"的情况， 日本政府应该承认错误，做出不含糊的，正确的道歉，并教育其下一代，认识慰安妇问题，以免重复同 一错误。
同一形式的慰安妇决议案去年9月通过美国众议院的国际关系委员会，后来由于日本方面的游说工作， 于109期会期结束而不了了之。今年重新提出的新议案，虽然激起了韩国方面的共鸣，但是日本方面 也重又发动游说，今年能否通过众议院，受到韩国各界，以及全世界支持人权人士的关注。
以上是自由亚洲电台，驻首尔特约记者刘水的报道。 _(博讯自由发稿区发稿) (博讯 boxun.com)