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    Global Connection | Survivor of “comfort women” in the Philippines: Japan does not officially apologize, I can't rest my eyes

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    Manila, August 14. In the office of the “Comfort Women” rights protection organization “Filipino Grandmother Alliance” located in Quezon City, Metro Manila, the capital of the Philippines, a whole wall is covered with The photos of the victims of “comfort women” silently accuse the heinous crimes committed by the Japanese invaders.

    Estelleta, 92, is one of the surviving “comfort women” victims in the Philippines. The tragic experience she experienced many years ago still haunts her like a nightmare.

    According to Sharon Silva, the coordinator of the “Filipino Grandmothers’ Union”, during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines from 1942 to 1945, about 1,000 local women were forcibly recruited as “comfort” woman”.

    In 1944, at the age of 14, Estelleta was kidnapped by Japanese soldiers at a market in her hometown of Bacolod in the central Philippines and forced to be conscripted as a “” comfort women”.

    “Every time they raped me, I cried and covered my eyes with my hands,” Estelle choked her voice in an interview with Xinhua News Agency recently, “Once , Japanese soldiers hit me in the head, and I fainted for three days.”

    After the Japanese surrendered in 1945, Estelle decided to leave her hometown and live alone Go to Manila. She worries that what happened to the “comfort women” might make her unable to raise her head in the village for the rest of her life. She married and raised 6 children in Manila. “I never told my husband about it because it made me feel ashamed.”

    Estelleta kept the secret for nearly half a century, until a The Filipino “comfort women” victim named Rosa Hansen was the first to disclose her experience in 1992, before other victims came forward one after another, accusing the Japanese army of atrocities, and asking the Japanese government for an explanation.

    Silva said that 174 “comfort women” victims have joined the “Filipino Grandmother Alliance”. Few are still alive today, the oldest is 96 years old and the youngest is 92 years old. In the Philippines, “comfort women” victims are called “grandmothers.”

    Silva stops silently in front of the “grandmother” photo wall every day. What worries her most is that, as the number of survivors dwindles, they may not be able to wait for an official apology from the Japanese government until they die. “They need justice. First and foremost, an apology from the Japanese government. This history must be written into textbooks for young people to learn and remember,” she said.

    However, they did not wait for an apology from the Japanese government, but they were obstructed in every possible way by the Japanese side to their rights protection activities. In December 2017, a memorial statue of “comfort women” was inaugurated next to Manila Bay. The Japanese government was strongly dissatisfied and continued to put pressure on the Philippine government. Four months later, the statue was removed.

    Silva told reporters that there is also a “comfort women” memorial statue in Laguna Province of the Philippines, but it was forced to remove it only three days after its completion due to pressure from the Japanese side.

    In Silva’s view, the Japanese government has distorted history by tampering with textbooks, resulting in a lack of correct understanding of the history of World War II among the younger generation in Japan. These practices are disturbing.

    Estelleta now lives in the suburbs of Manila with her daughter and her family. Despite her physical weakness, she continued to run, participated in forums and rallies, and demanded an official apology and compensation from the Japanese government. “I won’t stop. If I die, my children and grandchildren will continue to expose war crimes, and I don’t want the next generation to suffer the same way,” she said.

    Xinhua News Agency Produced by International Department

    Produced by Xinhua News Agency’s International Communication Integration Platform

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