[personal profile] niori_1709
There was one weekend that was probably the most profound of all my time in Korea. It's the weekend I went to the House of Sharing. It's a place dedicated to Comfort Women (who I'd rather call survivors of Japanese sexual slavery by the Japanese military, but that it way too long to write over and over. I hate it, but it's a name that people in general can understand right off the bat), both past and present. It's one part museum, one part home for ten of these women. Most of all, it's the most heart wrenching place I have ever been.

We saw pictures of Japanese soldiers lining up to use these women. We heard testimony from the women. Those testimonies were full of rape and torture, of mutilation and death. We were told how the women were ordered like food in a restaurant. We learned more than I could have ever imagined I would ever learn.
We listened to one of the women who live there tell part of her story. She told us how she was kidnapped, thrown into a military van, taken by train to someplace far away. First she was taken to a labour camp. When she complained about the conditions, she was sent to a comfort station. She was fifteen.

She was the only one to tell her story, but we met more of the women. They were amazing. They wanted us to answer questions, and sing and dance for them. In return, one sang a few songs for us. It is the most amazing thing I had ever seen. There women were amazing. They were still able to sing and be happy. They clapped along when the Korean middle schoolers sang and danced for them, and it was obvious they were having a good time. The women who told her story told the students to study hard, because education is important. Despite all they she went through, she still thinks it's so important for kids to learn. After all they went through, they're still living their life. It was the most awe inspiring thing I have ever seen, heard or otherwise.

It makes me angry that we don't learn about these women. Not only Korean women, but women from all over East Asia, and a number of foreign women as well. They were kidnapped, coerced and deceived into being sex slaves, who the Japanese military could do anything they wanted to. How is that any less worthy of learning about than the Holocaust?

On top of that, the currently very conservative government of Japan refuses to acknowledge it did anything wrong back then. According to them, all these women were paid prostitutes, as though that justified the way they were tortured and murdered (on mass at the wend of WW2, to cover up evidence- much like concentration camps in Europe). It's especially terrible, since members of the government apologized (back in 1991, I think) when it first came to light (because of a Japanese historian).
Every Wednesday, surviving women gather in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul. They never miss a Wednesday. They want seven things, and the ones that hit me most is that they want an official apology, a memorial to be built, and for Japanese children to learn it in school.

I don't think they'll get it in their lifetime, and that infuriates me.

None of the Korean cases that went to trial ever went anywhere (the one that sort of won got dismissed by Japan's supreme court). The only one that went anywhere was the one by a group of Dutch women. I'm glad, because they're just as much victims, but there is such racism at play. Another thing that infuriates me.
Other countries don't have a movement like Korea, because their government doesn't want to cross Japan.
A Japanese official (minister of foreign affairs, maybe?) went to The House of Sharing, heard everything and demanded that they show them evidence. Do I even have to repeat that it infuriates me?

The Japanese people (or a lot of them at least) want to see the women granted the justice they deserve. 40% of visitors to The House of Sharing are Japanese tourists. That lifts my heart, it really does.



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