August 14 marked the International Memorial Day for the Victims of Japanese Military Sexual Slavery, a day that reminds us of the suffering endured by those unfortunate women and the crimes committed by Japanese militarists during World War II (WWII). On August 12, Huang Youliang, the last Chinese "comfort woman" to sue the Japanese Government, left the world. Now, only 14 "comfort women" on record are still alive on the Chinese mainland.
During WWII, at least 200,000 Chinese women and girls were condemned to become "comfort women" by the invading Japanese army. Statistics show that 75 percent of the "comfort women" were tortured to death.
The issue of the "comfort women" was not taken up until the 1990s, when the Japanese Government was forced to investigate it under the pressure of human rights groups, the Chinese and South Korean governments and the United Nations. The then Japanese cabinet admitted the crime but the apology came too late. Now the current Japanese Government under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appears to be backtracking on the apologetic attitude by claiming that there is no solid evidence to prove that the Japanese army or government forced the women to become "comfort women."
In May, NGOs from eight countries and regions including China, South Korea and Indonesia, applied to UNESCO to add the historical facts of "comfort women" to the Memory of the World Register. It's hoped that the application is approved as soon as possible. To acknowledge these facts is to show the women basic justice and the conscience of the human race.
(This is an edited excerpt of an article published in Nanfang Daily on August 15)