LAUNCHING OF THE REPORT ON THE JAPAN’S MILITARY SEXUAL SLAVERY IN EAST TIMOR
Have you ever heard the expression “comfort women”? It refers to women and girls who were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during the World War II. It is one of the most controversial issues in Japan. For example, the present Abe Administration of Japan, which is quite conservative and nationalist, denies that there was ever any such system established by the Japanese nation. Many human rights organizations both within and outside of Japan are strongly against this, insisting that the sexual exploitation by the Japanese army was systematic slavery, and therefore a grave crime against humanity.
On 27th March of this year there was a launching of the report on this issue in East Timor. It is the result of the research on the comfort women in East Timor from 2005 to 2010 done by the NGO Yayasan HAK from East Timor and the Japan East Timor Association. The latter is an association comprised of various NGOs which were in solidarity with East Timorese people during the Indonesian occupation time, one of which is the Japanese Catholic Council for Justice and Peace. Before coming to East Timor in 2003, I was working for this council and was in charge of the issue of East Timor.
In the report you can read many precious testimonies by courageous East Timorese elderly women (we call them “avo” -- which is like “grandma”) who were forced to be sex slaves of the Japanese soldiers. Avo Alicia married after the war was over, but was unable to have children, so her husband married her sister. Avo Alicia lives with their children now. Avo Margarita testifies that she saw with her own eyes that some Japanese soldiers violated two East Timorese religious women who visited her in the place where she was confined. An old man named Hermenegildo testifies that his house was converted by the Japanese military to be a comfort station for the Japanese soldiers where many young girls from different parts of East Timor as well as Indonesia were forced to serve the soldiers.
The Japanese government has never recognized this grave crime committed by the Imperial Japanese Army nor expressed apologies to the victims officially. This issue is now drawing a great deal of attention from different countries because of the obstinate and insensitive attitude of the Japanese government. The newly launched book is written in Tetun, the national language of East Timor. I hope that it is translated into both English and Japanese as soon as possible so that it can contribute to the just solution of this issue of comfort women.