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Posted : 2010-01-10 19:29
Updated : 2010-01-10 19:29

Ex-Comfort Women to Hold 900th Protest


An old woman chants anti-Japanese slogans during a recent “Wednesday Protest” to demand Tokyo apologize for its coerced conscription of women as “comfort women” or sex slaves during Japan’s colonial rule over Korea.
/ Korea Times
By Oh Young-jin
Staff Reporter

Over time, even dripping water can make a hole in a rock.

This seems to be a fitting analogy for what a group of Korean women in their 70s and 80s ― who were forced to work at imperial Japanese army brothels during the Second World War ― have been doing for the past 899 Wednesdays.

So far, the rock, in this case Japan, hasn't shown any signs of being worn down. But neither have the women, who have been steadfast in their fight.

The women ― who are dwindling in number ― will stage their 900th "Wednesday Protest" in front of the Japanese Embassy in downtown Seoul.

This time, some Japanese civic groups are planning to lend their hands to the cause of pressuring Tokyo to apologize and compensate for the barbaric acts of its past regimes.

Ahn Son-mi, coordinator of the Wednesday protests, was quoted by Yonhap News as saying, "Japanese civic groups in Tokyo, Osaka and Fukuoka will conduct a signature collection drive as our 900th Wednesday Protest is held in Seoul."

Ahn said that civic groups both in Korea and Japan will be mobilized to draw attention to the failure of the Japanese government to address the atrocities perpetrated during its colonial occupation.

The first Wednesday protest was held on Jan. 8, 1992, when the victims, who were commandeered as part of the imperial Japan's war effort and forced to work as sex slaves for frontline soldiers, emerged after years of living in social stigma.

They demanded that Japan issue an official apology and teach Japanese students about the harsh history of the colonial era.

Marking its 50th protest in December of the same year, the women's cause galvanized civic groups in Korea and abroad, creating a common voice of condemnation against Japan's failure to settle its barbaric acts.

The 899 protests to this point have proved that the conscience of the world is alive.

The United Nations has urged Japan to settle the issue, while the U.S. Congress adopted a similar resolution introduced by Rep. Mike Honda, a Democrat from California. Honda is a descendant of Japanese immigrants.

In March 2008, the 803rd protest was simultaneously held in Japan, Britain, the Philippines, Australia, Taiwan and Indonesia as well as Korea.

Still, Japan has ignored the international call for an apology and compensation.

Tokyo points to its treaty with Korea in the 1960s ― which included a lump sum as compensation that the two countries agreed upon ― as the basis for its refusal to heed the former comfort women's demands.

Meanwhile, the number of former comfort women is decreasing. Some suspect that Japan is engaged in a waiting game of sorts, believing that, given time, it will be spared the embarrassment of admitting its past wrongdoings.

foolsdie@koreatimes.co.kr

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