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Pope Francis Meets Korean ‘Comfort Women’
« on: August 20, 2014, 01:48:38 PM »
http://thediplomat.com/
By Shannon Tiezzi
August 19, 2014
 

On his last day in South Korea, Pope Francis met with a number of “comfort women,” women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese army during World War II. The pope met the seven women at the Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul, prior to a mass calling for peace and reconciliation between North and South Korea. One of the women gave the pope a butterfly pin, which is used to symbolize the comfort women’s plight. Pope Francis wore the pin throughout the ensuing mass. The mass was also attended by South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

The Yonhap News Agency reported in early July that a number of comfort women, many of whom are Catholic, would be at the August 18 mass. At that time, however, it was unclear if Pope Francis would meet with them personally, or if they would simply be part of the congregation. The pope apparently agreed to a personal interaction with the women. Yonhap said that the South Korean committee in charge of preparing for the pope’s visit had informed his office that the comfort women had been invited. Presumably, the pope was also made aware of the women’s significance in on-going tensions between Japan and South Korea.

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Re: Pope Francis Meets Korean ‘Comfort Women’
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2014, 01:49:10 PM »
The plight of the comfort women is symbolic of unresolved issues left over from World War II and the Japanese occupation of the Korean Peninsula. South Korea’s government has demanded that Japan apologize for the harm done to these women, as well as paying them compensation. Japan maintains that South Korea forswore the right to demand compensation when it reestablished diplomatic relations with Tokyo in 1965. Further, Japan points to money offered to the comfort women from private contributors, but Seoul believes this unofficial compensation is not enough.

Occasionally, Japanese officials make comments denying or downplaying the existence of comfort women. Earlier this year, the chairman of NHK, Japan’s national public broadcaster, outraged Koreans by saying that the use of comfort women “was a fact of those times” and should not be judged by modern moral standards. Predictably, these comments were roundly denounced in South Korea.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe himself has gone on record as saying he is “deeply pained to think of the comfort women who experienced immeasurable pain and suffering.” Abe also said he had no intention of revoking the 1993 Kono Statement, wherein then-Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono expressed Japan’s “sincere apologies and remorse” for the harm done to comfort women. However, Abe undid whatever goodwill he won with that promise through the puzzling decision to authorize a government review of the origins of the Kono Statement — a review that many Koreans felt was designed to undermine the official apology and cast doubt on Japan’s culpability.


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« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2014, 01:49:35 PM »
Now, the meeting between Pope Francis and a group of comfort women is being taken by many as a move legitimizing their plight. Japan’s Kyodo News agency, reporting on the meeting, said that the pope’s action “is likely to influence international opinion on the issue.”

While the presence of “comfort women” calls to mind unresolved historical tensions between South Korea and Japan, the pope’s final mass in South Korea was dedicated to the issue of Korean reconciliation. Associated Press quoted Pope Francis as calling for all Koreans to overcome the “mindset shaped by suspicion, confrontation and competition” between their two countries in order to make peace. The pope prayed “for an ever greater recognition that all Koreans are brothers and sisters, members of one family, one people.” The mass was reportedly attended by defectors from North Korea.

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« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2014, 01:50:31 PM »
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South Korean comfort women at a 2011 rally.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2014, 01:53:24 PM »


islander

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Re: Pope Francis Meets Korean ‘Comfort Women’
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2014, 06:31:26 PM »
my understanding is there were also filipino comfort women.  yet nary a squeak is being heard from our end now.  if so, could we say that it looks like we're more forgiving?  or forgetful?  for one thing, we still vote the marcoses into office despite martial law, the disappearances, the (alleged) plunder, the thousand and one shoes, and what else.  some other countries cope differently and more violently.  one thing's sure; we've moved on.  we do fine with japan despite the bataan death march and the japanese occupation.   
Republic Act 8485 (Animal Welfare Act of 1998, Philippines), as amended and strengthened by House  Bill 6893 of 2013--- violation means a maximum of P250,000 fine with a corresponding three-year jail term and a minimum of P30,000 fine and six months imprisonment

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Re: Pope Francis Meets Korean ‘Comfort Women’
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2014, 06:33:25 PM »
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« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2014, 06:34:52 PM »
María Rosa Luna Henson or "Lola Rosa" ("Grandma Rosa") (1927- 1997) was the first Filipina who made public her story as a comfort woman (forced sexual worker) for the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second World War.

Her story

In 1992, when Henson was 65, she decided it was time to tell the world about her experience during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines during the war. Until 1992, only two people had known of her secret: her late mother and her dead husband. After coming out publicly with her story, Lola Rosa decided to write about her war-time experience in the book, Comfort Woman: A Slave of Destiny.

In Comfort Woman: A Slave of Destiny, Lola Rosa provided an achingly straightforward voice to the erstwhile silent and invisible existence of Filipino comfort women. Almost 200 Filipino women soon followed Rosa’s example as they decided to reveal themselves and their personal stories for the first time—not only to the world, but to their families as well. Other victims, including those from Korea and China, joined the Filipino women to file a class action lawsuit against the Japanese government. Together, they demanded justice in the form of a formal apology from the Japanese government; the inclusion of all the war-time atrocities committed by the Japanese into Japan’s school history books; and monetary reparations to compensate for all the abuses and violence committed against the women.

However, the Japanese government denied legal responsibility and refused to pay the victims. Later, responding to the growing pressure of continued protests and appeals by the survivors and their supporters, Japan finally set up the Asian Women’s Fund (AWF) in 1995 to collect money from private Japanese citizens, and offered them to the victims as “atonement payments.” Henson died of a heart attack in 1997, a year after her autobiography was published, and after she decided to accept the money from the AWF. (wikipedia)


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« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2014, 08:10:53 PM »
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« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2014, 03:11:58 AM »
Karon pa ko ani na issue... thanks for this very informative news :(
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