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Jakarta Post

Ex-comfort woman to testify in Japan

  • The Jakarta Post

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, May 30, 2014   /  03:30 pm
Ex-comfort woman to testify in Japan Bitter memory: Sri Soekanti (using cane), a former “comfort woman” during the Japanese occupation in the early 1940s, attends a discussion on sex slavery in Jakarta Thursday. An estimated 200,000 women from Malaysia, the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Korea and the Netherlands were forcibly sent to Imperial Japanese Army military camps as comfort women, historians say. (JP/DON) (using cane), a former “comfort woman” during the Japanese occupation in the early 1940s, attends a discussion on sex slavery in Jakarta Thursday. An estimated 200,000 women from Malaysia, the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Korea and the Netherlands were forcibly sent to Imperial Japanese Army military camps as comfort women, historians say. (JP/DON)

Bitter memory: Sri Soekanti (using cane), a former '€œcomfort woman'€ during the Japanese occupation in the early 1940s, attends a discussion on sex slavery in Jakarta Thursday. An estimated 200,000 women from Malaysia, the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Korea and the Netherlands were forcibly sent to Imperial Japanese Army military camps as comfort women, historians say. (JP/DON)

A former Indonesian sex slave during the Japanese occupation will testify before a regional conference on the issue of '€œcomfort women'€, known as jugun ianfu, to be held in three Japanese cities from May 30 to June 4.

The former comfort woman, Sri Soekanti, will testify in the Asian Solidarity Conference for the Issue of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan in Tokyo, Osaka and Fukuoka. She will be accompanied by activists from the Solidarity Network for Indonesian Ianfu.

This is the 12th time the conference has been held since 1991.

Sri, now 81, said on Wednesday that she had been taken from her home in Salatiga, Central Java, when she was 9 years old. Her parents were told they would be killed if they did not surrender their daughter.

'€œI was treated like a horse, my genitals bled profusely; at the time I wanted to die,'€ Sri says in a documentary on sex slaves, which was screened Wednesday.

Sri attended the screening but looked sickened and did not comment.

The soon-to-be-finished documentary, as yet untitled, will be screened at the conference.

'€œWe want to push the Japanese government to give its political accountability to the ianfu,'€ network coordinator Eka Hindra said, adding that many Japanese did not think sex slavery was an urgent issue.

Activists claim that the Imperial Japanese Army recruited about 19,000 women from various areas during the Japanese occupation of 1942-1945.

They also claim that some 200,000 women were forced into sexual service for the Imperial Japanese Army.

Organizers said Wednesday that the conference in Japan will include survivors from other former Japanese occupied countries such as the Philippines, South and North Korea and China.

Japan has so far never acknowledged that the sex slavery was organized officially for the military under the consent of its leaders during the leadership of then emperor Hirohito.

Japan has repeatedly angered its neighbors and backtracked on apologies over atrocities during its occupation era.

The debate in Japan has resulted in a bill that would effectively acknowledge sexual slavery under the military in World War II, while many Japanese still believe the women were prostitutes.

In the case of Indonesia, although Japan has neither officially accepted responsibility nor fully acknowledged the existence of sex slaves, it has compensated comfort women through the Asian Women'€™s Fund, an NGO under the auspices of its government.

Indonesia received ¥380 million (then Rp 9 billion or US$772,000) in the 1990s, however, activists allege that corruption at the Social Affairs Ministry meant that much was skimmed off before it got to the women. (put)