Altogether there are 9 so called ‘comfort women’s – museums in the Asian-Pacific- area. One was founded in Japan, the country of the perpetrators; the others are located in countries attacked by the Japanese: in Korea, The Philippines, China and Taiwan. In the Taiwanese capital Taipei I visited the third ‘comfort women’s’ museum on my trip. Luckily my accommodation was both situated in walking distance to the second oldest district of the Taipei, Datong, with its sights and to the women’s museum. On my sightseeing walk through this quarter I run into the Dadaocheng Wharf, the Chen-Tian-Iai-Residence -a beautiful mansion of a former tea trader, the Lin-Liu-Hsin-Puppet- Theater-Museum and the Xiahai City God Temple – one of the most important religious sights of Taipei. The temple area is always a very vivid spot where you can watch believers sacrificing and praying by following special ceremonies. Sightseeing combined with shopping and a visit to the women’s museum – you get it all in Dihua-Street, which is famous for its well preserved historical buildings, its traditional shops and – last but not least – the women`s museum. While taking a stroll my eyes and my nose were especially triggered there. I was wondering about the various and many times strange-looking products offered. From time to time a terrific smell was irritating my nose: different sorts of mushrooms, dried fish, snails, root-like objects, nuts, dried herbs, medicinal plants and spices. With all these impressions I finally stumbled into the AMA-Museum.
After having gained a very good first insight into the issue of Japan’s military sexual slavery system in the woman’s museum in Tokyo, I visited two more of the so called ‘comfort-women’s’- museums. I went to South Korea and to Taiwan. The women of these countries were the victims of the Japanese aggressors and had to suffer a lot as sex slaves.
Warning! The following text may shake your state of mind.
The first conference of museums on Japan’s Military “Comfort Women” shows the fundamental role of museums in preserving and uncovering histories for future generations.
In this conference women’s museums together with other museums addressed an important and difficult part of women’s history that is still today denied by the Japanese governmet.
“Comfort women” are called women forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army before and during World War II. The Japanese government has been refusing to acknowledge legal responsibilities for the “comfort women” issue so far.
Our member of the “Women’s active museum on war and peace” took part and sent us the following report of the conference:
The First Conference of Museums on Japan’s Military “Comfort Women” Declaration
The world’s first Conference of Museums on Japan’s Military “Comfort Women” convened in the offending nation of Japan with participation from South Korea, China, Taiwan, the Philippines and the United States.
When South Korean “Comfort Woman” victim KIM Hak-sun stepped forward on August 14, 1991 to question the responsibility of the Japanese government, a long history of silence was broken. In the years since, the contours of a vast system of sexual slavery operated by the Japanese military extending to virtually every corner of Asian Pacific territory under the control of its invading forces have become clear as the result of additional testimonies from victims who came forward one after another, coupled with steady progress in historical research.
At the center of the movement have always been the victims themselves bravely raising their voices. From these gentle and strong survivors’ painful but courageous testimonies, overcoming the burden of the trauma from the brutal past sexual violence beyond description, we have learned the meaning of human dignity and courage.
We have been putting pressure on the Japanese government to accept responsibility for these grave violation of women’s rights; however, it wants to distort and forget the past history. In the face of the Japanese government’s campaign to deny the history, the role of museums has become even more crucial not only for the education our next generation of the values of peace and human rights, but also for the recovery of the survivors.
Sprouted since the latter half of the 1990s, the “Comfort Women” museums will preserve the memory of the survivors of the “Comfort Women” victims. The Conference of Museums on Japan’s Military “Comfort Women” declares that we shall continue to act in solidarity in order to carry forward to create a peaceful world free from war that respects the human rights of women.
April 1, 2017
Adopted at the First Conference of Museums on Japan’s Military “Comfort Women”