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Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace, Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei, Xian, Beijing – these were the hotspots of women’s history on my trip to Asia in autumn 2019: six women’s museums in 3 or 4 countries (depending on your political attitude towards Taiwan – is it a part of China or an independant country?).

In this blog I will concentrate on three museums that deal with a topic that was not well known by me before – the socalled comfort women & comfort stations. These terms relate to the war crimes committed by the Japanese military. Thousands of women were forced to work as prostitutes during Japan’s invasion in the Asian-Pacific-region during the 20th century. Continue reading

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The Museum Frauenkultur Regional-International wants to allow women from all over the world to raise their voices and make their voices heard.

Therefore, the museum organizes a lecture with Mina Watanabe, director of the Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace (WAM) on 3rd May 2019:

‘Comfort women’ in Asia. Civil society commitment to justice and commemoration

Mina Watanabe, Women’s Active Museum on War and Peace, Tokyo

During the Second World War countless girls and women in Asia became victims of systematic sexual violence. They were forced to work as prostitutes for members of the Japanese imperial army and euphemistically referred to as “comfort women.” For a long time the victims remained silent, and then a long struggle to acknowledge their suffering began.

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“Comfort Women” rally in fron of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul August 2011

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”

http://wam-peace.org/en/20170406-2/

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