Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said recently a fact-finding committee has been formed to look into the circumstances that led to the installation of a monument that honor Filipina “comfort women” during World War II.
The “comfort woman” statue was unveiled in Manila last December.
In a letter dated Dec. 12, 2017, the Office of Asia and Pacific Affairs of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) asked the Manila city government for information about the erection of the statue.
The Manila City government replied days later, saying that the Tulay Foundation Inc. had sought the city’s “support for and technical assistance in how and where to put up” the statue.
The marker on the monument states that it was installed “in memory of Filipinas who were abused during the Japanese occupation in World War II.”
The Filipino women, particularly the pretty ones, were recruited to provide “comfort” to the Japanese Imperial soldiers.
In other words, the women were raped. They did not resist the assault because they would have been killed had they tried to do so. Since then, these women have lived a life of shame because they could not shake off the stigma of rape.
During the three-year Japanese occupation, many pretty women avoided being recruited as comfort women by blackening their faces with charcoal to make them appear ugly.
Regarding this issue, the Japanese government had repeatedly apologized for the abuses committed by the imperial soldiers and even gave compensation to many of the victims. But despite these gestures of contrition by Japan, the “comfort women” issue surfaces every now and then.
That’s the reason DFA is concerned about the issue over the statue as this could have adverse impact on Philippine-Japan relations.
Cayetano did not give details on diplomatic discussions about the issue but he said DFA had two main considerations — the interest of the Filipino people and the maintenance of good relations with partners, particularly Japan.
He said when the Filipino interest conflicts with the interest of good relations with other nations, the government “has to deal with the feelings of the people”.
From our standpoint, we are not comfortable with the idea that we honor victims of rape by erecting a statue for them. This idea is ludicrous as this would perpetuate their painful, shameful experience. We should instead provide them therapy program that could make them forget their nightmarish past.
Also, time has vastly changed since World War II. During the war, women were told to hide when Japanese soldiers were patrolling villages.
Today, women are asked to come out of their house when Japanese tourists are touring their area. Hundreds of Filipinas are also “invading” Japan as overseas Filipino workers.
Forgetting the sad past will enable us to move on.