Japanese supporters of former “comfort women,” who were coerced into providing sexual services to Japanese soldiers during World War II, protest next to a statue representing the women’s struggle in front of Japan’s embassy in downtown Seoul, Wednesday. Survivors plan to take legal action against a Japanese activist who recently tied a wooden stake to the statue.
The last-remaining “comfort women,” who were forced to serve as sex slaves under Japanese colonial rule (1910-1945), plan to take legal action against Japanese right-wing activist Nobuyuki Suzuki.
Suzuki last week provoked public anger here by tying a wooden stake to the statue of a young comfort woman erected in front of Japanese embassy in Seoul. The stake had a written claim about Dokdo, Korea’s easternmost islets.
“The victims of wartime sexual slavery are extremely angry about the latest incident,” said Ahn Shin-kweon, director of the House of Sharing, a Gwang-ju based organization, Wednesday. “Together with former sex slave Lee Yong-soo and other private organizations, we are considering legal steps.”
Ahn added that undertaking no countermeasures against the incident could send the wrong message to Japanese right-wing groups that it was okay to conduct such defamatory acts against the women.
Lawyers associated with the organization plan to meet with Japanese lawyers next month to discuss how to pursue legal action against Suzuki and where to file the lawsuit.
The comfort women issue remains a bone of contention between the two nations as, despite mounting calls from within to make a breakthrough, Seoul and Tokyo adhere to the position that all matters including individual compensation for the victims who suffered during the colonial era were settled through the 1965 Korea-Japan basic treaty.
Meanwhile, the Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, a Seoul-based council which has organized weekly protests every Wednesday in front of the Japanese Embassy since 1992, gave a different perspective in dealing with the issue.
“We are just fooling around if we take action against a (Japanese) individual,” said council members during the weekly rally, Wednesday. “The ones who deserve criticism are Japanese politicians who distort the truth and the Japanese government’s history and education policies that nurture ignorant citizen.”
Concerning President Lee Myung-bak’s comment earlier this month urging Tokyo for “humanitarian measures” for the wartime victims, council members said the government should seek “legal compensation” instead.
The rally this week was the 1,028th.
On the same day, Seoul Metropolitan Government announced the council will receive the grand prize of the 9th Seoul Metropolitan City Women Award for promoting the rights of women through activities such as holding the weekly rallies and opening a Women’s Human Rights Museum last month.
“I hope winning the prize can help us gain momentum in resolving the comfort women issue,” said Yoon Mee-hyang, a co-representative of the council