On August 16, after President Ma Ying-jeou watched the documentary “Song of the Reed” in the presidential, he said, “If Taiwan is still debating whether or not the comfort women were forced or voluntary, then it shows we are not a civilized country.”

Apple Daily reports, Ma invited the Premier of the Executive Yuan Mao Zhi-guo, the President of the Legislative Yuan Wang Jin-ping, other senior officials and youth representatives to watch “Song of the Reed” in the presidential, hoping that people will learn about this sorrowful period in history.

President Ma choked several times during his speech after watching the movie. He says, “Comfort women is not just a political issue. It is an issue on human rights and humanitarian based on historical facts.”

There have been recent voices in Taiwan saying some of the comfort women were voluntary, which sparked a heated debate. Ma says the CNN website mentions Taiwan might be the only country that doesn’t believe the comfort women were forced. He asks, “Are we happy and honored to obtain this title?”

Storm Media reports, Ma says the UN defines comfort women as military sexual slaves. He says, “If we keep saying the comfort women were voluntary, we can’t give the UN an explanation.”

Ma also points out when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe launched a statement regarding the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, he particularly hoped Abe could be more responsible, foresighted and clear on the issue of comfort women.

Japan helps deal with the issue of comfort women in the documentary. Ma says this is the tolerance and vision a country needs and he expects current authorities in Japan to do so as well.

But comfort women survivors have been gradually dying out and only four remain in Taiwan. At the evening party of International Comfort Women Memorial Day on August 14, Kang Shu-hua, the CEO of Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation responded to Abe’s talk.

Kang says, Abe still didn’t make a public apology and avoided replying to the comfort women, which was very sad and disappointing. If Abe doesn’t want to resolve the issue of comfort women, his recent saying of protecting the human rights of women is just a political slogan that takes advantage of women.

Kang further emphasizes, the purpose of reflecting on the history of comfort women is not for us to hate Japan, but to give the next generation the courage to face the future, build peace in Asia and protect the human rights of women.

CNA reports, Ma says the UN Commission on Human Rights in 1996 particularly reported a clear definition that comfort women are military sexual slaves. In 2007, the US congress condemned and requested Japan to apologize and provide compensation, as did Canada and the EU. Taiwan also made similar requests in 2008.

Ma emphasizes, we should think about how to help the comfort grandmas recover from the unforgettable past and lead them to a freer future with these historical facts. He says we should do our best to help the comfort women feel the support of their family members, the whole country and even the people from the Japan, the country whose militarists hurt them in the past.

Translated by June
Edited by Olivia Yang