We visited the War and Human Rights museum established May 5,2012 so it is quite new. We viewed a film “The butterflies, flying high with hope.” A documentary, about the Comfort women, Or Halmonies, as they prefer to be called. Within the museum are actual documents found where he Japanese military actually has rules and regulations for soldiers using the comfort stations. In addition a ‘menu’ of cost is also documented. He women aged from 12 – approximately 30 when forced into sexual slavery. Japanese women were also subjected to this, as well as Chinese, Korean and Dutch. All places where Japan had invaded. The map clearly shows comfort stations set up in every place Japanese military invaded. Sometimes the comfort statin was a mere tent, or a mound of hay in places of danger in the fields. “Grandma” Kim was the first Halmoni to come forward ( she has since passed on) After she bravely told her story, 237 others came forward o testify and demand Japan apologize, which it has not done. August 14th has been designated as a day of memorial for the victims of military sexual slavery. Many demonstrations are scheduled in Asia. A s I write this two of the remaining survivors , both 90 yrs old, are on a speaking tour in the USA. Grandma Kil said that “Whats left of my life I want to tell the truth” he wants the US and others to help to get Japan to stop lying and to tell the truth that will eventually come out. She had 3 brothers and 2 sisters and has no idea what ever happened to them. Over 70 years has assed and she feels that her family are those close to her now. She did not want to share her story because she was uncomfortable with men in the room and particularly two of our participant’s guests from Toronto who are of Japanese descent.
There is a memorial to the comfort women in New Jersey (google it)
We drove 90 minutes through fields, farms and into rural area where the House of Sharing is. About 9 Halmonies still live there and are cared for by volunteers and other workers. We visited the museum there that also has documentation of the proof the the military slavery including a replica of a room, that they had to ‘live’ in. Very tiny, one bed, one small window in which food was sent in, a basin for washing and nothing more. The steps down to the room were very loud and were purposely done so to simulate the sounds of the boots that the women heard daily as they had to service 40 to 50 men daily. They had to re use condoms by washing them out ( often soldiers refused to wear them anyway) they contracted STD’s had abortions, or lost babies, and the list goes on and on.
In “The House Of Sharing”, we sat on the floor, left our shoes at the entrabce ( this is done throughout Asia) and just held hands with, and talked to the women. They did not speak English, but words were not needed. Once again the women were visibly shaken at the sight of KoKo and Yushito the Japanese men with us. It humbled them ( As I asked them later on) and they both felt that they too needed to face the reality of their motherland.
The stories of the Comfort Women are documented but they do not like to speak in public. One of the ones we met I recall reading her story, she was raped even before she had begun menstruating, and taken to a comfort station where she had to service 40 to 50 soldiers a day. She sufferd damage and was unable to have children, It is hardf to believe the Japanese governments claim that the women were volunteers when some were as young as 12 or 13. They were not paid, the owner of the comfort statin received money for this.