Taiwan draws up list of demands for Japan on ‘comfort women’ issue

Kyodo

Taiwan has drafted a four-point list of demands for Japan on the “comfort women” issue after Tokyo struck a deal with Seoul on the long-running dispute.

The demands include an official apology, compensation, restoration of victims’ reputation and dignity, and caring for victims’ livelihoods.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Eleanor Wang said Tuesday that in the absence of diplomatic relations between Taipei and Tokyo, negotiations on the issue will be conducted under the framework of Taiwan’s Association of East Asian Relations and Japan’s Interchange Association.

The demands were drawn up by members of a government working group.

Taiwan, which was under Japanese rule from 1894 to 1945, is estimated to have had about 2,000 comfort women, of whom 85 have been confirmed as victims, according to the Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation. However, there are now only four alive in Taiwan, and their average age is about 90.

The working group consists of related government agencies, former comfort women and the Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation, which was established in 1992 to aid Taiwanese comfort women.

The group had originally planned to meet Wednesday but brought the meeting forward to Tuesday due to the “significance” of the issue, said Chang Jen-joe, secretary general of the Association of East Asian Relations, which handles Taiwan’s relations with Japan in the absence of formal diplomatic relations.

The meeting was the group’s first since Japanese and South Korean officials struck the deal last week to resolve the dispute between their nations.

They agreed to set up a new fund amounting to ¥1 billion for the women, with the money coming from the Japanese government.

Taiwan Foreign Minister David Lin said his ministry wants to know whether such a move is also the wish of the Taiwanese victims.

Chang told a news conference that the Taiwanese government’s position on the issue has been clear — to ask the Japanese government to offer an official apology and compensation for the victims.

Chang said Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to Japan, Shen Ssu-tsun, met with Tadashi Imai, president of Japan’s Interchange Association, in Tokyo on Monday to express the Taiwanese government’s position on the comfort women issue and its hope that Tokyo will make efforts to resolve it.

Deputy Foreign Minister Bruce Linghu also met with Japan’s representative to Taiwan, Mikio Numata, on Monday, Chang said.

However, before Taiwan and Japan begin negotiations on the issue, Taiwan must have a more clear and concrete consensus, Chang said.

The Taiwanese Foreign Ministry saw the Japan-South Korea deal as a significant breakthrough, offering the island a “new opportunity” to push forward with ongoing negotiations with Japan over the issue.

The Interchange Association in Taipei has said that Japan will face the comfort women issue with other countries “honestly” in accordance with the “different situations” of each country, including Taiwan.

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