MANILA – Six Filipino “comfort women” who were forced to work in Japanese military brothels during World War II led a protest Tuesday in front of the Japanese Embassy in Manila to oppose enhanced defense cooperation with Japan.
“The agreement of the Philippines-Japan military alliance has been made concrete. So our fear that our children, our grandchildren will fall victims again to another war and a repeat of the comfort women system is also now concrete,” Rechilda Extremadura, executive director of Lila Pilipina (League of Filipino Grandmothers), said at the rally attended by more than 20 supporters.
“That’s why we say never again to another generation of comfort women and never again to another generation of war victims,” she said.
On Monday, Filipino defense officials and embassy officials signed an agreement on Japan’s planned transfer of defense equipment and technology, expanding the two countries’ strategic partnership.
Extremadura said her group, which seeks to secure justice for former comfort women, sees Japan’s more active military engagement in Asia as being linked with the increasing presence of the U.S. military in the region to counter China’s aggressiveness.
“We were treated like pigs. And yet our cries for justice for more than two decades now just fell on deaf ears. Our government just even connived with the Japanese government,” Narcisa Claveria, 85, one of the comfort women who attended the rally, said in a speech.
“I don’t want my fellow Filipino women or my grandchildren to experience what I went through during the war. So while I’m still alive, I’ll carry on our struggle until we get justice. And my children and grandchildren will pursue this when I’m gone,” she added.
The women seek “official apology and just compensation” from the Japanese government, as well as inclusion of the comfort women issue in history textbooks.
Only around 100 Filipino former comfort women remain alive.