MANILA - Six Filipino victims of alleged Japanese military sexual abuse during World War II staged a rally Thursday in front of the Japanese Embassy over what they say is the continuing disregard by the leaders of the Philippines and Japan of their plight and cries for justice.
The members of Lila Pilipina (League of Filipino Grandmothers) reiterated their demand for justice from the Japanese government ahead of the arrival of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings in Manila next week.
Of the 174 original members of Lila Pilipina, only about 90 are still alive. Another group of victims, called Malaya Lolas (Free Grandmothers), had around 90 original members, but only one-third of them remain.
Around 1,000 Filipino women were believed to have been sexually abused by Japanese soldiers during their occupation of the country from 1941 though the end of the war in 1945.
The women, now in their 80s, are asking for a formal apology and just compensation from the Japanese government, and inclusion of the so-called comfort women system during WWII in Japan’s historical accounts and education textbooks.
Narcisa Claveria, 85, said in her remarks at the protest that the group did not regard apologies by Japanese officials as an official apology by the Japanese government.
She likewise criticized Philippine President Benigno Aquino for not understanding their pleas and for not supporting their struggle.
The organization also reiterated its opposition to the strengthening military ties of the Philippines and Japan, warning of a possible repeat of the abuses, especially against women, committed during the war.
The executive direction of the organization said it may not be able to hold another rally when Abe arrives in Manila for the APEC forum next week because of the frail condition of the elderly members.