Monday, January 25, 2010

Lessons from Rosa Henson and Japan: Hey Nestle Philippines, Read This!

A lot of us may have forgotten already but in 1992, when Rosa Henson was already 65 years old, she announced to everyone her World War II experience – known only by two people she held dear –her mother and deceased husband. She was a wartime prostitute by the Japanese Imperial Army. She was a Comfort Woman.

Her public statements gave more than two hundred other Filipinas and countless others in China and Korea to have the courage and come out in the open to say that indeed they were kidnapped, raped and forced to be prostitutes of the Japanese military.

Their plight, as a wartime Japanese soldier described, “The women cried out, but it didn't matter to us whether the women lived or died. We were the emperor's soldiers. Whether in military brothels or in the villages, we raped without reluctance."

One of the women, when she testified in US Congress said, "Many stories have been told about the horrors, brutalities, suffering and starvation of women in Japanese prison camps. But one story was never told, the most shameful story of the worst human rights abuse committed by the Japanese during World War II: The story of the “Comfort Women”, the jugun ianfu, and how these women were forcibly seized against their will, to provide sexual services for the Japanese Imperial Army. In the so-called “Comfort Station” I was systematically beaten and raped day and night. Even the Japanese doctor raped me each time he visited the brothel to examine us for venereal disease."

The Japanese government, immediately after the war, destroyed all documents referring to their creation of their own sex-slave industry and up to 1990 said that it had nothing to do with creation of “Comfort Stations”, insisting that either they do not exist (there was no written evidence according to them!) or if they did, they were run by small scale private enterprise.

In spite of Japan’s statements, the United Nations conducted their own research of what had happened and discovered through a series of eyewitness investigations that indeed the then Japanese government systemically created the “Comfort Stations” in response to the request of their military to keep up the morale of their troops.

Japan, eventually relented and finally admitted their systemic fault for the creation of these brothels during the war.

Rosa Henson died in 1997 but not before she received Japan’s formal apology and getting the atonement recompense.

I was not there when she passed away but I can imagine that she did so in peace.


There are several comments close to home that come to mind after reading the above:

Does the existence of an incident depend on the availability of written evidence? Apparently, Japan – the third biggest economy in the world – thought so. Hmmm. Sounds familiar.

Japan is one of the most progressive countries and has actually given a lot aid, economic and otherwise, to a lot of third world countries especially after the war. Do their current actions absolve them of the prostitution atrocities they committed in the past? Hmmm. Sounds familiar again.

It doesn't take a genius to know what the answers are. Unfortunately, there are really idiots and morons around especially in THAT company. Tsk, tsk.

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