WWII sex slaves to testify against Japan
Three women who say they endured rape and torture at the hands of Japanese soldiers during World War II and a lifetime of mental and physical scars are asking that U.S. lawmakers urge the Japanese to apologize.
The two Koreans and a former Dutch colonist were among as many as 200,000 "comfort women" who historians say were forced to have sex with millions of Japanese soldiers during the war. Japan objects to a proposed congressional resolution calling for an apology, and the measure has led to unease in an otherwise strong U.S.-Japanese relationship.
In prepared testimony submitted before Thursday's hearing by the House Foreign Affairs Asia subcommittee, Kim Koon-ja spoke of the three years she spent as a young girl being raped by Japanese soldiers, sometimes as many as 40 a day.
"The war has ended, but for 62 years I have had to live a life with a scar in my heart," she testified. "The Japanese government continues to treat us as if we are not human."
"Governments must know that our bodies and our innocence have real value and worth," Kim said. "Governments must know that we will not forget."
Japan says that its leaders have repeatedly apologized. Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, for instance, said in a letter sent in 2001 to the comfort women that he felt sincere remorse for their "immeasurable and painful experiences."
Japan acknowledged in the 1990s that its military set up and ran brothels for its troops. But it has rejected most compensation claims, saying they were settled by postwar treaties.
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