Talk of the Day -- Taiwan's 'first' comfort woman dies
Liu Huang A-tao, the first Taiwanese woman to stand up and accuse the Japanese government of driving thousands of Taiwanese women into sex slavery during World War II, died earlier this month at the age of 90.
Liu Huang was a leading figure in uniting eight other former "comfort women" in Taiwan to file lawsuits against the Japanese government. Her death, from natural causes, marked a chapter in Taiwanese women's battle for justice against atrocities by Japanese occupying forces.
Following are excerpts of major Taiwanese newspapers' reports on Liu Huang's struggles that have yet to bear fruit:
The United Daily News:
The leader of a women's group said "Grandma A-tao" had waited 66 years for justice, but did not get even a word of apology from the Japanese government before she passed away.
Kang Shu-hua, chief executive of the Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation that helps Taiwanese comfort women seek justice and compensation from Japan, was recounting Liu Huang's three-year ordeal before her return to Taiwan in 1945 when Japan surrendered to the Allied Forces.
According to the foundation's chairwoman Huang Shu-ling, Japan had tried in 1995 to make "private" peace with the surviving comfort women through an "Asian Women's Fund" in an attempt to evade public responsibility for its war-time atrocities.
Liu Huang was encouraged by Korean comfort women, who asserted that "it is not us, but the Japanese government that should feel ashamed." Liu then decided to come forward and openly accuse the Japanese government of inhumane treatment of Taiwanese women.
Liu Huang and eight other former comfort women filed international lawsuits against the Japanese government from 1999-2005, demanding an apology and compensation. (Sept. 4, 2011)
Liu Huang A-tao, who had been waiting for an apology from Japan ever since she lost her virginity at the age of 19, died on Sept. 1. For her, the desire for justice would never be realized. But the 10 surviving former comfort women in Taiwan have not given up hope.
Sixty-nine years ago, Liu Huang was duped into service in Southeast Asia, being told she would work as a nurse but actually was forced into providing sex services to Japanese soldiers.
Three days after she landed in Indonesia, she was injured during a battle and had to have her womb removed. She kept all these tribulations to herself after she returned to Taiwan in 1945.
She later married a retired Republic of China soldier whose love and patience led her to a new phase of life. They adopted a child, raising a family together.
The Korean comfort women's assertion that "it is not us but the Japanese government that should feel ashamed" prompted Liu Huang to come forward as the first Taiwanese to make public accusations of sex slavery against Japan.
Liu Huang refused to accept Japan's offer in 1995 to make peace with former comfort women in private, and proceeded to join hands with other Taiwanese comfort women to file international lawsuits against Japan.
During the process, she made a long-remembered remark: "We're all cherished daughters in the eyes of our parents. Since the Japanese army robbed us of our virginity, it's not too much to demand an apology from such a government."
Kang Shu-hua of the Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation said many comfort women had died in regret as they never heard a single word of apology from Japan while they were alive.
It's truly sad, as Japan indeed ruined many lives and, with the passage of time, those lives have ended, Kang said.
She vowed to use her foundation's resources to continue to help the surviving former comfort women fight for justice, which she said would be one way to respect the memory of Liu Huang. (Sept. 4, 2011)
The Liberty Times:
With the passing of Liu Huang A-tao, the first Taiwanese former comfort women to file suit against Japan, only 10 others are left. And they are all waiting in pain for an apology from Japan.
Liu Huang's courage in openly accusing Japan encouraged other victims to shed their sense of shame and join hands to confront Japan and demand justice.
Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation Chairwoman Huang Shu-ling recalled a moving moment when Liu Huang showed her a scar on the right side of her abdomen and cried, "This is where my pain is, do you know?"
In 2002, the Taiwanese comfort women lost their lawsuit against Japan. From then on, the Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation changed its strategy, joining forces with Japanese and Korean lawyers associations to push for Japanese parliamentary legislation to address the issue.
Japan's parliament vetoed the legislative proposal, but the foundation launched a new round of efforts last year to urge Japan to compensate former Taiwanese comfort women.
Kang has pledged to continue her efforts to help surviving former comfort women gain justice and dignity.
Liu Huang's funeral service will he held Sept. 10.