Aquino seeks update on ‘comfort women’


President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Friday said he wants a report on efforts made by the government to help Filipino women who became victims of sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II.

Speaking to Filipino reporters in Japan where he is on a state visit, Aquino added that the government should continue helping these Filipinas or “comfort women” to ease the suffering that they experienced.

“It is really incumbent on the government to take care of our own. I will assure you, as soon as I get home, I want a report on all of the efforts that have been done for these compatriots of ours who suffered so unnecessarily during the war,” the President said.

The “tragic” experiences of the comfort women are “part of our national history and shared story of our nation,” he added.

Aquino made the statement when asked about his thoughts amid reports there are elderly women, who are still seeking justice over the atrocities that Japanese soldiers had inflicted on them during World War II.

When asked whether he considered it a matter worth bringing up with Japanese authorities at this point, given strong diplomatic ties between Manila and Tokyo, Aquino said he is aware that Japan has already apologized.

“The records that are available to me, and I understand, Japan has apologized for such incidents in the past, specifically, the Kono Statement of 1993, Murayama Statement of 1995 and the 2002 letter of then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to Filipino comfort women,” according to the President.

He said he was told by former Foreign Affairs Secretary Domingo Siazon that apologies and statements of remorse to Filipino comfort women had been covered in previous negotiations for reparations and agreements between Japan and the Philippines, prior to his administration.

“The first time I heard about this [was]when I was still a congressman. {Siazon} was telling me that this has already been explained to them so many times. The agreements that were entered into, way before I entered public service, are supposed to have settled this matter between our countries,” Aquino added.

The President is in Tokyo for a four-day state visit aimed at enhancing the strategic partnership between Japan and the Philippines, which have become steadfast allies 59 years after the end of the war.

On Thursday, Aquino pointed out that it is “a constant practice” for Japan “to express remorse and apologies for what transpired during the war.”

This happens every April during the annual World War II memorial on Mount Samat, Bataan, in the Philippines.

“When we remember and commemorate these tragedies that happened to all of us, wherein all countries who were involved, and, of course, practically every country was involved, it was a world war, it does remind us of the real cost of war. It tells us why it should be avoided with utmost dedication and determination… Keeping it in our consciousness helps us prevent the reoccurrence of such a tragedy,” the President said.

World War II took place from 1939 to 1945, and back then, the Philippines was caught in the crossfire of battles between Allied and Axis forces, where the United States and Japan participated on opposite sides of the fence.


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