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One of the most heart rendering and atrocious crimes committed by the Imperial Japanese Forces during WW2 is the comfort women system. The comfort women refer to the 200 000 or so Asian women, mostly of Korean origin, forced into sexual slavery for the Japanese Imperial army during WW2. Many of them were merely girls at the time which suited the purpose of the system which was set up to prevent rapes of civilian populations by allowing the rape of some girls to 'save' the wider female population as well as prevent sexual diseases from spreading through control of the women. However, as is now known, the system did not prevent rapes by the japanese troops who raped millions of Asian women from 1937-1945 despite the comfort women provided by the Army.
Japan till this day has NEVER officially apologised to the women and all comfort women lawsuits have been rejected by japan's courts. The Japanese govt even denied their existence as well as govt involvement until 1993 when a Japanese journalist found crucial documents damning the Japanese wartime military's full involvement in the system and published it in a major national newspaper forcing govt admittance.
On Aug 10 2005 rallies were held across Asia demanding an official apology and reparations for comfort women as their numbers are dwindling year by year. However, Japan's govt continues to refuse any laws officially compensating them nor issue any formal apology issued by the parliament. Korean former comfort women have also rallied with supporters in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul every Wednesday since 1993 and continue to protest for an official apology and compensation till this very day, 60 years after that devastating war which left them with irreparable scars, both on their bodies and on minds.
From now on, i shall include testimonies of former comfort women regularly under a new column called: Comfort Women to allow ppl who view my blog who are not familiar with this issue to gain an insight into it and refute claims by Japanese lunatics (namely the nationalist right-wing) who continue to claim that these women were prostitutes who went for the money.
All testimonies have been compiled by organisations, reporters, academics,researchers and institutes involved in the comfort women issue.
Yuan Zhulin's Story:
Haunted by violent memories as a wartime sex slave for Japanese troops, Yuan Zhulin, 84, says it is impossible to sleep at night.
As she sits awake holed up in the dank and spartan room she calls home in central China's Wuhan city, the memories of atrocities committed against her ravage her mind.
She is not alone, as up to 200,000 other women across the region were forced into wartime sex slavery during Japan's conquest of Asia, although the number still alive to tell their story is rapidly dwindling.
"I can't forget the past, it's always on my mind," Yuan told AFP in an interview as China staged widespread anti-Japanese protests over the past two weekends.
She often weeps uncontrollably, burying her head in her arms as she recounts a personal history so full of pain and suffering it is hard to believe her story is not some fictional horror.
But her tears and the physical scars bear testament to the awful truth, one that after decades of silence she says must be told before she goes, willingly, to her Catholic God -- where she hopes to "suffer no more."
And so each time, after drying her eyes and regaining her composure, Yuan continues her harrowing tale.
"More than 10 Japanese soldiers waited outside my room everyday," said the frail woman, who was 17 when troops arrived in Wuhan and promptly renamed her Masako and forced her into prostitution.
"They had no patience when waiting outside. They would kick the door with their boots and they would scare me to death and I cried and cried. After the 10 soldiers had left I couldn't even sit, it was so painful," Yuan said.
"I'm a little embarrassed talking about this but many of us couldn't even walk," she weeps, adding that her years as a comfort woman, the euphemistic term for forced prostitution, had done her body irreparable damage.
After an abortion endangered her life, she had to continue serving soldiers despite pain so excruciating that she was eventually given medicine.
"But after taking the pills I could never get pregnant again," Yuan said.
Less than a year after she arrived at the brothel -- around the time that Wuhan, under months of gas bombardments, finally fell to Imperial troops in October 1938 -- Yuan and some other young women hatched an escape plan.
But unable to surmount the electric wire surrounding their prison home, they were caught and beaten to within an inch of their lives.
"They kicked us and bashed us, and there is still a scar on my back and it's still very painful," Yuan said, showing the large crater-like scars on her lower waist. "My bones were broken by the kicks."
Things took a mild turn for the better when one sympathetic Japanese soldier promised to come to her aid.
"He left my room without sleeping with me, he knew that I was suffering. He was a good man. He told me to wait for him to one day come and take me away," said Yuan, who sometimes has trouble remembering names and precise dates.
In the meantime, another Japanese officer took a liking to her round-faced good looks and pulled her out of the den to make her his sole concubine.
Six months later, the kind Japanese soldier kept his word, helping to end her one-and-half life-altering years in the brothel.
"We had nothing, life was hard, but better than living in there," she said of the ensuing relationship with the man that lasted until the end of the war.
It was a Chinese woman named Zhang Xiuying, however, who tricked Yuan and a handful of other women into prostitution, by promising employment in a hotel as a maid along with a small advance.
At the time, Yuan was desperate to feed her newborn child and accepted the proposal in hopes of helping her family, only to find herself a sex slave.
Her destitute parents had already given away her two younger sisters because there was not enough to eat, and her father later died of malnutrition.
After the Japanese arrived and Yuan was forced into the brothel she never saw her child again.
"My poor little baby. She was so pretty and our neighbors would drop in my place to see her, and she just died like that (at 9 months)," she said as her asthmatic breathing became hard.
"You can tell how much I hate the Japanese."
Speaking of crimes in Wuhan internment camps where the Japanese forced a huge number of Chinese to live, Yuan tells of one man who was beaten for forgetting his identification before being thrown into the Yangtze river and left for dead.
"If someone got sick or had a fever, they would just burn them to death because they were afraid of the plague," she said.
According to official Chinese estimates, 35 million Chinese were killed or injured in the Sino-Japanese war between 1937-45.
Asked how she saw modern Japan, Yuan said:" There are good people in Japan," before adding that "it's fine that we do business with the Japanese, but we shouldn't be bullied by Japan anymore."
Like many women in China, South Korea, North Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and even Japan who were forced into slavery by Imperial troops, Yuan's anger is directed at Tokyo's refusal to financially compensate for damages.
She was in Tokyo in 2000 for a lawsuit brought by Chinese comfort women, but the court ruled against them.
Japan has repeatedly refused to compensate sex slaves and forced laborers from World War II, saying a 20-year period for suits had expired and treaties provided for reparations to states, not individuals.
According to Su Zhiliang, an expert on comfort women at Shanghai Normal University, not one former sex slave has managed to get an apology or money from the Japanese government.
The issue, along with Tokyo's approval of a nationalist school textbook which glosses over wartime atrocities, and its bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, has sparked two weekends of violent protests in China.
"My wish is that Japan apologizes to me and admits their mistake and gives me proper compensation," said Yuan, who only draws a monthly state pension of 230 yuan (27.70 dollars).
Credits to AP.