Taiwan to continue to negotiate with Japan on 'comfort women'
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, Dec. 28 (CNA) Taiwan will continue to negotiate with Japan to have it apologize to Taiwanese comfort women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese imperial military during World War II, Presidential Office spokesman Charles Chen (陳以信) said Monday.
'The ROC's longstanding stance has been to request Japan to make a formal apology and compensate the Taiwanese comfort women,' Chen said.
'The government will stick to this stance in continuing to negotiate with Japan to bring the victims justice and dignity,' he said.
Chen made the comment after Japan and South Korea reached a deal Monday in Seoul under which the Japanese government will give around 1 billion Japanese yen (US$) to a foundation set up by the South Korean government for 'comfort women,' and Shinzo Abe will apologize to all comfort women in his capacity as prime minister.
Chen said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has long expressed the government's attitude that any positive actions by Japan on comfort women of other countries should be extended to Taiwanese comfort women.
President Ma has expressed concern about the issue since serving as justice minister two decades ago and has helped raise NT$38 million to offer each comfort women NT$500,000 (with another NT$500,000 provided by the government) to help them file suit against Japan, Chen said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it has instructed the representative office in Japan to request consultations with Japan on the issue soon.
Once it receives a formal response, it will study it with related agencies, the ministry said.
Meanwhile, a women's group said it hoped the Japanese government's formal apology and compensation will extend to Taiwan and other victimized countries.
Kang Shu-hua (康淑華), executive director of the Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation, said it has long asked the Japanese government to admit that the 'comfort women' system existed, offer them a formal apology and provide reasonable compensation.
Although the deal reached between South Korea and Japan fell short of the request by civic groups in the past, it represents 'great progress,' Kang said.
Kang noted that the Foreign Ministry formed a comfort women task force in 1992 and invited the foundation to take part.
The foundation will convene a meeting soon to look into the views of comfort women to see if they are willing to accept the model of South Korea setting up a foundation with Japan contributing the funds.
She noted that there were fewer victims in Taiwan and other Southeast Asian countries than in South Korea, but they were still victims and deserved an apology.
Kang has said that around 2,000 Taiwanese women were forced into becoming sex slaves during World War II, and 58 of them came forward to ask for compensation.
After more than 20 years of negotiations, however, many of these former comfort women have died and only four them are left, she said.
(By Clauida Liu, Tai ya-chen, Hsu Chih-wei and Lilian Wu)
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