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Taiwan activists demand Japan apologize for sex slaves

Agence France Presse - August 15, 2012

Taipei About 200 Taiwanese chanted slogans and tore up Japanese military flags during a protest on Wednesday, demanding Tokyo apologize and compensate women forced to work as sex slaves during World War II.

The demonstrators, largely from several women's groups, held photos of Taiwanese forced to become "comfort women" and marched to the office of the Interchange Association, Japan's de facto embassy in Taiwan. "Japan must apologize and compensate," read one placard, while another demanded: "Give me justice!"

Women's groups in Taiwan demonstrate against Tokyo every year on the anniversary of Japan's wartime surrender.

"But the Japanese government has refused to admit to the wrongdoings," said Chang Kai-chiang, a spokesman from Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation. "In Japan's textbooks, the sex slaves were even described as 'volunteers.' This is really outrageous."

An estimated 200,000 Asian women were forced to serve as so-called "comfort women" in Japanese army brothels during the war. Japan has repeatedly refused to compensate survivors and forced laborers, saying a 20-year period for lawsuits had expired and that treaties governed reparations to states, not individuals.

Over the past 20 years, 49 former Taiwan "comfort women" have died, leaving only nine known survivors. "Even so, we believe those in heaven are still watching the Japanese government," said Chang.

The Japanese Supreme Court in 2005 rejected a compensation claim of 10 million yen (now $127,000) from each of seven Taiwanese women and their demand for an apology. Japan colonized Taiwan from 1895 until the end of the war in 1945.

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