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Groups hit DFA stance on comfort woman statue

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) should maintain a sense of dignity by not submitting to the Japanese government after it protested the erection of a statue honoring Filipino comfort women, two militant women’s groups said yesterday.

The DFA should assert instead sovereignty and historical integrity by initiating talks for Japan to officially recognize their history and demands for justice that the former war aggressor has ignored and dismissed as a past better forgotten, Gabriela and Lila Pilipina said.

The two groups urged the city government of Manila and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines to stand their ground to keep the statue and host many more actions to raise public awareness about comfort women.

The statue stands at the corner of Roxas Boulevard and Quirino Avenue in Manila.

“Honoring our past and drawing lessons from it is a patriotic right and duty,” Gabriela vice chairperson Gert Libang said.

The Japanese embassy reportedly reminded the city government that sisterhood ties between San Francisco in the United States and Osaka were severed because of a comfort woman statue erected on private land.

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Gabriela alleged that Japan may turn to trade sanctions and delays in fund transfers to compel the government to remove the statue, which was commissioned by the Tulay Foundation, a Chinese-Filipino civic group.

Gabriela and Lila Pilipina, whose members were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese army during World War II, said they want the statue to remain as a reminder that Japan “should honestly do what the comfort women have been demanding for decades, that is official recognition, official apology, and official direct reparations,” Libang said.

Tokyo issued an apology in 1993, which acknowledged the military’s involvement in the coercive brothel system but refused to admit government’s direct hand in it.

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