‘Comfort women’ reparation sought at Independence program in Japan

The Philippine Star
�Comfort women� reparation sought at Independence program in Japan
Harry Roque speaks during the 125th Philippine Independence Day celebration in Tokyo.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — At the Filipino community’s celebration of the 125th Philippine Independence Day in Tokyo, lawyer Harry Roque appealed to the Philippine and Japanese governments to heed the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)’s landmark decision on the reparation of Filipino “comfort women.”

Roque, a guest speaker at the Philippine Expo 2023, said the indemnification of World War II victims of sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army would put closure on the darkest chapter in Philippine-Japan relations.

“I celebrate the foundation of our nation as Asia’s first republic with the 300,000 Filipino residents in Japan,” he said. “Independence Day should always remind us of the many patriots who fought for our freedom against colonizers and invaders.

“Sadly, the surviving 21 comfort women in the Philippines remain shackled by the horrors of the last World War. Personal liberation from the trauma and stigma continues to elude them.”

Roque is a legal counsel of the Malaya Lolas, a group of wartime abuse survivors that have fought for just and rightful compensation since the late 1990s.

In March, CEDAW said the Philippines failed to protect the rights of 24 comfort women against continuing discrimination in contravention of the state party commitments under the 1979 Convention on All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

The UN body also noted the Philippine government’s stand against claiming war reparations from Japan after both countries signed the 1956 Treaty of Peace.

“Japan has forged strong bilateral ties with us after the last World War, especially in trade and development assistance. However, the ‘comfort women’ issue remains a diplomatic concern,” Roque said.

He expressed hope that Japan and the Philippines would draft an agreement that comprehensively addresses the demands of the Malaya Lolas in consonance with the 1979 Convention and 2023 CEDAW decision.

In its ruling, the UN body stated, “Given the extreme severity of the acts of gender-based violence to which the authors were subjected and their right not to be continuously discriminated against and to obtain restitution, compensation and rehabilitation, and given the absence of any possibility of enforcing their rights as fully as possible, the Committee concludes that the State party has breached its obligations under articles 1 and 2 (b) and (c) of the Convention.”

In 2019, the Malaya Lolas elevated the case to CEDAW after the Supreme Court dismissed, with finality, the Vinuya vs. Executive Secretary case in 2014.

Lead petitioner Isabelita Vinuya and other victims filed for a petition for certiorari before the high court asking the Philippine government to sponsor their compensation claims before an international tribunal. Vinuya passed away in 2021.

vuukle comment


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with