Women ask Philippine leader to keep 'sex slave' statue

Joms Salvador, Secretary-General the women's organization GABRIELA, gestures during a forum on the statue of a "Comfort Woman" or Filipino sex slaves during WWII, which was erected along a scenic baywalk in Manila, Philippines Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018. The statue, which symbolizes Filipino women forced to work in Japanese wartime brothels and inaugurated on Dec. 9, 2017, has created a controversy after Japanese Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Seiko Noda reportedly voiced "displeasure" in her meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
A horse-drawn cart, catering to tourists, passes by a statue of a "Comfort Woman" or Filipino sex slaves during WWII, which was erected along a scenic Baywalk in Manila, Philippines Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018. The statue, which symbolizes Filipino women forced to work in Japanese wartime brothels and inaugurated on Dec. 9, 2017, has created a controversy after Japanese Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Seiko Noda reportedly voiced "displeasure" in her meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
A man cycles past a statue of a "Comfort Woman" or Filipino sex slave during WWII, which was erected along a scenic Baywalk in Manila, Philippines Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018. The statue, which symbolizes Filipino women forced to work in Japanese wartime brothels and inaugurated on Dec. 9, 2017, has created a controversy after Japanese Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Seiko Noda reportedly voiced "displeasure" in her meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
A statue of a "Comfort Woman" or alleged Filipino sex slave during WWII, stands along a scenic Baywalk in Manila, Philippines Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018. The statue, which symbolizes Filipino women forced to work in Japanese wartime brothels and inaugurated on Dec. 9, 2017, has created a controversy after Japanese Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Seiko Noda reportedly voiced "displeasure" in her meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

MANILA, Philippines — A women's group asked the Philippine president on Thursday to oppose any request by Japan to remove a newly erected statue honoring women who were forced to work in Japanese military brothels during World War II.

The Gabriela women's group said President Rodrigo Duterte should instead demand an official apology and compensation for Filipino women who were "conscripted by the Japanese Imperial Army to serve as wartime sex slaves."

Japanese minister for internal affairs and communications Seiko Noda expressed regret over the construction of the monument in a meeting Tuesday with Duterte in Manila, a Japanese diplomat said, adding that she did not mention any specific request. The diplomat didn't have authority to brief reporters on the issue and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The monument on Manila Bay, unveiled last month, features a bronze statue of a blindfolded Filipina wearing a traditional gown.

A National Historical Commission marker says the monument memorializes Filipinas who suffered abuses during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines from 1942 to 1945. It was built with donations from Chinese-Filipino groups and individuals.

"If Japan really wants this issue to be settled and help us all move on and forward, it should officially recognize the horrors of state-sponsored sexual slavery and apologize to the victims," Gabriela secretary-general Joms Salvador said. "Raising petty issues about statues won't make this issue go away."

Duterte has nurtured blossoming relations with Japan and its leader, Shinzo Abe. The emotional issue provides a dilemma for the government's ties with Tokyo, a major provider of aid and financing to the Philippines.

Historians say 20,000 to 200,000 women from across Asia, many of them Koreans, were forced to provide sex to Japan's front-line soldiers. Japanese nationalists contend that the so-called "comfort women" in wartime brothels were voluntary prostitutes, not sex slaves, and that Japan has been unfairly criticized for a practice they say is common in any country at war.

In 1995, Japan provided through a private fund 2 million yen ($18,000) each to about 280 women in the Philippines, Taiwan and South Korea, and funded nursing homes and medical assistance for Indonesian and former Dutch sex slaves.

Many women in South Korea and the Philippines have demanded a full apology accompanied by official government compensation.

Must Read

China says 2,500 wartime Japanese chemical weapons destroyed

Jan 17, 2017

China's military says more than 2,500 abandoned Japanese chemical weapons collected from northern...

China cracks down on tools used to get around web filters

Jan 23, 2017

A Chinese technology regulator has announced a 14-month campaign to root out services that allow...

China closes live poultry markets amid deadly flu outbreak

Feb 17, 2017

China is ordering the closure of live poultry markets in its south-central regions where the worst...

China tries to reassure foreign companies over industry plan

Mar 11, 2017

China's industry minister has defended a manufacturing development plan and rejected complaints...

China plans panda preserve 3 times size of Yellowstone park

Mar 31, 2017

China plans a preserve for giant pandas that will be three times the size of Yellowstone National...

People also read these

China swings back at golf, shutting down 111 courses

Jan 23, 2017

China has launched a renewed crackdown on golf, closing 111 courses and telling members of the...

A 360-degree view of China's deadly smog

Feb 9, 2017

When the smog descends over northern China, turning blue skies gray and thickening the air,...

Lawyers sue Chinese authorities for not getting rid of smog

Mar 2, 2017

A group of Chinese lawyers is suing the governments of Beijing and its surrounding areas for not...

China not amused by Dalai Lama's spot on John Oliver's show

Mar 7, 2017

John Oliver won rave reviews for his "Last Week Tonight" interview showing the Dalai Lama in all...

China blasts India over Dalai Lama visit to disputed area

Apr 5, 2017

China is criticizing India for allowing the Dalai Lama to visit a disputed border region, saying it...

AseanCoverage is a next-gen news site focusing exclusively on online news from South East Asia.

Contact us: sales@aseancoverage.com