Lawyers urge Philippine government to support demand for justice following Korean comfort women agreement
A group of Filipino women raped by Japanese troops during the second world war have renewed their calls for compensation from Japan following Tokyos pledge of 1bn yen (5.8m) for South Korean women forced into Japanese military-run brothels during the war.
The womens lawyers said they were also exploring the possibility of filing cases with United Nations bodies and holding the Philippine president, Benigno Aquino III, liable for allegedly failing to support their case.
Isabelita Vinuya, the 84-year-old president of Malaya Lolas a group of Filipino women who were abducted and raped by Japanese troops in their village urged the Philippine government to support their demand for justice.
We have appealed more than once or twice to our government to help us, support us before Japan so that we can be given justice for the sufferings we went through during the second world war, Vinuya said at a news conference, adding that many of the women had died without seeing justice.
Japan and South Korea announced last week that they had settled their decades-long standoff over wartime sex slaves, with Shinzo Abe apologising and agreeing to contribute 1bn yen for a foundation to help support the victims. Historians say tens of thousands of women from around Asia were sent to frontline military brothels to provide sex to Japanese soldiers.
Is there a difference in the rape of a South Korean and a Filipino woman? Harry Roque, the Filipino victims lawyer, said at Wednesdays news conference. The answer is there should be none, because rape is a crime against women and is prohibited by international humanitarian law and is recognised as an international crime.
He noted that South Koreas supreme court had ordered the government to fight for the rights of the Korean victims, but that in 2010 the Philippines top court dismissed a case filed by Vinuya and 70 other women urging the court to compel the government to press their claims against Japan. The Philippine court also denied an appeal filed by the women.
Vinuya said she was 13 when the Japanese troops raped women and children in her village of Mapaniqui, in Pampanga province, about 40 miles north of Manila. The troops also razed homes and killed men in the village. Three other women at Wednesdays news conference said they were teenagers when they were raped during the siege.
Vinuya said that only 32 of more than 90 women from her victims group were still alive. Only 70 of 174 from another such group, the Lila-Filipina, are alive, according to its head, Richilda Extremadura.
Extremadura also called on Japan to compensate former sex slaves and rape victims from the Philippines and 11 other countries and urged Aquino to initiate talks with Japan.