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JAs Demand Justice for ‘Comfort Women’ Survivors

Writer/director Tiffany Hsiung in China with Grandma Cao, one of the “comfort women” survivors who appeared in “The Apology.” She has since passed away.

The award-winning documentary film “The Apology,” directed by Tiffany Hsiung, will be screened on Thursday, Nov. 15, at 6 p.m. at Art Share LA, 801 E. 4th Pl., Los Angeles. (Location changed from Japanese American Cultural & Community Center)

The event is free and open to the public.

The film, which aired on PBS in October, follows the lives of three survivors — from Korea, China, and the Philippines — of the WWII-era Japanese military sexual slavery/enforced prostitution known as the “comfort women” system.

“Comfort women” are the estimated 50,000 to 200,000 women who were forced to provide sexual service for members of the imperial Japanese armed forces between 1932 and 1945. Women from Japan, Korea, China, and across the rest of the Asia-Pacific region were recruited through various means — from debt bondage to deception to outright conscription or kidnapping — but almost all of them are considered victims of human trafficking by today’s standards.

A panel of all-Japanese/Japanese American activists, artists, and scholars will follow the film. They include Kathy Masaoka of Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress; Dr. Setsu Shigematsu, associate professor of media and cultural studies at UC Riverside; Tani Ikeda, founder of Survivor Love Letter and Japanese American Women Speak (JAWS); and Emi Koyama, co-founder of Japan-U.S. Feminist Network for Decolonization (FeND).

“In recent years, Japanese right-wing nationalists, mostly from Japan, have become increasingly bold in their denial of imperial Japanese atrocities, organizing protests and filing lawsuits against American cities like Glendale and San Francisco that have enacted memorials honoring the victims and survivors of Japanese military sexual violence,” organizers said in a statement.

“Worse, the right-wing nationalists frequently invoke the legacy of Japanese American civil rights leaders who fought for redress for wartime Japanese American incarceration, equating the remembrance and honoring of victims and survivors of imperial Japanese military atrocities to anti-Japanese persecution in the mid-20th century.

“The all-Japanese/Japanese American panel is intended to send a clear message that Japanese American community stands with other victims and survivors of wartime human rights violations, and that the right-wing attempt to appropriate Japanese American legacies and identities will not work.”

The event is co-sponsored by Japan-U.S. Feminist Network for Decolonization, Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress, Progressive Asian Network for Action, Korean American Forum of California, Japanese American Women Speak, Survivor Love Letter, and Tomorrow Girls Troop. This event is a collaboration with “POV,” the award-winning independent non-fiction film series on PBS.

For more information:

Japan-U.S. Feminist Network for Decolonization (FeND)

Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress

Progressive Asian Network for Action

Korean American Forum of California

Japanese American Women Speak (JAWS)

Survivor Love Letter

Tomorrow Girls Troop


Fact sheet on Japanese Military “Comfort Women”

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