Philippines removes ‘comfort woman’ status

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Manila, April 28 (IANS) Philippine authorities have removed a bronze statue in Manila symbolising the World War II sex slaves abused by Japanese soldiers, less than five months after it was installed, officials said on Saturday.

The statue was removed on Friday night. Activists sympathetic to the plight of the former sex slaves gathered at the site Saturday morning and they are expected to issue a statement later, reports Xinhua news agency.

The seven-feet bronze sculpture, which depicts a blindfold, grieving woman in a traditional Filipino gown, was unveiled on December 8 last year at the Roxas Boulevard.

“This monument is a reminder of the Filipino women who were victims of abuses during the occupation of the Japanese forces from 1942-1945. It took a while before they came out into the open to tell their stories,” read the inscription on the monument.

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The statue angered Japan, with the government demanding its removal.

The unveiling took place 76 years after the Japanese invasion of the Philippines that started on December 8, 1941, 10 hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Japanese occupation of the Philippines lasted from 1942 to 1945.

It’s estimated that up to 200,000 women in their teens from around Asia, including South Korea, China, Indonesia and the Philippines, were forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels during that period.

Similar statues exist in South Korea, China and the US to keep alive the memories of the “comfort women”.

–IANS

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