Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Comfort women and Asian Women’s Fund Projects, by Country or Region

Women’s Fund

(the emphasis mine)

Republic of Korea
......The Government provides these women with a fixed monthly sum to subsidize their living expenses. Of the 207 authenticated people, 72 had died, 135 were still alive, with 2 of them residing outside the country, as of November 2002.The Government of the Republic of Korea initially showed a favorable stance toward the establishment of the Asian Women's Fund. But the stance changed to disfavor, basically because one non-governmental organization supporting the victims, the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, or ìChongdaehyop,î mounted a vigorous campaign against the Asian Women's Fund, and because of criticism in the media, as well.

The former comfort women varied considerably in their attitudes. Some criticized the Fund and repudiated it. Others were dissatisfied that the Fund was involved, but still wanted to accept project benefits. Those who had publicly stated they intended to accept benefits were criticized, and pressure was applied against them. Some of these women reluctantly issued another statement repudiating the Asian Women's Fund.........In December 1996, Ms. Kimiko Kaneda (not her real name) announced that she appreciated the Fund's efforts and intended to accept its project benefits. Pressure was applied against her to refuse them, but soon another six victims announced that they too would accept benefits. On 11 January 1997, representing the Fund, its Director, Teruko Kanehira, gave seven of the victims the Prime Minister's letter at a hotel in Seoul........Both the victims and the Fund found it hard to bear the fact that the atonement money and other benefits had led to pressure being applied on the victims who received them......However, a campaign was mounted to collect private donations within the Republic of Korea, to persuade women to refuse Fund project benefits. The donations were used to provide victims with a fixed amount of assistance money. The seven victims who had accepted benefits from the Fund's atonement projects were excluded from the program......Kim Dae Jung became President of the Republic of Korea in March that year. In May, the new administration decided that, although it would not demand state reparations from the Japanese Government, it would pay 31.5 million won (at the time, about 3.1 million Japanese yen), plus an additional 4.18 million won from capital collected by the Korean Council (ìChongdaehyop,î) as living expense subsidies to each former comfort woman who vowed to refuse Asian Women's Fund project benefits. The Government of the Republic of Korea paid this sum to 142 people, but did not pay it to 11 people ó the seven who had accepted Fund benefits in the early stages, and four others who did not sign the written oath because they had accepted Fund benefits......The seven who initially accepted Fund benefits, and the others who did so confidentially, were placed in a psychologically painful situation because of the strong influence of activist groups that regard the Fund's atonement projects in the Republic of Korea as a way for the Japanese Government to avoid responsibility. The Fund kept up its efforts to ensure that all those who accepted atonement project benefits would be socially accepted, but unfortunately the current situation shows that these efforts did not bring positive results.

.... the Indonesian Government expressed a desire for assistance in developing welfare facilities for the elderly, rather than for projects benefiting individual former comfort women. This conclusion was reached primarily because: (i) it would be extremely difficult to authenticate former comfort women;*(ii) it was important to protect the honor of the former comfort women and their families; and (iii) the question of war reparations from Japan to Indonesia had already been settled by accords, specifically the Treaty of Peace

the Philippines
....Applicant authentication was done by public prosecutors attached to the above-mentioned Department of Justice of the Philippine Government.....All approved applicants received Fund benefits

The Netherlands
......AWF was to grant 255 million yen to the PICN with the purpose to improve the living conditions of Dutch victims, as a way to express the feelings of atonement of the Japanese Government and people. All of this money would be provided from Japanese Government funds. It was decided that the entire amount of 255 million, with the exception of a maximum of 10 million yen for administrative expenses, would be used for victims wishing to participate in the project......The application deadline was set for 15 March 1999, and applications were received from 107 people. The PICN followed strict standard criteria when examining the applications, and approved 79 people as project recipients. Conditions for approval included Dutch nationality at the time, and that the victim had been forced through physical means into prostitution by Japanese occupying forces during World War II. Other factors considered included location, frequency, nature of trauma, and causes of illness, etc.

Victims approved as recipients were provided with goods and services valued at an average of approximately 50,000 guilders (3 million yen) per person. .....Following the request made by the PICN, a copy of the letter in English from Prime Minister Hashimoto addressed to Prime Minister Kok of the Netherlands was delivered to each victim in April 1999. It repeated the contents of the letter of apology that the Japanese Prime Minister had written to victims in the Philippines, the Republic of Korea and Taiwan. The letter began with this sentence: ìThe Government of Japan is painfully aware of its moral responsibility concerning the issue of so-called wartime comfort women.î The letter also points out that the Asian Womenís Fund implements the projects in order to express the national atonement on the issue and that the Government cooperates with the AWF

....According to local media reports in April 2002, 36 Taiwanese women identified as victims were still alive at that time. Taiwan authorities pay identified victims 15,000 Taiwanese dollars (about 60,000 Japanese yen) per month to subsidize their living expenses......The Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation, which had opposed the Asian Women's Fund ever since its projects began, reacted by distributing approximately 500,000 Taiwan dollars (equivalent to about 2 million Japanese yen) to each victim who submitted a signed oath that she would refuse benefits from the Asian Women's Fund. The distributed money came from profits earned through auctions held mainly by the Foundation. Then in February 1998, members of the Legislative Yuan applied pressure on the Taiwanese authorities and had them pay each victim 500,000 Taiwan dollars (about 2 million Japanese yen) as an advance, supposedly to be repaid later by the Japanese Government as ìcompensation.î

Many of the victims live in poverty, and almost all are prone to illness. Many inquiries were received from people expressing a desire to obtain atonement money and medical and welfare project benefits from the Asian Women's Fund. However, victims who were pressured by people advising them not to accept benefits felt anxious, believing that if they accepted benefits from the Fund their living expense subsidies would be terminated.......Fortunately, in spite of the difficult situation, the Fund was able to provide atonement project benefits to a considerable number of former comfort women.




In Indonesia, when Japanese lawyer asked ex-comfort women to come forward, 22.000 women came out. There was only 20,000 or so Japanese soldiers at the time at Java.