Filipino 'comfort women' seek answers from Japanese Emperor Akihito

President Benigno Aquino has let the women down after refusing to raise the issue with the emperor, an activist said.
By Elizabeth Shim  |  Jan. 29, 2016 at 2:55 PM
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MANILA, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Elderly Filipino "comfort women" staged a protest outside the Japanese Embassy in Manila on Friday, the same day Japanese Emperor Akihito was in the Philippines on an official visit.

The eight women said they were repeatedly raped by invading Japanese troops during World War II and were seeking help from the emperor, Kyodo News reported.

"We are already old, our bodies are weak, and many of us have died already. We call on you to grant us compensation," said Isabelita Vinuya, president of Malaya Lolas, a group of former victims.

The group also called on Philippine President Benigno Aquino to "not abandon our fight for justice," Yonhap reported.

Manila, however, has previously stated the issue of compensation was resolved in 1956, when the countries re-established diplomatic relations and Japan provided $550 million in financial and material support.

Activists disagree with the government's position on the issue and have become increasingly vocal in the wake of a landmark deal reached between South Korea and Japan.

Seoul and Tokyo had agreed to establish an $8.3 million restitution fund for the surviving comfort women in South Korea – who now number less than 50.

Harry Roque, the lawyer for Malaya Lolas, said Aquino let the women down after refusing to raise the issue with the visiting Japanese emperor.

"Because Aquino abandoned the comfort women, these Filipino victims will never get some remedy. What South Korea achieved shows what government action can do," he said.

There are about 70 surviving Filipino comfort women.

The Malaya Lolas are all from the same village north of Manila attacked by Japanese soldiers in November 1944.

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