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From 32 to 22: “Comfort women” remembered in China and around the world

(People's Daily Online)    13:54, August 14, 2017

(From left to right: Wang Zhifeng, Fu Meiju, Li Meijin)

For many Chinese, Aug. 14 marks the day when the Siege of International Legations left the Old Summer Palace (Yuanmingyuan) in fire and ruins, but few remember it as International Memorial Day for Comfort Women—an euphemism for sex slaves.

Soon more will remember this group of special victims during World War II, as a documentary film featuring Chinese “comfort women” made a debut in China on Aug. 14.

The film, “Twenty Two,” got its name from the number of surviving Chinese “comfort women” in 2014, when director Guo Ke prepared to make the film. In 2012, Guo’s first short documentary was named “Thirty Two.”

The 90-minute documentary featured 22 “comfort women” in China, who peacefully shared their eyewitness accounts of history. As of July, only nine of the 22 women in the film remained alive.

The number of living “comfort women” in China has dropped to only 14 in the Chinese mainland, after another one passed away on Aug. 12 at the age of 90 in Hainan province. Huang Youliang and seven other “comfort women” sued the Japanese government in 2001, demanding an apology, but their appeals have been repeatedly rejected, claiming that they were not in position to file the lawsuit against the state.

(Photo of Huang Youliang)

The Japanese government has also refused to acknowledge legal responsibility for the “comfort women” issue so far.

“It is not a movie that sells pain and tears. It is just enough to bring the audience to them, to see them, and to get to know them. Understanding them is the biggest help. They have their own way to take in the pain,” Guo told Xinhua. “In order to survive, they seldom recall those bitter memories.”

Many famous Chinese actors and directors have called on the public to watch the film at cinemas to show support for Guo and to pay tribute to the women who are now in their 90s. On Sina Weibo, the hash tag “Twenty Two” has drawn some 100 million views and more than 63,000 posts. Some online celebrities even bought many tickets for “Twenty Two” and invited their followers to watch the film for free.

In Taiwan, where some 2,000 former “comfort women” lived, a campaign was launched on Aug. 14 at Ama Museum to once again press the Japanese government to apologize to this special group of females. The museum, which is dedicated to “comfort women,” offered cards for visitors to write their demands to the Japanese government and wishes for the “comfort women,” Xinhua reported.

Today, there are only two “comfort women” living in Taiwan.

Civic organizations and activists in South Korea also held a series of events in honor of the female victims on Aug. 14.

A total of 500 miniature statues of a girl went on display at Cheongye Stream Square in central Seoul. The exhibition began at 8am local time and will last for eight hours and 14 minutes to symbolize the date. Each statue has the name of a victim inscribed on it. The 500 statues represent 239 victims in South Korea and an unidentified number of victims in North Korea, Yonhap News Agency reported.

(Photo/Yonhap News Agency)

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Jiang Jie, Wu Chengliang)

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