Till the end of 1992, the Taiwanese Comfort Women Investigation Committee had received 66 cases of complaint, and the Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation started interviews since March of 1992. At the end of the same year 58 cases were completed and 8 cases were unable to follow: which include 1 case of refusal of interview, 3 cases of unclear address, 2 cases of withdrawal, and 2 cases of denial of being comfort woman.
Of the 58 cases being interviewed, we found 2 interviewees were simply cook and nurse of the Japanese army. So there were only 56 cases which can be considered as possible cases of comfort women. Since the interview served the purposes of understanding the nature and confirm the truthfulness of each case. By carefully examining each complainant, we can see whether their stories were specific, detailed, and credible--for example, whether they could correctly describe the circumstances, the date, the location the surroundings and the people. Most of all, whether they can provide any proof witness and physical evidence to their stories. Therefore, We were able to decide who were the victims. Based on such investigation and confirmation process, the other 8 cases were unable to provide any direct evidence because the persons involved were either dead or the complaints could only provide details from their assumption.
Among the 56 cases, 51 were women from Taiwan, 3 were from Mainland China and now live in Taiwan, 1 was from Korea and now live in Taiwan and 1 was from the mainland and now lives in Burma.
AGEThe women were between age of fourteen to thirty when they were drafted. The youngest was only fourteen and half years old. Most of these women were under 25 years old, only 6 were over 25, half of these women were between 16 and 20 years old. Two women were over 30, one of whom was the mother of a 16 years old girl who was also drafted.
REASONS FOR DRAFTINGMost of these women were not told that they were to be comfort women when they were drafted. Only three of them were told the nature of their duties. That is about 6% of the total number. Two of them were forced by their district administration officers, so they could not refuse even though they knew what kind of work they were going to do.
CUSTOMEROnly Japanese military personnel's could use the services of comfort women, no civilian was allowed to visit the place where comfort women worked. Some of these places were visited by generals as well as ordinary soldiers, but some places were visited only by certain rank. For example, officers' clubs only admitted officials captains and higher ranking officials and generals would usually visit places where only Japanese women worked. And some of these places were visited only by lower ranking of noncommissioned officer and soldiers. There were also places where only Japanese offices and soldiers were admitted which did not open to Taiwanese and Philippines. The comfort women on Sinai Island were visited mostly by Taiwanese draftees.
PLACEMost of the cases were sent to Haitian Island, the rest to Indonesia, the Philippines, and the Ryukyu Islands.
NUMBER OF SERVICES PRE DAY
The number of people they had to receive per day:
- For those who worked at the officer's club, the number were much less, about one to three per day, and usually were visited by the same person.
- For those who work at place other than the officer's club, the number could go as high as thirty to forty per day. One victim even received 60 visiting cards within three hours one night (one visiting card allowed three minutes of visit).
RISK AND DANGERSince these drafted women had to work at places near the battle fields, they were facing following dangers.
For these sufferings, the victims said "Being abroad as a Comfort Woman was no joke. We almost lost our lives there." or "Only those who survived could return home and maintain friendship." As a matter of fact, life as "Comfort Women" was a continual threat from going abroad by sea to living in the battlefields.
- Shipwreck: during World War Ēš,the allies mined the sea and bombed the Japanese fleets a lot. Therefore,there were a lot of women who traveled with her died. To the survivors, it was an unforgettable nightmare. Some of the women's companions also died on the sea on the way home after they had done their work as comfort women.
- Air-raid: on the battle field, running for cover from the air-raid was almost a daily business. Some of the places where these women were bombed, and they suffered injuries, and even death.
- Battle: sometimes, the places where these women worked were right in the middle of battle-fields.
ESTIMATED NUMBER OF TAIWANESE COMFORT WOMENAdding up the number of "Comfort Women" being interviewees with the number of Taiwanese "Comfort Women" these interviewees witnessed-usually at the same working place or at the same boat out of sea, there were at least 437 former Taiwanese "Comfort Women" during World War Ēš. However, this number was still underestimated. Three seat Japanese military telegrams found by Congresswoman Hit Hiked and others, revealed that 70 Taiwanese women were sent to Sarawak of Malaysia in 1942, 253 to Rabble of New Guinea in about 1943, and 6 to Chin-Chow of China in 1940. None of our interviewees victims went to those areas. Therefore, the minimum of former Taiwanese " Comfort Women" amounts to 766, as we add up the numbers of those who were witnessed by the interviewee's and those who were recorded on the historical documents.
INCOME AND DEPOSITMost of the interviewees had never gotten their "salary" for their services. But the amounts of "salary" varied greatly. The "salary" was calculated by the "Comfort House" managers or military officers. The "Comfort House" managers retained a certain percentage of guest payments. Some women could get as much as several hundred Japanese Yens each month. On the other hand, some got very little so that they could hardly save money (Their manager told them that they had to pay for new clothes, cosmetics, and so on). And some women never got a penny.
Victims who had higher incomes mailed their money back to their families in Taiwan. Sometimes, the manager or the officers in charge mailed money for them. However, a former "Comfort Woman" said that she asked a Japanese soldier to mail money for her-the first time 15000 Japanese yens, the second time 10000 yens, but her families never received any money. Nine victims deposited their money in Japanese military post offices or in the banks. After the World War Ēš, Japanese currency greatly depreciated so the money victims saved valued very little. Some of them refused to draw their deposits from the banks but still kept their deposit books and name chops. They look forward for the Taiwanese government to do them justice. A victim said. "The money represents what I got in exchange of my abused life, lost youth and numerous rapes. You can not accept the money. What I got was gone all of a sudden. I'm looking forward to attaining justice from the Japanese Government. Otherwise I will die in great sorrow."
Work coming back to Taiwan, most of them worked as house-cleaners, laundry women, cooks, restaurant waitresses. Some interviewees, lacking of professional skills, could only serve as waitresses or bar girls in the bars and tea houses. Some of them got married and then changed their professions to be farmers on handwork's.
MARRIAGEAlmost all of the interviewees dared not let their husbands know about their shameful past. Once their husbands heard about it, their marriages fell apart. In one case the husband even divorced the wife immediately upon knowing. Very few could be accepted by their husbands and maintain a good marriage at the same time.
The marriage status of the victims were highly unstable. There is a victim who married as much as five times. Twelve victims were either divorced or married more than once. Another 11 victims could not get marry and cohabited with men through the years. Some victims dared not or were unwilling to marry because they regarded themselves to be unfit for marriage. Some had poor marriage because their former experiences as comfort women were known, even if they tried hard not to let the secret disclosed. Five victims remained single until now--those who in cohabitation are not included.
Therefore, the experiences of being a "Comfort Woman" generally was harmful to the victims marriage. Only few were lucky enough to live a good married life.
HEALTHSome victims health was damaged by their life as comfort women. Bareness was a common problem, owing to long-time and intensive sexual activities. About half of the interviewees were barren. Only 15 victims had children of their own. Their common diseases include barrenness, uterine diseases, stomachache, headache, neuralgia, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, paralysis, rheumatism, asthma and lung ailment and other problems on back or waist. Some interviewees complained that their health deteriorated due to their experiences as "Comfort Women". Two victims suffered from serious diseases for over twenty years and spent all their money for medical care. A victim still sufferers from malaria at present, which she acquired while being a "Comfort Women" abroad.
Ages of these interviewees range from 67 to 80. Loneliness, oldie, poverty, illness were their general condition. Many of them are pitiful. They are lonely old women. Some have no children. Some remarried at their old ages because they had no other family members. Some lived with the children of their cohabitants -- they had no children of their own and their cohabitants were dead. Some have lived in the nursing houses for many years. Some ran away from home because they could not get along with their children. In these cases, the victims seldom received spiritual and financial support from their families. Only two interviewees are still doing framework and baby-sitting for living. At least 5 victims depend on social welfare.
Fifty years after such experiences, the mentality showed by these interviewees are as followed:
There are very few of them who could be free from these burden. Only one among all comfort women is convinced that she didn't commit any crime. She used to feel painful years ago. However, after age of thirty she didn't care any longer about her past. And several cases have success marriages so they can readjust better.
- Indelible shame:
They tried their best to hide the past because are shameful about being comfort women. They rather die than disgrace their posterity. Such feeling of shame deters "Comfort Women" in Taiwan from filing their cases.
There was only one case willing to face to the public, but her adopted daughter kept her from doing it for face--saying sake of her families.
- Inferiority complex and damaged self-image:
By covering up their disreputable history, they live a normal life as everybody else. However, the wound deep inside cannot be healed. There seems always a stain. They feel disappointed with themselves. They blame themselves for having not fought for their virginity at the war. Some of them turn to be a Buddhism in search of a peaceful spirit.
Generally, they consider themselves as "women of misfortune". From their points of view, they used to be cherished by their families before becoming comfort women. They were not volunteered; they were not women of misconduct. Therefore they were unwilling to endure their fate.
They were hurt by war and the experiences of being comfort women. There was no way to get rid of the pain; and adapt themselves to a normal life. One victim often ran away from home, because she could not readjust to family life; and one victim often wanted to suicide because of distress.
They are angry about what is happened to them. They ask for justice, and it has to be done. Otherwise, they will die with anger.
They think that they are old, useless and dying. The past cannot be undone. Though their attitude of resignation had something to do with fatalism, it was mainly a psychological adjustment which is necessary for the victims to accept the painful truth.
COMFORT WOMEN'S ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENTThe interviewees had opinions toward the Japanese government. Most of the comfort women were angry at the Japanese and brokers when they were forced to take the job. On the contrary, after all these years, some seem not to hate the Japanese government so strong as before. Some of them feel that it is fortunate enough to stay alive; some realize that hatred can do no good; and some try to forgive or forget. Two women don't know that Japanese government should be responsible for that. They blame the brokers.
However, most victims were dissatisfied with the Japanese government. They yearn strongly for justice. The Japanese soldiers were fighting for their country, but what did "comfort women" work for? It's a serious matter that so many women were forced to take such jobs, and they almost died for that. Some of them hate the Japanese because they are aware of their brutality. A woman on her death bed required her children to get even for her. There were more than two hundred comfort women killed during their services. Who will ask justice for them? The Japanese government has to respond an apposite answer to all "comfort women" in this world.
THEIR APPEAL AND EXPECTATION
"Comfort women" ask to be compensated, but no one knows the amount they should ask for. It should be the same as Korean victims. Compensation for them represent "something" they can only get from their suffering over these years and "something" console them in their oldies.
Most of these comfort women consider that only an apology can not make up their suffering. Lipservice will not suffice their lose. Nevertheless, there are many women still asking for justice through formal apology from Japanese government. They ask Taiwanese government to act on their behalf.