May 5, 2018

Friday night, Apr. 27, a monument memorializing the torment of comfort women forced into prostitution by the Japanese military during World War II was silently taken down.  

The monument unveiled alongside Manila Bay last December depicts a blindfolded Filipina, honouring all the Filipinas who suffered sexual abuse during the Japanese occupation from 1942 to 1945.

Official statement from Manila City Hall explains that the statue was taken down because of drainage repairs being done in the area. They said that it will go back up once repairs have been completed.

Meanwhile, women activist groups, historians, and university history professors look to the incident with a critical eye. Certain organization leaders reportedly expressed that the displacement of the statue is a symbol of the current administration giving into pressure from the Japanese government. Historians implore that the public demand for the statue to be put back in place. Members of the academe ask the people to keep a watchful eye on this incident.

These critical reactions arise from the political context enveloping the statue. Historically, there are 20,000 to 200,000 recorded women who acted as comfort women for Japanese soldiers. In the past years, Japan has offered a significant amount of financial compensation to surviving comfort women, but no official apology. Japan is also known for having dissolved ties with San Francisco after the state unveiled a memoriam for comfort women. And, last but most important, Tokyo is a major provider of aid and financing to Manila.

This background makes citizens wonder if the reason for the sudden and questionably hushed removal of the statue is as simple as what Manila City Hall makes it to be.

It’s all up in the air. Do we honor the past or compromise it for a minutely more secure future?

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

 

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TAGS: Comfort WOmen fixture japan manila bay Manila City Hall nolisoli politics Statue WWII