Taiwan to shut down 1st "comfort women" museum amid COVID-19

Kyodo News

Posted at Jul 06 2020 09:21 PM

TAIPEI - Financial hardship is forcing Taiwan's first museum dedicated to Taiwanese "comfort women" forced to work in Japan's wartime military brothels to shut down in November, the museum's owner said Monday.

The Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation said in a statement that it has been reeling from financial losses over the past few years and the problem was compounded by the COVID-19 disruptions to the museum's daily operations.

"We're sad to announce that we're going to close down the museum on Nov. 10," it said.

The Taipei-based women's rights group opened the Ama Museum on Dec. 10, 2016 to coincide the international Human Rights Day. Ama is Taiwanese word for grandmothers.

"Comfort women" is a term that euphemistically refers to women, mainly from Asia, who were procured for brothels for the Japanese military before and during World War II, at which time Taiwan was under Japanese rule. Such victims are believed to include women from Japan, the Korean Peninsula, the Philippines, mainland China and Taiwan.

Taiwan is estimated by historians to have had about 2,000 "comfort women," of whom 58 have been confirmed as victims, according to the foundation. There are now only two alive in Taiwan, with their average age about 90.

The foundation began in 1992 a survey of Taiwan's "comfort women" and a campaign to seek compensation from the Japanese government.

The Japanese government in the past set up a fund that distributed "atonement money" to victims.

The Taiwanese government finds that kind of solution "unacceptable" on grounds the fund was privately managed and its money was mostly raised through donations from Japanese citizens, and therefore did not amount to official compensation.