Japanese denial unbelievable, "comfort woman" says

Adelaide Catholic grandmother, Jan Ruff-O'Herne, who was raped "day and night" by Japanese soldiers during World War II, has described a statement by the Japanese Prime Minister denying the existence of wartime sex slavery as "unbelievable" and an attempt to avoid paying compensation.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told his country's parliament in Tokyo that there was no evidence the military coerced women in the strict sense - such as kidnapping - into serving in the brothels, the Australian reports.

But Ms Ruff O'Herne, 84, who told her story this month in Adelaide's Southern Cross Catholic paper, says that she was one of the thousands of women interned in brothels as prostitutes, known as "comfort women", for Japanese soldiers during the war.

She testified last month at a US House of Representatives hearing in Washington that she had been raped "day and night" for three months by soldiers when she was just 19.

However, according to Mr Abe, none of the testimony in hearings last month by the US House of Representatives offered any solid proof of abuse and the Government would not apologise even if the US demanded it do so.

Ms O'Herne, who received the Dame Commander of the Order of St Sylvester in 2002 from the Pope for her Christian virtue and faith, said the Japanese did not want to pay compensation to victims and wanted to rewrite history.

"I am terribly disappointed that they are trying to deny it all - it is unbelievable," she said.

"I always had hope and trust in the honour of the Japanese Government to own up to what they did and teach the next generation.

"Everyone knows that it happened - but they are denying it," Ms O'Herne says.

Ms O'Herne said she had forgiven but would never forget the atrocities committed against her.

Japanese denial upsets 'comfort woman' (The Australian, 6/3/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
The Forgotten Ones (Australian Story, ABC)
Archdiocese of Adelaide
Comfort women (Wikipedia)
50 Years of Silence (Documentary by Ned Lander)
50 Years of Silence by Jan Ruff O'Herne (Amazon.com)

Adelaide "comfort woman" seeks Japan apology (CathNews, 1/3/07)
Long road to justice for Japan's WWII "comfort women" (CathNews, 14/2/07)
Papal honour for war rape heroine (CathNews, 9/12/02)
Papal honour for Adelaide human rights advocate (CathNews, 23/7/02)

6 Mar 2007