November 11, 2008 / 9:16 AM / 12 years ago

Taiwan OK's bill seeking Japan "comfort women" apology

TAIPEI (Reuters) - In another sign of Taipei’s toughening stance toward Tokyo, Taiwan’s parliament on Tuesday passed a resolution asking Japan to apologise for forcing women into sex slavery during World War Two and to compensate victims.

Legislators voted unanimously on the resolution, which demands an unspecified payout for Taiwan “comfort women” who worked for the Japanese military. Japan colonised Taiwan from 1895 through World War Two.

“We still need to work hard at getting the justice and respect for these women,” said Hsu Ming-mei, office manager for legislator Yang Lee-huan, a co-sponsor of the bill. Those women, she said, “will be happy the government is willing to help them.”

“Comfort women” is a Japanese euphemism for the estimated 200,000 women forced to provide sex for Japan’s soldiers at battle-zone brothels during World War Two. About 50 Taiwan women worked in sex slavery, Hsu said, and 20 are still alive.

Japan set up the Asian Women’s Fund in the 1990s to compensate former sex slaves. It has already apologised to Taiwan, said an official in Tokyo’s de facto embassy in Taipei.

“The past is the past, and the Japanese government has given nobility and respect to these women,” the official said.

Taiwan’s ruling Nationalist Party (KMT), which also dominates parliament, has become tougher on Japan than the island’s opposition party when it ruled from 2000 to 2008.

Under the KMT, which fought Japan in World War Two when it ruled all of China, Taiwan recalled an envoy from Japan after a boat collision near a group of disputed islands in June, and this month it rebutted a Japanese air force chief of staff’s comment that Tokyo was not a World War Two aggressor.

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