25 August 2011

Documentary about WWII Comfort Women in the Philippines

Growing up in the states, I don’t recall learning much in school about the Philippines in World War II.  The few paragraphs we had in our textbooks would have obviously been from an American viewpoint, and I’m sure we read about MacArthur and the Bataan Death March.  I don’t have my old books anymore but I’d bet those few paragraphs might have been it back then.
I remember one of my teachers talking about Joy Divisions, but only as a side note in WWII history, since a bunch of us were New Order fans and he probably knew he’d keep our attention a little bit longer with that.  We certainly didn’t hear anything of the Japanese equivalent in Asia. 
Thankfully for history’s sake the stories of some of the victims have been documented:
In "Katarungan! Justice for Lolas!" people in Manila as well as Luzon and Leyte islands testified how barbaric Japanese soldiers sexually targeted local women and mistreated the community at large, suspecting they were involved in the resistance movement.
The film’s director, Chieko Takemi:
"Many of them became victims of sexual violence by Japanese soldiers at the ages of 14 or 15, and they are around 80 years old now," said Chieko Takemi. "I wanted to record the lives of those who have survived decades of hardships."
I don’t know if this film will ever make it overseas, or even if it will be able to be viewed by English speaking audiences.  According to what little I can find on the internet about it, it will be presented in Tokyo at the Women's Active Museum on War and Peace in Tokyo through June 2012.  If anyone has further information about this please pass it along.

[Japan Times Online: Japan's Filipino wartime sex slaves tell their story in documentary]
[Women's Active Museum of War and Peace (WAM) | English site]

Update 29 Aug 2011

H/T to Stephen Dypiangco of Home Unknown for leading us to another documentary of the same subject, Forgotten Slaves - The Comfort Women of the Philippines.  Check out the trailer here, and the film's funding campaign here.

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