A group of elderly South Korean women, backed by hundreds of supporters, Wednesday held their 1000th rally in protest of the Japanese government’s treatment of them during World War II, according to news reports.
Ahn Seon-mi, leader of the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, told CNN in an e-mail Tuesday that the group seeks several things from Japan. “No. 1 is acknowledge the war crime,” she said.
“Reveal the truth in its entirety about the crimes of military sexual slavery,” she said, including rewriting the history books to accurately reflect what happened.
The group also wants reparations, a memorial for the victims, and punishment for those responsible, she said.
The women, aging but resilient, have been gathering in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul every Wednesday since 1992. But this time the women, called "halmeoni," marked the milestone with a provocative statue, a 1.2-meter-tall bronze "peace monument" depicting a girl standing by a bench. The artwork portrays the child petitioning for peace between Korea and Japan, according to Asia One News.
"The Japanese government should realize how much South Korean people want an official apology by seeing the peace monument. As a country with war crimes, Japan must apologize to victim countries immediately," 19-year-old Kim Bit-na said, according to Xinhua news agency.
There are only 63 of the women left. The oldest of them died this month at age 97; an 87-year-old woman died Tuesday. The senior member is 93 now, Seon said.
The official Japanese position is that the issue is "legally resolved," Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said on the eve of a trip to Seoul in October, according to news reports at the time. A bilateral treaty between Japan and South Korea signed in 1965 officially rendered the issue dead, he told reporters.