Monthly Archives: November 2007

An Inconvenient Justice

There was a documentary on global warming called "An Inconvenient Truth". If ignorance about global warming is an inconvenient truth, then ignorance/denial of the atrocities committed by the Japanese Imperial Army during WWII can perhaps be regarded as an inconvenient justice.
 
I went to a witness forum on Sunday afternoon where 4 former comfort women shared their painful stories. Two of them are 80, another two of them are 84. They came from China, Korea, the Phillipines and the Netherlands. They spoke very different languages but they all went through the unspeakable evil imposed on them at a young age. The Chinese woman Liu, couldn’t help but broke up crying like 3 times while re-telling her stories. She was first raped by the Japanese army at age 9. The Korean woman Jang, bore 4 children, 3 stillborn and her daughter died at 20 of a heart disease. She still suffers from sexually transmitted disease to this date. David, the Filipino woman not only got raped by the army but also saw her grandmother being raped. van der Pleog, the Dutch woman said it took many, many months after the war for her to convince herself it hadn’t all been her fault.
 
No one in this world deserves such torture. It’s ridiculous how the repeated outcries of these women were ignored over and over again. One of the reasons that supported them to stay strong to live till this day is so that they can tell their stories, and get the apology and reparation that are long overdued. Please spend 1 second to try imagine how much courage is needed to JUST to stay alive after one has experience such trauma. I’d also like to say that the point of asking for an official apology from the Japanese government is not about finding someone to blame. It’s pure INJUSTICE if these women don’t even get a word of apology.
 
(An aside: Another thing that "provokes" me is when I heard from the radio today. One of the commentators said that he hopes that party politics does not get in the way of getting this motion passed, because this is a matter of justice. Those who know me well enough should probably know what got stirred up in my mind, yes, I immediately thought of the abortion debate. If this comfort women issue is about justice, why is the abortion debate NOT about justice? The abortion debate is often brought up as "party politics"/"right wing" etc etc. Ok, let me stop this for now…)
 
Can I urge every one of you to spend a few minutes to type up a quick email to your MP? You can find your MP just by entering your postal code here: http://www.parl.gc.ca/common/index.asp?Language=E The email can be very simple. Just tell them that you want them to vote YES to Motion 291.
 
News coverage about yesterday’s forum:
 
山西劉面煥遭蹂躪20日全身腫 「慰安婦」泣控日軍 聽眾同灑淚
 
Wartime sex slaves seek Ottawa’s help for apology
 
I’ve taken a few pictures yesterday. Didn’t sit close enough, my cheap lens is too cheap for nice pictures.

Iris Chang: The Rape of Nanking

I finally went to watch this movie tonight. I’m very glad that I went! I wouldn’t have known the details of Iris’ story otherwise…
 
I asked a few friends to go previously, they decided not to go primarily thinking the scenes would be too graphic and that it’s all too sad. That is true to a certain extent, after all it’s about the brutality of Japanese soldiers, how they tortured so many innocent Chinese people. One thing that I didn’t expect from the movie is the power of Iris. Her determination to be the voice of those voiceless people is VERY touching and inspiring. She said more than once that she had no choice NOT to tell those stories after learning about them. No matter how hard it was for her (while researching for the book, she already suffered from hair loss and sleep deprivation), she was determined to finish the book. She felt a sense of urgency to tell the stories as quickly as she could since the survivors would be extinguished because of old age.
 
The Rape of Nanking was not her first book. She was just researching for a topic to write a book on, after she was done writing her first book Thread of the Silkworm. She was trying to find out more about WWII – she heard many stories about her grandparents during the war. She sometimes even dreamed about those. She went to a photo exhibition in Cupertino, California about how Asians were treated during WWII. The pictures looked horrifying… she became determined to write the book after seeing one particular picture – a picture showing a man just being decapitated, with his head still attaching to his neck…. No one would have imagined this is what a small-scaled photo exhibition would do – to trigger one of the most revealing books on WWII history to be written.
 
Towards the end of the movie, we heard Iris saying in a speech, it’s very inspiring:
(typing it out from the complementary book that each movie goer was given)
 
"One person can make an enormous difference in the world. One person actually, one idea can start a war, or end one, or subvert an entire power structure. One discovery can cure a disease or spawn new technology to benefit or annihilate the human race. You as one individual can save millions of lives. Think big. Do not limit your vision and do not ever compromise your dreams or ideals. You may find, in the end, that you are your own worst enemy."
 
I find the 2nd last sentence extremely similar to what our beloved Pope John Paul II said:
"It is the nature of human beings, and especially youth, to seek the Absolute, the meaning and fullness of life. Dear young people, do not be content with anything less than the highest ideals! Do not let yourselves be dispirited by those who are disillusioned with life and have grown deaf to the deepest and most authentic desires of their heart. You are right to be disappointed with hollow entertainment and passing fads, and with aiming at too little in life. If you have an ardent desire for the Lord you will steer clear of the mediocrity and conformism so widespread in our society."
– Pope John Paul II, from Message to the Youth on the occasion of the XVII World Youth Day (Toronto 2002), 25 July 2001
 
 

 
There will be a "Comfort Women" Witnessing Forum held on the coming Sunday from 4pm-7:30pm at U of T convocation hall (31 King’s College Circle, http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=31+King%26%23039%3Bs+College+Circle%2C+Toronto%2C+ON). 4 ‘comfort women’ survivors from Korea, China, the Philippines, and the Netherlands will be sharing their testimonies in an attempt to urge the Canadian Parliament to pass a motion, to bring upon justice that is way overdue.
 
Please attend if you can. They deserve your support.
 
Facebook event invitation:

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=7509124523

 

 
Another side note, I was surprised to find out one of the foreigners who helped save many Chinese people at that time was a Nazi. His name is John Rabe. He risked his own life to help shelter 200,000 Chinese people from slaughter. Iris managed to find his diaries from his grand daughter.
 

 
Those who want to see the movie can still see it on TV.
 
 
"The producers are pleased to announce that History Television in Canada is going to broadcast "Iris Chang: The Rape of Nanking" UNCUT and with NO
COMMERCIALS.
Air date: Dec 13, 2007 at 8:00 PM
The film will be followed by a panel discussion hosted by Lloyd Robertson. More information on this special TWO HOUR television event will follow with an announcement of panel members."
 
Thanks Pat for sending this to ECCCLC