A Secret Buried for 50 Years: The Story of Taiwanese "Comfort Women"

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Date Time Venue
27/10 (Sat) 7:30 pm Lecture Hall, Hong Kong Space Museum
3/11 (Sat) 7:30 pm Lecture Hall, Hong Kong Space Museum

Yang Chia-yun
Taiwan / 1998 / 82 min
In Mandarin with Chi & Eng Sub

Synopsis
This is Taiwan's first documentary about comfort women. The audience gets a glimpse of history as 13 "grandmothers" speak of their unspeakable past, unknown even to their family, in front of the camera. The film is a winner of the Golden Horse Best Documentary Award.

Director's profile
Yang Chia-yun is regarded as a pioneer female film director of commercial Taiwanese film during the 1970-1980s. In 1998, she directed the documentary A Secret Buries For 50 Years ─ A Story of Taiwanese "Comfort Women", which won the 35th Golden Horse Awards for "Best Documentary".

Background Information

During the Second World War, Japan conscripted by force or deception over 200 thousand women from different parts of Asia including Taiwan, China and the Korean peninsula to work as “comfort women”, or sex slaves, for the Imperial Japanese Army.

Victims recounted how they were forced to provide “sexual service” to at least 40 Japanese soldiers a day. Apart from the endless sexual abuse, they were also subjected to ruthless beating and maiming by their captors, and those caught in failed escape attempts were tortured or even murdered. Despite the end of the war, the wounds of these former comfort women have never healed and continue to hurt. Many of them contracted sexually transmitted diseases that prevented them from conceiving, and more suffer from permanent psychological damage that is only made worse by social taboo. Many of the victims passed away without ever receiving compensation or even an apology from the Japanese government.

The United Nations defined “comfort women” as “military sexual slaves” in 1995 and called the practice a crime against humanity in contravention of basic human rights. In Taiwan, former president Ma Ying-jeou attended during his presidency many events in support of the comfort women’s demand for justice, and the first Taiwanese comfort women memorial was established under his watch in 2015. Meanwhile, Shaanxi Province of the People’s Republic of China took legal action against the Japanese government, which after years of litigation resulted in the Japanese court concluding that the sexual abuse suffered by comfort women is fact but at the same time ruling that they do not have the power to seek compensation. Similar legal proceedings were initiated by victims in Korea, but their action was struck down by Japanese court. Through the years there have been plenty of calls in Korea for the Japanese government to issue a formal apology, and a bronze statue was erected outside the Japanese embassy in South Korea as a commemoration of the victims and also as an act of protest.

Right-wing organisations in Japan have opposed including the subject of comfort women in school curriculums and have attempted to eliminate mention of it in schoolbooks. With the rise of the right in Japan in recent years, little mention of comfort women can be found in current Japanese schoolbooks and it is believed that few Japanese schoolchildren are aware of this part of their nation’s history.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s 2015 speech commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War drew criticisms from the international community when on the subject of comfort women he only referred to “damage to the reputation and dignity of women” without offering any apology. Even today, the Japanese government has yet to admit to its crimes, and meanwhile more and more former comfort women pass away without ever receiving a formal apology.

購票資料

Screenings at Hong Kong Space Museum will be available at URBTIX from 28 September.
Ticket Price: $70 / $50*
*Full-time students, senior citizens aged 60 or above, people with disabilities and their minder and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients

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