An advocacy group for the women who were drafted by Japan as sex slaves for its soldiers during World War II started a petition on Monday in Tongyeong, South Gyeongsang Province, asking for the United Nations to take a step toward restoring their honor.
The group of citizens living in Tongyeong and its adjacent city Geoje held a news conference in front of a monument memorializing the women euphemistically called “comfort women” by Japan to kick off the campaign, the third launched of its kind.
Kim Bok-deuk, 96, the oldest surviving former comfort woman, attended the press conference.
|Kim Bok-deuk (seated), a former comfort woman, attends a news conference for the launch of a campaign by an advocacy group to gather support to be sent to the United Nations, in Tongyeong, South Gyeongsang Province, Monday. (Yonhap News)|
The campaign aims to collect 100,000 signatures and will last for two months until Nov. 15.
“Things got to such an impasse that we cannot just sit idly until the Korean and Japanese governments resolve the comfort women issue, so we will collect and send petitions to the United Nations demanding its action,” said Song Do-ja, who leads the campaign, at the news conference.
The group will give postage-paid, self-addressed postcards to anyone who wants to join the campaign. One has only to write on the postcards and return it to the group.
It plans to deliver the postcards to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in late November.
In early November, it will hold an exhibition of the postcards and award prizes in a regional event for comfort women.
In September 2010, the group sent petition postcards to Japanese lawmakers, urging them to legislate a law to resolve the comfort women issue.
In 2012, it campaigned again and gathered about 40,000 signatures to be sent to the Japanese government, but the plan was put on hold due to a lack of mailing expenses.
The group will send the undelivered postcards directly to the Japanese government at the same time that it delivers the postcards to the UNHCR.
According to the group, there are four former comfort women in Tongyeong and two in Geoje.
About 200,000 women are estimated to have been drafted as Japanese military sexual slaves.
For more information on the campaign, visit www.dagagagi.org or call (055) 649-8150.
By Chun Sung-woo (firstname.lastname@example.org)