Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, in a recent press release, expressed concern over the same igniting matter that continually seems to resurface for many generations now involving the Japanese use of Comfort Women during the World War Two occupation. With the recent construction of a women’s statue that depicts a blinded Comfort Woman indicating no identity, along the Manila Bay, Cayetano addressed concerns that the Philippines relationship with Japan may be at risk now. Adding to the controversy, the construction of the statue itself was not even approved by or given permits by the Department of Foreign Affairs to build.
The statue having a strongly implied message geared toward the Comfort Women having no voice was intentionally erected along the seven mile strip of the Manila Bay that also houses a host of “famous” Pilipino men and women who obviously have had a loud voice as a contrast. Upon investigation into the unapproved statue, it was disclosed that a Chinese organization hired a Philippine Human Rights Group to build and erect the statue in secret. That being said, the local historical commission was discovered to have issued a permit with the group but denied any collusion in the matter and blames other parties for involvement.
Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano furthered his stance by saying that the matter of the Comfort Women testimonies should long be at rest now, stemming from the 1956 Reparations Settlement between the Philippine Republic and Japan. This agreement stated that Japan would compensate for using the women as sex slaves during World War Two by paying $550 million to the Philippine government. The women who were forced into these terrible situations don’t feel it has been enough however and want a public apology and further compensation. Cayetano is looking further into the matter and intends on interviewing those responsible to ascertain the intention behind the erection of the statue in the first place.
Cayetano asserted that honoring the women is a good thing, but if the effect has resulted in tension or anger then the statue has defeated the purpose and that needs to be resolved. The fact that this matter, having recently resurfaced in the 1990s, has come back into the spotlight is the real issue that he postulated. In order for healing and peace to be restored, the matter must be buried with the Reparations agreement which was the intended purpose all along. The reluctance of many participants on both sides to move past the disparaging acts of these War World two sex slaves has been a fountain of disappointment and exasperation for many diplomats and general public alike.
This unfortunate conflict between the Asian nations have been steeped in contempt and discord spanning back to the 57th and 63rd Prime Minister Shinzo Abe era. It was hoped that the treaty signed in 2015 would act as a genuine catalyst to lay the hurts and problem behind the parties involved to rest. However, the matter as a result of human rights groups’ continually sparking controversy, flames the fire again after matters begin to improve and citizens begin to move forward against past diplomatic relations.
This is exactly the case again here with the recent and sudden Comfort Women statue being erected without proper permission or the correct channels being consulted. It’s important to note here that Japan is now one of the Philippines biggest trade and commerce partners after hostilities between the two resolved after the war. It seems by the actions of the Chinese, who seek to spark controversy that was previously settled, have created yet another barrier between the countries.