TOKYO, April 1 (Xinhua) -- Representatives of "comfort women" museums from Japan, South Korea, China, the Philippines and the United States convened their first conference here on Saturday, urging the Japanese government to reflect upon history.
"The Japanese government, after so many years, still refuses to admit and reflect upon the 'comfort women' issue. We should enhance international cooperation and demand the Japanese government to apologize and make compensations," said Eriko Ikeda, chairwoman of Women's Active Museum on War and Peace (WAM), Japan's only museum focused on wartime sexual violence against women.
Su Zhiliang, head of a museum founded on the former site of a "comfort women" station at Liji Lane in Nanjing, China, said museums are the best sites for historical education.
"'Comfort women' were sex slaves of the Imperial Japanese Army. Such atrocities shall be exposed and such memories shall be reinforced to prevent the tragedies from happening again," he said.
Rechilda Extremadura, a representative from Lolas Center of Lila Pilipina, a Philippine "comfort women" support organization, said that the voices of the "comfort women" victims will not be silenced by the Japanese government.
"Even all the victims passed away, the future generations will still learn about the history (through the museums)," she said.
Representatives of the museums passed a joint declaration at the conference, vowing solidarity and continued efforts to pass on the memories of "comfort women" to future generations.
"We have been putting pressure on the Japanese government to accept responsibility for these grave violations of women's rights; however, it (the Japanese government) wants to distort and forget the past history," said the statement.
"In the face of the Japanese government's campaign to deny the history... we should continue to act in solidarity in order to carry forward (the efforts)," said the statement.
A number of surviving "comfort women" victims sent their thanks and support through video messages and letters to the conference.
"I hope the problem could be solved before I die, even though I know it would be very difficult. The 'comfort women' survivors are aging and many of them died. I hope our reputation could be restored as soon as possible," said Li Yushan, a surviving "comfort woman" from South Korea, in a letter.
"I hope the world won't forget us," said Wei Shaolan, a surviving "comfort woman" from China's Guangxi Province, in a letter.
Women forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army before and during World War II were called "comfort women."
The Japanese government has been refusing to acknowledge legal responsibilities for the "comfort women" issue so far.