Thu, 30 Nov 2000

Women's group demands Japanese apology

JAKARTA (JP): The Coalition of Indonesian Women (KPI) called on the Japanese government on Wednesday to make a direct apology to Indonesian women who were forced to become "comfort women" during the Japanese occupation in World War II.

The coalition, during a meeting with officials of the Japanese Embassy in Jakarta, also called for compensation to be given directly to the victims, saying that earlier compensation given through the Indonesian government never reached them.

Antarini Arna of the coalition said the Indonesian government received Rp 9 billion in compensation intended for the former comfort women from the Japanese government in 1996.

Some Rp 775 million of the money was used to build five homes for the elderly, but the rest of the fund was never accounted for, she said.

"The victims never received any money," she said.

Paulus Mahulette of the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation, a member of the coalition, said there were some 200,000 former jugun ianfu (comfort women) in Indonesia.

Antarini said the coalition planned to send a delegation to the International Women's War Crimes Tribunal on Japan's Military Sexual Slavery in Tokyo on Dec. 8 through Dec. 10.

Four Indonesian victims will join the delegation: Suhanah, 74, Ema Kastimah, 71, both from Bandung, and Mardiyem, 71, and Suharti, 71, from Yogyakarta.

Antarini and the coalition members later visited the House of Representatives to call for support of the coalition's campaign to obtain financial compensation for the former comfort women. (04)