“We know that you are busy, but will you visit us some time? We hope that you will visit us so that you can learn the real truth about history and meet with the survivors, the victims, share our table and talk with us…we will guarantee your safety throughout your visit to Korea.”
This was the invitation extended by surviving comfort women to 700 Japanese politicians. Included on the invitation were Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto and Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, all of whom have made insensitive public statements about comfort women, young Korean girls forced to be prostitutes by the Japanese military during Japan’s colonial occupation of Korea.
The invitation to visit the House of Sharing, a facility for surviving comfort women and the Historical Museum of Sexual Slavery by the Japanese Military was extended to a total of 724 Japanese political figures including 479 members of the upper house and 242 members of the lower house of the Japanese Diet.
The invitation was written in Japanese on a postcard and began with “This is the House of Sharing, where one can learn the history of comfort women.” The postcard included pictures drawn by the victims as part of their psychological therapy. The pictures have titles like “The flower that never bloomed,” “Tainted Purity” or “Abducted” The invitation ended with a request asking for the date of the visit, emphasizing that the older women will be eagerly waiting for them.
The idea of the invitation came about in reaction to the remarks being made by Japanese politicians lately on comfort women. On August 27, Prime Minister Noda, speaking before the Diet, said that there was no evidence that the comfort women “were abducted or taken by force.”
Mayor of Osaka and rising political star Toru Hashimoto said on August 21, “There is no evidence that the comfort women were taken under coercion by the Japanese military. If Korea has this evidence it would be good to see it.” Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara said on August 24, “prostitution is a good means of making money in times of difficulty, and the comfort women chose to do that.”
House of Sharing director Ahn Shin-kwon, 51, expressed sadness that the victims, now in their old ages, do not have much time left and that they have included in this invitation their “desperate hope that their dignity will be restored by exposing the truth about the past.” The House of Sharing was established in Seoul’s Mapo district in 1992 and moved to Kwangju, Gyeonggi province in 1995. Eight former comfort women live there all of whom are in their 80s. The House and the Museum receive close to 10 thousand visitors a year, many of whom are Japanese.