Filipinos call for compensation from Japan over rapes

Lawyer Harry Roque with  rape victims Isabelita Vinuya, left, and Emilia Mangilit. Picture: AP
Lawyer Harry Roque with rape victims Isabelita Vinuya, left, and Emilia Mangilit. Picture: AP
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A group of elderly Filipino women raped by Japanese troops during the Second World War have called for compensation from Japan.

The call follows the Tokyo government’s pledge of £5.7 million for South Korean women forced into Japanese military-run brothels during the war.

The women’s lawyers said they were also exploring the possibility of filing cases with United Nations bodies and holding Philippine President Benigno Aquino III liable for allegedly failing to support the case of the women against Japan.

Isabelita Vinuya, the 84-year-old president of Malaya Lolas – a group of Filipino women abducted and raped by Japanese troops in their village – urged the Philippine government to support their demand for justice from Japan.

She said: “We have appealed more than once or twice to our government to help us, support us before Japan so that we can be given justice for the sufferings we went through.”

Japan and South Korea announced last week that they had settled their decades-long stand-off over wartime sex slaves, with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe apologising and agreeing to contribute the money for a foundation to help support the victims.

Historians say tens of thousands of women from around Asia were sent to front-line military brothels to provide sex to Japanese soldiers. Harry Roque, the Filipino victims’ lawyer, said: “Is there a difference in the rape of a South Korean and a Filipino woman? The answer is there should be none, rape is a crime against women and is prohibited by international humanitarian law and is recognised as an international crime.”

He said South Korea’s Supreme Court had ordered the government to fight for the rights of the Koreans but that the Philippines’ top court dismissed in 2010 a case filed by Vinuya and 70 other women urging the court to compel the government to press their claims against Japan. The Philippine court also denied an appeal filed by the women.

Vinuya said she was 13 when the Japanese troops raped women and children in her village.