The Gabriela Women's Party, a female rights' advocate in the Philippines, denounced any possible Japanese request to demolish a recently established monument honoring women forced to be Japanese military sex slaves during World World II, the AP news agency reported. The bronze statue of a blindfolded Philippine woman was erected with the help of donations from Chinese-Filipino groups and individuals.
"If Japan really wants this issue to be settled and help us all move on and forward, it should officially recognize the horrors of state-sponsored sexual slavery and apologize to the victims," Gabriela secretary-general Joms Salvador said. "Raising petty issues about statues won't make this issue go away."
The human rights group has stated that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte should do quite the opposite: demand an apology from Tokyo and compensation for the country's women, who were "conscripted by the Japanese Imperial Army to serve as wartime sex slaves."
Despite the fact that Japan has already paid about 2 million yen ($18,000) each to about 280 women in the Philippines, South Korea and Taiwan in 1995, many Filipina and South Korean women still request a full apology and official compensation.
The issue of the monument has been mentioned by the Japanese minister for internal affairs and communications Seiko Noda during her meeting with Duterte: Japan's representative has expressed her regret over the move. However, no specific request has been reportedly mentioned during the talks.
Things may turn sour over the issue despite the Philippine president seeking strong relations with Japan, as the latter is an important financial provider for the country.