21. Summary:Research in Philippines, 2012

In March, I visited the Philippines as my latest journey for the research. I first met Nelia Sancho, a coordinator of the *Lolas Kampanyera Survivor Organization (the Filipino "Comfort Women" Organization), who also served as my guide and translator.

Nelia took me to their display space for photos of Filipino "Comfort Women" activism and history, and I was also introduced to other activists.

According to Nelia Sancho, they estimate there were perhaps as many as 2,000 Filipino “Comfort Women.” 300-400 Filipino women survivors came out publicly and now, approximately 150 survivors are still living.

Next we took a taxi to *lola Julia Porras's home in Manila. Lola Julia was kind, but seemed fragile and her health was deteriorating. She was forced into sex slavery when she was 17 years old.

The following day, Nelia and I visited *lola Fedencia David's home, outside of Manila. I was happy to see that she was in good health. She remembered her experiences of wartime vividly. Born in a small town, she became a military sex slave at the age of 14. Despite her difficult life, Lola Fedencia was very vibrant, strong, and full of life.

*Lola means a grandma in Filipino.

The Philippines - from Google Maps

with Nelia Sancho(center) at the display space for photos of Filipino "Comfort Women" activism & history 

at lola Julia's home
at lola Fedencia David's home

Nelia translating the interview with lola Fedencia


20. Summary: Research in Australia, 2011

In October I traveled to Australia to meet Jan Ruff O’Herne, an outspoken Dutch “Comfort Woman” survivor. What a great honor to meet Jan whom I have admired so much for many years!

First, we had lunch together at a local cafe before our interview. She is very elegant and artistic. Her home is filled with beautiful paintings which she painted herself, and many are from her memories of Indonesia. She has such affection and love for Indonesia, and her childhood in Java. Before I left, she gave me her biography called, "50 Years of Silences" in which she tells of her experiences as a "comfort woman." 

Jan was born into a Dutch colonial family in Java, in the Dutch East Indies (now, Indonesia) At 21, she was taken from a Japanese prison camp, and forced to be a military sex slave. She is the first European "Comfort Woman" to come forward publicly.

 Australia - from Google Maps

  Lunch with Jan at a local cafe

Jan at her home


19. Summary: Research in China and Indonesia, 2009

In October, 2009 I traveled to China and Indonesia to meet "Comfort Women" survivors, including Wan Aihua *dayang who who is the first Chinese "Comfort Woman" to come forward in the 90's.

I also visited major former Military Comfort Stations in both countries such as Dayi Salon, the first Comfort Station ever in Asia. This was my time to see Comfort Stations, and it turned out that there were more Comfort Stations in China, than any other country.


18. Summary: China Research

Through Professor Zhilang Su who has been working on the Chinese “Comfort Women” issue since early 1990’s, I was able to visit the Comfort Women Museum in Shanghai which opened in 2007, and interviewed Wan Aihua *dayang, the first Chinese "Comfort Woman" to come forward in the 1990's. She is very tiny but, extremely outspoken.

Then, I visited two major former Military Comfort Stations including Dayi Salon, the first one ever in Asia, and Mei Mei Li. In Shanghai alone there were 158 comfort stations.
China - from Google Maps

Professor Zhilang Su

The "Comfort Women" Museum in Shanghai
Wan Aihua *dayang's home
At Dayi Salon, a former Military Comfort Station
At Mei Mei Li, a former Military Comfort Station

17. Summery: Indonesia Research

I traveled with Eka Hindrati, who has been researching the case of “Comfort Women” in Indonesia for the last 10 years. She has written a book about Indonesian "Comfort Women" in both Indonesian and Japanese.

I Interviewed two Indonesian "Comfort Women". Emah Kastimah (81 years old), in Cimahi, West Java, is soft spoken and graceful. Yet, she has a vivid memory of her experience at the military comfort station. Marjiyah (80 years old), in Banyuiru, Middle Java, plans coffee in the middle of a mountain in Java.

I also visited two former Japanese Military Comfort Stations in West Java. Both were former Dutch military officers' houses. One of them was where Emah Kastimah was locked in for 2 years.
Indonesia - from Google Maps
Emah Kastimah's home
In front of a former Military Indonesian Comfort Station
A former Military Indonesian Comfort Station
With Marjiyah


16. Marjiyah's Home

October 26, 2009

Visiting Marjiya, an Indonesian "Comfort Woman", in Banyuiru, Middle Java, In Indonesia

Marjiya (80 years old) was taken to a Japanese military comfort station when she was 17 years old. A year later she escaped. Now, she lives in the middle of a mountain in Java, and plants coffee. She offered us Java coffee that she made. I had an interview with her at her small coffee farm.

On the way to Marjiya's home

Marjiya in her coffee farm

Eka and Marjiya's family
To Marjiya's coffee farm

With Marjiya


15. Arriving in Yohyakarta

October 25, 2009

Eka and I arrived in Yohyakarta, and settled in at the Blador motel. Yohyakarta is an artistic town where many Indonesian artists live and work. It's very lively and colorful.

Arriving in Yohyakarta Airport