We are the members of Malaya Lolas, the organization of surviving victims of mass rape by soldiers of the Japanese Imperial Army in Mapanique, Candaba, Pampanga in the Philippines. Our harrowing experience happened as part of a completely planned attack at our barrio (village) on November 23, 1944.
Presently, we are 61 old and sickly women as the rest of about a hundred of us have already died. We are in the twilight of our years and it pains to die without seeing justice.
We are aware that for several times, some councilors had sponsored a bill asking the Japanese government to take historical responsibility, to apologize publicly for the comfort women system as a war crime; to mention this in Japan’s history books; and to compensate the victims.
Although that bill did not cover our case, we are dismayed nonetheless that the House of Councilors never passed that bill into law.
We understand that Japan’s definition of comfort women exclude us from being considered as such. We cannot argue with Japan’s historical and social circumstances that defined what a comfort woman is. But we would like to tell the Honorable members of the House that our sufferings were not any degree lighter simply because the Japanese soldiers did not bring us to brothels.
We experienced unspeakable horror and terror. Before the soldiers raped us, we witnessed how they grabbed and tortured our fathers, grandfathers, uncles and brothers. We saw how they battered those male relatives, tied them to posts and trees for the ants to bite before they cut off their penises and stuffed the same in their mouths. We cannot forget the sight of our burning houses and belongings and the smell of burning flesh and bones, which were our relatives’. They made us carry our belongings they looted and then they raped us, some in full view of the others, most of us, repeatedly.
To further explain what happened, we have attached here the part of the decision of the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal of December 2000.
We believe that like those classified as comfort women, we also deserve justice
We therefore appeal to the concerned members of the House of Councilors to enact a law that will give justice for all victims of sexual violence of the Japanese Imperial Army.
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Specific Findings of the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on the Crimes against Women in the Philippines by the Japanese Imperial Army
“The evidence establishes that on November 23, 1944, the Japanese army attacked the village of Mapanique and systematically raped an estimated 100 women as part of the wholesale destruction of the village, during which the community was bombed, houses were looted and burned, and men were publicly tortured and slaughtered. According to the evidence, the Japanese military conducted a planned punitive and subjugation raid on Mapanique, sexual violence against the girls and women of the village was part of the plan. The soldiers raped all of the young women and teenage girls of the village whom they could find. Many older women were raped as well.
“The rapes to which the witnesses testified followed a consistent pattern which included separating the males from the females, torturing and killing the males, forcing the girls and women to carry loads to the Red House, raping them, and then leaving. Many were also raped in their homes en route to the Red House. Most were gang raped or raped by a series of perpetrators, often in front of others, and sometimes for extended period of time. The pattern reveals that the rapes were part of a plan or policy. That the attackers established a hierarchy in which officers used the house, while soldiers used the surrounding tents, which they brought and set up, provides further evidence of the organized and systematic nature of the rapes.
“The rapes were both widespread and systematic, and were committed on civilians in the course of an armed conflict. The acts charged in Count 3 of the Indictment satisfy the legal requirements for the crime against humanity of rape. Thus this Tribunal finds that the rapes at Mapanique constituted crimes against humanity.
“Finally, in considering the relevant facts and law in the case, the Judges opine that, although it was not charged as such in the Common Indictment, confining women at the “Bahay na pula” for the purpose of repeatedly raping them may in some cases also constitute sexual slavery. The soldiers locked women into rooms or kept them on the grounds of the property, which they used as a garrison. They kept some women there for up to two days. They raped many women multiple times and the women could not know if or when they would be raped again or free again. The testimony given to this Tribunal on the count of sexual slavery shows that the sexual slavery facilities in the Philippines were most often garrisons, and the soldiers frequently abducted women and girls for rape during the course of the military raids. These facts suggest that rape and sexual slavery outside the formal establishment of the “comfort system” was a known part of Japanese military operations. Indeed, the formal system of rape and sexual slavery instituted by the Japanese government and military would provide tacit approval of rape and sexual slavery committed outside the formalized system.”
- Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery, Judgement, The Hague, The Netherlands, 4 December 2001, para. 665-668.