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Documentary on Comfort Women
Post Time: 30/08/2017

August 14, 2017 marks the fifth International Comfort Women Day, which is also the day of the release of Twenty-Two, the first documentary about comfort women allowed to be officially released in China.

On August 12, two days before the film’s debut, 90-year-old Huang Youliang, the only survivor in mainland China who once sued the Japanese government for levying comfort women, passed away at her home in Lingshui Li Autonomous County of Hainan Province.

Su Zhiliang, a professor of Shanghai Normal University and director of the Research Center of Chinese Comfort Women, delivered the news to Jinhua Daily immediately when he saw Huang’s obituary. He urged Jinhua Daily to take good care of the one former comfort woman in Jinhua and keep him informed about her well-being.

The comfort woman in Jinhua mentioned by Su is the only known survivor in Zhejiang Province who is willing to be interviewed about her experience as a comfort woman.

Her experience is similar to that of Huang Youliang. Huang was captured in Tengqiao Comfort Station after the Japanese occupied Lingshui, Hainan Province. Then, at the age of 15, she was forced to be a sex slave of the Japanese army for two years. The Jinhua woman’s three-year experience as a comfort woman started when she was 16 years old. Then she was captured in three different comfort stations. These memories haunt her and bring her to tears every time she recalls them.

 

A Visit to the Last Comfort Woman in Jinhua

Leaning on a crutch, the last comfort woman in Jinhua was welcoming the visitors in front of her house. She had an emaciated figure, but she looked great, even at the age of 91.

“I am fine, and I can even wash my own clothes,” she said about daily trifles, communicating with the reporter through gestures. She continued, saying, “Look, the house is renovated, and we installed an air conditioner because it is so hot this summer. The renovation cost more than 20,000 RMB, but we got a subsidy from the local government. The air conditioner cost 2400 RMB.”

She had three sons and three daughters. She often talks about her two sons who died from heart attacks. “The ambulance arrived, but they could not wait any longer and did not make it,” she told the reporter. Fortunately, she still has three daughters and another son. One of the daughters married a man outside Zhejiang Province, while the other two each found a husband in their village. Currently, her son lives next door to her. All her children visit her frequently.

The reporter told her that August 14 is the fifth anniversary of celebrating International Comfort Women Day. She had no idea what “anniversary” meant, but she showed an expression of pain when talking about the past.

 

Twenty-Two Becomes A Hit

Twenty-Two was created by a young director named Guo Ke. Since Guo researched comfort women in 2012, he has spent three years making the documentary film Twenty-Two. So far, he has finished two documentary films: Thirty-Two and Twenty-Two. Thirty-two and twenty-two stand for the number of surviving comfort women. At the time he shot Thirty-Two, there were still 32 survivors; but only 22 of them were left when he shot the more recent one.

Guo shot Twenty-Two one year after he shot Thirty-Two. In merely one year, ten comfort women passed away. Therefore, Guo decided to record the lives of all the surviving comfort women in mainland China.

The film Twenty-Two was already completed last year when Guo visited Jinhua and was deeply impacted by the comfort woman in Jinhua. At that time, they agreed not to expose the comfort woman in Jinhua to the public, so Guo did not take any photos.

Guo indicated that the profits of the film, after deduction of costs, will be donated to the Lingshan Charity Foundation to support the comfort women who have been tortured for a lifetime by their suffering.

At present, 14 surviving comfort women are known to be in mainland China, distributed over Hainan, Guangxi, Hunan, Hubei, Zhejiang, and Shanxi Provinces. Their average age surpasses 90 years old. (By Li Yan, translated by Kang Meiling, edited by Kendra Fiddler)

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