'Comfort women' documentary highlights 'the human spirit and their resilience'

A new Canadian documentary called The Apology follows the journeys of three former "comfort women." It will screen in Vancouver this weekend.

The Apology focuses on 3 victims of Japanese sex slavery in World War II as they seek justice

Grandma Gil, from South Korea, was forced into sex slavery by Japanese forces during the Second World War. (nfb.ca)

During the Second World War, tens of thousands of women in occupied Asian countries were forced to become sex slaves for Japanese soldiers.

A new Canadian documentary called The Apology follows the journeys of three former "comfort women," as they were known, and will screen in Vancouver this weekend.

"The film really highlights and focuses on the human spirit and their resilience and strength through all these years after surviving such atrocities," filmmaker Tiffany Hsiung told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn.

"[They are] really coming to terms with what happened to them and having the courage within themselves to speak about this with their own families as well as fighting for justice around the world."

Hsiung's film follows three of the women who are now in their 80s and 90s, and who have dealt with shame and silence all of their lives.

Fight goes on

While many "comfort women" have never told their stories, a number of them have spoken out, demanding justice from the Japanese government.

In late 2015, a landmark agreement was reached between Japan and South Korea where the Japanese government acknowledged that atrocities were committed, and agreed to a $9-million fund to support women from that country.

But Hsiung says because the agreement did not include provisions for education about the atrocities and allows Japanese schools to keep the information out of textbooks, she feels it's "a step forward but two steps backward" for survivors.

"None of their actual demands were implemented in that set agreement. So, unfortunately, the fight goes on," Hsiung said.

Hsiung says while the remaining women know they don't have a lot of time left, they're committed to making sure their history won't be forgotten.

The Apology screens at Vancity Theatre on Saturday and Sunday.

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast


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