Few of the 200,000 Japan’s female sex slaves, known as "comfort women" are still alive, but their wounds are still as fresh as ever.
The comfort women who were used as sex slaves for the Japanese military up to and during World War II are now demanding atonement from their government for their suffering.
In 2013, Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, a prominent Japanese politician, described the comfort women as "necessary," saying that they gave soldiers putting their lives at risk a chance "to rest." Though he later said he did not mean to excuse the wartime brothels, his words were enough to show the place and value these suffering and often oppressed women had in society.
In 2014 South Korea sat down with Japan, asking for amends for enslaving South Korean women as comfort women for their military.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe caused controversy during his first term in 2006-07 by saying there was no proof that Japan's military had kidnapped women – mostly Asian and many Korean – to work in the brothels.
The Japanese government under Abe drew back from early signals that it might revise a landmark 1993 government statement acknowledging military involvement in coercing the women, and apologizing to them.
The women feel differently; they feel wronged and live with the scars of their nightmarish experiences decades later.
As Shinzo Abe addressed the US Congress on April 29, 87-year-old Lee Yong-Soo, one of the last comfort women alive, wished she could be seated up front, directly in the Japanese Prime Minister’s line of sight “so that he can see right into my eyes.”
Lee Yong-Soo lives with the harrowing memories of being snatched from her home by Japanese soldiers in 1944 at age of 16 and being repeatedly raped, beaten and subjected to electric shocks by the Japanese soldiers.
But though Shinzo Abe has done everything to ensure closer ties with the United States, offered his “eternal condolences” for Americans killed in World War II and visited a Washington memorial for than 400,000 American service members who died in the conflict, he has evaded the topic of the comfort women.