TAIPEI - The "comfort women" issue has not yet been resolved despite years of government protest, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said, yesterday.
"The recent statement made by some individual who claimed that the Taiwanese comfort women issue has been resolved is not true," Chou Shyue-yow, deputy director-general of MOFA's Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, told reporters yesterday.
Taiwan has continued to urge the Japanese government to apologise and compensate Taiwanese citizens who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II.
However, the Japanese government has not made an official response to Taiwan's demands, Chou said.
Chou made the comments in response to a reporter's question about MOFA's stance on former President Lee Teng-hui's statement that the issue has been resolved.
Writing on the controversial issue of Japan's use of sex slaves during the war in a piece submitted to a Japanese-language magazine, Lee questioned President Ma Ying-jeou's motives in establishing a museum in Taiwan dedicated to comfort women.
Lee said in a Voice magazine article that the issues surrounding comfort women have been resolved and do not need to be brought up again.
He said that while he served as president 20 years ago, he had no impression that Ma had mentioned anything on the subject.
Asked to comment, Chou yesterday said that Japan founded the Asian Women's Fund in 1994 in an attempt to distribute compensation to comfort women in Asia via the private organisation.
However, the R.O.C. government does not accept compensation issued by a private fund as compared to the Japanese government.
Instead of having Taiwanese comfort women receive Japanese compensation via the fund, Chou said the R.O.C. government established its own ad hoc committee in 1997 to compensate surviving Taiwanese comfort women with a total of NT$21 million (S$912,000).
Asking Japanese authorities to take responsibility over the issue, Chou said the R.O.C. has continued to ask the Japanese government to apologise and properly compensate Taiwanese who were forced into sexual slavery during WWII, he added.
MOFA will continue to push the Japanese government into facing its responsibility for sexual slavery during wartime, he noted.
Comfort women were women forced into a prostitution, working in brothels created by the Empire of Japan during World War II. Most of the women were taken from occupied countries in Asia, including Korea, mainland China and the Philippines.
The issue remains a sensitive one for Asian neighbours nearly 70 years after Japan's defeat.
According to the Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation, more than 2,000 Taiwanese women were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army during the war, but only four of them who have spoken openly of their suffering at the hands of Japanese forces are still alive today.