Memorialization of Comfort Women in Taiwan
Since the end of World War II, the Japanese government has neglected to provide an official apology for the 200,000 women who provided forced sexual labor for the Japanese Imperial Army, provoking a long campaign from comfort women and feminist advocates to preserve this history. My research project contextualizes Taiwan’s memorialization of the comfort women against the backdrop of the global redress movement, focusing on two case studies: a comfort women museum erected in 2016 by a women’s advocacy group, as well as a comfort women statue erected by Taiwan’s conservative KMT (Kuomintang) party in the run-up to a contentious midterm election season in 2018.
The two case studies can be loosely characterized as characteristic of two modes of the comfort women redress movement: respectively, a liberal feminist approach that focuses on the universality of sexual violence against women and the presumed universality of the sex trafficking victim, and a more geopolitically conscious approach that situates the phenomenon within the context of Japanese imperialism and seeks to leverage the comfort women discourse for strategic gains within the space of national politics. My project examines the ongoing processes of memorialization that emerge from this unique juncture.