Press Releases

On reparations for comfort women

March 10th, 2023

Just to put historical context to this issue, Japan paid an equivalent of 8% of GDP in 1956 to the Philippines in cash and goods as reparations, and another 3.5% of GDP in concessional loans. This, in today’s terms, would be equivalent to USD 29 billion in reparations — which significantly exceeds the country’s USD 22 billion infrastructure budget this year.

With that amount, we could have rebuilt much of our war-damaged economic sectors and provided support to victims of war when it was still timely to do so. We were the largest recipient of Japanese reparations. We clearly squandered our opportunity — and also failed to fully acknowledge the wrongs committed by the Japanese in the Philippines.

That said, it is late, but never too late, to correct a historical injustice such as this.

It will not cost the government too much to rectify a historic wrong by providing the necessary support to these survivors and their descendants. Around 1000 women were enslaved as comfort women during the Second World War.

Still, I wouldn’t call it reparations — after all, the sin of commission still lies with abusers. But it should be a genuine attempt to rectify a historic wrong. I do not think it will hurt our relations with Japan, for that country has since changed its relationship with us to one of sincere cooperation — as our largest trade partner, source of foreign investment, source of foreign aid, and one of our closest allies.

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