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Wartime Sex Slaves Confront Japanese Premier in Manila

<i> From Reuters</i>

Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama arrived in the Philippines on Tuesday and was confronted by angry women demanding compensation for being used as sex slaves in World War II.

Police kept about 50 of the women more than 100 yards from the luxury Manila Hotel where Murayama was staying.

The women were demanding $200,000 each in compensation. They were led by Rosa Henson, who in 1992 became the first Filipina to end decades of shamed silence and tell of her experience as one of thousands of women forced to work as prostitutes for Japanese soldiers.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Roberto Romulo told reporters the “comfort women” issue would be discussed when Murayama and President Fidel V. Ramos hold formal talks today.

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Murayama was expected to repeat apologies for Japan’s wartime atrocities as well as discuss economic and security issues with leaders of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore during his weeklong swing through the region.

Murayama did not mention the issue in his prepared speech, instead paying tribute to the economic progress the Philippines has made under Ramos.

The “comfort women” were forcibly recruited by the Japanese army during the war to provide sex for its troops.

Tokyo denied the existence of the women until researchers uncovered documents in Japan implicating the wartime government.

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