LCQ7: Measures to commemorate the history of comfort women
It is learnt that during the Second World War, Japanese soldiers drafted by force a total of around 200 000 to 300 000 women from various countries and regions, including Hong Kong, to serve as comfort women for sexual exploitation and abuse by Japanese soldiers. About 70 per cent of these women were abused to death. Some 4 000 women from Hong Kong were forcibly drafted to serve as comfort women in the territory or on Hainan Island. As this year marks the 75th anniversary of the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, some members of the public consider that the Government should strive to pass on the history of comfort women to the next generation. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) given that museums dedicated to the history of comfort women have been established in countries and places such as the Republic of Korea, Mainland China, Taiwan, etc., whether the authorities will set aside an exhibition area featuring the history of comfort women in the Hong Kong Museum of History or the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence to enhance public understanding of this episode of history; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(2) given that countries such as the Republic of Korea, the United States, Canada, Australia, etc., have erected bronze statues of comfort women in public places one after another in recent years, and a bronze statue of comfort women, which is the first of its kind on the Mainland, was unveiled in Shanghai on October 22, 2016, whether the authorities will erect a commemorative sculpture of comfort women in Hong Kong to console and remember the comfort women who were subjected to the coercion and brutality of Japanese soldiers; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(3) whether it will include the history of comfort women in the Chinese History curriculum for secondary schools to enhance education on the relevant history; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has always attached importance to the history of Japanese invasion and occupation of Hong Kong. Over the years, the Government has been enhancing the knowledge of China's and Hong Kong's modern history among the general public through exhibitions, studies, academic activities and educational promotions. Our reply to various parts of Dr the Hon Chiang Lai-wan's question is as follows:
(1) and (2) Permanent exhibitions at the Hong Kong Museum of History (HKMH) and the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence (HKMCD) display, on a long-term basis, the history of Japanese invasion and occupation of Hong Kong. Located in The Hong Kong Story permanent exhibition of the HKMH, The Japanese Occupation gallery portrays the history of Hong Kong from its fall to liberation. The permanent exhibition of HKMCD presents the history of Japanese invasion of Hong Kong in December 1941 and people's livelihood during the subsequent three-year-and-eight-month period under Japanese occupation.
Apart from permanent exhibitions, the two museums organise from time to time thematic exhibitions on Japanese invasion of Hong Kong and the period under Japanese occupation. Examples of recent exhibitions are Anti-Japanese War Heroes: An Exhibition on the Hong Kong Independent Battalion of the Dongjiang Column (2013) and Braving the Storm: Hong Kong under Japanese Occupation (2016). Last year, on the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, the museums organised, in collaboration with various organisations, a series of large-scale artefact and photo exhibitions as well as a number of commemorative events (in the form of talk, forum, seminar, roving exhibition, workshop, film appreciation, book display and guided tour to military sites) to deepen public understanding about the history of the war of resistance.
As regards related studies, the HKMH has engaged experts and academics on several occasions to conduct research projects, including Oral History Project on Reminiscence of War Experience in Hong Kong and Oral History Project on the Former Members of the Hong Kong-Kowloon Brigade of the East River Column. Some of the findings are published in The Defence of Hong Kong: Collected Essays on the Hong Kong-Kowloon Brigade of the East River Column. The HKMH will continue with its related studies to further collect valuable historical data.
At present, the research materials and artefacts about the history of comfort women in Hong Kong during Japanese occupation are rather lacking. It will take time for local history experts and academics to collate the relevant data and conduct related studies. When there are sufficient findings and exhibits, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department will consider displaying the history of comfort women in Hong Kong in the exhibitions at HKMH and HKMCD. As for erecting a commemorative sculpture of comfort women in Hong Kong, various factors, including associated cultural and historical significance, availability of suitable display venues, etc., have to be considered. For the time being, there is no plan for erecting such a sculpture.
(3) According to the Education Bureau (EDB), the Chinese History curricula of junior and senior secondary levels comprise the topics of The Second Nationalist-Communist United Front and the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and The War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression respectively, and the History curricula of the two levels comprise the topics of International Conflicts and Threats to Peace in the Twentieth Century: The two World Wars and Conflicts and Cooperation in the Twentieth-Century World respectively, for teaching students about history of Chinese resistance against Japanese aggression in the 20th century. These topics cover atrocities of Japanese troops, such as the Nanjing Massacre and their abuse inflicted on women. As regards the history of comfort women, different textbooks present it in different forms, such as highlighting in feature corners and introducing in the general content. Teachers may further elaborate the topic based on historical facts. The two EDB publications The 70th Anniversary of the Victory of the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and Historical Images of Modern China in support of the teaching of the two history subjects also give detailed account of the brutality of Japanese troops during the war of resistance.
Ends/Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Issued at HKT 12:25
Issued at HKT 12:25