Hirosaki Ryuichi (Hosoe Catholic Church, Shimonoseki)

A branch office of the Japan's Bank, a Regional Savings office and the Mizugami Police Station are all of them located in Shimonoseki.
Back in 1992, Ms. Moon Ok-joo that was obliged to work as a comfort woman for the Japanese military narrated the hard humiliations she had experienced and as a result the movement to support her claims started in Shimonoseki. During the war she was sent to accompany the 8400 battalion of the Japanese army.
They made her memorize in Japanese her location in the Army so that whenever she was sent to the battlefield or if something special happened she could be able to find her assignment. In Shimonoseki she explained her experiences in the Burmese war front.
She kept her savings, tips received from the soldiers of the Japanese Army as a "comfort woman", in a "field Post Office". Then, she heard from the soldier on duty that the funds were kept in Shimonoseki's regional Savings' office. We established a group to support her and started a movement to look for evidence about the existence of the funds.
The Shimonoseki Savings Department of the old Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications became the regional Savings' office at Shimonoseki and under our demands we could ascertain the existence of her former savings. But because of the Treaty for compensation's rights between Japan and South Korea (1965) individual property rights vanished and there was no need to refund her.
We conducted a national signature-collecting campaign and brought the results to the Post Office of Shimonoseki. The employees formed a picket line and looking for an opening we passed the signature papers through it, as a soccer ball, to Fr. Hayashi who rushed into the main office.
She was claiming: "It is not the money what I want. I detest having the money I earned kept in Japan".
In fact, the three institutions I mentioned at the beginning were all located in regions that were considered strategic during the prewar. Shimonoseki was in the Japanese front line of the Asian invasion.
During these past years, people from various Asian countries paid visits participating in different exchange programs. Among them there were workers from Taiwan specialized in labor issues, as well as University students from South Korea coming to Japan on pilgrimage tours to the sites where Korean workers were brought to do forced labor. Chinese appealing to the pitiable situation occasioned by the chemical weapons left behind by the Japanese Army also visited us. We also had foreign students living in Shimonoseki. We communicated by body language and it was fun to know each other. University students from Korea that came to Japan for the first time wept strongly in front of us saying, "There are also kind Japanese!" We wept together with joy.
Ms. Moon Ok-joo stayed at the Center and participated in a preparatory meeting to take legal proceedings regarding the refund of her savings. During the reception party at night she played the Changgo Korean musical instrument and sung with a loud voice. She said proudly with a smile: "I was a drum expert. They always praised me". In front of her silhouette I thought about how often she must had been suffering up to now. This is not a problem of the comfort military women. As we pursue in our hearts the life of Jesus our human existence meets with her valuable life experience. Experiences like these at the Center teach us how to deal with social issues.
She is now resting at her home town in Taegu.
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