The Ama Museum is the first museum dedicated to the Taiwanese comfort women who were forced into sexual slavery by the imperial Japanese army during World War II. Housing an exhibition space and a cafe, the venue preserves stories of former Taiwanese comfort women and their overlooked history while advocating for women's rights.
Between 1932 and 1945, tens of thousands of women from Asia were sent to wartime brothels known as "comfort stations" for the Japanese military. The history, however, had gone undocumented and even denied until three telegraphs that revealed the truth were found in the library of Japan's Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency in 1992.
As the issue draw international attention, the Taipei Women's Rescue Foundation started investigation work and took care of former comfort women while seeking justice and compensation from Japan. Over the past decades, the foundation has documented the stories of 59 Taiwanese survivors who bravely came forward to give testimony.
The foundation has also collected 5,042 videos and books, as well as 730 cultural relics that are related to the comfort station system, survivors, and the ongoing compensation campaign. To raise awareness of women's rights, the foundation began the preparation work of the establishment of the Ama Museum in 2004.
After twelve years of monumental effort, the museum was established following a successful crowdfunding campaign. During a three-month soft opening, the museum attracted more than 10,000 visitors, including Japanese scholars and students who came to study the historical truth.
Located in a historic Taipei district that is known for antique buildings, independent boutiques, and quirky cafes today, the museum uses its first floor to open a cafe, book rooms, and shops to provide job opportunities for women assisted by the foundation.
The second floor offers two spaces, one of which offers glimpses into the lives of former Taiwanese comfort women through cultural relics and art creations; while the other is used for holding forums and workshops to promote human rights education.
In 2017, the museum hosted the first International Comfort Women Human Rights Film Festival to present a more detailed insight into that period of history. Under the theme "Women's Power," the festival featured films that told stories of comfort women during WWII and explored issues on wartime violence.
Among the 2,000 Taiwanese women who were forced into prostitution by the imperial Japanese army, only two who have spoken publicly about their suffering are still alive today. The museum continues to fight for their justice and holds events regularly to promote women's rights.
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