News / USA

Comfort Women Statue Sparks Debate in California

Comfort Women Statue Sparks Debate in Californiai
X
March 18, 2014 3:01 PM
Last July, the City of Glendale California, unveiled a statute in its central park of a Korean-American who was a so-called “comfort woman” -- one of the women forced to provide sexual services to Japanese soldiers during World War II. Report by VOA's Jeff Shu.
Jeff Shu
Last July, the City of Glendale California, unveiled a statute in its central park of a Korean-American who was a so-called “comfort woman” -- one of the women forced to provide sexual services to Japanese soldiers during World War II.  In so doing, the city entered a transnational dispute that is progressively becoming fiercer.

Local officials and hundreds of people from Glendale's Korean community participated in the statue's unveiling.  The focus, though, was not so much on the statue as on its subject -- Bok-Dong Kim -- a local resident and a former "comfort woman."

She wants Japan's prime minister to admit his country's mistake and apologize.

“An apology, that is my request," stated Bok-Dong Kim. "As a Prime Minister [of Japan] you must apologize for past mistakes, even if they were forged by a former emperor.”

It's estimated the Japanese compelled some 200,000 women to provide sexual services to its soldiers during World War II.  Most of these women came from Korea, though many were from China, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Taiwan.

Japan’s conservative faction, though, denies the charge -- saying there were only 20,000 women at the most and that the overwhelming majority were willing participants.  Thus, the comfort women issue has become a recurring historical debate that has soured Japan’s relations with South Korea and China.

The Korea-Glendale Sister City Association was one of the promoters of the statue.  Association Chairman Chang Lee said it was put up with the best of intentions. “The reason behind having this statute here is to promote world peace and also to promote the human rights issue,” Lee said.

Many Japanese and Japanese-Americans, though, do not welcome the statue and have called on the city to tear it down. The city has not accepted any of these demands.

Last week, a group called the Global Alliance for Historical Truth, along with several Japanese Americans, filed a lawsuit in federal court asking for the statue to be removed.

“A city like Glendale within the state of California does not have any authority to interfere in foreign affairs,” said Koichi Mera, the group's president.

The Glendale statue is the first of its kind outside of the Korean peninsula, but similar commemorations are popping up elsewhere in California. The City of Garden Grove has erected a monument and Sonoma University added three tiles to its Asia Holocaust Monument in honor of comfort women.

In the face of the Korean-American push to establish comfort women memorials, Mera says that if his side can win its lawsuit, it will stop all U.S. cities from erecting a such monuments.

But the lawsuit has not yet been resolved, and Glendale has vowed to continue to fight.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Official Pleased With Ebola Containment Measure

Official says three-day sensitization effort will help reduce infection rate of Ebola disease nationwide More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: David from: Baltimore
March 31, 2014 7:50 PM
Can we also build a statue for the Tibetans to commemorate the horrendous human rights violations caused by the chinese?


by: Haengja Ko
March 24, 2014 1:14 AM
My mother was a very cold-hearted women....
One day, a Korean woman in her early forties approached me. She introduced herself as my mother's acquaintance...
She urged me to go to senchi (battlefield in Japanese) Without really knowing what senchi was about,
I accepted this offer. I naively trusted this woman, who took me to an employment agency.
Then, Mr. Ko, Korean, took me and seven or eight girls to Hankow, China. There I worked as a
comfort woman...

C. Sarah Soh, The Comfort Women, page 91

Korean and Japanese academics have long given up use of Seiji Yoshida as a source.
He was the origin of claims of forced recruitment, and thus the original claim of
sexual slavery, but he has already confessed that he fabricated the whole story by himself.

The testimony of the women is in many case either self-contradictory, demonstrably
false or clearly exaggerated beyond belief. Some former women have testified that
most of the women were willing participants in prostitution. Clearly such testimonies
were not highlighted by activists.

The system paid its workers very well. What suffering occured was dependent upon
the wartime conditions at which workers were located. Some lived in relative luxury,
others in harsh conditions. Many made huge amounts of money during their service.
One of the first women who wrote about their lives found that most remembered their
war years fondly and felt bitter more for how they were treated after the war.

The exact same comfort system was utilized after WWII by US troops in Japan.
as well as in Korea by US and Korean troops, in Vietnam by US and Korean troops.


Sources:
http://www.sdh-fact.com/CL02_1/31_S4.pdf

http://www.sdh-fact.com/CL02_1/39_S4.pdf

http://www.icasinc.org/2000/2000s/2000scss.html


by: Lincolist from: China
March 20, 2014 11:07 PM
shame on some Japanese! if i am a Japanese, i would like to to build such statues as comfort statue, we will never fotget history not for hatred,but for avoiding recuring tragedy.


by: Anonymous
March 19, 2014 5:00 AM
No matter what it is, somebody is going to bitch about it! Kind of like that memorial dedicated to the firefighters who died on 9-11. The memorial was based off the photo of the three firefighters holding a flag. Someone bitched that all the statues looked caucasion and that wasn't fair to the minority firefighters.


by: Not Again from: Canada
March 18, 2014 8:02 PM
History shows, to this very day, women are amongst the biggest victims of wars/conflicts. All victims need a dedicated memorial; it is shameful, that anyone would oppose such memorials; such opposition will only serve to further victimize them, for light will not shine on the crimes committed on the victims, nor on the criminals that did carry out such crimes. I do hope, for the sake of humanity, that the judiciary will not side with those that want to obscure the crimes that have occurred. And it should not be about the numbers of victims, but it should be about the suffering of the victims, and the inhumanity of the pepetrators. Failure to expose the truth, will not help us to be better in the future or the present.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid