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

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid