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

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora