Monday, May 21, 2012

In New Jersey, Memorial for ‘Comfort Women’ Deepens Old Animosity by NY times

In New Jersey, Memorial for ‘Comfort Women’ Deepens Old Animosity

Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times
A memorial in Palisades Park, N.J., is dedicated to women, many Korean, who were sexually enslaved by Japanese soldiers during World War II.
Published: May 18, 2012 165 Comments

Two delegations of Japanese officials visited Palisades Park, N.J., this month with a request that took local administrators by surprise: The Japanese wanted a small monument removed from a public park.
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Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times
Jeanie Kim and her son Paul Yu at the monument. Flowers arrive almost daily.

The monument, a brass plaque on a block of stone, was dedicated in 2010 to the memory of so-called comfort women, tens of thousands of women and girls, many Korean, who were forced into sexual slavery by Japanese soldiers during World War II.

But the Japanese lobbying to remove the monument seems to have backfired — and deepened animosity between Japan and South Korea over the issue of comfort women, a longstanding irritant in their relations.

The authorities in Palisades Park, a borough across the Hudson River from Manhattan, rejected the demand, and now the Japanese effort is prompting Korean groups in the New York region and across the country to plan more such monuments.

“They’re helping us, actually,” said Chejin Park, a lawyer at the Korean American Voters’ Council, a civic group that championed the memorial in Palisades Park, where more than half of the population of about 20,000 is of Korean descent, according to the Census Bureau. “We can increase the awareness of this issue.”

Korean groups have been further motivated by a letter-writing campaign in Japan in opposition to a proposal by Peter Koo, a New York councilman and Chinese immigrant, to rename a street in Flushing, Queens, in honor of comfort women.

Mr. Park said that in the past week or so, his organization had received calls from at least five Korean community organizers around the country — in Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey and Texas — expressing interest in building their own memorials. These would be in addition to at least four memorials in the works in California and Georgia, he added.

The monument in Palisades Park is the only one in the United States dedicated to comfort women, borough officials said.

“Starting from Flushing, N.Y., we will continue the construction in the areas of major Korean-American communities,” said Paul Park, executive director of the Korean-American Association of Greater New York, one of the oldest Korean community organizations in the region. “We Korean-Americans observe the issue on the level of a global violation of human rights.”

Tensions between Japan and South Korea over the legacy of comfort women were reignited in December when a bronze statue in honor of victims was installed across the street from the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, the South Korean capital. Japanese officials have asked the Korean authorities to remove that statue.

Japanese leaders have said that their formal apologies, expressions of remorse and admissions of responsibility regarding the treatment of comfort women are sufficient, including an offer to set up a $1 billion fund for victims. But many Koreans contend that those actions are inadequate. Surviving victims have rejected the fund because it would be financed by private money. The victims are seeking government reparations.

Mayor James Rotundo of Palisades Park said the lobbying began obliquely late last month. Officials at the Japanese consulate in New York sent e-mails requesting a meeting with borough administrators.

“I called the secretary and said, ‘What is this about?’ ” the mayor recalled in an interview, “and she said, ‘It’s about Japanese-U.S. relations,’ and I said: ‘Oh. Well, O.K.’ ”

The first meeting, on May 1, began pleasantly enough, he said. The delegation was led by the consul general, Shigeyuki Hiroki, who talked about his career, including his work in Afghanistan — “niceties,” Mr. Rotundo said.

Then the conversation took a sudden turn, Mr. Rotundo said. The consul general pulled out two documents and read them aloud.

One was a copy of a 1993 statement from Yohei Kono, then the chief cabinet secretary, in which the Japanese government acknowledged the involvement of military authorities in the coercion and suffering of comfort women.

The other was a 2001 letter to surviving comfort women from Junichiro Koizumi, then the prime minister, apologizing for their treatment.

Mr. Hiroki then said the Japanese authorities “wanted our memorial removed,” Mr. Rotundo recalled.

The consul general also said the Japanese government was willing to plant cherry trees in the borough, donate books to the public library “and do some things to show that we’re united in this world and not divided,” Mr. Rotundo said. But the offer was contingent on the memorial’s removal. “I couldn’t believe my ears,” said Jason Kim, deputy mayor of Palisades Park and a Korean-American, who was at the meeting. “My blood shot up like crazy.”

Borough officials rejected the request, and the delegation left.

The second delegation arrived on May 6 and was led by four members of the Japanese Parliament. Their approach was less diplomatic, Mr. Rotundo said. The politicians, members of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, tried, in asking that the monument be removed, to convince the Palisades Park authorities that comfort women had never been forcibly conscripted as sex slaves.

“They said the comfort women were a lie, that they were set up by an outside agency, that they were women who were paid to come and take care of the troops,” the mayor related. “I said, ‘We’re not going to take it down, but thanks for coming.’ ”

The Japanese consulate in New York has been reluctant to discuss its lobbying.

In interviews this week, Fumio Iwai, the deputy consul general, would not say whether the consul general had requested that the monument be removed. But he denied that the consul general had offered to help the borough in return for the monument’s removal. Mr. Hiroki “did not offer any such condition,” he said.

Mr. Iwai said the issue of comfort women, if not Palisades Park specifically, was the subject of continuing discussions “at a very high level” between the governments of South Korea and Japan.

“So,” he said, pausing as if to choose his words carefully, “things are quite complicated.”

nippon nationJapan
A small monument was erected in memory of the so-called comfort women in a U.S. Park by a group of Korean organizers. This was done in order to preserve the memory of those who were brutally mistreated by the Japanese military. My question. Why? And why did the mayor of a small town agree to allow it to be built in a U.S. Park? What purpose does it serve other then to stir up bitter sentiments from 70 years ago, something that does not serve the needs of the community as a whole. Why not erect a memorial for all ethnic groups that were enslaved, raped, and exploited? This way you don't single out one group of people. How many more monuments have to be built in U.S. Parks, and on whose dollar? The Japanese government has done a lot more to make amends to the Korean than the U.S. government has for the descendants of the African American. It could be said that their ancestors were raped and forced into brothels to appease their masters. That it was legally acceptable for a white slaveowner to take a slave against her will, rape, impregnate her and force her to bare his child. This went on for four hundred years, yet their is no monuments erected in their honor, there were no reparations paid out by the U.S. government. Nothing. Yet, the Korean- Americans, many of whom were not even born during this incident can demand government reparations on U.S. soil.

I wonder if a monument would be allowed to be erected in memory of the lynchings that occurred ?
May 20, 2012 at 9:48 p.m.RECOMMENDED5

I understand that Americans think this issue is only a historical problem between South Korea and Japan. But they should not forget that how many American soldiers were died in the Pacific War and what they were fighting for.

Think about how many American soldiers were killed and wounded to give these women freedom. Can you sell their sacrifice for just trees and books?
May 20, 2012 at 9:48 p.m.RECOMMENDED1

Daniel SWalnut Creek, CA
As a foreigner in the united states, I really do not understand why Americans the world do treat two bad things in different ways, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

Obviously, both of them hurt and did bad things to human beings during the world war II. From my experience, people think that anything about Nazi is bad and shamful, so they do not want to involve with it. However, I believe that people in the US treat Imperial Japan so generously and see Imperial Japan's rising sun logos a lot.

Keep in mind that Japan is the only a war criminal country that never apologized for their behavior to the victim contries. There are still lots of poiticians and Japanese people still think and say that the invasion to the Asian country and killing people during the war was not wrong, but they are blamed because they did not win the war. What will happen if it was in Germany? At least, people in Germany know what they did during the war was shameful and bad things.

I know my writing skill is not good enough to write something like this. But I can not keep silent on this issue.
May 20, 2012 at 9:48 p.m.RECOMMENDED1

Good for the Mayor. So, the four members of the Japanese Parliament said “... the comfort women were a lie, that they were set up by an outside agency [Outsourced? Hilarious!] , that they were women who were paid to come and take care of the troops,” Oh really? Of course, why be surprised since thousands of quite sane folks believe Obama is a Muslim or non-US citizen (or both), millions of folks think the holocaust was a myth (or at the least an exaggeration), etc. But, it is worthy to note that the Japanese government did acknowledge (on two occasions per this article) that the comfort women did exist and apologized. But where were the four members of the Japanese Parliament when these statements were made? In a Korean bath house?
May 20, 2012 at 9:47 p.m.

Yeah, I'll be living in Franklin Lakes. Japan should pay up over $700 billion fine. Don't do the crime. Now is the time to stick it to Japan. Not that Chinese are any better. Japan went crazy during WWII. Mistreated everybody. Fix the crime.
May 20, 2012 at 9:47 p.m.RECOMMENDED2

Taking down a monument is not going to erase the memory of anyone who lived through WW2. I was 8 or 9 and had gone to a movie with my mother. Of course, there was a newsreel and it showed a Japanese soldier throwing a baby into the air. My memory of that is very clear. The same for the picture of one of the Doolittle Raiders bent over waiting to be beheaded by a Japanese soldier. I do not need a plaque to remind me of the Bataan Death March and all the terrible atrocities committed by the Japanese. I think they are lucky that the world forgot the butchery they committed on civilians and military. I don't think anyone should encourage these people to take down their memorials. If it gives them some peace, what do we care what the descendants of these inhuman soldiers think.

We don't mind memorials in Europe telling where civilians were shot in a public square by the Nazis. We visit old concentration camps to remind us of what happened. I watch stories about the Nazi war criminals on PBS. I think we should remember what happened. Maybe it will stop it from happening again.
May 20, 2012 at 11:39 a.m.

Being a Japanese i strongly believe a heartfelt apology is in order from the Japanese government. Only then can the country discuss issues regarding its own sacrifice in the wake from a defeated war. Growing up in Japan, I know that many Japanese acknowledge the suffering it caused to neighboring countries, but nevertheless turn dumbfounded when it comes to discussing the matter. An interesting characteristic from a country who's corporate CEOs bow in apology, all the time, in front of the TV cameras, after scandals. That being said, I also know that true resolution will only come when South Korea rises to a level equivalent to the prosperity Japan has enjoyed in the latter half of the 20th century. We are getting there. Yet there is much to be done for harmony.
May 20, 2012 at 11:39 a.m.RECOMMENDED1

If the government of the United States under Ronald Reagan--hardly a bleeding heart liberal--could apologize to all of the U.S. citizens of Japanese ancestry who suffered the most deplorable imprisonment from 1942 to 1945 and pay the surviving members of that community twenty thousand dollars, then surely the Japanese government could and should acknowledge the truth and do the right thing.

It is nothing less than shameful that the Consul General of Japan asked the borough of Palisades Park to remove a marker that, like various Holocaust memorials around the country, serve a critical purpose in reminding all Americans of the horrors of hate.

Bravo to the leaders of Palisades Park.
May 20, 2012 at 11:39 a.m.RECOMMENDED2

TBNew York, NY
Wow, the Japanese Consulate sure botched this one.
May 20, 2012 at 11:39 a.m.RECOMMENDED1

J DurbinWashington, DC
Wow, talk about denial of any wrong doing. Japanese attitudes toward the atrocities committed during WW II stand in extremely stark contrast to what many Germans feel about Nazi atrocities. I guess the process of De-Nazification worked in Germany's case. Too bad a similar effort wasn't mounted in Japan following the war.
May 20, 2012 at 8:07 a.m.RECOMMENDED2

AndrewPortland OR
Erect a monument for the victims of the Crown Heights pogrom and there would be an immediate outcry from those who still try and excuse and justify this 3 day anti-Jewish hate crime. Bring up the anti-Asian hate crimes and speech that have been rampent from LA riots to the NYC Korean boycotts to 4 decades and counting of anti-Asian hate crimes in Philly schools, from Al Sharpton in the 80's to Marion Barry today and there will be an outcry from those who attempt to justify these hate crimes, harrassment, and demonization.
Sorry, but instead of heaping scorn on the Japanese for refusing to own up to their injustices let's start a little closer to home, shall we? Black anti-Jewish and anti-Asian hate crimes and attitudues over the past few decades are no better than the KKK's towards white people. Where are all those brave social justice activists calling for recognition of the Crown Heights victims or the Asian children persecuted in Philly generation after generation while no one stood up for them?
May 20, 2012 at 6:38 a.m.RECOMMENDED1

JanusRhode Island
The small memorial would have gone mostly unnoticed if the Japanese official had not asked for its removal. The fact the official requested the removal in America is quite rude, also. These women need to be recognized and honored. However, the commotion that has been stirred up is unfortunate.

Are there memorials to those Japanese that were kept in camps in America during the war? If not, there should be. All governments should be held accountable.
May 20, 2012 at 6:38 a.m.

johannesrolfny, ny
apologies were made and reparations were paid to the Nisei.
May 20, 2012 at 8:06 a.m.RECOMMENDED1

C. ChristensenLos Angeles
Japan has never fully owned up to the atrocities they committed during World War II, which certainly equalled if not exceeded the Nazis in their brutality, horror and ugliness! Whereas the Nazis, and of course deservedly so, were shamed and humiliated before the world, other than a mere handful of executions of a few assorted generals, the Japanese basically got off scot free and emerged stronger and more economically powerful than before WWII. As much as I love Japanese culture, they need to completely own up to their misdeeds!
May 20, 2012 at 6:36 a.m.RECOMMENDED3

Tucano FulanoSoCal USA
How basically different was the status of these women from those servicing fighters in ww2, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan ?
May 20, 2012 at 6:36 a.m.RECOMMENDED2

johannesrolfny, ny
it's a matter of scale, and the fact that these women and girls were kidnapped.
May 20, 2012 at 8:06 a.m.RECOMMENDED1

The Japanese officials make themselves look very foolish acting like this....
May 20, 2012 at 5:26 a.m.RECOMMENDED2

rlpkamathLondon, UK
The second world war was a long time ago. Surely these folks need to move on. And the Times can report on something more topical.
May 20, 2012 at 5:26 a.m.RECOMMENDED1

Connecticut YankeeMiddlesex County, CT
Forget the Japanese, we Americans can hardly lecture them! I was in Korea in the '70s and if you went to any American military base in country you'd find it surrounded by cheap bars filled with young women whose soul purpose was to provide "comfort" for the Americans. And when they were used and abused, the soldiers could count on their American commanders (and the cooperative local Korean officials) to make it all go away. Things may have changed since then - I doubt it. I'm ashamed to admit that I took part in it, but I was just out of high school and didn't know much better. My commanding officers, however, had no such excuses.
May 20, 2012 at 5:26 a.m.RECOMMENDED4

NancyBennettsville, S.C.
As a former resident of Palisades Park, it makes me feel proud that the current Mayor has refused to remove the Plaque honoring the women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese during World War II. Until they can acknowledge that the War was something more than an "unfortunate interlude", these kinds of tragedies will continue. Thank you, Mr. Mayor, for your brave stance on this issue.
May 20, 2012 at 5:26 a.m.RECOMMENDED4

Mike 71Chicago Area
In their crude "lobbying," threats and attempts to bribe the Mayor of Palisades Park, the Japanese government has only brought increased dishonor and embarrassment upon itself! Certainly, the World War II "conscription" of Korean and Chinese women and girls to be prostitutes for Japanese troops remains an embarrassment to Japan, but the thuggish behavior of so-called "diplomats," and "legislators" has only magnified the visibility and public discussion of this issue. These atrocities, which include the 1937 "Rape of Nanjing," in which an estimated 300,000 Chinese were raped and murdered, have yet to be resolved.

Perhaps, Mayor Rotundo should demand the Japanese demolition of the Hiroshima "A-Bomb Dome (Products Exhibition Hall)" and the disinterment of the ashes of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto from the Tama Relen Cemetery and Chokoji Temple, in return. Are the Japanese as willing to remove those monuments to satisfy their urges? In any event, I suggest that Mayor Rotundo video-record any further encounters with Japanese so-called "diplomats" and then post them on YouTube!

As for the monuments to the victims of this and other Japanese war atrocities, we should erect more memorials and place them near Japanese Embassies and Consulates, where they are publicly visible and the world will understand why they were erected!
May 20, 2012 at 3:24 a.m.RECOMMENDED6

E. Le Ne'New York City
My feeling is that all the memorials to the people who suffered during all our wars ought to be kept as warnings to those who would repeat history. I'm sure the Japanese would not take kindly to our forgetting the disgraceful way the U.S. treated Americans of Japanese origin during the second World War. Putting citizens, many who had lived in America for several generations into internment camps wasn't our finest hour, either. I don't remember anyone putting Americans of German descent into internment camps. The original "Americans'-the indian tribes who were in our country first certainly suffered at the hands of later arrivals. I think we should remember all the groups that were mistreated for racial or political reasons so that it stays in the minds of future generations. Sweeping history under the rug in order to placate diplomats doesn't do anything other than to
rub salt in the wounds of those who experienced war-time atrocities the world over.
May 20, 2012 at 3:24 a.m.RECOMMENDED4

There is so much irony in this story. In 1945, when World War II ended and legions of Japanese socialists and communists were released from prison after years of being held as political prisoners, Japan was on the cusp of becoming a revolutionary social democracy led by a class of people who would have been more likely to embrace what can only be called a Chomsky-like view of their own nation's history. But for Cold War reasons, the US Occupation nipped that movement in the bud and rehabilitated a bunch of conservatives who were all too happy to whitewash Japan's history and glorify its wartime exploits, without much objection from a Washington that needed a compliant ally in Tokyo. So you can thank Uncle Sam for the power wielded in Japanese society by such reprehensible politicians.

Now stateside, the Japanese are fighting a losing battle because years of mass emigration from S. Korea to the US has created a new brand of ethnic politics in places like NJ, California, Virginia, etc.. Ethnic Koreans in the USA are citizens. They vote, and their votes cannot be ignored. Japanese-Americans are simply outnumbered in all of these places now, because ironically (again) it was the very wealth and prosperity of Japan from the 1960s onward (in contrast to the poverty of South Korea, which remained a poor country well into the 1980s) that discouraged emigration from Japan to US following the latter country's lifting of all racially discriminatory immigration statutes in 1965.
May 20, 2012 at 3:22 a.m.RECOMMENDED1

It shouldn't be about majority though. It should be that Comfort Women and Joy Division are Japanese and German atrocities that really happened and should be remembered and mourned. I think the victims deserve and actually need our vocal sympathy. if there were only one Korean American in existence and a million Japanese Americans, I still think we should have memorials and we should teach it in our schools. It's actually not about having a grudge against the Japanese and Germans but definitely this is an act of uncommon evil and we'd better address it especially since the descendants of the culprits want to cover it up. That is very weird.
May 20, 2012 at 5:26 a.m.RECOMMENDED2

Greg J.Ann Arbor, MI
I do not blame any living Japanese individual for WW II atrocities. However, that there are Japanese officials that want us to believe Japan was not responsible for certain atrocities is a grave matter. By denying that reality and failing to, as a government, consistently acknowledge what they did was terribly wrong, they are in essence agreeing with the actions of their ancestors.
May 20, 2012 at 3:22 a.m.RECOMMENDED2

barb tennantseattle
this memorial does not belong in an AMERICAN park. we are all one in this country. let the japanese and koreans fight their differences back in their old countries and leave us out of it. WE did not invent comfort women.
May 20, 2012 at 3:22 a.m.

The the Japanese Americans should be sticking up for their fellow Americans who do want this statue up. Japan is a foreign country unless its an American protectorate like American Samoa and they forgot to tell us.
May 20, 2012 at 5:26 a.m.RECOMMENDED2

MichaelBergen, NJ
We did not "invent" the holocaust either, but we have a museums in DC and elswheren to remind ourselves and educate our children.
May 20, 2012 at 9:45 p.m.

The Japanese government has been denying their war crimes in this case for decades. They hoped that all the documents and evidence were destroyed . And most of all, they were desperately hoping that the few victims left would just age and die off and their stories would just disappear. Then international efforts and pressures put history front and center as undisputed evidence was since discovered. Just before the 50th Anniversary of WWII, the Japanese government delicately stated, "We cannot deny that the former Japanese army played a role. We would like to express our apologies and contrition". As if that half confession/apology wasn't enough, since then, they have done their darndest to keep every textbook in their country from the truth and continue to make efforts such as this now very public debacle.

Thanks to the Times for posting this article on the front page so that people (including me) could read about it.
May 20, 2012 at 3:22 a.m.RECOMMENDED5

The last thing any of these forcibly seized girls (as young as 11 and 12) would envision is becoming a wartime prostitute, being violently raped and tortured by hundreds of Imperial Japanese soldiers weekly and then suffering a horrific death from STDs and physical atrocities. From the moment they entered their death house, they were stripped of their name (given a Japanese name) and were never again allowed to speak another word of their native tongue.

The handful who survived the rape, infections, and torture, were killed off by the Japanese military (because they were of course evidence), except for just a scant few who returned to Korea with their bodies ravaged and their emotional states destroyed, in shame because their dignity was so viciously taken away. They had to then live in shameful hiding (in Korea) where at that point either their families would not acknowledge them or they themselves were too ashamed to go home.

I've worked in Japan quite a bit and have many Japanese friends. I am Korean-American. Almost in every instance I find the Japanese people wanting to know the truth and the government keeping it from them. Only when they actually leave their country do they learn any of even what we are talking about here in this piece.

I grew up in the States and am in my late 30's. I'm very sorry to say I've learned about these atrocities only in the last few years. May more and more memorials be erected, so that the truth can be heard loud and clear!
May 20, 2012 at 3:19 a.m.RECOMMENDED3

This monument bluntly memorializes Japanese war crimes in WWII, as do many more elsewhere. Are there similar blunt monuments in Japan memorializing the many war crimes committed by the United States in WWII, including the fire bombing of Japanese cities and, most notorious of all, the atomic bombing of two cities, with the loss of hundreds of thousands of innocent lives? I think not. The Japanese approach appears to be remembrance and forgiveness. That's a good thing for the United States, which has committed more than its share of war crimes and is committing more as we speak.
May 20, 2012 at 3:19 a.m.

YMNew York
I am a Japanese citizen who lives in New York. I am completely ashamed and embarrassed by my government's insensitivity, lack of common sense, and insincerely toward the history. I just wrote a letter to a Prime Minister of Japan, Yoshihiko Noda to protest the Japanese government's request to remove the memorial. I asked him to contact the Consulate General in New York immediately to have him apologize to the Korean American community and the mayor of Palisade. I would like to ask you to write to Mr. Noda as well to let him hear our voices. This is the link to write him through his home page. This is a English comment page, so do not worry even if you can't write Japanese. Also, you can write to the Consulate in New York.
May 20, 2012 at 3:19 a.m.RECOMMENDED4

SteveEnglewood Cliffs, NJ
One would think, out of respect for the victims and their family and contrition for the war crimes committed by the Japanese, that these Japanese delegates would have brought flowers and put them near the monument. Instead, they could not help but to display Japanese pride. Pretty sad commentary.
May 20, 2012 at 3:17 a.m.RECOMMENDED3

John H. ArmwoodMarietta.
Japan needs to face up to it's history of imperialism and human rigjts abuses. It's dastardly crimes against the people of Asia are part of it's past. Unlike Germany, Japan was not forced by the victorious Allies after World War II to atone for it's crimes against humanity. This was largely due to the fear of Japan succumbing to the spreading wave of communism in Asia after Mao Tse Tung's successful victory in the Chinese Civil War.

The legacy of the forced prostitution of Korean women is real. Japan should be loudly criticized, in the world community, for after sixty years still stubbornly refusing to acknowledge it's past. Acknowledging this history is an important step in preventing such atrocities from occurring in the future.

There are still comfort women alive today. They never received reparations for their forced sexual slavery. Japan,incredulously still maintains that these women volunteered to be serially gang raped by Japanese soldiers. Their legacy of suffering must be memorialized around the world. This must never happen again.
May 20, 2012 at 3:17 a.m.RECOMMENDED3

The problem that persists in Japan's inability to come to terms with the atrocities of the past was most deeply exemplified to me the day the government combined its annual atomic bombing victims festivals with a memorial for victims of a typhoon -- the contention clearly being transmitted to young Japanese with little or no understanding of WWII other than Japan was the victim of the bombs was that just as the typhon was an act of nature that no one had any responsibility for, so were the atomic bombings.
The "museum" in Hiroshima goes out of its way to perpetuate the fiction that the bombs just "fell out of the sky" one day and no one knows why.
There is no doubt the world should strive never to see those sorts of bombs "just fall out of the sky" again, but Japan still needs to come to terms with the reality that the bombs did not come from nowhere, for no reason.
The aftermath may have been supertyphoon-like, the genesis was not.
May 20, 2012 at 3:17 a.m.RECOMMENDED3

You can't erase the pages of history, nor should we try. Removing a memorial from a public place isn't going to change the facts, and since it's history, no group should be insulted or embarrassed by something their ancestors did in times of war. For example, the American Civil War is still a bone of contention, even after nearly 150 years and there's a large segment of the population that just won't let it go and insists on drawing that invisible line in the sand between the North and the South.
May 20, 2012 at 3:09 a.m.RECOMMENDED1

FilmMDNew York
Make more monuments. The Japanese need to know what they did was wrong.
May 20, 2012 at 3:09 a.m.RECOMMENDED3

tom franzsonbrevard nc
Call me old fashioned, and I guess not "PC", but I think the Korean population, would do better, showing some gratitude to the US troops that are buried in Korea. If. monument is to be erected honoring women that were impacted by the Korean War, how about the widow's and mothers of men that never came back? If a memorial is so important to Koreans, build it in Korea!

Tom Franzson. Brevard NC
May 20, 2012 at 3:09 a.m.

Most Koreans of a certain, older generation have nothing but reverence for the USA and the US military for coming to the rescue of South Korea during the Korean War. The founding chairman of Samsung made frequent pilgrimages to the General MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, VA until he died.
The owner of the world's largest baseball cap manufacturer tracked down a homeless American veteran who once saved his family's life, and bought him a house, etc.
Perhaps the ambivalence of younger generations towards the USA is often unwarranted or unfair, but it's not entirely unexpected given the passage of time. And Koreans are not the only people who can be accused of being selectively forgetful of their history sometimes!
May 20, 2012 at 5:28 a.m.RECOMMENDED2

MichaelBergen, NJ
Actually Tom, there is a monument to the Korean veterans that the Korean-Americans have raised funds for and erected in Palisades Park. Korean-Americans elsewhere have done the same in many communities in all over the USA also. The Korean War is a "forgotten war" in the US by most Americans but not to the Koreans who fund monuments and donation to local veteran groups. The Korean government also sponsor annual trips for scores so Korean War Veterans from the US and other members of the UN coalition. Let's hope Afghanistan an Iraq do the same in the future...
May 20, 2012 at 9:45 p.m.

drBrookline, MA
Memorials to comfort women should include the names of every nation that has ever made war. And perhaps we should erect plaques to those nations that have never made war. Just as a reminder that some people on the planet don't need to rape, murder and pillage to survive.
May 20, 2012 at 3:09 a.m.

That would include Switzerland, money launderer to the World!
May 20, 2012 at 6:34 a.m.RECOMMENDED3

Eddie VegaNew York City
From a public information perspective, it is an error to ignore The Streisand Effect before attempting to remove a monument such as this, whose emotional weight is far greater than the stone and metal used to create it.
May 20, 2012 at 3:09 a.m.

TheWayHomeLos Angeles
If the Japanese government is hoping that this issue will be forgotten once the last few "comfort women" have passed away, they are fooling themselves. This issue will never go away until the Japanese government takes full responsibility and begins to educate its people about its role in WW2. I'm a 35 year old Korean American. I have a 5 year old son and a 2 year old daughter. When they are old enough, I will tell them about the comfort women, I will tell them about the Nanking massacre, I will tell them about Unit 731, as well as many of the other atrocities that the Japanese Imperial army committed throughout Asia, and I will tell them to never forget. And if the Japanese government has not changed the way it has handled these issues, I will tell my children that they must continue to fight for those who are no longer able.

Some apologists for the Japanese government have said that it has already taken necessary steps for the resolution of this issue. But this case, Japan's handling of the "Peace Monument" in Seoul, the whitewashing or removal of this issue in the textbooks of their nation's children, the politicians who proclaim "that comfort women had never been forcibly conscripted as sex slaves," as well as many other incidences tell the rest of us that the Japanese government hasn't done nearly enough.
May 20, 2012 at 3:09 a.m.RECOMMENDED3

MikeNJNYT Pick
A certain lack of public relations savvy, at least in Western PR and media ways, seems to have put the Japanese in a tight spot here. In today's world, as connected as we are and tuned in as we all are, rewriting history has never been more difficult. The Japanese should have realized this and just let a small, relatively unknown memorial stay that way. Instead, they created a story where there wasn't a story and have come off looking rather insensitive and foolish.
May 20, 2012 at 3:04 a.m.RECOMMENDED8

bill sussexSussex NJNYT Pick
The path to reconciliation and peace is through acknowledging painful truths. Attempts to cover up past deeds only extends the pain and creates new resentments. I don't think the intent of the monuments was ever to embarrass Japan. Rather it may be to remember the innocent. With acknowledgement may come forgiveness.
May 20, 2012 at 3:04 a.m.RECOMMENDED10

Germany has bent over contritely for its atrocities such that it has earned the right to question allied bombings of its civilians. Yet while Japan has given some contrition, it has not, in my opinion, come close to that of Germany. If one considers the comfort women, Nanjing, Unit 731 and the treatment of POW's during The War, a corresponding balance of expiation is yet to be achieved.

To Japan, I tell you to let your conscience be your guide.
May 20, 2012 at 3:01 a.m.RECOMMENDED3

reality checkerPalo Alto, CA
Time to make a bigger monument!
May 20, 2012 at 3:01 a.m.RECOMMENDED7

According to "A War Atlas for Americans" published 1945 by the U.S. Office of War Information (now CIA), from 1875 through 1944 Japan invaded 36 Pacific rim countries under the military slogan "conquer all, kill all." An estimated 18 million civilians were executed during this 75 year holocaust. Japan invaded Korea in 1910, kidnapping thousands of young Korean boys and threatening to kill their families if they refused to serve in Japan's military. In World War II, conscripted as Kamikazi pilots, these Koreans often flew planes into the sea instead of into Allied ships thus committing suicide rather than aiding Japanese aggression. Koreans can be proud of these young men as they remember the thousands of "comfort women" taken by the Japanese. As an American living in Shanghai when the Japanese invaded there in 1937 I can personally attest to the cruelty exhibited by Japanese military towards the Chinese. Japanese civilians still do not have any concept of the degree to which Japan's political power was usurped by Japan's military because Japan's military history was literally struck from the books by the occupying Allies in 1945. Check out Werner's "Imperial Japan's World War Two" published 2006.
May 20, 2012 at 3:01 a.m.RECOMMENDED6

A. StantonDallas, TX
Let's keep these memorials coming. Put 'em on milk cartons and anywhere else we can stick 'em.
May 20, 2012 at 3:01 a.m.RECOMMENDED4

JerroldNew York, NY
These objections are about as ridiculous as if the current German government were to demand the closing down of the Holocaust museum.

An incident similar to that actually happened.
Some years ago, there was a German-American organiztion that was publicly advocating for "restrictions" on teaching of the Holocaust. They were claiming that all Germans were being made to look like Nazis because of such teaching.

The Japanese people of today are not responsible for what their ancestors did, but a nation itself cannot escape from the truth of its history.
May 19, 2012 at 1:19 p.m.RECOMMENDED44

Ladislav NemecBig Bear CA
That's the Japanese way, though. Living Japanese (except for a few real oldsters) have nothing to do with 'comfort women'. Still, the Japanese way of honoring their ancestors (no idea how many generations back the prefer to go) is very strong.

While the Germans have been quite honest about their WWII crimes, nobody wants to mention comparable Japanese crimes. Some of them were actually much worse than enslaving Korean women...
May 20, 2012 at 2:35 a.m.RECOMMENDED2

barb tennantseattle
plenty of memorials in germany and israel, they are not AMERICAN memorials
May 20, 2012 at 3:01 a.m.

brooklyn280new york, ny
As a Japanese-American, I am always embarrassed by the way the Japanese handle the memories of WWII, not just in their own textbooks, but in insisting that other countries forget as well. I have been to Nagasaki, Japan, and have been to the Atomic Bomb Museum, and it is very moving. It is an important part of history that they (and the world) should remember, because it affects present and future decision-making. How is this any different? Would the U.S. ever ask Japan to put away their A-bomb memorials? Of course not! Any country or people should remember their past, struggles that they've gone through as well as shameful actions, because learning from them are what makes us better people and better leaders. It is even more astounding to me that it is Japanese leaders and high officials who are requesting this.

When i look at the picture of the memorial (which is small btw!!), i don't see any anti-japanese sentiments or anything like that - i see it as a reminder of how war (every war) always brings suffering to the weak and innocent, who are subject to the powers at play.
May 19, 2012 at 11:12 a.m.RECOMMENDED54

Don SeekinsWaipahu HI
Attempts by Japanese officials and Diet members to suppress memory of the wartime "comfort women" are truly disgusting; but it is also true that the history of the comfort women contains some uncomfortable ambiguities. Bruce Cumings in his book KOREA'S PLACE IN THE SUN mentions that "many women were mobilized [to serve as prostitutes] by Korean men" (p. 179). For a number of reasons, Koreans co-operated with the Japanese Imperial Army by rounding up and abducting young women for sexual "service" - which shows that the status of women, especially poor women, was extremely low in both Japanese and Korean societies. They were viewed as simply a natural resource to be exploited.

Moreover, when the Allies moved into Japanese-occupied territories at the end of the war, they were often more than happy to enlist the surviving comfort women for further "service."

The shameful history of the comfort women is not simply a tale of victims belonging to one nationality and victimizers belonging to another. There is plenty of blame to go around, which is why, as Cumings mentions, both the Japanese and the South Korean governments preferred for a long time to remain silent on the issue.
May 19, 2012 at 11:12 a.m.RECOMMENDED18

Paul RosenbergerManhattan Beach, Ca
Ignoring the moral issues for a moment, the Japanese committed a glaring tactical error by asking for the removal of a monument that hardly anyone knew existed. Now everyone knows and and the whole ugly issue has been resurrected.
May 19, 2012 at 11:12 a.m.RECOMMENDED24

capuchin44New York
I truly wonder what the members of this delegation were thinking. If you read the memorial, it is a rather tasteful and gentle way of memorializing these women. There is no mention of sexual slavery, and instead the memorial sticks with just "comfort women."

I should add that Japan internally is very divided on this issue. There is a conservative wing that wholeheartedly believes it is their right to reclaim the way wartime history is written and a left that believes that Japan should take an approach more similar to Germany's. My wife is Japanese, we live in NYC, and when I told her that delegations had come to request that this monument be taken down, she was astounded at the nerve and stupidity of the Japanese delegations. My brother-in-law feels the same way on these issues. The only way forward is to openly acknowledge, apologize, and make recompense in whatever way is even possible after such horrors.
May 19, 2012 at 11:12 a.m.RECOMMENDED17

Nothin2hideDayton, OH
This inconspicuous memorial is inoffensive and appropriate, to me. But the S. Korean monument across the street from the Japanese embassy in Seoul is an uneccesary in-your-face insult. After all, the Japanese people of today had no part in the atrocities of WWII.

It's important for humanity to remember and pay tribute to those in the human family who have suffered so greatly and unjustly, and to place the blame where it rightly belongs. It's equally important to show respect to all nations (who are deserving) and to maintain good feelings today.
May 19, 2012 at 11:12 a.m.RECOMMENDED4

barb tennantseattle
it should be in south korea, not the usa
May 20, 2012 at 3:01 a.m.

Name WithheldNew York CityNYT Pick
Post-WWII protocol was to let by-gones go. Back then, moving on was key for peace. Witch-hunts would have extended war that badly needed to end. In the U.S., letting go was key to ending the Civil War.

Let's not confuse "letting go" with "forgetting." Nowadays, we are fearful of forgetting. For example, an entire generation of Civil War descendents (who have been harboring handed-down-stories) have unleashed dozens of books (recently) on the topic -- timed with the 150-year anniversary; but also presented as a last chance to get stories out before another generation of descendants pass.

Every new generation confronts the past. The guardians of the Korean monument represents a new generation.

If I were Japanese, I would support the monument, not with shame, but as a sobering reminder that my values (and those of present-day Japan) couldn't be further from those of my misguided ancestors. On that point, I, as a Japanese citizen, would stand fast with my Korean friends.
May 19, 2012 at 11:04 a.m.RECOMMENDED25

Shame is exactly what that memorial should evoke in official Japanese circles. AS long as Japan tries to sidestep the issue, the more it will insist on being resolved. War crimes have a way of not going done the memory-hole.
May 19, 2012 at 8:02 a.m.RECOMMENDED26

danieljstarkharrison, ny
Until Japan acknowledges and apologizes for the myriad atrocities it committed during WWII, and Turkey acknowledges and apologizes for the massacre of the Armenians, they will continue to live in a fantasy world, and may yet repeat -- in one way or another -- their brutality.

Then, after they acknowledge and apologize, they need to revise their children's textbooks so future generations of Japanese and Turks don't continue to believe they live in countries without dark pasts.
May 19, 2012 at 8:02 a.m.RECOMMENDED26

Why did the Japanese request removing the memorial that commemorates the comfort women? Human beings do not have that much guilt, if they can go unnoticed and unpunished. The Japanese did not get the punishment they deserved after WWII. So tthey lack fear and remorse.

Two Japanese cultures play a role. First, Japanese have strong sense of shame, but weak sense of guilt, as Ruth Benedict put it. Shame originates more from outside pressure while guilt more results from inner sense of morality. Since Japan has not done enough to own up to the atrocities, individual Japanese do even have strong sense of shame over this issue.

Not too many peoples treat sex matter-of-factly as the Japanese do. Having sex is as natural as eating meal. We do not feel guilty or shameful about eating meals, since we need to satisfy our human needs or instincts, do we? The sense of virginity was a rather alien concept to Japan before modern times. On the eve of the Japanese defeat, Japanese authorities organized many women, including prostitutes, to serve American GIs for two purposes. One was to prevent Americans from causing damage; the other was to make money out of Americans. They did not feel shame about this. An anecdote might be illuminating. One guy went to his Japanese friend’s house. The Japanese introduced his mom, saying that she sacrificed a lot after the war, becoming a prostitute to support the family. Most people would hide such a fact, but for many Japanese it was not an issue.
May 19, 2012 at 8:02 a.m.RECOMMENDED10

Name WithheldNew York City
Few apologies for atrocities come from their perpetrators. Good people owning-up to the wrongs of bad people (who are nearly all gone) is a gut-check for humanity and a civic-check for great nations. Scrubbing this out bad for Japan. Embracing it is good for the world. Let’s all embrace it together as friends.
May 19, 2012 at 8:02 a.m.RECOMMENDED10

scnew york ny
While I empathize with the sad circumstances, perhaps this plaque would serve best if placed in Korea, and Palisades Park.
May 19, 2012 at 8:02 a.m.RECOMMENDED3

MichaelBergen, NJ
If the Korean-Americans want to honor these victims where they live, it's their right to do so. Just as the Holocaust Museum in DC honor the victims and educate us Americans and the world about the consequences of racism and militarism, the small monument in Palisades Park does the same.
May 20, 2012 at 9:46 p.m.

Brad HowardBellingham, WA
World War II has been over since 1945. We would all be wise to keep it that way...
May 19, 2012 at 8:02 a.m.RECOMMENDED3

another country heard fromelsewhere
The Japanese govt instead of seeking to sweep this under the rug, should for its own honor take responsibility for resolving this issue and for the atrocities in committed in the name of the Emperor in Nanking and the inhuman experiments carried out on POWs by unit 731 in China.

However, since 1945, the US has provoked 200 conflicts; after 1989 instead of seeking the "peace dividend", the US instead decided no country, no matter how small, would challenge its unexamined sense of entitlement to impose its will at gun point. There are sickening parallels between the atomic bombings and Shock and Awe, both intended to demonstrate the power of the US and its willingness to commit mass murder to perpetuate its dominance.

When is the US govt going to have to account for its own actions? It is simply victors` justice that allows this monument to be built in the US, and victors` justice that allows the US to avoid being held accountable for its actions around the world.

Americans are ignorant of their own complicity in atrocities and how their lifestyles have benefitted from the deaths of millions (more ignorant even than the Japanese who, despite revisionist history books, still have the sense to care about appearances - even if their spin efforts are ham-handed).

As long as you continue to lead lives uncomplicated by a knowledge of your real history, it will be war without end - or until, like all empires, the cost of military expeditions finally bankrupts you.
May 19, 2012 at 11:12 a.m.RECOMMENDED9

But, unlike the Germans, the Japanese have tried to pretend that this and other things like the Rape of Nanking and the Rape of Manila never happened ...
May 20, 2012 at 2:29 a.m.RECOMMENDED2

at least the german goverment apologized for their atrocities during ww2 the japanese govt has never apologized. i'd like to see a monument to the millions of chinese filipinos south east asians and the bataan death march
May 19, 2012 at 6:39 a.m.RECOMMENDED20

J K Lny, ny
I think you meant apologies from the Japanese were given half-heartedly. The majority of Japan, including members of its Parliamentary government leaders (think the Senate/US POTUS), DENY that any of the atrocities in WWII were real despite witnesses from even the Nazi Germans stationed in China. It's not even written in most, if any, Japanese textbooks. The entire country is run in a state of denial. With the Germans, they made sure their entire population knew of the holocaust so such a thing would not happen again.
May 20, 2012 at 2:28 a.m.RECOMMENDED4

no the Japanese have not apologized ... they have expressed 'regret' but they have not apologized
May 20, 2012 at 2:34 a.m.RECOMMENDED4

MichaelBergen, NJ
Lee, the Japanese government has never gaven an official apology. The various officials have offered "personal regrets" at various times and offered privately raised monies. The Japanese has always sought to placate without taking full responsibility for this issue as evidenced by their continual approval of textbooks that soften or deny their atrocities during WWII. This is why the monuments need to be erected.

Some have suggested that the monuments belong in Korea not in US. I say they belong everywhere including Japan just as the Holocaust Museums belongs in our capital and in Germany. There are also many Hiroshima peace monuments all over the world including the US as a testament to all those who will remember and say "never again". I hope the Japanese as a people can move away from their state of denial and move forward to true reconciliation, winning the trust of the people they once oppressed so brutally.
May 20, 2012 at 2:35 a.m.RECOMMENDED5

Michael N.Chicago
As one of the posters here has noted, Japan should take some lessons from Germany. The German government not only admitted past guilt, they never tried to white wash what they did during World War 2 and they even built a holocaust memorial in the middle of Berlin as a reminder to future generations. If I were to advise the Japanese government, I'd tell them it would be in their best interest to encourage the building of such memorials not tearing them down. Until the Japanese government etched this into their psyche, the world would continue to remind them.
May 19, 2012 at 6:39 a.m.RECOMMENDED37

As a Japanese person, I am very embarrassed about how they have treated this issue. First the history textbook controversies, and now this?

There are many Holocaust memorials and museums in the US. Do you hear the German government trying to remove them?
May 19, 2012 at 6:38 a.m.RECOMMENDED47

BrianNew York
Re: some of the posts here, for Americans to say that "we did nothing wrong" in using atomic bombs in Japan belies a denial of historic atrocity that is not exactly similar, but is parallel to Japan's. Japanese conservatives have accrued a very big chunk of influence to themselves since the 80's and 90's when politicos began to promote "spirit and culture" campaigns of Japanese homogeneity (with the school anthem and flag issues being the most obvious outward signs). This is what has accompanied the fragmentation, disparity, and effects of social breakdown brought to them by the neoliberal economic project: an increasingly nationalist official ideology staked on an everyday xenophobic, anti-feminist, anti-youth, "anti-foreign" vision of "Japanese cultural values" in the workplace and schools. These days it is quite an aggressive campaign of non-inclusiveness: witness the confusion over the Japanese abductees to N. Korea, on the one hand and the denial of enormous numbers of international child abductions to Japan committed and denied by Japanese nationals. Re-interpreting and minimizing the suffering Japan dealt to Korea and Japan is a key component of maintaining this Japanese "common sense" conception of themselves.
May 19, 2012 at 5:58 a.m.RECOMMENDED2

BrianNew York
to fast_skier: More Americans could acknowledge that Japanese history didn't end in '45, nor restart then. In the interest of Cold War military basing and building an Asian presence for itself, the occupation was interested in continuity in Japan: soft on the Emperor and on keeping Japanese fascists in a Japanese government that has alternated apologies with noisy backsliding on just the issues this memorial to the Korean women victims of Japanese fascism commemorates.The issue between the Japanese and the world at large of enormous numbers of child abductions is similarly manipulated by both Japanese ministers and American diplomats down to the present day, and for the same purposes: to aid Japanese conservatives in the transformation of Japanese culture and society into a theme park of cultural memory that elides the antagonisms and abuses of the past and present. What Americans should not do is to respond to Japanese nationalism and minimizing of atrocities with noisy pride in the justice of its own historic brutalities ... firebombing of Tokyo, or holding the world hostage with atomic weapons.
May 19, 2012 at 11:12 a.m.RECOMMENDED2

AaronSan Francisco
The question here is not about the atomic bombings--incidentally I am all for memorials for the lost souls of this awful event-- but it is about the very real historical fact of Korean forced prostitution. To think that a letter and admittance of guilt by the Japanese government means that memorials are no longer needed is absurd.

The Americans did not 'sin' when they bombed Japan, but perhaps, they didn't thoroughly dismantle the country enough after the war; perhaps saving the emperor left this right wing fringe that we still see to this day. Unlike Germany, where a swastika is not even legal, Japan was let off the hook for economic and perhaps other reasons...
May 19, 2012 at 11:12 a.m.RECOMMENDED10

another country heard fromelsewhere
Brian is spot-on in his analysis of the reasons the Japanese govt wishes to "spin" this incident - to make it jibe with the myth that the ruling patriarchs have created to inform and control the lives of their citizens.

There are clear parallels between the loss of identity experienced in Japan in the aftermath of WWII and again after the death of Emperor Hirohito 24 yrs ago, and the post 9/11 loss of identity in the US which has been ruthlessly exploited by the Bush and Obama regimes under the banner of the Patriot Act for reasons similar to those which prompted the Japanese govt to act in NJ - what seems irrational, self-serving behaviour to Americans is exactly that - albeit perfectly understandable in a different context. The Japanese patriarchy, hidebound and intellectually incapable of meeting the challenges of the 21st century, instead wishes to lead its people "back to the future".

What Americans seemingly fail to realize is that their own govt is involved in an analogous campaign to win hearts and minds - theirs. Those of the rest of the planet can be won over at the point of a gun, or so goes the US govt`s rationale.

Quoting Brian liberally: "Re-interpreting and minimizing the suffering Japan (America) dealt to Korea and Japan (Cuba, the Philippines, Guatemala, Chile, Iran, Vietnam, Cambodia, El Salvador, Panama, Granada, Iraq, Afghanistan....) is a key component of maintaining this Japanese (American) "common sense" conception of themselves.
May 19, 2012 at 11:12 a.m.RECOMMENDED3

Nancy BrownNew York
Please read the book, "Sex among Allies: Military Prostitution in U.S. Korea Relations" by Professor Katharine H. S. Moon. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997 before make any self self-righteous comments if you are the US citizens.

War is evil. War change people. I blame not only Japan, but also the US and all governments have destroyed our lives. I believe that 99% of us, who are just ordinary people, want to carry on our precious, but ordinary lives with our loved ones.
May 19, 2012 at 5:53 a.m.RECOMMENDED8

Is this it?New York, NY
I've met Prof. Moon (and I've read her book) and I think she would agree that what the Japanese delegation attempted to do was wrong and ridiculous. Yes, the US is not above censure itself, but it doesn't mean that as Americans we cannot recognize the wrongness of denial. I think it would be far worse if we refused to acknowledge the wrongness of what Japan's delegation did and continues to, just because we don't want to be hypocritical.

As for Prof. Moon's book which I agree more people should read, it's about a different matter from what is discussed here. If you believe that the Americans have no right to comment on Japan's denial, then you should also extend that to Koreans as well since the Korean govt (and by extension its ppl and society) is complicit in the prostitution near and in the US military bases. Sorry, but these are two separate matters, though there are some common elements.
May 19, 2012 at 11:12 a.m.RECOMMENDED4

Nai Mei YaoNew Jersey
The sad thing is really that many young Japanese have never been taught what their country did to the rest of Southeast Asia during WWII and are bewildered at the hostility that people from these other countries feel for them. It's because the government to this DAY continues to downplay what they did. 20 million Chinese killed during WWII, who knows how many Koreans, Filipinos, Malay, etc., horrific atrocities committed against women and children, and the Japanese government is squawking over a small plaque erected 10,000 miles away from them? Really?
May 19, 2012 at 5:53 a.m.RECOMMENDED48

Children start to learn about Japanese wartime atrocities while in elementary school. This process continues throughout their education. The vast majority of Japanese are well aware of the horrors of war and their own significant role in such.
May 20, 2012 at 2:34 a.m.RECOMMENDED1

Name WithheldNew York City
The age of information has unearthed long-past atrocities committed by a fading Japanese generation who, rather than apologize, buried it, causing it to skip a generation with little notice.

The best apology requires perpetual introspection – self-criticism. There is a long line of countries with great economies that lack the ability to self-criticize. China, who still awaits an apology from Japan, stands right behind Japan in that line.

The boldest critics of America are its own people, publishing industry, government, film industry, and educational system. Yet many Americans feel that they fall far short, due partly to a growing generation that is clouding the meaning of patriotism with global selfishness. Media giants with polarizing ideologies – masquerading with false claims of balance (Fox News) – are a subcategory that threatens objective introspection.

Let Americans never forget their wrongs – slavery & bigotry, witch-burning, McCarthyism, internment of Japanese-Americans, Vietnam, bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Obama wanted to apologize, but Japanese officials rejected the idea, because its people are not prepared to publicly revisit the matter). My list of wrongs reach to the moon.

Note to Japanese officials: Cash, cherry trees, and library books (about other topics) don’t cut it.
May 19, 2012 at 5:52 a.m.RECOMMENDED10

FYI, the Obama apology for Hiroshima and Nagasaki that never materialized is a right-wing media fiction. Although various cables and wikileaks documents attribute to him a plan to apologize, none of these can actually be traced back to the president and the White House has denied his having any part in it.
May 19, 2012 at 8:02 a.m.RECOMMENDED12

MichaelSan Diego 92104NYT Pick
In the real world, there is no court of contrition in front of which to fall on bended knee and claim that you have found the error of your ways, made suitable amends and are therefore to be absolved. There is only the court of public opinion. And governments always find (much to their dismay) that it takes far more than the planting a few cherry trees or the making of a token donation to erase the sins of their fathers in the court of public opinion.

Put yourself in the shoes of another culture. For example, would Americans be offended if the Japanese erected a statue honoring Japanese Americans interned in camps during World War II and install it opposite the U.S. embassy in Tokyo? Well, yes, we might be offended – but that doesn’t matter. Just because we finally (dragging our heels) admitted that we were wrong doesn’t mean that everyone else immediately forgives and forgets.

The Japanese are a very proud and dignified people, and rightfully so. That they have apologized (belatedly, but finally…) for enslaving comfort women is commendable. But that doesn’t re-set the clocks. That doesn’t make the pain and insult disappear overnight. If that were the case, how would one generation learn from another? After all, the rest of the world is made up of proud and dignified people as well.
May 19, 2012 at 5:51 a.m.RECOMMENDED23

"For example, would Americans be offended if the Japanese erected a statue honoring Japanese Americans interned in camps during World War II and install it opposite the U.S. embassy in Tokyo? Well, yes, we might be offended" -- Japanese Americans are Americans. The mistreatment of those and other ethnic minorities in the past (and present) from blacks, to native Americans those are all domestic issues rather than the internation one here.

Japan and the rest of the world remember the victims of two Nuclear weapons every year. It is absolutely strange for Japan to do what they did in this case and many other involving other Asian coutries. I wonder why they did not offer to make payments and trees to the US so we can remove our Pearl Harbo memorials. This utter ugliness of Japanese denalism is part of the reasons that Japan will never be an influential world power again.
May 20, 2012 at 6:35 a.m.

VJOJersey City, NJ
Sorry, Japanese friends, while your official apologies deserve recognition, there's no reason to remove such monuments and pretend these bad things never happened. This seems to be a cultural misunderstanding. Such monuments don't mean that we don't value your friendship.
May 19, 2012 at 5:50 a.m.RECOMMENDED9

Don SeekinsWaipahu HINYT Pick
Japanese officials do their own people a great disservice by pushing the line that the only important human rights violations are those in which the victims are Japanese, such as the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or the Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea during the 1970s, who have been the subject of a huge, officially-sponsored campaign both inside and outside Japan. This sort of attitude promotes narrow minded tribalism and xenophobia and makes Japan look bad in the eyes of the world.

The Japanese invasions of Asia in the 20th century were unspeakably bloody, comparable to the Mongol conquests of a few centuries before or the Spanish conquests of Mexico and Peru. Earlier western colonial occupations of the countries of South and Southeast Asia were not good, but by comparison they were rather mild. No matter what Japanese Diet members or foreign ministry officials do or say, the history of Japan's wars in the 20th century will not be forgotten.
May 19, 2012 at 5:50 a.m.RECOMMENDED39

SKCLos Altos
While the Germans have acknowledged the atrocities under the Nazis and compensated their victims, Japan, as a nation, continues to deny their atrocities during WWII, including the issue of "the comfort women". And now they even want to wash that out abroad. Unless and until Japan acknowledges their guilt, and compensate the victims, the civilized world has no reason to forgive and forget.
May 19, 2012 at 5:49 a.m.RECOMMENDED14

LeaningleftFort Lee
The descendants of the victims have long memories - as it should be. But when can they truly accept an apology to help close the wounds?
May 19, 2012 at 5:49 a.m.RECOMMENDED3

M.D.YKenwood, CA
When it is a real apology and not a statement of political expediency.
May 19, 2012 at 8:02 a.m.RECOMMENDED15

MichaelBergen, NJ
There has never been an official apology. Only some iterations of personal regrets from various officials at various times to suit their needs have been offered. The Japanese Parliament has never passed a resolution admitting the atrocities of their military to be delivered by their PM as our Congress has done regarding slavery and the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII. And to this day they allow the use of vague languages in brief mentions of military oppression in their text books, depriving their children the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of militarization.
May 20, 2012 at 2:35 a.m.RECOMMENDED4

EatonEnglewood, New Jersey
Palisades Park is two towns south of where I live. If the Korean Community there wants to erect a plaque to bring attention to the suffering of their countrymen, so be it. It is obnoxious for the Japanese government to presume that they even have a right to a meeting with borough officials.

Furthermore, to my mind, the Japanese have a long history of obfuscating their own war crimes. A good friend of mine was kept, for nearly five years, in a Japanese prison camp where she was denied even the right to a basic education. She was four years old and taken prisoner when the Japanese invaded Indonesia, then a Dutch colony. Her mother secretly taught her how to read by scratching letters in the dirt. Funny how many Americans are not aware of how the Japanese treated non-combatants in WW2. Perhaps it's because no small New Jersey town has yet erected a plaque to honor them.

When the Japanese own up to the truly horrific things that they, as a nation, did, then maybe we can have a conversation about letting bygones be bygones.
May 19, 2012 at 5:49 a.m.RECOMMENDED23

If the Germans can erect a Holocaust memorial in Berlin (aka: "Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe"), the Japanese should be able to deal with a plaque in New Jersey. Ridiculous.
May 19, 2012 at 5:49 a.m.RECOMMENDED19

hiker2kHoustonNYT Pick
I agree that such monuments should not be removed just because a few Japanese officials ask for it. To be fair, it occurs to me to wonder whether these officials are part of a (right-wing crackpot) minority in Japan or actually represent a majority view.

Fairness is important; how many of us can truthfully say that none of our predecessors ever did anything wrong, even if because of mistakes in judgement? Despite that, its a common human behavior to deny such stuff. I've read many articles about how pervasive denialism is in Japan about their past military adventures. Besides the comfort-women issue, the Rape of Nanjing is another event that some people in Japan want to erase from history books.

I respect and admire many things about Japanese culture, but the denialism aspect is not one of them. Japan's neighbors do have legitimate complaints.

Of course, my country (the US) can't escape criticism, either. For all of us, I think the best course is to recognize the mistakes and horrors of the past, try to make things right, but taking care to avoid creating new victims in the process.
May 19, 2012 at 5:48 a.m.RECOMMENDED20

What the Japanese Armed Forces did in WWII was heinous, cowardly, and not to be forgotten.

The Rape of Nanking, beheadings, germ warfare experimentation on POW's and civilians, forced marches of POW's where more than 50% died, Korean and China killings of civilians, and a whole list of other atrocities cannot be forgotten.

As a Jew, I cannot forget what the Germans did in WWII (the Holocaust). But as a human being living in the world, I cannot forget the atrocities of the Armenians by the Turks, the numerous genocides that have happened in Africa, and the Serb massacres of Muslims , again to just name a few.

Japan and its citizens may want to forget what happened in WWII, but the rest of the world must remember.

Even in Canada we have an expression "Lest we forget" for Remembrance Day, and although the remaining soldiers are passing on, it is up to us - the living, to remember what happened decades or even a century ago.

Sadly, events of past history still have repeated themselves to the detriment of us all.

For as the famous author and poet George Santayana once wrote - "Those who don't remember the past are condemned to repeat it".
May 19, 2012 at 5:48 a.m.RECOMMENDED20

super size the memorial !
May 19, 2012 at 5:47 a.m.RECOMMENDED22

gerald42White Plains, NY
More monuments. Fewer atrocities.
May 19, 2012 at 5:47 a.m.RECOMMENDED18

"The Human Condition" by the Japanese director Kobayashi does a great job of dealing with this issue as well as militarism...see it.
May 19, 2012 at 5:47 a.m.RECOMMENDED2

ADNew York
Whereas the Germans have gone out of their way to atone for the Holocaust, and Holocaust denial is actually a criminal offense in many European countries, the Japanese have not done the same with regard to the crimes their military committed in World War II. To this day, right-wing political parties continue to have the Nanjing Massacre, the human experiments conducted in China by Unit 731 and comfort women stricken from school history textbooks. And, of course, former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was infamous for making several visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan's war dead, including several Class A war criminals, including Hideki Tojo. Amid the focus on the European Holocaust, many Americans are largely unaware of the things the Japanese did in the countries they invaded.

Unfortunately, this has led to a lot of bitterness in South Korea and China, to the point where it's not uncommon to hear Chinese say extremely racist things about the Japanese. But this kind of hatred and animosity won't disappear until Japan properly atones for what happened, including a full acknowledgement and apology and restitution to victims.
May 19, 2012 at 5:47 a.m.RECOMMENDED15

When one knows that one's country has done something really horrible, to deny it and to pretend that it wasn't "that way" at all, it only makes that country seem even worse, even more despicable when such a protest and action is taken. I'm wondering just how many Americans really knew very much about what Japan did about these women until they made such a public and offensive attempt to hush it up. Now that more Americans know about it, the Japanese have found people don't like what they did either then or now.
May 19, 2012 at 5:47 a.m.RECOMMENDED12

good for them! now lets come to the present. as a collective group, us humans spend a lot of time and effort in the past trying to right a wrong, while there a thousand wrongs happening this very moment on the globe. perhaps one way of preventing such atrocities is to address the present ills of society so that we are not forever stuck in a memorial-building effort?
May 19, 2012 at 5:47 a.m.

tkNew york, nyNYT Pick
Removing a memorial won't change facts. It is a fact that human rights were violated and it is a fact that it was done by the Japenese Imperial army. The purpose of a monument is to remember the victims of such ghastly acts so such things never happen agian in the future.
May 19, 2012 at 5:41 a.m.RECOMMENDED31

KenNew Delhi, India
Unlike the LDP parliamentarians, many Japanese people with some international exposure acknowledge the atrocities committed by the Japanese military - whether directly or indirectly through subcontractors - against the comfort women.
So why does our government make such a big deal out of this plaque? Part of the reason is that the issue of victim compensation has never been settled properly, and the Japanese government fears that there is a significant amount of money at stake. I personally believe that the real issue here is human dignity and the need for some kind of closure for the victims while they are still alive. Yet, such concepts appear to be given less weight in bureaucratic decision-making.
What should have been done in terms of compensation was to constitute a truth-discovery commission during the early post-war years and determine the identities of the victims as well as the amounts to be given to them. Instead, what took place was the hasty signing of the "Treaty on Basic Relations" between the two countries which did not properly address the issue of comfort women. Korea was under military dictatorship at the time. The U.S., which stewarded the treaty and had significant control over its content, was eager to see the two neighbors befriend each other as quickly as possible. Would it be too much to ask local governments in the U.S. to acknowledge this historical nuance in dealing with this issue?
May 19, 2012 at 3:31 a.m.RECOMMENDED9

AlNew York, NY
It's easy to say "man up" "this is america" "freedom of speech." Honestly though..I'm sure many Americans wouldn't been keen on African countries erecting a statue of a man in shackles being taken away from his family, or Native Ameriacn reservations with a monument depicting the ill placed trust in a friendly gesture with a blanket. Instead of learning history so as to not repeat it, it seems with this monument we're learning history just to give us a reason to find animosity and relive the past of those who suffered.
May 19, 2012 at 3:31 a.m.RECOMMENDED14

KenarmyColumbia, mo
Actually one of the forts where slaves were shipped to the U.S. is a monument in Africa. Big tourist attraction, especially for African-Americans. Obama and his family visited it
May 19, 2012 at 5:40 a.m.RECOMMENDED10

We might not be "keen" on the idea, but we wouldn't ask them to take it down either. If we were to ask anything it might be to add the fact that the man in shackles had likely been sold by his own people — in the interests of accuracy.
May 19, 2012 at 5:44 a.m.RECOMMENDED8

Are you offended by "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee"? Would a memorial at the site featuring Native Americans in the presence of US soldiers be offensive?
May 19, 2012 at 8:02 a.m.RECOMMENDED2

I'm going to make a donation right now to see more of these monuments built!
May 19, 2012 at 3:30 a.m.RECOMMENDED26

DiogenesPort Orange, Fl
I'm for any remembrance that reminds us of the atrocities committed in war. To some degree, it pulls up short those who are always advocating war as the means to some end. Of course, it's always the young who are offered up in the scheme. Politicians are the worst offenders, and most of them have never been anywhere near combat.
May 19, 2012 at 5:27 a.m.RECOMMENDED10

BionicTCanadaNYT Pick
As a Canadian male, I don't understand why the Japanese don't own up to this. The Japanese cannot deny or forestall these atrocities forever. It shames an otherwise admirable society.

Man up!

Human beings don't always require monetary reparations. You would be surprised how far an acknowledgement of wrong-doing and an asking of forgiveness will go. Germany has done an admirable job of acknowledging their atrocities to Jews and they and their victims have largely moved on.
May 19, 2012 at 2:57 a.m.RECOMMENDED68

Michael NewmanBarcelona
But neither the US nor Canada have really acknowledged fully Native/First Nations removal. Some Canadians are convinced that the process above the border was entirely peaceful and non-coercive. Many Americans just refuse the think about that or African American slavery or stealing land from Mexico. I think it's a universal human tendency to exonerate yourself.
May 19, 2012 at 5:44 a.m.RECOMMENDED1

The German government has provided monetary reparations to Holocaust survivors. And the 1970 visit to the site of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising by German Chancellor Willy Brandt, who knelt in repentence at the uprising's monument, was a powerful and unforgettable gesture. No leader of the Japanese government has come close to matching this act.
May 20, 2012 at 2:35 a.m.RECOMMENDED2

BionicT - I was thinking along similar lines, then I started to wonder what this is really about when I read:

"Japanese leaders have said that their formal apologies, expressions of remorse and admissions of responsibility regarding the treatment of comfort women are sufficient, including an offer to set up a $1 billion fund for victims. But many Koreans contend that those actions are inadequate. Surviving victims have rejected the fund because it would be financed by private money. The victims are seeking government reparations."

why plaques across the U. S.? Is it just that the U. S. is still the conscience of the world? Or are the Japanese especially sensitive to the views of the U. S. populations, especially plaque readers?

Perplexed in Georgetown, KY - home of Toyota plant.
May 20, 2012 at 9:46 p.m.

VanessaLittle DixieNYT Pick
There was recently a small dust-up locally regarding collegiate soccer teams because of a 'rising sun' emblem worn by one of the teams. It seems a young Korean student was offended because the emblem was similar to that of the Japanese Imperial flag.

I don't know whether the animosity being exhibited is something that has been simmering beneath the surface or if it is something new, but it's obvious that there is tension between the peoples of Japan and Korea.

This is the United States, where we have enough issues of our own that protestations that we alter our culture to please one side or the other might make good copy, but it's a really bad idea.
May 19, 2012 at 2:57 a.m.RECOMMENDED17

Well, being ignorant/unaware of history and world issues is "a really bad idea" for America too.
May 19, 2012 at 3:30 a.m.RECOMMENDED30

ChrisParis, France
Amen. Not PC, but people seem to forget the issue is largely between the S. Koreans and Japanese. As usual, we lend ourselves to be taken hostage as proxies in conflicts between foreign special interests: not a good idea at all.

And to RedRooster: there's a wide gap between being ignorant/unaware of history, and letting ourselves be forced to get involved in each and every "beef" between each and every foreign culture living here.
May 20, 2012 at 3:01 a.m.

Dear over sensitive japanese visitors:
Last time I checked, this was still the USA. We have fredoms many a man fought and died for. We have the right to erect monuments to any cause we see fit to memorializie. Who do you think you are comming to MY country and asking us to remove it?

Perhaps you don't realize that one of your largest electronics companies, Mitsubishi, was the maker of the Zero during WW 2. Perhaps you also do not realize they use the same 3 diamond trademark as that placed on those same zeros. May we ask you to change that companies trademark as well?

I do hope that the officials in the town politely tell the Japanse they are free to leave the town. state, hell how bout our country any time they would like. They won't ever have to look at it again.

One american who is dam tired of the world telling us how WE will live.
May 19, 2012 at 2:56 a.m.RECOMMENDED23

Jim-In-HoustonHouston, TX
There is a very large memorial to the victims of the bomb in Hiroshima and we don't ask that it be removed.
May 19, 2012 at 5:45 a.m.RECOMMENDED8

Even the term 'comfort women' is an insult to the women and girls who were kidnapped from their families and entered into sexually slavery at the behest of their country's conquerers.

It is a blight on the honor of the Japanese people, that they could do this to mothers and daughters, and girls too young to be called women. But a monument to recognize their suffering is a tribute to those who survived such barbarity.

Removing the tribute will not restore the lives that were ruined, the traumas that never healed.. I understand Japanese shame, but the acknowledgement of the pain of Korean women should trump Japanese pride.
May 19, 2012 at 2:55 a.m.RECOMMENDED62

SocratesDowntown Verona NJ
Arrogantly shameful and disgraceful.

The horrors of life deserve full illumination all over the world.

Only by educating and re-educating the world about the depravity of man can we hope to overcome man's heinous nature.

The Japanese should bow in public shame for their crimes against humanity, as we all should for own misdeeds.

That is how a society progresses.

You cannot hide the truth.
May 19, 2012 at 2:55 a.m.RECOMMENDED71

I think the German people have handled the responsibility for what their countrymen did in an exemplary way. maybe their former allies should look to them for how to handle personal and associative guilt.
May 19, 2012 at 3:30 a.m.RECOMMENDED20

So, the Japanese are "irritated"? Can you say "chutzpah"?
May 19, 2012 at 2:55 a.m.RECOMMENDED26

LosPerCentral Ohio
It's really appalling that the Japanese think they should be able to bribe local officials to get them to remove that memorial. It's clear that emotions are sill running high in regard to the treatment of these women, and that more needs to be done to make things right.

Good on the PP officials who told them to go pound sand....
May 19, 2012 at 2:54 a.m.RECOMMENDED24

This is what you get when you don't hold people responsible for more than 25 million murders. That is 4+ times more than died in the Holocaust BTW and we let them off the hook.
The Japanese with few exceptions, to this day do not think they did anything wrong in WWII, this is why they think its just fine to ask for this. They have as is mentioned publicly admitted guilt and still think its fine to try to hide it rather than bear the responsibility openly in the world.
Yet we who used the atom bombs that killed 200K+ & ended the war thereby saving the 3-5 million+ Japanese lives that would certainly have been lost in the invasion we were not going to back off of, are labelled as criminal and monsters.

This lack of prosecution was a consequence of American racism about the Japanese and Asians in general. That same POV skewing racism stayed around until well after the Vietnam War and even is hobbling our relations with China now. They are people like the rest of us the only difference is cultural perspective and POV which if we could stop projecting fantastical ideas upon them of what they are we could easily learn and cope with.

We let the Russians off the hook for crimes even larger than this as well. Not that we had access to bring justice there but we should never have stopped talking about the 50M+ people they killed for their own purposes that had nothing to do with the war, during the war.
May 19, 2012 at 2:43 a.m.RECOMMENDED18

Thanks Navas It may show I'm an alum of the Columbia HS Bombers when the mascot was an A Bomb in a Mushroom Cloud, not the current B52 airplanes.
I am not ashamed of what we did I am Proud of what we did.
The people who changed that mascot lost sight of the facts; We were fighting human monsters who were spreading evil across the world.
There was no conscience no morals nothing good at all in any of the things they did in their robotic following of the orders of psychopathic megalomaniacal men whose depravity was exponentially expanded in effect by the willingness of the Japanese people to sublimate themselves to the will of these men.
Call it what you like but the fact is it happened because of what they did not anything we did.
May 19, 2012 at 5:42 a.m.RECOMMENDED8

To be fair, the Russians & others let the US "off the hook" for its own attrocities. The most obvious of these is the nearly successful genocide and very successful dispossession of the Native Americans, especially during the Nineteenth Century. America even unilaterally violated its own laws and treaties in this regard. Far fewer than 50M people were involvee, but surely the numbers do not matter in issues of human rights violations. Funny, then, that the US is forever (self) justified in pontificating about such matters in other countries. This is America. Both sides do have a right to free speech. But the events in question do not directly relate to the US, and America wasn't even concerned about them when it was at war with Japan, and when it prosecuted a mere 7 major Japanese war criminals (some singled out not for rights violations but for offending McArthur and American sensibilities by winning in 1941-3). It would be far more appropriate for the Japanese and Koreans to fight their proxy branding war elsewhere, or to pursue it at the one relevant location in America: the UN. Incidentally, if you want to see an ongoing human rights violation, go and visit a "reservation" in a state like Montana. And prepare for memorials to go up In foreign nations. Fortunately, fair minded Americans would never object to that or any other view of them as something other than righteous saviours of the modern world, so such memorials will not make the newspapers...or talk radio.
May 19, 2012 at 5:55 a.m.RECOMMENDED1

OOPS Forgot to finish this sentence in that last post... "The fact is the US and the human race did not become aware as a group that these violations of personal, human and tribal rights were wrong." SHOULD Continue on to say;
until sometime in the early twentieth century and it didn't become something we saw reason to act on if we knew another nation was doing it until after WWII. Even so we rarely do anything about it when we find out and often it is covered up. This is not a trait unique to the US,
May 20, 2012 at 2:19 a.m.

JB 007Washington, D.C.
Two words: Mimizuka Shrine.
May 19, 2012 at 2:40 a.m.RECOMMENDED11

Don SeekinsWaipahu HI
In the 1590s, the Japanese warlord Hideyoshi invaded the Korean peninsula as part of a crazy scheme to conquer China and the world. Located in Kyoto, the Mimizuka (literally, "ear mound") contains actually the pickled noses of around 40,000 Korean soldiers and civilians who were killed and mutilated by Hideyoshi's troops. The taking of such "trophies" was a common custom at the time (both in Japan and in Europe) and apparently was also a means of confirming how many of the enemy were killed. I believe Hideyoshi's samurai were paid a bonus if they had collected a large number of noses.

In recent years, there were proposals to move the contents of the Mimizuka to Korea, and give the remains a decent burial, but these were never carried out. It is located in the city of Kyoto, little known to most Japanese but a major destination for South Korean tourists.

Last year, Japan's national television station, NHK, broadcast a historical drama ("Princess Gou") in which Hideyoshi was a major character. Although the senselessness of the Korean campaigns was emphasized, the warlord was depicted as a lovable old rogue rather than the mass murderer - even by 16th century standards - that he was. I doubt that Korean viewers found it very entertaining.
May 20, 2012 at 5:26 a.m.RECOMMENDED3

I.L.FulmerDue South
While not ignoring the numerous instances of the historical rape of women by invading forces over the world, there is no denying the Japanese invaders did the same thing to the women in China after their invasion in particularly callous ways. Many of the women died from a combination of malnutrition and forced serial sex by scores of Japanese soldiers. For a shocking rendering of that invasion watch "The City of Life and Death."
May 19, 2012 at 2:40 a.m.RECOMMENDED29

I cannot believe the brash ego of a govnerment that would publicly admit wrongdoing, apologize (or pretend to apologize) for it, and then bristle when others attempt to commemorate the victims of these atrocitities.

Just because you said you're sorry doesn't mean it didn't happen. If I were Japanese I would be disguested and embarassed right now.
May 19, 2012 at 2:38 a.m.RECOMMENDED46

Is this it?New York, NY
I forgot to add that I'm glad that the memorial exists and that it's rallying other Koreans and Asians to stand up. I was afraid that as last of the comfort women passed way, ppl would forget what happened to these girls and women and the other atrocities committed. I am glad they will not be forgotten.
May 19, 2012 at 3:30 a.m.RECOMMENDED12

Other Jersey GuyMonmouth County, NJ
The Japanese nation has tried to erase all traces of their heinous war crimes since 1945. The arrogance of Japan is clearly evident in their latest attempt to expunge their record and change history. Instead of learning from their mistakes, Japan is focusing on erasing the past.
May 19, 2012 at 2:38 a.m.RECOMMENDED42

johannesrolfny, ny
The US had quite a lot to do with Japanese revisionism. When the cold war between China and the US heated up, the Japanese became valued allies. War crimes trials were abandoned, and war criminals were soon part of the Japanese gov't.
May 19, 2012 at 5:56 a.m.RECOMMENDED3

Hammond RyeCottonwood Heights, UT
Monuments crumble someday. Accept help for the families of victims today.
May 19, 2012 at 2:38 a.m.RECOMMENDED4

CharlesCarmel, NY
The Japanese would be well advised to look to their responsibility in this, and quit trying to pretend the comfort women had free choice. The are only deepening the sense of outrage around the world by their attempts to deny their responsibility and dictate whether others should put up monuments or not.
May 19, 2012 at 2:38 a.m.RECOMMENDED27

Thrilled that such a monument has been set up in memory of so many women and girls (from Korea and other countries) who were treated so horrifically and lost their lives in brutal sexual slavery. Because of their short tortured lives, justice did not come in time, but we can at least remember the tragedies that befell them in WWII.

Thank you so much to the organizations and people who have worked to remember them in such memorials! And shame to the Japanese government for the actions written in this story, not to mention their heartless attitudes omitting the truth in their own textbooks!

To these precious voiceless souls of the past... May you rest in peace.
May 19, 2012 at 2:37 a.m.RECOMMENDED26

RodMexico City
I will not deny what happened, but Koreans and Chinese are sometimes irrational. What do they expect, for Japan PMs to be apologizing until worlds end? And what difference does it make if the fund is public or private, at least is some compensation. It is like Mexico demanding an apolgy from the US for Texas, Arizona, California, etc. like forever.
May 19, 2012 at 2:37 a.m.RECOMMENDED1

IsabelToronto, Ontario
First, this is about a memorial, not a demand that Japan do anything. Second, Japan has been forever denying or trying to minimize the wrongs they committed during WWII; it does so to this day. In these circumstances, is it any wonder that this incident is stirring up fresh anger among Koreans?
May 19, 2012 at 3:08 a.m.RECOMMENDED30

Is this it?New York, NY
Hmm... you accuse the Koreans and Chinese as acting irrational, but yet seem to miss the point that the Japanese govt is behaving irrationally by demanding that the memorial be removed and that the rest of the world accept the Japanese very distorted version of the truth. Are you even aware of what happened and the extent of what happened to these girls and women at the hands of the Japanese and Japan's persistence at denial and passing the blame?
May 19, 2012 at 3:30 a.m.RECOMMENDED20

US never kidnapped Mexican ladies, force them into sexual slavery while calling them 'comfort women' then tell Mexico to take down memorials to them. The fact is, the Japanese government by asking this memorial to be removed IS denying what really happened. I saw a documentary about this where WW2 Japanese soldiers still in their mind deny what these women were and talked about how the ladies were friendly and enjoyed their work and how brave they were to come to the frontlines just to comfort the soldiers.
May 20, 2012 at 3:01 a.m.RECOMMENDED3

The Japanese officials are both ignorant of American values, including freedom of expression, and shameless;y arrogant..
May 19, 2012 at 2:37 a.m.RECOMMENDED21

BBo Enterundefined
Could you imagine if the Japanese asked the US to remove the Pearl Harbor memorial? Or if the US asked Japan to remove the Hiroshima memorial(s)?
May 19, 2012 at 2:36 a.m.RECOMMENDED58

jojojo43Bronx, NY
The monument deserves to stay, and the story and tragedy of those women deserves to be remembered.
May 19, 2012 at 2:36 a.m.RECOMMENDED51

I think it should be larger.
May 19, 2012 at 3:30 a.m.RECOMMENDED21

capuchin44New York
I imagine the Japanese that came and asked to have it removed were hopeful that it would be removed because it is such a small monument...
May 19, 2012 at 11:13 a.m.

Excellent post. Couldn't agree more.
May 20, 2012 at 2:34 a.m.RECOMMENDED3

Thomas ZaslavskyBinghamton, N.Y.
If Japan erected a monument to the comfort women in Tokyo across the street from the South Korean embassy, the issue would cease to be such an irritant. What stops them from doing so? Denial, as the article makes clear, is still prevalent in Japan.
May 19, 2012 at 2:36 a.m.RECOMMENDED19

@magicisnotreal You're treating this as if the A-bomb is the exact same as just any other bomb. What about all those subsequent generations who were harmed from the exposure to radiation? You claim that "we saved millions of Japanese lives" by doing so - funny you don't mention how many American lives were saved or exactly how many Japanese lives were affected because of the bombings, not just the lives immediately lost. You also act as if the U.S. simply had no other options other than using the A-bombs, the effects of which they did not even fully understand at the time.

Besides, you're falling into one of the most obvious ethical fallacies out there, thinking that simple quantity somehow makes things right. So if you tortured 50 babies to save 500 lives, or 5000 lives, or 50,000 lives, does that mean there is nothing wrong in doing so? Yes, it might be necessary. Yes, it might have prevented those 50,000 people from dying. But that does not mean there is "nothing wrong" with doing so.

Also, you do realize that by saying that there's nothing wrong with using the atomic bomb, based on estimates of how many lives would be "saved," you're making an argument for future use? At that point, any government can come up with convincing estimates in any full out war which may require invasion.
May 19, 2012 at 5:42 a.m.RECOMMENDED3

Jim-In-HoustonHouston, TX
Squeak: You are obviously young and public school educated as well as naive. I remember well Pearl Harbor as well as all of the battles of WWII and you would do well to read a little unbiased (Read that NOT LIBERAL) history before spouting off about something you know nothing about. I have been to Hiroshima and seen the memorial there and have talked with the people there. The average person recognizes the atrocities committed by their military during war and hold no animosity toward the US. In fact, there was a car dealer in Hiroshima that was flying numerous American flags. We have NOTHING to apologize for.
May 19, 2012 at 5:56 a.m.RECOMMENDED6

Look, while it's true that our using the atomic bomb on Japan opened up a horrible world of possible nuclear obliteration, we have to deal with facts:
We were, in the 1940s, in the bomb-making business, given the need to fight on two fronts -- with thousands of our GIs dying in Europe and thousands of our marines dying every hour on Pacific islands; and Hitler was well on his way to having a nuclear bomb.

While some people say that we didn't use the bomb on Germany because Germans are white, that's just being misinformed, for there are more facts: We hadn't completed the bomb before Hitler killed himself and the Third Reich surrendered, and we did finish testing the bomb just as our boys were sailing over to invade Japan. It wasn't racism or sadism but military logic that determined us.

And remember, our sailors used helplessly to watch Japanese women and children jump off cliffs rather than live on islands captured by Americans.

When we took German prisoners of war, we treated them, alas, better than we did our own black GIs. When the Japanese took prisoners of war -- then heaven help them. Of all people, the Japanese really, really shouldn't complain about how we remember their actions in the early twentieth century.

1 comment:

  1. Comfort Women Issue is part of Korean deception and lies to defame Japan.
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    False Accuzations of Comfort Women