Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Koo caught in firestorm over WWII comfort women By Joe Anuta
Koo caught in firestorm over WWII comfort women
By Joe Anuta

City Councilman Peter Koo is drawing flack from Japanese citizens for proposing a memorial dedicated to the comfort women of World War II.
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City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) has been stirring up an international controversy with his plans to honor Asian women forced into prostitution by Japan during World War II.

Koo has plans for a Flushing memorial to honor the so-called “comfort women” from countries including Korea and China who were kept as sex slaves for the Japanese military.

But citizens of the island nation of Japan do not share Koo’s enthusiasm and started a letter-writing campaign targeting his fellow Council members.

“We Japanese are profoundly concerned about his political activities,” a letter signed by a man from Tokyo said.

Dozens of the letters came pouring into the offices of Councilmen Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) and Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) after a story in a Flushing-based Korean newspaper was picked up in Japan, according to Koo’s office.

The letters, which feature the same text but are all signed by different people, accused Koo of propagating false information and pandering to his Korean base, a charge a spokesman for the Shanghai native firmly denied.

“Councilman Koo has actually met comfort women who are still alive and who have told their stories,” said James McClelland, referring to an event last year in conjunction with the Kupferberg Holocaust Center at Queensborough Community College, where several comfort women recounted horror stories of their internment.

Koo began advocating for the memorial, which may eventually include a street renaming or memorial plaque, after speaking with some Korean groups in the area.

“Councilman Koo, he really showed an interest in supporting this,” said Chejin Park, of the Korean American Voters’ Council.

The council, a Flushing-based nonprofit, also advocated for a federal resolution recognizing the existence of comfort women that was passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2007.

According to Park, there is often argument over how many comfort women existed. The numbers vary between 20,000 and 200,000 depending on the source.

But he said finding an exact total is irrelevant.

“It doesn’t matter. Even if only one woman was victimized by a government, it is still a big problem,” said Park, whose group also helped put up a memorial in New Jersey in 2009.

The letters that came to the councilmen denied that the atrocities occurred, but did not change the minds of the recipients, who both support Koo.

“I was a little stunned by them,” said Weprin. “It seems logical to me to give the women some type of memorial or recognition of what they went through.”

And Halloran said while the numbers might be debatable, there is no doubt it happened.

“I’ll air on the side of caution and say history is never as clear as we like it to be,” he said. “But there is no difference between this and saying the Holocaust didn’t exist.”

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.


Pak from USA says:
It is not wise for the USA to harass Japan without a deep understanding of this issue. City Councilman Peter Koo's district has about 50% Korean American and he needs to please them to be re-elected. This will be a diplomatic problem between the USA and Japan.

Again, it is not wise for the USA to harass Japan with out a deep understanding of this issue. You are harassing Japan and Japanese people.

Joe Anuta, you are a journalist, right? Interview Japanese experts also who can prove that almost all Korean comfort women were prostitutes. You should write a balanced article not a biased one.

Watch this video as a starter.
This video is well supported with a lot to documents. You may want to verify the contents.

Again, you are a journalist, right, who wants to write the truth?
Report abuseMay 17, 2:52 pm
American from Queens says:
Japanese experts who can prove that Korean comfort women were prostitutes? LOL I'm sure their nationality has nothing to do with their position.

Anuta's article is far more balanced than the propaganda in that YouTube video - on a channel named "GloriousJapanForever" no less.

You don't want to hear the truth - even if someone does write it, Pak.
Report abuseMay 18, 12:42 am
Stunned in DC says:
Those extreme nationalists in Japan may think that they are trying to be "patriotic" by sending such letters to oppose this action; however, their actions are actually having a counter-effect. The more they try to deny the atrocities the Imperial Japanese Government committed in the past, the more people on this side will be unified for the cause.

Some of these Japanese nationalists are so desperate to deny/hide Japan's not-so-beautiful past that they are actually urging people to watch clips uploaded on YouTube by a group of extreme Japanese nationalists. Truly sad, immature, and pitiful.
Report abuseMay 18, 2:16 am
Pak from USA says:
Here is another material from your own US Army (See below). There are so many documentation that say Korean comfort women were prostitutes. There is no evidence that they say were sex slave. You, American people, most of you cannot read Japanese, right? How you can tell Japanese are telling lies without understanding/reading materials that were written in Japanese? If you want to humiliate/harass your friend country, you have to understand the history/background thoroughly. You are doing the same thing you do on Iran to Japan. However, if you are Korean in the USA, I can understand your response.

Shown below is an excerpt from a 1944 US Army report that was written well-before "comfort women" dispute was brought up by Koreans and when there was no biased idea against Japan on the issue.

"A "comfort girl" is nothing more than a prostitute or "professional camp follower" attached to the Japanese Army for the benefit of the soldiers. "
The report was originally found in National Archives and Records Administration
Report abuseMay 18, 9:28 am
Vic from Douglaston says:
Right. The comfort women raped themselves.

A hundred thousand Chinese civilians threw themselves into mass graves around Nanking, and pulled the ground in on top of them while they were still alive.

Thousands of prisoners of war brutalized and starved each other to death on the Bataan Death March and in Japanese POW camps.

Sure they did. Just ask them. No wait, you can't because they're dead. Never mind those pesky, delusional survivors.
Report abuseMay 18, 9:59 am
Pak from USA says:

Did you see any mass bones dug out from Nanking? If you know there are, I want to see them. The population in Nanking was about 200,000 then. Chinese say Japanese killed 300,000 people. How Japanese can kill more people than existed?

Again, if you want to harass Japan, Japanese people, see the actual documents first. Most of them are written in Japanese. Learn Japanese first. Or hire a level headed, non-biased American who can read Japanese at professional level.

Also it turned out that there were no American who witnessed massacre in Nanking. Two American people back them criticized Japan heavily about Nanking issue to start a war with Japan. They were paid by Chiang Kaishek. Similar pattern we recently see in "a country" to start a war, right?

Wake up America!!!!!!! You are harassing your friend country with poor evidence.

Again, I can understand your response if you are Chinese or Korean living in the USA.

Let's see/face the true history and start a true friendship, Chinese and Korean!
Report abuseMay 18, 10:21 am
d from new york says:
I think the Japanese needs to stop harrasing America. We did not lose the war. If the Japanese truly values its alliance with the US, it needs to respect America. It sounds like Pak if from Japan and should stop its imperialism of our communities here in the Tri-state area.
Report abuseMay 22, 4:31 pm
Pak from USA says:

Your comment is worthless. Nothing productive.
Report abuseMay 22, 6:28 pm
Mark from Little neck says:
Let the truth be told.

Report abuseMay 26, 3:10 am
Pak from USA says:

I agree with you 100%.

All of you may want to read these.
-(I post this here again since people don't read this. Click the link and read) A 1944 US Army report that was written well-before "comfort women" dispute was brought up by Koreans and when there was no biased idea against Japan on the issue.
"A "comfort girl" is nothing more than a prostitute or "professional camp follower" attached to the Japanese Army for the benefit of the soldiers. "
The report was originally found in National Archives and Records Administration

Also here is an excellent paper from a Japanese expert. While Koreans have been only demanding more money from Japan, Japanese experts have been studying it for a long time. This paper has a lot of supporting documents.
There are so many papers written in Japanese similar to this. It is unfortunately not translated into English.

Show me any evidence that Japanese government abducted Korean women to become comfort women. Then, Japan may want to apologize. I think there are cases that Japanese outlaws raped women in any country unfortunately. However, Koreans did so more severely in Vietnam. Other any invading countries did it. It is tragedy and it should not happen. A point here is Japanese government did not order it. Actually, some soldiers were punished for their bad behavior.

Think before harassing.
Report abuseMay 26, 12:01 pm
d from New York says:
Lets focus on one issue at a time. The citizens of Japan are not American tax payers and not American citizens. Congressman Mike Honda, an American of Japanese descent, has issued his press release about his research and finding on the issue of comfort women to the US Congress ( This memorial is a project by the city of New York for the citizens of New York to remember a historic tragedy. We must not forget the holocaust and we must not forget the comfort women.
Report abuseJune 6, 12:09 am

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