Monday, June 24, 2013

Glendale looking to memorialize 'comfort women' of World War II By Christina Villacorte

Glendale looking to memorialize 'comfort women' of World War II

By Christina Villacorte, Staff Writer
Posted: 06/19/2013 07:51:43 PM PDT
Updated: 06/19/2013 07:56:08 PM PDT

The city of Glendale and a local organization are looking to install a memorial to "comfort women" -- the thousands of Koreans and others who historians say were forced into sexual slavery to soldiers during World War II by the Japanese military.

The memorial may be somewhat controversial, however, because while the majority of mainstream historians agree with the history, a vocal minority of ultranationalists and some politicians in Japan contest details of the comfort women story, including the numbers involved, whether the practice was sanctioned by the government and even whether the women were slaves or volunteers.

Today, the design of the proposed memorial will be unveiled before Glendale's Arts and Culture Commission, an advisory panel to the City Council, which would decide whether to approve it.

The Korean American Forum of California said it merely wants to "set the record of history straight" about the estimated 200,000 comfort women rounded up and forced into military brothels. The Japanese government issued an apology for the comfort women in 1993. Some individual Japanese politicians, including the mayor of Osaka this year, have expressed skepticism about testimony of the women and their estimated numbers.

If approved by the City Council, the proposed memorial would be placed at Glendale Central Park, next to the Adult


Recreation Center.
The location has been designated for memorials, monuments and artifacts representing Glendale's seven sister cities in four countries, including Goseong and Gimpo in South Korea.

The proposed memorial would be a replica of the memorial erected by Korean civic leaders directly across the street from the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, where surviving comfort women have held a protest every Wednesday for 21 years straight.

That memorial, dubbed the "peace statue," depicts a girl in traditional Korean costume sitting on a chair.

Korean American Forum of California president Joachim Youn has been raising funds to build a replica in Glendale -- local taxpayers would not be on the hook for any of the costs.

"We are not anti-Japanese and we are not government-funded," he wrote in an email. "We do this strictly out of moral obligation to educate the American public.

"There are still many who do not know about this dark chapter of history," he added. "Placing a monument can permanently leave a mark and reminder in the minds of future American generations with respect to humanity's capacity for evil."

The Consulate-General of Japan in Los Angeles on Wednesday issued a statement noting that the government was "deeply pained" by the issue and had paid atonement money to help the former comfort women. But it also cautioned against politicizing the issue.

Takehiko Wajima, director of the consulate's Japan Information Culture Center, pointed out the Japanese government has been implementing "medical and welfare support projects and providing atonement money for the former comfort women" since 1995.

"With regards to the comfort women issue, the Government of Japan is deeply pained to think of the comfort women who experienced immeasurable pain and suffering," Wajima wrote in an email.

"The position of the Japanese Government regarding the comfort women issue is that it should not be politicized or be turned into a diplomatic issue."

The proposed memorial has drawn the ire of some Japanese ultranationalists, who have sent a barrage of emails to Glendale Mayor Dave Weaver and the City Council, as well as local media, denying the wartime atrocities.

"Although the Japanese government was not involved in taking Korean girls by force, it has sometimes apologized for the women, and compensated them by the fund," read one email sent to the Daily News, purportedly by a 57-year-old woman in Japan. "It is because Japanese feel apologetic for the wars and for making the people around Japan miserable by the wars."

In response, Youn said, "We do not 'bash' Japan in any way, but would like to set the record of history straight and ensure that the world embraces truth rather than obscurity."

"To deny the existence of Korean comfort women is simply ridiculous," he added. "It's like denying the Holocaust."

Earlier this year, Osaka's mayor stirred outrage for calling comfort women a wartime necessity. Last year, two delegations of Japanese diplomats visited Palisades Park, N.J. to request the removal of a memorial to comfort women there, according to The New York Times. It was not removed, and Korean-American groups said attention to the request only helped fuel their cause elsewhere in the United States.

U.S. Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, a Japanese American, expressed support for the proposed memorial in Glendale.

"This monument will serve as a reminder that we must always be vigilant in upholding human rights," he said. "In the name of global human rights and democracy, and to finally give peace to the victims of this horrific system, the Government of Japan should acknowledge, apologize and give redress by Parliament action."

ave Smith · Top Commenter
Hey Glendale! So you have a stupid city clowncil too?
Reply · 2 · · June 20 at 12:38pm

Ed Kim · Top Commenter
Japanese "apologies" have been deemed insufficient because they have tended to be personal apologies made by Prime Ministers and other law makers instead of binding apologies hard coded into Japanese law via act of their parliament. This is what Germany did when they made their apologies to their European neighbors, they hard coded these apologies into their laws through acts from their Bundestag. Thus, it is in many cases illegal to deny German wartime atrocities in Germany. There is no such comparable laws in Japan. Thus, the sincerity and seriousness of Japanese apologies vary from adminstration to administration because there are no acts of parliament to make any of their apologies binding. This has the effect of creating further alienation with their Chinese and Korean neighbors. These neighbors are left wondering jus...See More
Reply · 2 · · June 20 at 3:49pm

Van Middleton · Murwillumbah High
Completely agree with the assessment of the Japanese "apologies" and the fact that their actions since WW2 towards some sort of closure have been grossly inadequate. Also agree that korea and China should be involved in educating foreign countries about Japan's imperial past. Disagree that this education should involve memorials in said foreign countries. These are disputes and grievances that shouldn't be imported into countries that have good relations with both parties.
Reply · 2 · · June 20 at 4:43pm

Jerry Yen
When apology means "I'm sorry that you were inconvenienced" and does not imply acceptance of any responsibility, the apology isn't worth much. Actually, apologies work like this: "sorry that I screwed you over, but now that I apologized with a couple of words, you're obligated to forgive me and never mention it or else you're in the wrong". When someone says "sorry" they are actually imposing on you to forgive their actions without compensation. This is why the yakuza cut off a finger for apologies in serious offenses, to make it real and meaningful. The words of career politicians, on the other hand, is worth far less than a piece of yakuza fingers.
Reply · · June 20 at 5:21pm

Ed Kim · Top Commenter
Yes. A politician's "apology" is not worth the air it was spoken into.
Reply · · June 20 at 5:29pm
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me (signed in using yahoo)
If raise the funds may I place a statue dedicated to the WWII Allied POWs in the Pacific theater who were brutalized by the Korean guards at the POW camps? Heck, Koreans were even kamikaze pilots. After the war many Koreans were convicted as Class A war criminals. Has Korea apologized for is wartime collaboration? If I can't put a statue in Glendale may I put one in Korea, say downtown Seoul?
Reply · 1 · · June 20 at 9:20pm

Eiji Nakano · Top Commenter
Japan made fund to pay 200M yen (20,000US$) per pseson with prome minister's letter. However it was payment to indivisual and Korean NGO cannot get mergin. Therefore The NGO asked Korean Gorverment to make payment to ex-comfort women and ask Japanese gorvement to Koreran gorvement (then go to NGO). Actuially 7 ex-comfort women in korea who got payment form Japanese fund were blamed by NGO and Gorvement. Most of them enforce to move some other town.
Actually Japan paid huge monney (1.5 times of Korean national budget) under 1965 agreement between korea and Japan including Those issue. However Korean Gorvement hide owen people and spent it for Infrastructure and quick growth of econimics.
And Majority of comfort women were Japanese women.
Reply · 1 · · Friday at 2:30am
me (signed in using yahoo)
You are exactly correct that the 1965 Normalization Treaty between Korea and Japan addressed all issues including these women. The Japanese gov't wanted to pay the women directly, but the Korea gov't said it would take care of them. The money was indeed diverted. Unfortunately Japan has been caught wrong footed by Korea on this issue, and the Koreans are determined to do everything they can to damage Japan's reputation in the world's opinion.

If Korea is indeed serious about tackling the problem of human trafficking and sexual slavery why then does so much of it happen today in Korea? The Korean mafia exports women to Japan, Australia, the US and elsewhere Korea imports female "entertainers" (code word for prostitutes, many of whom are tricked into the job) from the Philippines and Russia. Korean male tourists are amongst the largest "consumers" of prostitutes, including underage ones, in Southeast Asia. I have to wonder why events of 70+ years ago trump the same type of crimes happening today.
Reply · 1 · · Friday at 9:01am

Eiji Nakano · Top Commenter
I think it was not so bad to spent money for infrastructure. But Korean gov't should pay money to those people after miracle economic growth. President Pack killed and those plan were disappear. I guess he was dictator but did not put money in his pocket like todays president of Korea.
Reply · · Friday at 4:09pm

Eiji Nakano · Top Commenter
There is no histrian agree 200,000 kidnap for Comfort women.
Reply · · Friday at 2:31am

Eiji Nakano · Top Commenter
If the park is memorial of Vietnam war, Why you do not consider Lai-Dai-Han memorial.
Reply · · Friday at 2:58am

Eiji Nakano · Top Commenter
>"We are not anti-Japanese and we are not government-funded," he wrote in an email. "We do this strictly out of moral obligation to educate the American public."

Then why she also mention Lai-Dai-Han.
Reply · · Friday at 4:11pm

Tebure Meijin
Koreans say the lie to like exhale. 100 times lie thinking the same as Shina. You can tell if you look at the history of the dependent.
Reply · · Friday at 5:29pm

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