WASHINGTON – A monument to the women who were forced to work in Japan’s wartime military brothels will be unveiled in a Washington suburb this week, local authorities involved in the project confirmed.
The move comes after similar memorials were set up in California and New York by Korean-Americans to help raise public awareness of the women, many of whom were Korean. Wide-ranging disputes between Tokyo and Seoul over the women, euphemistically called “comfort women” in Japan, have strained bilateral ties for decades.
The stone monument has already been installed on the premises of a public facility in Fairfax County, northern Virginia, just west of the U.S. capital, and the unveiling ceremony will be held Friday, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors said.
The county has a large Korean-American population and is home to many U.S. government employees. A group of Korean-Americans spearheaded the monument project.
In Virginia, the legislature passed a bill in February that requires public school textbooks to additionally list the name East Sea along with Sea of Japan when describing the body of water separating Japan and South Korea, which refers to it as the East Sea.
U.S. President Barack Obama recently branded the Japanese military-led system of sexual servitude as a “terrible” violation of human rights during a tour of the region. In 2007, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted a resolution urging Japan to make a formal apology over the issue.