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San Francisco Japanese-Americans ask why city needs a ‘comfort women’ memorial

by

Kyodo

San Francisco lawmakers voted in September to set up a “comfort women” memorial, becoming the first major U.S. city to plan such a tribute to the women and girls forced to provide sex for soldiers of the Imperial Japanese military.

While the decision by the city’s Board of Supervisors was unanimous, it has baffled Japanese residents and Japanese-Americans. They ask why the West Coast city needs a monument addressing an issue that is a point of controversy between Japan and its neighbors.

If it goes ahead with the plan, the city will join a handful of smaller U.S. municipalities that already have comfort women monuments, including Glendale, a suburb of Los Angeles, which built a statue in 2013.

“I think Glendale’s is actually a good type of design, but I know that San Francisco has lots of artists and communities that would give input as we move the process forward,” Eric Mar, the board member who introduced the motion to set up the memorial, told a reporter visiting his office at City Hall.

Glendale set up a bronze statue of a young Asian woman sitting on a bench with a bird on her shoulder.

It symbolizes the suffering of women and girls, mainly Korean and Chinese, who were forced to work at Japanese military brothels during the war. Some Japanese deny they were forcibly recruited.

Glendale’s memorial sparked a backlash from some quarters of the local Japanese-American community and prompted a lawsuit calling for its removal. That legal battle is still pending.

Mar said he hopes the San Francisco monument’s design will symbolize a range of issues together, including encouraging education about the trafficking of women, and will thereby solidify support from residents.

Seiko Fujimoto, who has lived in the city’s Japantown since moving to the United States more than 40 years ago, is one of those opposed to the statue.

“I don’t understand why they have to destroy the relationship of coexistence among Japanese, Chinese and Korean ethnic groups,” Fujimoto said.

The number of Japanese-Americans living in the city has been dwindling.

Many shops in Japantown are run by Korean-Americans, one longtime resident said. The neighborhood is no longer vibrant like the city’s Chinatown, which is within walking distance.

The British Columbia city of Burnaby, adjacent to Vancouver, earlier this year announced plans to erect a memorial to comfort women — but reversed track when the issue proved divisive.

A group of Koreans visited Burnaby, a sister city of Hwaseong, South Korea, and proposed setting up a statue alongside the Korean War Memorial in the city’s Central Park.

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan did not decline the Korean proposal, which came with a donation of 50,000 Canadian dollars, according to Gordon Kadota, an influential Japanese-Canadian in the community.

The mayor, however, seemed unaware of the East Asian sensitivity of the comfort women issue, telling the local Japanese community paper, the Vancouver Shimpo, that he had not anticipated serious repercussions.

Kadota, himself opposed to the monument, said the Korean proposal has been effectively withdrawn from the mayor’s agenda.

“Vancouver has nothing to do with comfort women,” said Kadota, who was born in Vancouver and has lived in that part of Canada all of his life except for a decade centering on World War II. “Erecting the monument goes against Vancouver’s belief in accommodating immigrants and advocating ethnic diversity.”

Comfort women monuments have been erected in at least five locations in the United States, all in relatively small communities.

The statute in San Francisco, with its historical ties with Japan, would have different implications, at least from the Japanese perspective.

The plan has already drawn a strong protest from Osaka, a sister city of San Francisco, whose mayor, Toru Hashimoto, is a populist figure in Japanese politics.

Hashimoto said in a letter to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, “I have no intention of (legitimizing) or defending the issue of ‘comfort women,’ nor do I intend to do so in the future,” but “every country must squarely face their own past problem and engage in addressing this issue.”

Hashimoto maintains that Japan is not the only country to have had military brothels for soldiers during wartime. In the letter, he requested that the mayor consider the plan carefully, noting that the city is home to many Japanese.

Asked about the potentially divisive nature of the plan in an ethnically diverse society, Mar said San Francisco needs the monument because it is a town of immigrants with different backgrounds and cherishes human rights.

Mar added, many Japanese-Americans support the memorial. Kadota, too, admitted that some people in the Japanese community are reluctant to back his initiative to scrap the plan.

In explaining the background to the San Francisco resolution, Mar, of Chinese descent, said one factor that motivated him was the Imperial Japanese Army’s occupation of China.

The city supervisor said the plan has already drawn $140,000 in funds for construction and potential sites have been identified.

They include Lincoln Park, which overlooks the Pacific Ocean and hosts a Holocaust Memorial.

Steps away from that memorial stands a monument celebrating the centennial of the 1860 port entry of the Japanese warship Kanrin Maru on the occasion of the signing of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce with the United States.

The Golden Gate Bridge, one of the city’s major tourist attractions, comes into view behind a monument to the ship, gifted by the city of Osaka.

San Francisco is also where a peace treaty between Japan and the Allied Powers was signed in 1951, formally ending World War II.

  • Pedro

    San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors are just a bunch of opportunistic politicians. They want to make a name for themselves to promote their own careers. They should instead focus on the real issues of San Francisco – homelessness, lack of affordable housing, potholes on Geary and other roads destroying Muni vehicles, dog/human crap everywhere, sweetheart deals with companies like Airbnb and Twitter, a ridiculous/dangerous sanctuary city policy welcoming illegal immigrants, and allowing corporations like Google and Facebook to bus their employees from distances no sane person would otherwise commute in their car.

    I believe Japan needs to atone for their terrible sins and evil history during WWII; but the US military also turned a blind eye to sex industrialization and abuse at bases like Subic Bay in the Philippines.

    • tomado

      So “everybody did it” is the dodge here? I’m not monument-happy but the residents with Japanese backgrounds are opposing it based on what? Shouldn’t they be championing it? Ethnic pride is gonna get you every time.

      • Pedro

        A more relevant monument in San Francisco might focus on the WWII internment of the huge Japanese-American community taken from their homes in SF who lost their property. The comfort women memorials should be prominently placed in the countries directly involved. San Francisco doesn’t need a memorial for every historic event/tragedy of the world.

      • Hmmm

        I dont know about SF but San Jose has a nice memorial for the internment victims. SF on the other hand has a holocaust meomial overlooking the bay and a nice museum to go with it. And if you are in the mood you can also find an Amenian Genocide Memorial on Mount Davidson in SF as well. Please go and learn why such monuments are necessary.

      • Pedro

        Yes, and SF also needs a memorial for all the hippies and other working poor displaced by the tech boom. And a memorial for all the homeless who died on its streets. And a memorial for all the Muni busses and cars destroyed by its potholes. And a memorial for those murdered/robbed by illegal aliens. And a memorial for all the shoes we’ve lost to dog crap!

        At least these memorials would actually be related to SF. The comfort women memorialists should apply their collective energy to plant the memorial where it belongs — in Japan.

      • Hmmm

        These memorials are relevant because they are your neighbors who are deeply affected by the atrocities. They are relevant because these things are crimes against humanity and affect all of us. You too can champion for your memorials to the oppressed and present it before your local council – that’s how democracies work.

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        They can’t ‘put a memorial in Japan’ because the Japanese call them liars.

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        They can’t ‘put a memorial in Japan’ because the Japanese call them liars.

      • Hmmm

        I dont know about SF but San Jose has a nice memorial for the internment victims. SF on the other hand has a holocaust meomial overlooking the bay and a nice museum to go with it. And if you are in the mood you can also find an Amenian Genocide Memorial on Mount Davidson in SF as well. Please go and learn why such monuments are necessary.

      • tomado

        Hmmm said it best. I was going to say, “why not both?” How about the Japanese and Japanese-American community embrace the monument and move onto contributing their energies to something constructive? You know, they just increase the publicity by complaining about it anyway.

  • hudsonstewart

    This is simply misguided do-goodery by ill-informed residents and bureaucrats who are being played by the Chinese and Korean propaganda machines. Of all the atrocities (alleged and real) that have occurred in the world, why is this one being singled out for a monument in a country not at all related to the issue?

    • mayday

      1: There are many Asian Americans in California, though only a small part of them are Japanese Americans, relatively speaking. As the article pointed out, it has already drawn $140k in fundings.

      2: Painting the ww2 Japanese regime in negative light also partly helps Americans’ justification on nuking Japan. On a side note, there’s also a holocaust memorial in SF.

      • http://lesstalkmoreactivism.blogspot.com/ Canaan

        Americans aren’t interested in justifying the atomic bombings. Americans are more interested in a strong U.S.-Japan alliance in the 21st century.

        The atrocities happened and they were horrific. But to the extent history is used to falsely stigmatize the new self-defense law as a ‘resurgence of Japanese militarism’, the U.S. should resist this. In the 21st century, where does the threat of Axis-style aggressive totalitarianism come from? Not from Japan.

        The monument should be in Asia. Bringing this issue all the way to San Francisco serves a political agenda cryptically designed to clear the path for another totalitarian oppressor. Falling for this trick is Nevillish.

      • R.R.

        I share similar sentiments as to the question of what the purpose those memorials are designed to serve because no matter how I look at it, it seems to serve a vindictive political agenda and instead of being for the sake of the victims, they’re using the victim’s history to further their agenda.

        I wouldn’t mind if memorials are placed in countries with comfort women history e.g Korea, Singapore, Philippines for it is relevant but for countries like Canada and SanFrans? I don’t see the relevance there.

      • R.R.

        I have a bigger issue with Korea’s donation of $50,000 to erect a monument in Canada, I just can’t help but feel that the memorial serves merely a vindictive purpose under the veil of “doing good”

      • mayday

        Canada is a “multicultural” country, and there are many Asians in Vancouver, so the mayor of Vancouver initially had an innocent interpretation regarding the intent of the memorial. Though the actual motive is obvious to those familiar with Asian affairs…

        It makes sense to discourage them, but how it’s done can be tricky. When most of the opposing voices came from Japanese, that would actually reinforce the Korean/Chinese’s victimization views. So the better way would be for “outsiders” to chime in and expand the “coverage” of the memorial as you said. On that, I totally agree.

  • wrle

    Whats controversy? If the japanese government didnt try to erase the comfort women from history this never would have even become an issue in the first place. The fact is japan should be taking the initiative to remember all victims of the war. Look at the Germans. They are the ones building monuments to remember the jewish victims.

  • Hmmm

    There is nothing wrong with having a monument for the victims of Japanese sexual slavery in SF as forced repeated rapes of sexual slaves by the Japanese is a crime against humanity, not just to the women and girls of China, Korea, Netherlands, Philippines and elsewhere.

    There are numerous monuments to the Holocaust victims in the middle of the Washington DC and elsewhere in the world including Germany, teaching us to be forever vigilant for the potential for man to practice extreme evil in the name of nationalism.

    The good people posting here should be asking instead why Japan
    does not have such a monument on her soils to teach the next generation the
    evils of racism and nationalism and to honor the victims of her atrocities.

    • R.R.

      Because the topic is still being debated and disputed, not to say that the Japanese are not guilty of being part of it which I believe in all likelihood that they are but I do not believe that it is at the scale they report it as.

      Prostitutes are aplenty, both in peacetime and in wartime, to assume that all sexual services are provided by women forced into prostitution seems logically unsound.

      Bear in mind that I’m not defending any country, I have to point this out as people tend to look at this issue on an emotional basis whereas I prefer looking at it objectively.

      On the other-hand, I do not think that Korea’s desire to erect monuments for Korean comfort women, to the extent of giving donations to countries not even involved in the war, serves to reconcile their painful past, instead it appears to be a vindictive move to justify and legitimize their anti-Japanese sentiments.

      The fact that Korea is seeking for countries globally to erect the monument does not seem to serve the purpose of “remembrance” but instead the propagation of bitter hatred.

      I’m from Singapore, a country that suffered under Japanese rule including the issue of comfort women during WW2, we have plenty of monuments and museum exhibits reminding of our past and history but we don’t seek to erect monuments of our suffering and Japanese misdeeds internationally, as a result, we do not harbor Japanese hatred the same way China and Korea did.

      So, are internationally erecting monuments and reminders of painful past helpful in comforting the painful past of the victims? serves a purpose in helping the embittered countries reconcile? or does it simply serve the purpose of vindication?

      Remember that the victors of major war are always seen as the heroes

      • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

        You see, you’re playing right into the deniers and apologists hands by nit-picking over details; ‘experts can’t agree on an exact number’, or ‘how many were prostitutes, and how many were abducted’, and ‘how many were bought by Japanese officials, and how many were bought by Imperial citizens of other nationalities at the expressed instruction of Japanese officials’. These arguments don’t matter, and indulging in them legitimizes the war-crime deniers brow-beating and bullying.
        Japanese army used sex-slaves. Fact. Shameful, isn’t it?

      • R.R.

        Blame me for being objective, good job.

        If you can’t quantify and qualify the scale of the comfort women issue, its therefore justifiable to attribute everyone as comfort women because Japan lost the war and is an easy target to place the blame on?

        Is that really your argument?

        So if Chinese used sex slaves, would you now condemn them instead? because they did ;) and so did many other countries, Japan is not unique in the use of “comfort women” not to mention that countries such as China are still trafficking women to be used as sex slaves today, are you aware of that? are you condemning them as well? no? why?

      • R.R.

        Blame me for being objective, good job.

        If you can’t quantify and qualify the scale of the comfort women issue, its therefore justifiable to attribute everyone as comfort women because Japan lost the war and is an easy target to place the blame on?

        Is that really your argument?

        So if Chinese used sex slaves, would you now condemn them instead? because they did ;) and so did many other countries, Japan is not unique in the use of “comfort women” not to mention that countries such as China are still trafficking women to be used as sex slaves today, are you aware of that? are you condemning them as well? no? why?

      • R0ninX3ph

        I personally condemn all sexual slavery. No matter who does it. So, what now?

      • R.R.

        Rightfully so,

        then question yourself as to the purpose of the “memorial”

        because it is intellectually dishonest to demand a memorial for Korean comfort women while not demanding one for example, victims of human sex trafficking in China.

        The fundamental question here is whether erecting Korean comfort women memorial all over the world helps the victims or does it serve a vindictive purpose, which could potentially stand in the way of reconciling with Japan.

        I’m all for reconciliation, I’m honestly tired of all the anti-Japanese sentiment from Korea and China, they’re not the only ones who suffered during the war but they’re the only ones who still holds on to the victim rhetoric and insists on being vindictive, all for the sake of nationalism.

      • R0ninX3ph

        I equally disagree with anti-Japanese sentiment held by other countries, however, if Japanese politicians didn’t keep “apologising” then backpedaling later on their apologies given, I would feel more sympathetic to Japan.

      • R.R.

        I think that as long as formal documented apologies are made, back-pedaling in the future by certain politicians deserves diplomatic protest but should not be be a factor in affecting Korea/China relations with Japan, it is unreasonable to expect that all future politicians are not hawks and/or harbours nationalistic sentiments, I just don’t think that drumming up anti-Japanese sentiments are the right way to react to the words of Japanese politicians.

        I think that China and Korea should stop focusing obsessively on what Japanese politicians do and instead focus on reconciling.

      • Buck

        So many great points R.R. You come across level headed and objective.

      • mayday

        “I think that China and Korea should stop focusing obsessively on what Japanese politicians do and instead focus on reconciling.”

        Ideally yes, but unfortunately that’s not how human nature works for many people. On the flip side, many people are also focusing on what Chinese/Korean politicians do/say.

        Google search “Japantimes, asia-pacific popularity poll”, and you can see that Japanese actually disliked Chinese/Korean slightly more than Chinese/Koreans did against Japanese.

      • R.R.

        I do not think that calling it “human nature” is justifiable, fact being that China & Korea are not the only countries who suffered under Japanese rule during WW2, countless of other countries are too so if it is truly “human nature” why don’t we see the rest of them doing the same? the fact that many other countries in Asia have successfully reconciled with Japan points to it being a matter of choice and not “human nature”

        With regards to people focusing on what Korea and China do or say, its only natural that we focus on them because their actions are diplomatically and politically damaging e.g closing off talks, refusing communication, rejecting mediation and what they say are centered around drumming up nationalistic pride in the younger generation whom have never experienced the suffering under Japanese rule and inciting Japanese hate in them, these are not the things we can simply ignore as mere ramblings of a ultra-nationalistic right wing politician.

        With regards to Japanese not liking Chinese & Koreans in polls can be attributed to the vicious cycle of the blame game, majority of Japanese today are too young during the war or have not even been born yet but they have to be repeatedly subjected to being blamed for heinous war crimes committed by a government before their time and by people not even related to them just because they’re Japanese, it is only natural for the new generation Japanese to feel unfairly blamed for the acts of the past and this leads to a hardening of their attitude when instead could’ve been sympathy towards China & Korea, vindictive actions always leads to more vindictive actions, just like vengeance leads to more vengeance hence my desire for relations to be reconciled and an end to all the vindictive anti-Japanese sentiments for it’ll only cause more Japanese to view Korea and China unfavorably.

        The Japan today is very different from the Japan of the past, if we’re to measure their commitment to peace today, I’d say Japan fares much better over China and their expansionist policies and if China and Korea desires vengeance, they just gotta look at the 2 atomic bombs dropped on Japan.

      • mayday

        “I do not think that calling it “human nature” is justifiable, fact being that China & Korea are not the only countries who suffered under Japanese rule during WW2, countless of other countries are too so if it is truly “human nature” why don’t we see the rest of them doing the same? ”

        Because there’s also countless propaganda from their own governments on the matter… as you said so yourself….

        “With regards to Japanese not liking Chinese & Koreans in polls can be attributed to the vicious cycle of the blame game,”

        Pretty much, during the 80s and early 90s, the relationships between the 2 sides were actually decent.

        “With regards to people focusing on what Korea and China do or say, its only natural that we focus on them”

        What I meant was that people are equating what these politicians say to the opinions of the populace. The Korean/Chinese were no fan of Abe, but are they really as nagging as the politicians who would whine about it each time a Japanese politician visit the Yasukuni Shrine ?

      • R.R.

        You gotta be kidding me, Singapore does not dislike Indonesia, not the slightest bit, the fact that you can say something like that shows your limited perspective and understanding of global matters.

        Trying to justify Korea and China’s in-proportionate reaction over the rest of the countries victimized is honestly an insult to those who have suffered during the war, don’t even try to imply that other countries victimized are not anti-Japanese because they’re salty over other things (in your own words) because thats just plain insulting over our actual desire for reconciliation.

        I don’t think you have anything actually constructive to add with a perspective this narrow.

        As for their relationship being decent during 80s and 90s, sure, because Japan is pumping them full of money in both technology and economic aid, doesn’t take a genius to form that connection there.

        Don’t venture where you have no knowledge off lest you inadvertently disparage another country’s intentions just to fit your preferred narrative.

      • mayday

        For Singapore and Indonesia relationship, google search “indonesia singapore ship name bombers”. Singapore was angry about it, while Indonesia was also initially adamant about it. An apology did come 2 months later from Indonesia, but that’s after Singapore had suspended a month of inter-military activities in protest.

        Regarding your point on Japan& China/Korea’s relationship, I am fully aware of the economic aid from Japan. The same can also be said for other SE asian countries. However, my point was more than just politicians warming up to Japan; it was also about Chinese/Korean populace themselves starting to warm up to Japanese.

        Lastly, I have never once insulted you during this discussion, so I am a bit disappointed that you are now making assumption about the motive of my post here…

        >> “Don’t imply that other countries victimized are not anti-Japanese because they’re too occupied being salty over other things”

        I am absolutely, totally dumbfounded here. That’s NOT the point I was trying to make here. My point was simply that a significant population are susceptible to wedge political tactics from their politicians and propaganda. You want a example that have nothing to do with Asia, I would point out USA’s divisive political culture.

        I never intended to make the point as you described.

      • R.R.

        I don’t have to google, I’m Singaporean and I know of the bombing incident during the Konfrontasi, before Singapore was independent, that was a very brief period of sour relations and certainly did not have any lasting impact on how Singaporeans view Indonesians and vice versa.

        I might have mistaken your point and if that is so, I apologize, I merely wished to highlight that there are victims of WW2 that sought a far more conciliatory approach, focusing on the future rather than broaching on the past with Singapore as an example of a country that suffered under Japanese rule during WW2 but have since mended relations and the current generation Singaporeans although aware of our history, do not have any form of hatred or bitterness towards the Japanese.

        If a small country like Singapore can be committed to making such progress, there is little excuse for China and Korea to not attempt such approaches, thus the only reason they’re still harping on the past is out of choice and not mere “human nature”

      • mayday

        Singapore actually made a brief statement “regretting” the Yasukuni visit by Abe in 2013. I also have a Singaporean friend who told me about how salty his grandparents were. That’s merely anecdotal, you would certainly know more about your countrymen than I do. I shall make no more (uninformed) statement regarding Singaporeans here.

        My point on “human nature” is simply that a significant proportion of the populace being susceptible to politicians’ wedge tactics/propaganda, as I have said before. The amount of anti-Japanese propaganda in Korea/China is simply incomparable to other places. I once read an article co-authored by both chinese and Japanese journalists, and they talked about how there were so much anti-Japanese tv show in China. Strictly speaking, the people still have a “choice” to hate Japan or not, but psychologically speaking, it’s a factor to be taken into account. On the other hand, the politicians who chose to spread these propaganda, definitely have the choice.

      • R.R.

        I do agree that the older generation are still generally salty over the war and rightfully so but what matters in my opinion is how the future generation thinks, the future generation having not been involved in the war should not be subjected to the spectre of hate stemming from the war and should be allowed to start relations anew without any prejudice.

        I might have got your point wrong on “human nature” and for that I apologise, I do agree that the masses are easily influenced by media which is even more important that we do not assist, legitimise and justify acts serving a vindictive and veiled purpose of propagating anti-race/nationality sentiments.

      • R.R.

        I do agree that the older generation are still generally salty over the war and rightfully so but what matters in my opinion is how the future generation thinks, the future generation having not been involved in the war should not be subjected to the spectre of hate stemming from the war and should be allowed to start relations anew without any prejudice.

        I might have got your point wrong on “human nature” and for that I apologise, I do agree that the masses are easily influenced by media which is even more important that we do not assist, legitimise and justify acts serving a vindictive and veiled purpose of propagating anti-race/nationality sentiments.

      • Forest2014

        You kept mentioning Japanese politicians keep backpedaling on theri apologies. Would you specify a little more, who and when? I hope you dont man some unknown minor regional governors or some.

      • Hmmm

        Japanese back pedaling examples are not hard to find. Just google current prime minsiter Abe and comfort women and you will get plenty. He has occationaly brought this up whenever his polls fall and/or need the support of the extreme right wing suppport. This is why a full formal appology is needed – either one resulting from the vote of Japanese Diet or a conciliatroy statement from the emperor. All there is is a statement from then Prime Minister of Japan Tomiichi Murayama in 1995. This statement is not binding to the state of Japan and can be retracted by any subsequent prime minister as Abe hints to do when politically convenient.

      • Forest2014

        It surely is hard to find. I am not interested in what Abe or some other politicians think really in their minds as individuasl and particularly when his/her party was not a ruling government party. Why? the issue is still disputable and even the testimonies of famous victims are enough dubious showing clear tracks of being fine-tuned along with change of the nature of the issue through passage of time.
        I know Abe mentioned that there are no proofs that all those korean girls were forcibly abducted from Korean penninsula by Japanese army as described in memorial monuments, and that there were some misunderstandings in real pictures which were not so clear when the issue came out in early 90’s. Abe, or historical PM of Japan as official governors of Japan, all succeeded to the former statements.

      • R.R.

        There has been countless documented apologies made by the Prime Minister and several by the Japanese emperor over the past 70 years.

        September 6, 1984: Emperor Hirohito said to President Chun Doo Hwan: “It is indeed regrettable that there was an unfortunate past between us for a period in this century and I believe that it should not be repeated again.” (Meeting with President Chun Doo Hwan.)

        May 24, 1990: Emperor Akihito, in a meeting with President Roh Tae Woo, said: “Reflecting upon the suffering that your people underwent during this unfortunate period, which was brought about by our nation, I cannot but feel the deepest remorse” (Meeting with President Roh Tae Woo).

        October 8, 1996: Emperor Akihito said in a speech at a dinner with the South Korean president, Kim Dae Jung: “There was a period when our nation brought to bear great sufferings upon the people of the Korean Peninsula.” “The deep sorrow that I feel over this will never be forgotten”.

        August 15, 2015: “Looking back at the past, together with deep remorse over the war, I pray that this tragedy of war will not be repeated and together with the people, express my deep condolences for those who fell in battle and in the ravages of war, and pray for world peace and the further prosperity of our country.”

        I personally think that enough apologies have been made throughout the past 70 years and not to mention the immense degree of economic assistance Japan have provided China and Korea during the times when their economy are weak. Going too far with demanding Japan grovel on their knees will inevitably instill resentment in Japanese towards what could justifiably be considered an unfair treatment of Japanese for the acts in a war 70 years ago, by a government long gone and instigated by people who are executed or dead.

        Its almost 100 years after the war, just let it go.

      • Yoda42

        Passive “regrets” about vague “sufferings” are not apologies enough for a single girl being raped in a war zone brothel, to be repeated over and over again. There must be public accounting of the systematic and institutional sexual trafficking and slavery including Korean front men who lied to the girls with promises of legitimate work to the Japanese military transport enablers, commanding officers and up. There are ex soldier accounts that need to be aired in public. Non of this has been done and the murmurs of regrets are insufficient. See the German examples where full and open admissions and full accounting of their crimes against humanity were done in public as well as erecting monuments in the victims’s honor with museums as well. It is even illegal to deny it. Japan on the other hand makes denial a national sport, sending delegations bearing cash gifts to deter the communities in the US that decided to honor the victims and remind itself the potential for worst kind of evils by nationalism and racism.

      • Hmmm

        R.R.

        You are thought ful in the above reply but please note Korea is not exporting monuments. The American citizens of Korean decent living in the communites are looking to memorialize and honor the victims where they live, be it in Glendale,CA, Palisade Park, NJ or San Francisco. Just as countless Jewish, Armenian and other US citizens hailig from many parts of the world have done, they bring reminders of their past so that their community may heal and share with their good neighbors the dangers of racist and nationalistic hatred. This is what makes America great amidst all the ethnic strife in the world. I admit we have many folks in the political right that act out of fear and racism but that’s why we need more of these kind of memorials to constantly remind ourselves.
        Senetor Inouye, an American of Japanese decent, who personally spent time in the racially motivated internment camp set up by the US government during WWII, championed US congressional decree condemming the Japanese militrary sexual salvery – the very words that are inscribed on the Glendale monument.
        Despite all our faluts US is stil looked upon to lead in the fight for freedom against opression and by taking on these responsibilities we become stronger as a nation and as people, able to lead through examples.

    • R.R.

      Because the topic is still being debated and disputed, not to say that the Japanese are not guilty of being part of it which I believe in all likelihood that they are but I do not believe that it is at the scale they report it as.

      Prostitutes are aplenty, both in peacetime and in wartime, to assume that all sexual services are provided by women forced into prostitution seems logically unsound.

      Bear in mind that I’m not defending any country, I have to point this out as people tend to look at this issue on an emotional basis whereas I prefer looking at it objectively.

      On the other-hand, I do not think that Korea’s desire to erect monuments for Korean comfort women, to the extent of giving donations to countries not even involved in the war, serves to reconcile their painful past, instead it appears to be a vindictive move to justify and legitimize their anti-Japanese sentiments.

      The fact that Korea is seeking for countries globally to erect the monument does not seem to serve the purpose of “remembrance” but instead the propagation of bitter hatred.

      I’m from Singapore, a country that suffered under Japanese rule including the issue of comfort women during WW2, we have plenty of monuments and museum exhibits reminding of our past and history but we don’t seek to erect monuments of our suffering and Japanese misdeeds internationally, as a result, we do not harbor Japanese hatred the same way China and Korea did.

      So, are internationally erecting monuments and reminders of painful past helpful in comforting the painful past of the victims? serves a purpose in helping the embittered countries reconcile? or does it simply serve the purpose of vindication?

      Remember that the victors of major war are always seen as the heroes

  • Richard Solomon

    A monument like this might upset those of Japanese descent who are in denial about the realities of the Comfort Women during WW II. The mayor of Osaka is one of those politicians of nationalist leanings who tries to at least minimize, if not deny, what the Japanese government did to these women at that time. Those who acknowledge the misdeeds that the government committed back then can see it as a way to help reconcile, even strengthen the bonds between, the various Asian immigrant communities in the Bay Area. I support such a monument as a constructive act…as I do those built to memorialize the Jews who died inn the Holocaust.

    • Jeffrey

      Further, why should Japanese-Americans object? Aren’t there countless books and a few memorials to their illegal internment during WWII as well as a formal apology from the president? This is all the S. Koreans and Chinese have been requesting for decades – own up to the horrors you visited on the citizens of Asia from the 1910 on.

  • Forest2014

    Where are monumnets of comfort women during Korean War, provided as “the 5th supply” with girls in oil drums carried? Where are monumnets of victims raped and killed during Vietnam War? Where are monumnets of Japanese girls killed and slaughtered by Chinese and by Russians? the number of victims doesn’t matter does it?

    • AJ

      But if you were passionate enough about the issue to petition cities for statues, you probably could find some to accommodate you on those victims. That monuments don’t exist for all victims is not good support for an argument that people shouldn’t build monuments for a particular group.

  • disqus_vBekJrf7g5

    I just don’t get it; the wartime Jaoanese regime was brutal to Japanese too, so ordinary Japanese today should have no reason to defend its image. Like Aug 15th, Japanese mourn when they should be celebrating their own liberation from their rulers.

    • R0ninX3ph

      Except they weren’t really liberated were they…. the only people who were taken out of power were the ones in the top rungs of the power ladder.

      The lower ministers of the government remained in government after the war, the only thing that changed was the removal of political power from the Emperor and removing people like Hideki Tojo.

  • Starviking

    The statues are not about a deep and honest opposition to sex-slavery – they are a grubby attempt to secure votes from a politically-active minority in the US.

  • bwprager123

    The only place on Earth where the issue of whether or not these crimes
    took place is still being “debated and disputed” is Japan. It is the
    aggressive denials of high-level Japanese state officials – Abe, Aso,
    Hashimoto, etc – and worldwide traveling and campaigning of Diet members
    and funding of groups to oppose commemoration, that intensifies the
    necessity of construction of memorials such as these to defend
    historical memory against the impositions of Nippon Kaigi and the LDP.
    In the contemporary context of the Japanese government’s turn to
    constitutional revision and prioritization of militarization, and its
    craven relationship with the United States in which it continues to make
    itself the forward position of US empire, the commemoration of the
    horrors of the colonization of E. Asia and Japanese aggression in WWII
    remain live issues. Once Japanese educators and officials cease their
    active denials, the heat of this issue might subside. But that will not
    happen as long as Japan continues to be governed by the right wing of
    the LDP with its historic ties to Japanese fascism and US Cold War
    aggression.

    • http://lesstalkmoreactivism.blogspot.com/ Canaan

      “Once Japanese educators and officials cease their active denials, the heat of this issue might subside.”

      That’s naive. It’s Nevillian. As long as the issue serves an agenda for China, it will not subside.

      Linking Abe to Tojo is (1) nonsense and (2) an obvious ploy to put Japan on its heels.

      • bwprager123

        Nevillian? You mean Neville Chamberlain? Why do people *always* refer to him as if he appeased Hitler because of softness? He appeased Hitler because British conservatives hoped to maintain their empire and class rule. And because Hitler was a virulent anti-Communist, they approved of him well enough.

        More germane to Japan, PM Abe is not related to Tojo. He’s related to Kishi. And alongside his nationalism, he is a craven pro-American who sees how the US intends to use Japan and divide the spoils of militarization, egged on and justified by maintaining an optimal degree of antagonism between Japan, China, and Korea.

  • AJ

    I haven’t heard a single good argument against building the memorial and the arguments expressed make it all the more convincing to build them in California, such as there are very few memorials dedicated to women victims of war or that Japan is sensitive to the issue and feels it should only confront the issue with Korea and China.

    Japan is free to build all the monuments it wants to memorialize female victims of wars in other places and urge the world to stop such atrocities. In fact, please do so.

  • AJ

    Also, a note for the JT: Japanese-American is an outdated term and implies a lack of acceptance that shouldn’t exist. There should be no hyphen and Japanese is an adjective describing an American. It might be proper for Japanese in America who want to straddle both cultures or want to identify as Japanese even if they become American, but the impression is that most Japanese living in America want to be Americans. The same applies to Korean Americans.

  • http://lesstalkmoreactivism.blogspot.com/ Canaan

    Yes, we can never forget the lessons of the war. What lesson did we learn from the Axis? Weakness invites oppression. Remembering atrocities won’t make a difference if you don’t have the strength to resist it.

    History is being appropriated in a scheme to try to lock 21st century Japan into a posture of weakness. Japan can and does show remorse, but it cannot show weakness.

    Historical amnesia would be for Japan or any country to fall into the trap of displaying weakness.

  • WorkerX

    Actually, it’s an American tradition for cities and towns to build memorials related to national and international issues. In San Francisco we have a Holocaust memorial, a statue of Mahatma Gandhi, and memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr., among others. In nearby Santa Cruz there is a Collateral Damage statue to remember the innocent civilians of all nations killed in American wars. Many cities and towns have issued statements and built memorials on international matters, so here this is perfectly proper. I don’t know what the general tradition in Japan is, but note that they do have the Yasukuni Shrine, which includes Class A war criminals. The “Comfort Women” stations were officially operated under Imperial Japan’s government, which makes them quite different from criminal sex traffickers outlawed by most governments. This is why it’s important for the Japanese government to take official responsibility rather than simply having high ranking Japanese officials speaking only for themselves rather than the government.

  • KobayashiDamien TakijiLucas

    have you ever heard of Tenno heika,banzai?You think all those millions of Japanese and other imperial soldiers were sent to their deaths for no reason?they were sent to their deaths to extend the Japanese empire.So,the emperor should have taken responsibility after the war ended,but of course,he didn’t.And the Americans let him and the Japanese ruling class off the hook.

    • R.R.

      The emperor is a national symbolic position, it is distinctly different from a political position of a chancellor, you can easily denounce a politician for a politician is not representative of a country’s culture, history and identity but the same can’t be said of a symbolic national icon; you can’t denounce the monarchy of UK without having major and potentially tumultuous societal impacts.

      In fact, the Americans are aware of such impacts, hence America’s decision to keep the emperor in power in order to govern the Japanese people and thus requiring less troops to be garrisoned in Japan.

      Hirohito (Emperor of Japan during WW2) wanted to commit seppuku (ritual suicide) but American general McArthur encouraged him to stay in power instead (well documented and can also be found in the book “Embracing Defeat – Japan in the Wake of World War II”)

      So,to say that he didn’t take responsibility is attempting to distort history in order to fit the narrative of an unrepentant Japan

    • R.R.

      The emperor is a national symbolic position, it is distinctly different from a political position of a chancellor, you can easily denounce a politician for a politician is not representative of a country’s culture, history and identity but the same can’t be said of a symbolic national icon; you can’t denounce the monarchy of UK without having major and potentially tumultuous societal impacts.

      In fact, the Americans are aware of such impacts, hence America’s decision to keep the emperor in power in order to govern the Japanese people and thus requiring less troops to be garrisoned in Japan.

      Hirohito (Emperor of Japan during WW2) wanted to commit seppuku (ritual suicide) but American general McArthur encouraged him to stay in power instead (well documented and can also be found in the book “Embracing Defeat – Japan in the Wake of World War II”)

      So,to say that he didn’t take responsibility is attempting to distort history in order to fit the narrative of an unrepentant Japan

  • R.R.

    In Germany the belligerent are called Nazis, not Germans, what should the Japanese call the belligerent in their case?

  • Forest2014

    Thanks vm R.R. for your link to the article.

  • 0w24bva

    You misunderstand these incident.
    Firstly there are not evidence that Japanese military forcibly moved them.
    Only Korean and Chinese government and some ex-prostitute grandma advocate that we forcibly were moved.If forcibly moving is real, Why their family don’t resist forcibly moving. Korean don’t say this incident at all until recently.
    Secondly if you want to make Japanese don’t forget this incident, Why you don’t built 洋公主(USA and Korean military use prostitute during Korea war、period of occupied japan. Korean government recruited prostitute by fraudulent way) and Lai dai han’s(Korean raped Vietnamese
    women during Vietnam war, after that Vietnamese women unwanted born a lot of Korean half) statue.Korean were not victim. Reason why Korean were Japanese and Japanese military at that time. Korea and China want to make this incident become political problem for handling japan and manipulating territory problem between Japan.

  • Forest2014

    Is it just matter of way of expression of apologies? i.e. were not like Willy Brandt?

  • R.R.

    I was merely describing the difference between being able to attribute the atrocities to a belligerent named after a political party.

    Your analogy isn’t entirely right either, crimes and misdeeds committed during wartime is vast and isn’t confined to a single crime, hence whenever a statement of apology is made, it is only reasonable to use a general term in order to refer to all of the misdeeds.

    The Koreans and Chinese are angry because of nationalism, thats my hypothesis, Japan had apologised multiple times throughout the last 70 years, and during the 80s and 90s, Korea & China happily accepted economic aid and technological aid as part of the compensation in order to put the past behind and move forward together, apologies are never sufficient for the Chinese, they have an ever increasing requirement on how the apologies should be like and that is akin to not attempting to reconcile but rather to throwing a spanner in the works, my question on the other hand is, does the Chinese truly want to reconcile?

    Are you Chinese? have you ever seen a situation in Chinese history where the emperor are being placed on trial by his government? no? well, of course.

    The position of an emperor is an icon, it is impossible to place on trial a national icon without causing societal turmoil, Hirohito attempted to commit ritual suicide to atone but General McArthur stopped him and encouraged him to stay on in order to maintain order, him not being placed on trial is for the sole purpose of preventing more chaos and destruction.

    another example though not entirely relevant, the Qing, Ming, Tang, Sui, Han and Qin Dynasty of China all invaded other countries as part of China’s expansionist goals, have the emperor been placed on trial for any of them?

    Have you actually read those text books you’re talking about? because last I saw them, they described Japan’s role in the war rather well and its certainly not whitewashing history nor a “systemic denial” of war crimes.

    Don’t let emotions get in your way of objective thought, I can see that you are rather emotionally invested in this topic and hence I was rather hesitant to reply to your comments for its almost impossible to get an objective message across to someone emotionally invested

  • sizzle8

    As usual, know-best Westerners creating division under the guise of social conscience.