U.S. judge rules ‘comfort women’ monument does not violate Constitution


A U.S. federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit seeking the removal of a “comfort women” statue in the Southern California city of Glendale, ruling that the monument does not violate the Constitution as alleged in the case filed by two Japanese-Americans and a nonprofit organization.

“Glendale’s placement of the Comfort Women monument in its Central Park does not pose the type of interference with the federal government’s foreign affairs powers that states a plausible claim for relief,” U.S. Central District of California Judge Percy Anderson wrote in the decision issued Monday.

“Instead, even according to the facts alleged in the Complaint, Glendale’s placement of the statue is entirely consistent with the federal government’s foreign policy,” he wrote.

In a written statement distributed late Monday, the Global Alliance for Historical Truth, the nonprofit plaintiff in the case, called the judge’s decision highly subjective. Koichi Mera, one of the Japanese-American plaintiffs and president of GAHT, said the plaintiffs plan to appeal the decision. The remaining plaintiff is Michiko Shiota Gingery, also a GAHT member.

The plaintiffs filed the federal lawsuit in February, arguing that the monument could adversely affect U.S. relations with Japan and thus infringes on the federal government’s constitutional power to set foreign policy.

Judge Anderson likened the comfort women monument to other symbolic displays that are related to foreign affairs issues.

“For instance, those who might harbor some factual objection to the historical treatment of a state or municipal monument to the victims of the Holocaust could make similar claims to those advanced by Plaintiffs in this action,” he wrote. “Neither the Supremacy Clause nor the Constitution’s delegation of foreign affairs powers to the federal government prevent a municipality from acting as Glendale has done in this instance.”

The judge also found that the plaintiffs’ stated injury — their inability to use Glendale’s Central Park due to the distress caused by the statue — is not directly caused by Glendale’s alleged constitutional violations.

The lawsuit also argued that the city erected the statue without city council approval of the inscription imploring Japan to accept responsibility for its role in the forced sexual enslavement of thousands of women during the war.

Anderson dismissed this argument, tied to California state law, but added the plaintiffs could re-file it in the future.

Phyllis Kim, spokeswoman for the Korean American Forum of California, which spearheaded the effort to install the Glendale monument, said, “We are glad the judge ruled to dismiss the case and we are not surprised, actually. We expected that ruling, but the root cause of the issue has not been resolved.

“It didn’t change anything,” Kim added. “We still have the overdue apology issue and we are still going to do anything it takes to get the official apology and legal compensation for the grandmas.”

A request for comment from the City of Glendale went unanswered by Tuesday afternoon.

The ruling was issued on the same day two former comfort women, Lee Ok Seon, 87, and Kang Il Chul, 85, attended the unveiling of a new comfort women memorial in Union City, New Jersey.

Lee and Kang are finishing up a two-week trip to Southern California and the East Coast to meet with politicians familiar with the comfort women issue, attend events, and visit comfort women memorials erected in U.S. cities.

The women’s trip started in Los Angeles where they announced they would offer statements about their wartime experiences in support of Glendale in the lawsuit.

  • Nancy Bright

    Let’s get the facts right!

    The sex trades had occurred in
    Korea daily by many Koreans (S. and N. Koreans), and it had been the Korean
    culture for more than 2,000 years. The
    comfort women system was originally created by Koreans in 1400’s (or earlier).
    During the KOREAN War, more
    than 500,000 to 1 million comfort women served KORAN soldiers, United Nation
    soldiers, and American soldiers. The
    Father of the current President Park was the main controlling person within the
    S. Korean Government who lured and forced young Korean girls
    to become comfort women (sex slaves in this case) in S. Korea to earn money for
    Korea country!

    Korean soldiers (along with
    Japanese soldiers) were customers of the comfort women before and during the
    Look! Korean soldiers and United Nations and US
    soldiers were customers of those Korean comfort women (sex slaves in this case)
    before, during, and after the Korean War, since the father of the current
    President Park (along with Korean employment agencies) actually lured and
    forced many Korean girls to become sex slaves, yet none of these issues have
    been addressed in any of the news article.
    Why? Because S. Korean
    Government wants to shift its own crimes to the Japanese Gov’t in order to hide
    S. Korean Govt’s and Korean employment agencies’ big crimes that have been
    committed in Korea (and China, S.E. Asia, Russia) for centuries (more than
    2,000 years)!

    You can Google “S. Korean
    Prostitutes”, “S. Korean sex slaves”, “S. Korean slave trade”, etc.

    • Scott Reynolds

      I have to say that I find it extremely strange that the very people who claimed that forced prostitution was perfectly fine when Korea was a Japanese colony and under Japanese administration are now saying that they consider forced prostitution to be a terrible crime.
      If the claim is that what happened during the colonial period and what happened afterwards are essentially equivalent, how can you condemn what the Korean government is alleged to have done after independence from Japan while excusing Japan for doing the same thing during the colonial period?

      • Nancy Bright

        Japanese Military hired Korean employment agencies to recruit Korean professional prostitutes during the WWII. So during the WWII, Korean employment agencies are the ones who forced some Korean girls to become comfort women. Of course many of them were professional prostitutes.

        On the other hand, during the Korean War, the S. Korean Gov’t (along with Korean employment agencies) actually forced many Korean girls to become comfort women to serve Korean, UN, and US soldiers to earn money for S. Korean Gov’t itself (and the money was not earned for those girls). However, many of them were professional prostitutes.

        None of the news article in English (so far) mentioned that S. Korean Gov’t forced many girls to become comfort women during and after the Korean War, but the original news that were announced in S. Korean on 6/25/14 disclosed the true facts that S. Korean Gov’t actually forced many girls to become sex slaves to earn money for S. Korean Gov’t (the money did not go to the girls who were forced to become sex slaves.)

      • Scott Reynolds

        The abuses you accuse the South Korean government of sound remarkably similar to the abuses the wartime “comfort women” have reported in their various testimonies.
        My point here is that you’re free to continue going on and on about how awful the South Korean version of this was, but doing so only serves to continue to draw attention to the Japanese crimes during the colonial period. Crimes committed by the South Korean government do not excuse crimes committed earlier by the Japanese military. In addition, the fact that the South Korean government of the time in question was run by former members of the Japanese military serves to further tarnish Japan’s image.

      • HerrProblembear

        While we’re on the subject of bringing Japan to task for its past sins, when will the world call up the US for its own long overdue reckoning? Are you this faux-outraged over Korea enduring as a major hub of human trafficking and forced prostitution even to this day?

      • Scott Reynolds

        Is Korea really a major hub of human trafficking and forced prostitution, even today? If that is indeed the case, then yes I’m against it.

      • HirosFan

        The subject of the article is the constitutionality of a statue being erected by a citizen’s group in honor of Korean comfort women. Do you plan on visiting a film review site for Schindler’s List next and patronizing its fans for not discussing the Native American Holocaust?

      • Testerty

        Nancy Bright is making a claim that because somebody else is also using comfort Women then it is excusable for Japanese to use comfort women. It is a like a rapist making a demand that unless all rapists are caught, otherwise his raping should be ignored.

      • Nancy Bright

        I am saying that Japanese soldiers, Korean soldiers, UN soldiers and US soldiers were the customers of the comfort women. They paid fees to the comfort women.

        But the Korean employment agencies and the S. Korean Gov’t actually did the human trafficking and got money!

      • Scott Reynolds

        Nancy thinks that it’s okay if the Japanese military does it (or hires someone to do the dirty work for them) but that it’s not okay if the Korean government does it.

  • Ron NJ

    Japan and Korea: bringing Asia’s tiresome baggage to an American park near you!

    • HirosFan

      Yeah, and let’s get rid of all the Holocaust monuments as well, right? Be wary the cost of your snide comments. You’re demeaning not only Korean victims, but an entire continent of hundreds of thousands who were coerced into sex slavery.

  • Toshiaki Haginoya

    By building those monuments and putting up inaccurate description, your towns people are insulting Japan and the Japanese.

    You are insulting our ancestors.
    You are insulting the present-day Japanese.
    You are insulting the unborn future Japanese.

    Shame on you, the people of the United States

  • Hisatake

    At first I didn’t understand why they have to build a statue of comfort woman in the United States. But on the second thought, this might not be a bad idea. As we all know Japanese government provided comfort women for American soldiers during the Occupation period. And that was not the first time Japanese women had to work as prostitutes for American soldiers and sailors. In mid 1800’s, Tokugawa shogunate, too, had to provide “women” for American sailors. Unwelcome guests for Tokugawa shogunate and Japanese people at that time. So naturally, these women were working against their will. And most likely they were victims of human trafficking like any other Japanese prostitutes in those days. The brothels (in Yokohama city) were later called Miyozaki Yukaku(港崎遊郭) and some Japanese call these women Open Port Comfort Women(開港慰安婦).

    During the Korean War, South Korean government established military brothels which they called Special Comfort Unit and hired women whom they called comfort women. And some of these facilities were for American soldiers (A shame of Japan, because South Korean government of the time was run by former members of the Japanese military). So now we know that American people have a very good reason to commemorate comfort women.

    So my suggestion: build another comfort women statue next to the statue in Korean traditional dress. A girl in Kimono. And let the president of United States and South Korea and Japanese prime minister declare in front of the statue and the people of Glendale city that this tragedy should never every happen again. Then everybody will be happy.

    • HerrProblembear

      Among the US’ favorite pastimes is smug self-satisfaction in pointing out the sins of other countries–while remaining silent to its own homegrown chamber of horrors.

      • Scott Reynolds

        I suppose you have a point there, because people in the US never complain about domestic problems, preferring to criticize foreigners instead.
        Seriously, though, you are aware that the monument in question here was put up by a citizens group and not by any agency of the US government. You are aware of that, right?

  • wada

    On the other hand, Asahi Shimbun admitted forgeries of past comfort women articles.

  • Lisa

    Human trafficking, sex trades, slave trades, etc. have been the Korean Culture for thousand’s thousand’s years (many many years before the WWII), and S. Koreans human traffickers are still exporting more than 1 million forced prostitutes to the US, Japan and Austraria in recent years!
    If you do not believe me, then please Google “S. Korea prostitutes” etc.
    American, Japanese, and Australians, please watch out for Koreans!!
    Please enact, immediately, very strict immigration laws for your own countries, and do Not let Korean human traffickers and forced prostitutes be on your lands!!

    Glendale City and other cities in the US, please Do not let Koreans to erect comfort women statues and the plaque with the wrong messages on the land of the US, because by letting Koreans to erect those statues, you are approving the Korean human traffickers’ bad activities and behaviors, while you are only blaming the customers of the comfort women (i.e., Japanese military, i.e., Japanese soldiers and Korean soldiers during the WWII, and US troops, UN soldiers, and Korean soldiers during and after the Korean War).
    Japanese Government already apologized for their portion of the wrong acts during the WWII (i.e., for recruiting the professional prostitutes via. Korean agents), so next, we need to blame the Korean agents for their wrong behaviors and actions done during the WWII, since some of their conducts were outside the scope of the regular course of business that should be performed as agents for their principals). The Korean agents’ bad behaviors and actions came from the Korean cultures, so you should not blame Japanese military for those Korean agents’ wrong actions that were beyond the scope of the normal business of the agents.
    These Korean agents and the Korean professional prostitutes (including the girls who were forced by Korean agents) were highly paid by the Japanese and Korean soldiers who were customers of the comfort women during the WWII.
    However, during and after the Korean War, many of the girls were Not paid at all, since large sums of money were taken by S. Korean Government and the Korean agents. Although many of them were professional prostitutes, so they were paid, but many of the Korean girls were forced by S. Korean Government to become comfort women to earn money for the S. Korean Government itself!

    Do Not let Korean human traffickers think that the customers of the prostitutes are to be blamed but Korean human traffickers’s actions are acceptable in the U.S. society. If this is your thoughts, then it is very wrong! The Korean human trafficke should be the most to be blamed of for the comfort women system, since it has been the Korean Culture since B.C.
    Many Korean human traffickers still have been promoting forced prostitutes in Korean massage parlors located everywhere in the world, including the US, Baharma islands, and many other countries.
    If you go to S. Korea, you will find many prostitues at the airports, cafe’s, barbar shops, restaurants, massage parlors, on the streets, everywhere you go, you name it.
    Please do Not let Korean human traffickers to kidnap your kids!

  • Tonyly

    There were many Korean comfort women working in Korean after 1950 to provide sexual services to the UN troops. A few weeks ago 122 of them sued the South Korean government for apology and compensation. Is it also OK to set up a “American / UN military comfort women” bronze statue in the same park?

    • Scott Reynolds

      If some citizens’ group wanted to set up such a statue, and they got the city council to approve it, I don’t see why not. The lawsuit referred to in this article ruled on the constitutionality of such a statue, not on whether or not it was a good idea or the group sponsoring the statues’ motives were pure.

  • wada

    There is no proof of coercion.

    After reading at least the investigation report of the Japanese government(*1, *2), I want you to read a newspaper article. The comfort-women verification report of subject is here these days. The thing with still few English-language edition reports is regrettable.

    *1: Details of Exchanges Between Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) Regarding the Comfort Women Issue
    *2: 慰安婦問題を巡る日韓間のやりとりの経緯~河野談話作成からアジア女性基金まで~(日本語)
    *3: 朝日「慰安婦」報道特集
    *4: 検証朝日「慰安婦」報道 (1) 虚構の「強制連行」拡散
    *5: 検証朝日「慰安婦」報道 (2) 記事と証言に食い違い
    *6: 検証朝日「慰安婦」報道 (3)「軍関与」首相の訪韓を意識
    *7: 検証朝日「慰安婦」報道 (4) 韓国メディアと「共鳴」
    *8: SPECIAL REVIEW of The Asahi Shimbun’s “Comfort Women” Reporting / The paper slow to correct its errors
    *9: Unraveling the ‘comfort women’ issue ? Asahi under probe ? / Suspicions over Yoshida statements ignored
    *10: Unraveling the ‘comfort women’ issue ? Asahi under probe ? / ‘Forcibly taken away’ reports spread widely
    *11: Unraveling the ‘comfort women’ issue ? Asahi under probe ? / Inconsistencies in articles, testimony
    *12: Unraveling the ‘comfort women’ issue ? Asahi under probe ? / Report’s timing complicated Miyazawa’s S. Korea visit
    *13: Unraveling the ‘comfort women’ issue ?Asahi under probe ? Asahi, South Korean media shared sympathy
    *14:【歴史戦 第5部 「朝日検証」の波紋(上)1】朝日新聞 22年前から女子挺身隊と慰安婦の混同に気付く ソウル発記事で疑義
    *15:【歴史戦 第5部 「朝日検証」の波紋(上)2】社内からの指摘を放置
    *16:【歴史戦 第5部 「朝日検証」の波紋(上)3】信じたくない「吉田の嘘」
    *17:【歴史戦 第5部 「朝日検証」の波紋(中)1】「歴史教育議連」を狙い撃ち 「常識発言」撤回に追い込む
    *18:【歴史戦 第5部 「朝日検証」の波紋(中)2】慰安婦強制への疑問も批判対象
    *19:【歴史戦 第5部 「朝日検証」の波紋(下)1】慰安婦問題「オールコリア態勢」 クマラスワミ氏取材を韓国外務省サポート
    *20:【歴史戦 第5部 「朝日検証」の波紋(下)2】韓国紙が「朝日助ける方法あるはず」とまで擁護するのはなぜか
    *21:【歴史戦 第6部 「主戦場」米国】サンフランシスコ市に新たな慰安婦像計画 中国系が準備委設置
    *22:【歴史戦 第6部 「主戦場」米国(1)前半】サンフランシスコに反日拠点の衝撃、中華街舞台に記念館9月オープン
    *23:【歴史戦 第6部 「主戦場」米国(1)後半】朝日訂正も無視、首都で「強制連行」宣伝 中韓連携で同時多発的設置の恐れ
    *24:【歴史戦 第6部 「主戦場」米国(2)】朝日報道後に米国でも火が付いた慰安婦問題
    *25:【歴史戦 第6部 「主戦場」米国(3)前半】被告は「河野洋平」 司法にも持ち込まれた強制連行 談話を巧妙利用
    *26:【歴史戦 第6部 「主戦場」米国(3)後半】慰安婦訴訟、米司法・行政は「決着済み」 次の標的は議会
    *27:【歴史戦 第6部 「主戦場」米国(4)上】米下院での慰安婦決議、先兵ホンダ氏支えた反日団体
    *28:【歴史戦 第6部 「主戦場」米国(4)下】「20世紀最大の人身売買」と断罪した米下院慰安婦決議、世紀の冤罪に
    *29:【歴史戦 第6部 「主戦場」米国(5)】 中国が正面に 狙いは「日米離反」 終わらない「慰安婦」糾弾
    *30: How Asahi Shimbun assessed its coverage of ‘comfort women’ issue
    *31: Editorial: Asahi Shimbun should explain coverage of ‘comfort women’ issue
    *32: 朝日の慰安婦検証記事への疑問 日本文化大学学長・大森義夫