National

Europe's first 'comfort women' statue planned for German city

Kyodo

A statue of a girl symbolizing the “comfort women” who were procured for Japan’s wartime military brothels is to be installed in December in Freiburg, Germany, following a proposal by its South Korean friendship city of Suwon, it has been learned.

Similar statues have been placed in the United States, Canada and Australia, in addition to South Korea. If such a statue is set up as planned in Freiburg on Dec. 10, designated as the day of human rights by the United Nations, it will be the first installment of its kind in Europe, according to the Suwon city government.

A senior official of the Freiburg city government said the southwestern German city has been aware that Japan and South Korea have been at odds over the issue of comfort women. The statue, planned for a park in the city’s downtown area, is not to insult Japan but to express opposition to violence against women, the official said.

Suwon Mayor Yeom Tae Young proposed in writing to Freiburg Mayor Dieter Salomon that the statue be designed, created and sent as a gift to the German city from its South Korean sister metropolis.

The move came to light after Japan earlier this month paid the ¥1 billion ($9.8 million) promised to a South Korean fund that helps Korean women who were forced into wartime brothels for the Japanese military.

The disbursement has shifted the focus to whether South Korea will act on Japan’s request for a statue of a girl symbolizing the comfort women in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul to be removed.

Freiburg, a city with a population of around 220,000 and located near the borders of Switzerland and France, also has a sister-city relationship with Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture.

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