The Comfort Women memorial at St. Mary's Square in San Francisco

The Comfort Women memorial at St. Mary's Square in San Francisco (Phyllis Kim)

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This year, San Francisco and the Japanese city of Osaka celebrate 60 years of their sister city alliance. But a new statue in San Francisco has angered Osaka officials, and endangers the cities’ long friendship.

Last Friday, a statue memorializing the “comfort women” of the Imperial Japanese Army was unveiled in San Francisco’s Chinatown. The statue, called Column of Strength, features three girls standing on a pedestal, holding hands. They represent the hundreds of thousands of young women from China, Korea, the Philippines, and other countries that were forced into sex slavery by the Japanese military in the ’30 and ’40s. A fourth, much older woman stands before the column looking up at the girls, exemplifying the age at which the surviving comfort women finally began talking publicly about the horrors they experienced.

Calling the statue “Japan-bashing,” Osaka mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura said this week that if San Francisco officials continue with plans to integrate the statue into a public park, he will push to end Osaka’s sister city relationship with San Francisco.

“If San Francisco were to accept the donation, it will mean the city has expressed its wish to accept it in a public space,” Yoshimura told reporters at a press conference earlier this week. “It would be the same as the city erecting it. Therefore, I will terminate our sister city relations.”

Many conservatives in Japan dispute the prevailing narrative of comfort women, and many others feel the continuing campaign to recognize these atrocities is divisive — including Jun Yamada, the Consul General of Japan in San Francisco. In a public statement released the day the San Francisco memorial was unveiled, Yamada released a statement condemning the campaign:

The difficulty of this issue lies in the fact that there are wildly conflicting views, even today, as to what actually happened. Unfortunately, the aim of current comfort women memorial movements seems to perpetuate and fixate on certain one-sided interpretations, without presenting credible evidence, in the form of physical statues.

But activists like Lillian Sing and Julie Tang of the Comfort Women Justice Coalition don’t see their work as being one-sided. They spent over two years raising money and pushing for the installation of the Column of Strength in San Francisco’s St. Mary’s Square. To them, the statue represents a truth that won’t be denied.

“The more Japan wants to tear down memorials, the more I want to put them up,” Sing said.

Comfort Women — the Secret No One Wanted to Recognize

Documents show that in 1932, Japanese Gen. Okamura Yasuji ordered the army to establish comfort stations to alleviate the growing incidents of rape and sexually transmitted diseases amongst units fighting in China. Initially, the women were Japanese prostitutes and locals who were tricked into the work with promises of a factory job. But as the invasion of China and Korea ramped up, women were abducted and taken to stations by soldiers guided by the “Three Alls Policy”: kill all, burn all, loot all. At the comfort stations, the women were raped dozens of times a day. If they did not submit, they were beaten and tortured.

'Column of Strength,' taken at the unveiling ceremony on Sept. 22, 2017
‘Column of Strength,’ taken at the unveiling ceremony on Sept. 22, 2017. (Phyllis Kim)

The exact number of stationed comfort women is unknown. The most commonly accepted estimate is around 200,000, but researchers at Shanghai Normal University updated the number in 2012 to between 360,000 and 410,000 women. They were mostly Korean and Chinese, but some were Filipina and Dutch. Their average age was 15 years old.

Stories of the comfort women and the horrors they faced didn’t reach the rest of the world until the early ’90s, when some Korean survivors began speaking out. But there were few survivors. Tang says that around 87 percent of comfort women died while in captivity, mostly from suicide.

“If I were a 15-year-old girl in captivity, being raped 30 to 40 times a day, I would die in a week,” Tang said. “They were commodities; they were not human beings. They were provisions that the Japanese military required.”

Those surviving and able to speak out about their experiences had to first overcome the shame that came from living as comfort women. Lee Yong-Soo, who was kidnapped at the age of 16 and forced into sexual slavery for two years, said she couldn’t talk about it until others began speaking out.

“I thought I was worthless. I didn’t talk about it, and nobody asked me,” Lee told the Washington Post in 2015. “My right to be happy, to marry, to have a family, it was all taken from me.”

For decades, Japan denied forcing women into sexual slavery. In 1991, Lee and other remaining comfort women demanded recognition and an apology from the Japanese government. Two years later, following a study confirming reports of coercion, Yōhei Kōno, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, released a statement acknowledging the study’s findings, along with an official apology.

South Korean former "comfort women" Lee Yong-Soo (R) and Gil Won-Ok (C), who were forced into wartime sexual slavery for Japanese soldiers, shout slogans during an anti-Japanese rally commemorating the death of nine former sex slaves this year in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul on December 30, 2015. South Korean "comfort women" and supporters vowed to step up protests against a deal between Seoul and Tokyo on resolving a long-running row over the comfort women.
South Korean former “comfort women” Lee Yong-Soo (R) and Gil Won-Ok (C), who were forced into wartime sexual slavery for Japanese soldiers, shout slogans during an anti-Japanese rally commemorating the death of nine former sex slaves this year in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul on December 30, 2015. South Korean “comfort women” and supporters vowed to step up protests against a deal between Seoul and Tokyo on resolving a long-running row over the comfort women. (Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images)

In recent years, both a conservative backlash against the Kono Statement and empathetic attempts to memorialize the comfort women have gained momentum. In 2007, while serving his first term as Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzō Abe refuted the Kono Statement and continues to do so today. And though it was Abe who reached an agreement with South Korea to provide financial support to the 46 comfort women still living there, the Korean Government was made to remove a statue near the Japanese embassy in Seoul as part of the settlement.

“Japan and South Korea are now entering a new era,” Abe said at the time. “We should not drag this problem into the next generation.”

Now, the revisionist backlash has come the United States. In 2014, the pro-Japan Global Alliance for Historical Truth (GAHT) sued the southern California city of Glendale to stop the installation of a comfort women memorial. The legal battle went on for three years and finally ended when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

Tang later said that the Glendale suit was “to intimidate and chill the local grassroots efforts to build ‘comfort women’ peace memorials.” But the opposition hasn’t succeeded. Since 2010, eight comfort women memorials have been erected in the United States, in smaller cities like Southfield, Michigan; Union City, New Jersey; and Fairfax, Virginia. On Sept. 22, San Francisco became the first major city to host a comfort women memorial.

San Francisco Versus Osaka

The fourth woman in San Francisco's comfort women memorial, 'Column of Strength.'
The fourth woman in San Francisco’s comfort women memorial, ‘Column of Strength.’ (Phyllis Kim)

Of its 18 sister city alliances, San Francisco’s relationship with Osaka is its oldest. Established in 1957 under San Francisco Mayor George Christopher, the alliance not only allowed the fostering of commercial relationships but cultural ones as well, such as a long-running student ambassadorship. In 2007, San Francisco celebrated the 50th anniversary of the alliance by re-naming a block of Buchanan Street “Osaka Way.”

The relationship began to fray in 2013, after Tōru Hashimoto, then mayor of Osaka, declared that “there is no evidence that people called comfort women were taken away by violence or threat by the [Japanese] military.” After an international uproar, Hashimoto updated his statement to admit that there were comfort women, but that they were “necessary” so the soldiers could “rest” during the war.

In response, an unnamed San Francisco city official sent a message to Hashimoto asking him to cancel a scheduled visit to the city, stating, “The people of San Francisco do not, at present, welcome Hashimoto’s trip to the U.S.” Hashimoto abandoned his travel plans. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors followed up with a resolution condemning Hashimoto’s statement a month later.

In 2015, San Francisco reignited the debate when it unanimously approved the installation of a comfort women memorial in the city’s Chinatown area.

With each major step in the two-year process to design and build the memorial, the city endured pushback from Osaka officials and others. For example, when the Board of Supervisors approved sculptor Steven Whyte‘s design for the memorial back in January, Osaka Mayor Yoshimura sent a letter to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee expressing concern “whether the [the statue] will negatively affect the exchange between our cities.”

Whyte later told the San Francisco Chronicle that he’s received over 1,000 emails demanding the project be aborted.

Steven Whyte's drawings for 'Column of Strength'
Steven Whyte’s drawings for ‘Column of Strength.’ (via Facebook)

The Battle Continues

This week, when asked by reporters about plans to have San Francisco representatives visit Osaka in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the sister city alliance, Yoshimura responded, “If San Francisco accepts [the statue] at the municipal government level, then we cannot shake hands with them and smile.”

On Tuesday, the Osaka City Assembly considered a resolution ending the sister city alliance, but rejected it. For Sing and Tang, the rejection was not surprising.

Lillian Sing and Julie Tang celebrate the unveiling of the 'Column of Strength'
Lillian Sing and Julie Tang celebrate the unveiling of the ‘Column of Strength’ (via Facebook)

“The people of Osaka are our greatest supporters,” Sing said. Tang says that over 25 organizations based in Osaka support their work.

For Sing and Tang, the San Francisco memorial is just the beginning. Both are former judges who retired from their jobs to dedicate their time to the Comfort Women Justice Coalition. They plan to push for more memorials honoring the comfort women, in the hopes that rape will stop being accepted as an inevitable result of war.

“I look forward to the day when there’s a memorial to the comfort women in Tokyo, Japan,” Sing said.

‘Comfort Women’ Statue Strains 60-Year San Francisco-Osaka Alliance 3 October,2017Kevin L. Jones

  • zzz

    Self examination is rough, attempting to stop a statue being put up thousands of miles away that has a factual basis is really going over the top.

  • phydroxide

    Oh I get it, Robert E Lee had to come down, to make room for this one because he was representing the wrong kind of slavery, is that it?

    • MotherFBR

      I guess you are a bit daft and might not comprehend this, but how is a statue of a slaver and a statue of slaves the same thing? Sometimes one letter is pretty important.

      • phydroxide

        As you’re a bit neanderthalic and have to resort to brute insults to get a political point across, I’m not sure how you’d know. The only difference here is there appears to be more tolerant support for sexual themed art than for history.

        • disqus_fnwCMQDX7u

          Are you really that stupid or just trolling?

          • phydroxide

            Clearly your violent nerve has been disturbed. I rest my case.

          • disqus_fnwCMQDX7u

            k. just making sure.

  • Chelsea

    Commissioning this artwork (created by a white man) and displaying it in a public space seems to perpetuate the stereotype of Asian divide (countries waring against one another).

    As a half Japanese American, half Chinese American woman artist whose family went to internment camps, I say move past tragedy, and unify as one. There is no need to erect a statue pointing out the faults of one minority against another at this time in our society.

    • zzz

      ??????

      This post is utterly puzzling, I’m just guessing here but you are complaining that a “white man” did a statue thing and it perpetuates the stereotype that Asian countries don’t get along?

      Countries like, Cambodia and Vietnam, Pakistan and India, India and China, Iran and Iraq, Japan and China, Mainland China and Taiwan, really are best of friends?

      What in the world is your point? You do know that in Japan the majority are Japanese and the majority of people in China are Chinese? The majorities of those countries have zero to do with what on earth you are posting about.

    • zzz

      Don’t write unfathomable non sense.

  • disqus_fnwCMQDX7u

    GOOD! Osaka is full of xenophobic yakuza. I’ve been harassed by them and seen them commit unspeakable acts. I’ve seen the police stand back and let them do it. I don’t want my city to be sister cities with them anyway!

  • solodoctor

    It should be added that, after the agreement was signed between Japan and S Korea in Dec 2015 to supposedly resolve the Comfort Women issue, a second statue was erected in another city of S Korea. Prime Minister Abe complained about this and threatened to withdraw from the agreement. Ie, he and other nationalist conservatives in Japan still want to at least minimize, if not outright deny, what clearly happened to these women during the so called Pacific War (WW II).

    Given the tensions going on with N Korea one would think that Abe, et al would focus their energies on sustaining a constructive relationship with S Korea. The last thing that they need is to fuel these ‘historical issues’ with denial and reprimands.

  • Derek Adelman

    This is obvious Japan baiting – and it’s working. Simply divisive and bears no comparison whatsoever to the Holocaust in terms of murderous nature and scale. While we’re at it, why not a statue of the Dalai Lama? He’s much more current and representative of actual persecution and cultural suppression in Tibet. Most of this work is actively sponsored by Chinese National interests in order to play on South Korean and Japanese passions. Why does San Francisco board of supers indulge in this sort of manipulation?

  • Transwitz

    Haha, Just a fake history made up by Korea and China. Sorry that US has been fooled with this.

  • Fukuzo Moguro

    I am Japanese. How can we keep friendship with
    someone who intentionally defames us with baseless rumors? I want the Osaka to
    cut ties with SF city ASAP.

    False Accusations of Comfort Women
    http://www.howitzer.jp/korea/page03.html

  • moguro fukuzo

    Where is the comfort women memorial of Korean women who were forced to become comfort women for the United States Army
    during the Korean War and thereafter? Also where is the memorial addressing the Vietnamese women forced to provide sex services for South Korean troops during the Vietnam War?

    You people in San Francisco are all hypocrites.

    False Accusations of Comfort Women
    http://www.howitzer.jp/korea/page03.html

  • Orange Cat

    The older woman looking on is wearing Korean clothing, although Chinese, Filipino, Dutch and Japanese women were also abused and died. What makes me sad is that Japanese girls and women were also victims but they are not included in the monument.

  • Orange Cat

    My other comment was deleted but why are there no Dutch women presented in the statue if the article says they too were prostituted?

  • ガーフィーと呼んで

    The mayor of San Francisco recognized the image of comfort women as public and decided to cancel the sister city with Osaka city.
    The comfort women issue is a strategy to split America and Japan that China and Korea are planning.
    Is the Chinese mayor of San Francisco the Chinese spy?

  • yumic

    I feel sorry about this history. but do you know how many times we(Japanese) apologized to have good relation ship with them and make reparation for it.  Do you know how many times after they(Korea) accepted and claim for damages? Its been more than 50years repeating I think.

    I fed up this loop. but ok I turn a blind eye.

    But Why now they had to build this statue? I am a women but I do not understand. If people think about future and harmony, it should not done. There are many hate and a strong hatred in the whole world from long time ago. If this kind of thinking people build there hatred, this kind of statue would be appear avery where. I wanted to Mayer build the statue shaking hands or hugging each other with different country people except express there resentment and sadness.

  • yumic

    Dear disqus_fnwCMQDX7u
    You said there is lots of Yakuza in Osaka so it is good things to be not be friend with
    Osaka city. Aren’t there lots of Gangs in san francisco?

  • Miwa Steve

    Do not mislead readers.
    “There are some testimony of experienced comfort women who were forcibly mobilized, but there is no objective evidence in both Korea and Japan”
    On the other hand, a lot of documents that comfort women voluntarily obtained high salaries.

    I (Japanese government) do not say all comfort women are voluntary, as you know, some of them being deceived and being made a comfort women existed after Investigation by the government.
    (However, the cheated ones were Koreans)
    Japanese government say there is no evidence for the so-called compulsory entrainment by by the military or the authorities.

    Refer to Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs HP at http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/a_o/rp/page24_000308.html (March 16, 2007)

  • Fukuzo Moguro

    Have you ever seen First Lady Melania Trump, surrounded by Japanese school kids who welcomed her with chorus during President
    Trump’s official visit to Japan? She looked quite enjoyed and such a scene brings warmth in our mind.

    While there are some people who enhance love and friendship beyond the past, there are others who push forward with the memorial statue with fake history and enhance hatred, animosity and division. Those Korean activists and their American collaborators should be ashamed of
    what they are doing in San Francisco.

    False Accusations of Comfort Women
    http://www.howitzer.jp/korea/page03.html

  • Yusuke

    Those Chinese Communist liars should be banned from polluting the planet like this.

    Crimes against humanity are what they are committing…these sorts of Chinese fake news and jokes should not be tolerated in this country or anywhere outside of China. They are purely insults to your intelligence.

    A report issued by the US Army back in 1944, Japanese Prisoner of War Interrogation Report No. 49., states “A “COMFORTGIRL” IS NOTHING MORE THAN A PROSTITUTE OR “PROFESSIONAL CAMP
    FOLLOWER” attached to the Japanese Army for the benefit of the soldiers”.

    https://youtu.be/rL9TCbBHQjs

    Moreover, the US government, under the Clinton and Bush administrations, spent 7 years and 30 million dollars to look into Nazi and Japanese war crimes. “Final Report to the US Congress on Nazi War Crimes & Japanese Imperial Government Records” authored by the Interagency Working Group (IWG) is the report.

    Regarding the report, I quote:

    “The report was published in the spring of 2007. OUT OF MILLIONS OF PAGES OF NEWLY DECLASSIFIED MATERIAL, MUCH OF IT RELATED TO JAPAN, AND THEY WERE UNABLE TO FIND EVIDENCE OF FORCED PROSTITUTION. THEY ALSO LOOKED FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE NANJING MASSACRE AND UNIT 731, BUT FOUND NO SMOKING GUNS. Nobody doubts that there was a massacre in Nanjing, and nobody doubts the Chinese ability to exaggerate by orders of magnitude, and then to believe their own stories.

    A CHINESE ORGANIZATION LOBBIED FOR THE IWG INVESTIGATION. The “Global Alliance for Preserving the History of WWII in Asia” (Global Alliance henceforth). It should be noted that Global Alliance was closely associated with Iris Chang, author of “The Rape of Nanking”. Unfortunately, the author of the accusations, Ms. Iris Chang, was mentally ill and committed suicide.

    Surprisingly, the IWG report offers an apology to Global Alliance for not finding anything.

    But then Resolution 121 came out in the same year, in 2007, criticizing Japan and demanding an apology. And OBAMA, MORE RECENTLY, HAS MADE STATEMENTS AGAINST JAPAN. HILARY CLINTON ALSO EXPECTS AN APOLOGY FROM JAPAN. BUT THEY’RE ALL DISREGARDING THE IWG REPORT.

    The idea that “the comfort women were forced into prostitution” is a false narrative. For example, in 1944, the Office of War Information (OWI) created “Report 49″. This report describes how the US captured 20 Korean comfort women in Burma. The women turned out to be prostitutes. THE PROSTITUTES, ACCORDING TO REPORT 49, WERE ALLOWED TO TURN DOWN ANY CUSTOMER, AND HAD A TAKE HOME PAY OF ABOUT 9,000 YEN/YEAR. A FULL GENERAL AT THE TIME WAS MAKING ABOUT 6,600 YEN”.

    “Collectively, we conducted significant research in Thailand, Japan, California and New Jersey, the National Archives, and elsewhere. At the end of the day, I said well, we’re not going be very popular, but our verdict is not-guilty.

    But remember, THIS IS NOT ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS OR SEX-SLAVERY. THIS IS ABOUT POLITICS, MONEY, AND RACISM TOWARDS JAPANESE. IN OTHER WORDS, THIS ISSUE IS A GEOPOLITICAL TOOL THAT CHINA USES TO ATTACK JAPAN”.

    “The comfort women issue is a geopolitical tool. The IWG investigation was lobbied by the Global Alliance, but this organization is an information operation arm of the Chinese government. THE ONES THAT ARE FANNING THE FLAMES OF THIS ISSUE IN THE US ARE THE CHINESE. CHINA IS TRYING TO MAKE THE US, KOREA, AND JAPAN FIGHT EACH OTHER”.

    http://eng.the-liberty.com/2014/5641/

    And the Mayor of San Francisco who let this unreasonable and unjust attack against Japan take place in the US on behalf of the US happens to be Chinese? What a coincidence!
    One must wonder if he works for Chinese government or not.

    Residents of San Francisco should be proud of him for doing his Chinese Communist friends a favor by giving one of the closest US Allies Japan a big FU in the face as an American representative regardless of all these well-documented facts.

    Note that estimated 90% of populations in Japan who have looked into this so-called “Comfort Women issue” at least a little already know it is totally bogus. It is not even controversial as all pieces of evidence point in only one direction.

    The purpose of these Chinese Communist propaganda operations against Japan is also to make their ongoing blatant military aggression and human rights violations less obvious to the world.

    We should all remember China is the only major country where no human rights existas we know, and also have been very ambitious to steal territories from neighboring countries for no justifiable reasons.

    China could be slightly better than North Korea, and North Korea could be slightly better than so-called ISIS but considering their sizes the worst enemy to humanity in the world today is no doubt China.

  • Yusuke

    Those Chinese Communist liars should be banned from polluting the planet like this.

    Crimes against humanity are what they are committing…these sorts of Chinese fake news and jokes should not be tolerated in this country or anywhere outside of China. They are purely insults to your intelligence.

    A report issued by the US Army back in 1944, Japanese Prisoner of War Interrogation Report No. 49., states “A “COMFORTGIRL” IS NOTHING MORE THAN A PROSTITUTE OR “PROFESSIONAL CAMP
    FOLLOWER” attached to the Japanese Army for the benefit of the soldiers”.

    Moreover, the US government, under the Clinton and Bush administrations, spent 7 years and 30 million dollars to look into Nazi and Japanese war crimes. “Final Report to the US Congress on Nazi War Crimes & Japanese Imperial Government Records” authored by the Interagency Working Group (IWG) is the report.

    Regarding the report, I quote:

    “The report was published in the spring of 2007. OUT OF MILLIONS OF PAGES OF NEWLY DECLASSIFIED MATERIAL, MUCH OF IT RELATED TO JAPAN, AND THEY WERE UNABLE TO FIND EVIDENCE OF FORCED PROSTITUTION. THEY ALSO LOOKED FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE NANJING MASSACRE AND UNIT 731, BUT FOUND NO SMOKING GUNS. Nobody doubts that there was a massacre in Nanjing, and nobody doubts the Chinese ability to exaggerate by orders of magnitude, and then to believe their own stories.

    A CHINESE ORGANIZATION LOBBIED FOR THE IWG INVESTIGATION. The “Global Alliance for Preserving the History of WWII in Asia” (Global Alliance henceforth). It should be noted that Global Alliance was closely associated with Iris Chang, author of “The Rape of Nanking”. Unfortunately, the author of the accusations, Ms. Iris Chang, was mentally ill and committed suicide.

    Surprisingly, the IWG report offers an apology to Global Alliance for not finding anything.

    But then Resolution 121 came out in the same year, in 2007, criticizing Japan and demanding an apology. And OBAMA, MORE RECENTLY, HAS MADE STATEMENTS AGAINST JAPAN. HILARY CLINTON ALSO EXPECTS AN APOLOGY FROM JAPAN. BUT THEY’RE ALL DISREGARDING THE IWG REPORT.

    The idea that “the comfort women were forced into prostitution” is a false narrative. For example, in 1944, the Office of War Information (OWI) created “Report 49″. This report describes how the US captured 20 Korean comfort women in Burma. The women turned out to be prostitutes. THE PROSTITUTES, ACCORDING TO REPORT 49, WERE ALLOWED TO TURN DOWN ANY CUSTOMER, AND HAD A TAKE HOME PAY OF ABOUT 9,000 YEN/YEAR. A FULL GENERAL AT THE TIME WAS MAKING ABOUT 6,600 YEN”.

    “Collectively, we conducted significant research in Thailand, Japan, California and New Jersey, the National Archives, and elsewhere. At the end of the day, I said well, we’re not going be very popular, but our verdict is not-guilty.

    But remember, THIS IS NOT ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS OR SEX-SLAVERY. THIS IS ABOUT POLITICS, MONEY, AND RACISM TOWARDS JAPANESE. IN OTHER WORDS, THIS ISSUE IS A GEOPOLITICAL TOOL THAT CHINA USES TO ATTACK JAPAN”.

    “The comfort women issue is a geopolitical tool. The IWG investigation was lobbied by the Global Alliance, but this organization is an information operation arm of the Chinese government. THE ONES THAT ARE FANNING THE FLAMES OF THIS ISSUE IN THE US ARE THE CHINESE. CHINA IS TRYING TO MAKE THE US, KOREA, AND JAPAN FIGHT EACH OTHER”.

    http://eng.the-liberty.com/2014/5641/

    And the Mayor of San Francisco who let this unreasonable and unjust attack against Japan take place in the US on behalf of the US happens to be Chinese? What a coincidence!
    One must wonder if he works for Chinese government or not.
    Residents of San Francisco should be proud of him for doing his Chinese Communist friends a favor by giving one of the closest US Allies Japan a big FU in the face as an American representative regardless of all these well-documented facts.

    Note that estimated 90% of populations in Japan who have looked into this so-called “Comfort Women issue” at least a little already know it is totally bogus. It is not even controversial as all pieces of evidence point in only one direction.

    The purpose of these Chinese Communist propaganda operations against Japan is also to make their ongoing blatant military aggression and human rights violations less obvious to the world.

    We should all remember China is the only major country where no human rights existas we know, and also have been very ambitious to steal territories from neighboring countries for no justifiable reasons.

    China could be slightly better than North Korea, and North Korea could be slightly better than so-called ISIS but considering their sizes the worst enemy to humanity in the world today is no doubt China.

  • Yusuke

    Is this website run by Chinese Communists?
    I posted twice with definite evidence that this comfort women issue is totally bogus and both times my posts got deleted.

    Is Mr. Kevin L. Jones responsible for deletions of my posts?
    This is a serious issue considering the nature of this article.

  • la_goon

    As an Anglo-American with no qualm on this issue, I write this letter for you to reconsider your position regarding your pro-position on the Comfort Women remembrance statues.

    With the continued and ongoing mistreatment of fellow North Korean brothers and sisters, and the slave labor continuing still continuing in China today. Why are there no statues in protest of the plight ongoing human rights abuses? And why has this no importance that it is not worthy of a statue? I find the priorities are confusing. Yet the net result is today that the Japanese people are being blamed for the sins of their fathers resulting totality unnecessary strained relations.

    Yet the focus is solely on the abuse of Korean women from the disbanded Japanese Military (Black Dragon) at the end of WWII, not the Japanese people who had no knowledge or support of this atrocities. Of course, this should always be remembered, taught in schools and never forgotten to those women who suffered greatly. But the Japanese governed have already publicly apologized in 1965 with loans and in 2015 several times with sympathy have paid $10M in reparations to the victims which was accepted by South Korean government. Yet many Koreans are still remaining angry. The Japanese governments has shown remorse, so why no forgiveness?

    The Japanese people have good heart and no hatred or anger to anyone. They are most kind, gentle, even tempered, show respect, and polite people in the world. Having continued anger toward them does not make sense. Japanese society is a self-effacing culture, with focus on others, and not found in America. That’s why they are not necessarily very good at stating up for and expressing themselves effectively.

    Japan is a wonderful culture, which we can all learn from as they naturally embrace spiritual attributes in their character so lacking in most other countries like patience, peace, wisdom, joy, abundance for everyone, beauty found in refinement and love. I really recommend you visit the country for confirmation, so that you are not indirectly attacking a people who are not responsible for the sins of their military fathers, and consider removing these statues as it is lopsided protest. At this time, these statues been provoking and erected in other cities too.

    With so many wrongs in the world ignored or not cared about. It’s not good to have disprotonate anger to this tragic part of history to the Japanese people.

    Therefore, forgiveness to a culture that suffered from the horrors of nuclear war and that has evolved from its imperialistic past to one of peace and kindness should be greatly considered, and therefore appreciated instead of resented.

    I know it might seem cathartic erecting these statues, but without forgiveness, yet keeping remembrance is always important, the pain and anger will always remain a sore wound

Author

Kevin L. Jones

Kevin Jones reports on the Bay Area arts scene for KQED. He loves his wife and two kids, and music today makes him feel old.