Feminist Network Supports Effort in Fullerton to Memorialize Comfort Women

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The newly formed Japan-U.S. Network for Decolonization (FeND), based in Portland, Ore., has expressed “wholehearted support” for efforts in Fullerton to memorialize “comfort women.”

In August, the Fullerton City Council voted to support HR 121, a 2007 congressional resolution calling on the Japanese government to acknowledge and apologize for its military’s “coercion of young women into sexual slavery” in Asia and the Pacific during the 1930s and ’40s.

The council stopped short of approving a comfort women statue like the one erected last year in Glendale, instead leaving that decision to the Fullerton Museum Center. The monument would be donated by the Korean American Forum of California.

Opponents argued before the council that such a monument would stir up anti-Japanese sentiment, and suggested that the women were voluntary prostitutes rather than sex slaves. They also said that because the issue is between Japan and South Korea, local governments in the U.S. should not get involved.

A lawsuit filed by the Global Alliance for Historical Truth, calling on the City of Glendale to remove its statue, was rejected in U.S. District Court. The decision is being appealed.

In an Oct. 19 letter to Mayor Doug Chaffee and the City Council, sent in anticipation of protests at the council’s Oct. 21 meeting, FeND co-founder Emi Koyama wrote:

“FeND is a network of U.S.-based individuals who have roots in Japan, and those who support our goals. We are activists, teachers, researchers, and other community members who came together earlier this year to counteract the rise of antagonistic nationalism and historical revisionism in some corners of Japan and within (mostly first-generation migrant) Japanese communities in the U.S.

“As individuals who have roots in Japan, we want to assure you that these antagonistic nationalists and historical revisionists do not speak for us.

“By publicly memorializing and honoring former ‘comfort women,’ as you are planning to, Fullerton will send a clear message that violation of human rights anywhere, anytime to anybody is unacceptable and that its victims deserve respect and redress.

“If the city were to succumb to the campaign of intimidation and historical revisionism and backtrack its support for former ‘comfort women,’ we fear that it could catalyze a further escalation of antagonistic rhetoric among Japanese right-wing nationalists and their sympathizers in the U.S.

“We appreciate your interest in addressing this very important and timely issue. We are hopeful that the City Council will hold firm to its support for victims and survivors of the ‘comfort women’ system, consistent with our shared belief in peace, justice, and human rights for all.”

Koyama’s group is holding a workshop/seminar titled “Confronting Japanese Right-Wing Organizing in Southern California” at UCLA’s Bunche Hall on Nov. 14 from 6 to 8 p.m.

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5 Comments

  1. Majority of “Comfort women” for Japanese military were Japanese women. and There is no evidence for kidnapping by Japanese military.

  2. @ Eiji

    Actually, there is no consensus among historians over precisely what percentage of “comfort women” were Japanese, or Korean, or any any other ethnicity. But we all know, and Japanese government has formally acknowledged, that “comfort women” came from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, and other regions of Asia and Pacific. That is partly why we don’t believe that this is a Korea vs. Japan issue, but a broader human rights issue.

    As for there being “no evidence” for “kidnapping by Japanese military,” there are in fact war tribunals in Dutch Indonesia and Guam, at least, in which Japanese military officers were tried and convicted for “kidnapping” women and turning them into “comfort women.” That said, “kidnapping” is not the only method through which women were trafficked into military-enforced prostitution to service Japanese soldiers: many women were lured into “comfort facility” through deceptive recruitment tactics, or sold into it, or were held in debt bondage. These are all forms of human trafficking, and not any less of human rights violations than “kidnapping.”

  3. Emi-san,

    You seem confused about the definition of comfort women. The following article is by Professor Park Yuha of Sejong University in South Korea. She is the leading expert on comfort women issue. I would appreciate if you take a look at it. Please also read other articles on that site.

    http://scholarsinenglish.blogspot.jp/2014/10/summary-of-professor-park-yuhas-book.html

    Japan apologized and compensated through Kono Statement and Asian Women’s Fund. Every nation involved accepted Japan’s apology and compensation except Korea. The article above explains why that was the case.

    We should also note that not a single Korean woman came forward for over 45 years after the war. In the early 1990’s Asahi Shimbun ran a series of fabricated articles. After the articles came out, an anti-Japan lobby called Chong Dae Hyup was formed in South Korea. It was only then that women started coming out with testimonies. There is clear evidence that Chong Dae Hyup coached those women to lie in front of UN interrogators and U.S. politicians. The article above covers that point as well. Don’t you think it’s funny that not a single Korean woman claimed anything for over 45 years until Asahi articles came out? Anyway please read the articles on above sites and let me know what you think.

    Regards

  4. Toshimi Minoura on

    > Japan apologized and compensated through Kono Statement and Asian Women’s Fund.

    There are manyJapanese who are trying to retract the Kono statement.

    > Every nation involved accepted Japan’s apology and compensation except Korea.

    Ms. Jan Ruff O’Herne, who was taken by Japanese Army officers from a concentration camp on Java to a Semarang military brothel and raped, did not accept the apology and the compensation money because they were not from an official governmental entity. She demands an official apology from the Japanese government. Some Taiwanese ex-comfort women are doing the same.

    > We should also note that not a single Korean woman came forward for over 45 years after the war. In the early 1990’s Asahi Shimbun ran a series of fabricated articles. After the articles came out, an anti-Japan lobby called Chong Dae Hyup was formed in South Korea. It was only then that women started coming out with testimonies.

    Ms. Jan Ruff O’Herne describes in her videos how difficult it was for her to come out. She decided to come out only because some Korean ex-comfort women came out.

    Here is a testimony by Ms. Ruud Thea Bisenberger, who describes the difficulty of coming out, Her mother did not tell what she went through until 2007.

    “The truth will prevail, I have no doubts about it. I love all these women who were so brave to come forward. My mother and her sister have passed away, From their graves they will be so terrible thankful, that these women stood up, and said “the truth has to be told” . They have gone through so much, I have to thank them. I only heard what happened to my mother and her sister in these horrible camps where we were locked up for three and a half years, kept as being not human beings by the former Japanese military in 2009 that they were raped in the church on the property in Moentilan. They never talked about it, they had to go on with their lives, for the sake of their children. Our mothers were hero’s they protected us from all the insane tortures these Japanese military inflicted on them and our mothers tried so hard to erase what we had seen, and what was done to our mothers. Many times they received terrible beatings, in front of us children to see, by these so called soldiers. Soldiers are there to defend their country and to protect innocent women and children. These Japanese military were not like that. What happened in these concentration camps and what the former Japanese military has done to innocent young girls and women has to be told.Truth is stronger than lies.

    As far as I know, only one Japanese ex-comfort women has come out, although some people claim that the largest percentage of the comfort women were Japanese.

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