As a group of Japanese Americans and Japanese in California, we read with interest of Ms. Emi Koyama’s support of the Korean American Forum of California (KAFC) comfort women monument (**Rafu Shimpo,** Oct. 28, 2014). We believe in truth, respect, fairness, and peace. Because of our principles, we do not support KAFC’s monument for the following reasons:
(1) KAFC misrepresents the facts. For example, KAFC misleads people into believing that Japanese officials have made no apologies, when, in fact, they have (see below). Further, Japan and Japanese have paid compensations of millions of dollars to comfort women, yet KAFC (and certain politicians with an agenda) belittle this fact, claiming that it is insufficient.
In each case, KAFC claims that Japan and Japanese are insincere. We believe that the apologies and compensation are sincere. So, this is a difference of opinion, not fact. For KAFC to completely ignore any and all Japanese positive deeds is inappropriate.
(2) The monument that KAFC established in Glendale creates anti-Japan and anti-Japanese prejudice, and more monuments will only exacerbate this problem. Again, the monument’s plaque misleads people into believing that Japan is unremorseful, refuses to apologize, and has not provided any redress; thus, the monument deliberately paints present-day Japanese in a bad light, which we believe is wrong.
Through “guilt by association,” the monument tarnishes all Japanese, as well as Japanese Americans (JAs) — even though nearly all living Japanese and JAs had nothing to do with comfort women.
When an American child who knows nothing about Japanese sees it, the child will leave with a negative impression of Japanese people. The child may think, “I didn’t realize Japanese people were so bad.”
Or, imagine a group of children where only one of the children is Japanese American; when this group sees this monument, they say, “Aren’t you Japanese?” “Yes,” he meekly replies. “In that case, we don’t want you in our group anymore!” Now, imagine this is your child or your grandchild being outcast.
In another case, a parent, after seeing the monument, may tell her child, “It may be better to not associate with Japs.”
Guilt by association is powerful. Sadly, we have already heard of an instance of mistreatment of a Japanese American child in the U.S. because of the comfort women controversy. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE. A monument that creates prejudice is wrong, if not evil.
(3) Because of the biased information presented by KAFC’s monument, it has and will increase tension between Koreans and Japanese Americans, as well as among Japanese Americans. An object that creates animosity between groups is wrong.
(4) We believe that it is unfair to focus on the misdeeds of only one country when many nations have committed atrocities and crimes during wartime. For example, South Korean forces massacred innocent civilians, committed rapes, exploited prostitutes, and abandoned countless mixed children during the Vietnam War. Thousands of Vietnamese were harmed. The South Korean government and the Korean people have neither acknowledged these atrocities, nor have they provided redress to the Vietnamese survivors.
Japan and Japanese, on the other hand, have apologized and paid compensation — even if some feel it is insufficient. In our eyes, the actions of KAFC and similar groups are deceitful and hypocritical. We believe it is wrong that KAFC has turned a deaf ear to the unrequited screams of Vietnamese civilians violated by South Korean forces.
A KAFC-sponsored comfort women monument, draped with half-truths and lies of omission, is designed to subliminally turn people against Japan and Japanese in the guise of representing a noble cause: honoring the comfort women.
For those who wish prejudice against Japanese people to spread by supporting KAFC, it is their American right. But, we believe that KAFC’s attempts to mislead people are immoral, unethical, and un-American. There can be no justice without truth, and KAFC is not willing to tell the whole truth, especially about their own dirty hands.
For those who truly advocate human and women’s rights, please feel free to double-check our facts or do your own research.
In conclusion, we hope that the readers will not support KAFC; but, if any do, we ask that those supporters demand that KAFC present the whole truth, including bringing to light the wanton misdeeds committed against Vietnamese women and children by S. Korean forces during the Vietnam War.
Tomoyuki Sumori, Irvine