The San Fernando Valley Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League has issued a statement supporting the controversial “comfort women” monument installed in a Glendale city park on July 30, 2013.
A replica of a monument placed near the Embassy of Japan in Seoul, South Korea, the Glendale monument is dedicated to thousands of girls and women from Korea and other countries who were forced into sexual servitude by the Japanese military before and during World War II.
During a Glendale City Council meeting, representatives of Korean American groups spoke in support of the monument while several Japanese immigrants opposed it, stating that the women were prostitutes, not prisoners. Some expressed concern that the monument will stir up anti-Japanese sentiment in the U.S.
Last month, members of SFV JACL and NCRR (Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress) met in Los Angeles with members of Japan’s Restoration Party who are opposed to the monument.
“As Japanese Americans whose grandparents or great-grandparents came from Japan, our attitudes toward our government differs greatly from Japanese citizens and their government,” said a SFV JACL spokesperson. “Because of the forced removal and mass incarceration of 110,000 Japanese Americans during World War II, we are sensitive to the impact of state oppression and violations of human rights.
“As Americans of Japanese ancestry, we do care about the image and reputation of Japan. However, from our perspective, the continued denial of the stories of the comfort women from the many countries in Asia does great damage to the image and reputation of Japan. We stand in solidarity with these women to their struggle for recognition and justice.”
The following resolution was passed by a unanimous vote at the chapter’s Jan. 8 meeting.
As a Japanese American civil rights organization located near the city of Glendale, we feel compelled to take a position on this controversial issue. We remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s quote of “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Based on the extensive research done by the Congressional Research Service that supported the U.S. House of Representative Bill HR121, whose findings have not been challenged by factual data, and
Having discussed the issues with members of the NCRR (Nikkei Civil Rights and Redress), and representatives from both the NCRR and the SFV JACL having met unofficially with three Restoration Party members of the Japanese Diet, and having experienced communication difficulties because of our belief and value systems seeming to be totally incongruent, we found the situation of the perpetuator asking a third party to accept their statistics (and not that of the victims) to be surreal, and
Hearing NCRR’s suggestion to have the Japanese nation hear the testimonies of the victims being totally ignored (most likely because of such actions being so incompatible with the cultural values of Japanese society, in addition to their political situation), and
Having the delegates from the Restoration Party providing us with copies of the 1944 Prisoner of War Interview #49 in Burma, which they stated was definitive proof that the comfort girls there were prostitutes, and having studied that report (as did the Congressional Research Service), we have concluded that the descriptions of the comfort girls going shopping, going to picnics and going to social dinners to be totally incompatible with all testimonies by other comfort women, and we have concluded that much of the information in that report were given by the two civilian Japanese “house masters”, and
In our American society, where a certain amount of empathy and compassion are values that are expected in our citizens, we are shocked to witness Japan’s political leaders continue to have their national pride and national image trample any vestige of empathy and compassion for the non-Japanese comfort women, and their expressed desire to dilute or rescind the 1993 apology by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono is an affront to all women throughout the world, and
We are pleased to know that there exists a small faction of today’s Japanese citizens who feel that Japan should admit to and apologize to the World War II victims, and we note the recorded testimonies of Japanese soldiers who used the comfort women,
Therefore, we, the San Fernando Valley Chapter of the JACL, hereby go on record to state our support of the installation of the Korean Comfort Women Monument in the city of Glendale as a reminder of “crimes against humanity,” and to state our support of Rep. Mike Honda’s HR121 bill, which, in addition to the Korean comfort women charges, additionally called out the 2000 U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (signed by Japan), which recognized the unique impact of armed conflict on women, and which specifically noted that in 1921, Japan signed the International Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Women and Children.