‘Comfort Women’ Monument Controversy Comes to Queens

Holocaust survivor,Ethel Katz and Comfort Women Young See Lee meet at Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center. (photo via Queens Chronicle)

Even as the controversy rages over a monument in New Jersey commemorating the wartime rape of Korean “Comfort Women” by the Japanese army in World War II, plans for a similar monument in Queens are in the works, the Queens Chronicle reported.

Japanese officials have asked for the removal of a monument in Palisades Park, N.J., saying that it misrepresents the history — which in turn has infuriated Korean groups, who have vowed to build more monuments to the women from Korea and other Asian countries who say they were abducted by the Japanese army and forced into sexual slavery.

Peter Koo, a Democratic councilman who represents Flushing, is seeking support for either a memorial or a street renaming in Flushing, where there is a concentration of immigrants from Asia.

Koo got the idea for a memorial after attending a symposium held at the Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives on the Bayside campus of Queensborough Community College last December. The center brought together two Holocaust survivors living in Queens with two comfort women survivors from Korea. The councilman said he was moved by their stories and decided to create some form of tribute “so the community remembers and it doesn’t happen again.” He pointed out that the plans are only in the discussion stage, but that he already had received some letters condemning the idea.

The Comfort Women issue has been a point of contention between Korea and Japan, the Queens Tribune reported — “Japanese scholars have estimated as many as 20,000 women were involved, while Chinese scholars place that figure as high as 410,000.”

When Koo and other local leaders began attempts to memorialize the comfort women, backlash from Japan arrived in the form of mysterious letters sent to all City Council members. In one letter addressed to Councilman Vincent Ignizio (R-Staten Island), a man named Takuro Tsuzuku from Tokyo wrote that, “The term ‘comfort women’ refers simply to prostitutes in wartime. But Koreans have long been promoting a false version of history that Japan abducted hundreds of thousands of Korean women and coerced them into a sex trade for Japanese soldiers outside of Japan during World War II.”

Scholars like Dr. Laura Hyun Yi Kang of the University of California, Irvine and Dr. Lisa Yoneyama of the University of Toronto disagree with the notion that the Japanese military did not systematically abuse these women, though they argued that the unsettling truth of comfort women has also been misused by Americans to justify a myth of “liberation” for the Japanese people after the war, a liberation that included the decimation of civilian-dominated cities and a military occupation.

Japanese officials have said that they had nothing to do with the letters, and pointed out that the government has officially apologized for the Comfort Women episode. Koreans have said the apologies do not go far enough.

Koo has met with the Japanese ambassador to discuss his plans for a monument, a staffer told the Tribune, and the conversation was “cordial.”

Supporters of the Queens monument plan say the experience of Comfort Women should not be forgotten, the Queens Chronicle reported:

Terence Park, a leader in the Flushing Korean-American community, said Koo’s plans “are absolutely the right thing to do,” adding, “We must learn from history. Remembering what happened lets us go forward in a positive way.”

Also supporting Koo’s plan is Arthur Flug, executive director of the Kupferberg Holocaust Center, because “we can’t forget them. It’s history.”

He added that both the Jewish survivors of the Holocaust and the Korean comfort women at the session were not afraid of dying. “They fear they will be forgotten,” Flug said.

12 Comments

  1. この韓国人の主張は全くの虚偽である。

  2. Korea must stop fabricating the history.
    So called comfort women were military followers.
    They were hired by Korean brokers and paid.
    They earned a lot of money to even build houses.
    They were prostitutes.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqDF7wXS95k&feature=plcp
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sc2jJX0h4tk&feature=plcp
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-c60fgAKDxs&feature=plcp

  3. 田中愛子 says:

    こんばんわ、田中と申します。
    突然ニューヨークに巨大な看板が表れてびっくりしております。

    慰安婦とは、商業目的すなわち売春婦だったのです。新聞広告を出し一般募集されました。日本人も、韓国人もいました。
    朝鮮人ブローカーが斡旋を取り仕切り、当時としては桁はずれの報酬が支払われていました。強制的に連れられたという村で聞き取り調査も行われましたが、そのような事実はなかったのです。一部の悪徳業者が強制した時も、日本政府は禁止措置をとりました。

     どうぞ、日本人の意見も聞いてください。
    お願いします。   韓国人は、日常的にねつ造を繰り返しています。

  4. Does anyone know that Chiune Sugihara is Japanese Schindler?
    http://www.jewishpost.com/shalom/Chiune-Sugihara-The-Japanese-Schindler.html

  5. OMG… Is this written by based on true stories? Why people in USA just believe what their propaganda said and even built the monuments? They should investigate what really happen on that time. Or just request to get an official info form EU, US gov? You are so lazy to check the fact? Real Journalism is not told by ONE SIDE STORIES that is their purpose to reveal the truth! – Some woman testified many different stories and the country (Korea) itself didn’t tell the truth to own citizen same as China. Why people got paid in WW2 while they were serving called sexual slavery? There were so many comfort women in Japan at the time and they were treated as same people because Japanese considered Korean as same citizen on that era. Korean Gov still encourage to push the Education based on anti-Japan and have asked Japan apologies. Well, many people know that have done many times and Japan even provides and established “The Asian Women’s Fund” BESIDE apology and compensation. And more for Asian women. Please check yourself. But the Korean Citizens don’t know the fact and repeat requesting more apologies…………….
    Please study better (talk to historian from many universities and collage around the world) before you write something, if you believe you have reasonability of journalism.

  6. gookfree says:

    Korean should stop claiming Japanese government while they exports millions of prostitutes all over the world. They will ask compensation against the US government in the future as they were TRAFFICKED by the US officials.

  7. Toshiaki Haginoya says:

    Comfort Women Issue is part of Korean deception and lies to defame Japan.
    Visit this site to find the truth:
    False Accusations of Comfort Women
    http://www.howitzer.jp/korea/page03.html

  8. Toshiaki Haginoya says:

    Spending two days, I checked the statements of Lee Yong-soo (the ex-comfort women in the photo) from 1993 to 2012. Her stories are widely different in her early statements in three books published in 1990s. She told two different testimonies when she attended the hearing meeting held at U.S. House of Reps on Feb.15, 2007, when Mike Honda passed the Resolution 121 which requires Japan to accept the responsibility of “wartime crime of comfort women.” One week later, Feb. 21, 2007, when she came to Japan to attend the hearing held by Japan’s Diet of Councilors, she told entirely another different story. In September, 2012, she attended the public meeting in Kawasaki City, Japan and told yet another story.

    I think she is senile and suffering from dementia or otherwise intentionally telling lies.

    Either way, Koreans should stop using this woman for their own defamation campaign against Japan.

  9. Toshiaki Haginoya says:

    Lee Young-soo (the Korean woman you see right on the photo) changes her testimony every time she estifies. Read this:
    http://www.howitzer.jp/korea/page06.html

  10. hmm, notice all the comments is from person with Japanese nationality. But based on my fact finding it did happen.

    There is alot of evidence that the things that the japanese did during WW2. The Nanking massacre, comfort women and biologically testing on woman and kids. I think you are one of the folks that believe the holocaust never existed and that the japanese people are holy and above everybody else. There are good and bad people in every race and nationality. Based on your claim was one testimony from one survivor, there was 75.

    It seems like the United States isn’t the only country to think you are wrong. The European Parliment also think your wrong.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean-Japanese_disputes#Japanese_compensation_to_Korea_for_colonial_rule

    “In November 1990, the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan (한국정신대문제대책협의회; 韓國挺身隊問題對策協議會) was established in South Korea. In 1993, the government of Japan officially acknowledged the presence of wartime brothels. As of 2008, a lump sum payment of 43 million Korean won and a monthly payment of 0.8 million won are given to the survivors.[37][38] The Japanese government has also arranged an organization that gives money and official letters of apology to the victims.[37] Today, many of the surviving comfort women are in their 80s. As of 2007, according to South Korean government, there are 109 survivors in South Korea and 218 in North Korea. The survivors in South Korea protest in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, Korea every Wednesday. The protest was held for 1000th time in December, 2011.[39]

    In December 2000, The Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery sat in Tokyo, Japan. During the proceedings, the judges of the Tribunal heard hours of testimony by 75 survivors, as well as reviewed affidavits and video interviews by countless others. The Tribunal’s Judgment found Emperor Hirohito and other Japanese officials guilty of crimes against humanity and held that Japan bore state responsibility and should pay reparations to the victims.

    In July 2007, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution that Japan apologize for forcing women into sex slavery during World War II. The resolution was sponsored by Mike Honda (D-CA), a third-generation Japanese-American.[37][40] On December 13, 2007, the European Parliament adopted a resolution that demands the Japanese government to apologize to the survivors of Japan’s military sexual slavery system. This resolution was passed with 54 ayes out of 57 parliament members present. It became the fourth foreign country to demand an official apology from Japan to Korea.[41][not in citation given] In March 27, 2007, the government of Japan offered an official apology to the 200,000 comfort woman.”

    Also it seems like Toshiaki just hates all koreans. (look at his comments)
    http://www.njtvonline.org/njtoday/video/comfort-women-memorial-stays-in-palisades-park-despite-objection-from-japanese-government/

    There are good and bad people across all races and nationality.

    As a resident of NYC and the world, I do believe it did happen therefore i also support the korean in having their memorial. (btw i’m not korean)

  11. sakechyazuke says:

    Why not helping and saving today’s comfort women?

    They’ve still been suffering for over half a century even after WW-II. Just the customers were changed from the Japanese army to the USA army, but their business has kept on going..

    We need to stop their violence and save poor women.

    Modern-Day Comfort Women

    http://vaw.sagepub.com/content/13/9/901

  12. Toshiaki Haginoya says:

    The general public in America should understand the fact that the comfort women issue is situated at the spearhead of anti-Japan propaganda campaign in South Korea.

    Every time South Korea faces internal problems such as economic crisis, the leaders of South Korea look for a topic for Japan-bashing in order to avert the criticism of the people. We Japanese call it “anti-Japan toy.” Stop-using-rising-sun-flag campaign is one such toy, and the comfort women issue is another.

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