A memorial in Palisades Park, N.J. is dedicated to women,many Korean, who were sexually enslaved by Japanese soldiers during World War2.
The monument, a brass plaque on a block of stone, was dedicated in 2010 to the memory of so-called 'Comfort Women', thousands of women and girls, who were forced into sexual slavery by Japanese soldiers in World War2.
But the Japanese lobbying to remove the monument seems to have backfired-and deepened animosity between Japan and South Korea, over the issue of 'Comfort Women' a longstanding irritant in their relations.
The authorities in Palisades Park, a borough across the Hudson River from Manhattan, rejected the demand, and now the Japanese effort is prompting Korean groups in the New York region and across the country to plan more such monuments.
"They are helping us, actually'" said Chejin Park, a lawyer at the Korean American Voters Council, a civic group that championed the memorial in Palisades Park, where more than half of the population of about 20.0000 is of Korean descent, according to the Census Bureau,"We can increase the awareness of this issue."
Korean groups have been further motivated by a letter-writing campaign in Japan in opposition to a proposal by Peter Koo, a New York councilman and Chinese immigrant, to rename a street in Flushing, Queens, in honor of 'Comfort Women'. Mr Park said that in the past couple of weeks, his organization had received calls from at least five Korean community organizers around the country-in Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, and Texas- expressing interest in building their own memorials. These would be in addition to at least four memorials in the works in California and Georgia, he added.
In December last year a bronze statue was installed across the street from the Japanese Embassy in Seoul. Japanese officials have asked the Korean authorities to remove the statue.
I can only say to Japan: "Take the blame, and maybe we remove the shame".
Major Rotundo of Palisades Park said that lobbying began obliquely late last month. Officials at the Japanese consulate in New York sent e-mails requesting a meeting with borough administrators.
The first meeting on May 1, began pleasantly. Then suddenly the Japanese authorities "wanted our memorial removed'" Mr. Rotundo recalled.
The consul general also said the Japanese government was willing to plant Japanese Cherry trees in the borough, donate books to the public library"and do some things to show that we're united in this world and not divided,"
The offer was contingent on the memorial's removal. Mr. Jason Kim, deputy mayor of the Palisades Park, who was at the meeting said:"I can't believe my ears," My blood shot up like crazy."
Needless to say that the borough officials rejected the request, and the delegation left.
The second delegation arrived on May 6 and was led by four members of the Japanese Parliament. Their approach was less diplomatic, Mr. Rotundo said. The politicians, members of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, tried, in asking that the monument be removed, to convince the Palisades Park authorities that 'Comfort Women' had never been forcibly conscripted as sex slaves.They said the 'Comfort Women' were a lie, that they were set up by an outside agency, that they were women who were paid, to come and take care of the troops.How dare!! ( these young girls and women were forcible raped, if they refused they were killed).Young girls and young women were lined up in the camps my mother and her sister were in and the Japanese picked them out who was suitable to serve their need.Some mother were begging the Japanese to take them instead of their daughters.You tell me this is a lie?I know many off springs of these Japanese officers and soldiers are walking on this earth. Babies born of forcible rape.Some Dutch women kept their babies and loved them with all their heart, although they were conceived with hatred.Some girls committed suicide, they were not able to live with what these Japanese had done to them.
After the delegation was finished with their speech, all the mayor said," We are not going to take the statue down, but thanks for coming."
Removal a memorial statue won't change facts. It is a fact that human rights were violated and it was done by Japanese Imperial Army.
The purpose of a monument is to remember the victims of such ghastly acts so these atrocities will never happen again in future.
There are many pervasive denials from Japan about their military past. There are too many to describe and some people in Japan want to erase these from history books.
The Japanese officials do their own people great disservice by pushing the line that the only important human violations are those in which the victims are Japanese, such as victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or the Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea during the 1970s, who have been the subject of a huge officially sponsored campaign both inside and outside Japan. This promotes narrow minded tribalism and makes Japan look like a fool.
The Japanese invasions of Asia were unspeakably bloody. Whatever Japanese members of foreign Ministry officials do or say, the history of Japan's atrocities inflicted on human beings will never be forgotten. It will take far more than planting a couple of bloody Cherry trees or the making of a token donation to erase the sins of their fathers.A few cherry trees would not take away the pain and insult disappear overnight. If that were the case, how would one generation learn from another?
My mother and her sister were raped by the Japanese soldiers, while they were in Japanese prison camp in Moentilan Indonesia (then called the Dutch East Indies) The sad thing of all was that it took place in what was once a church, which was part of the complex where they kept these women prison.It was the Xavier college in Moentilan.The Xavier college used to be a nunnery school and is situated between Magelang and Djokjakarta in Central Java.
My mother and her sister never talked about what happened to them. But it left deep scars.As a child I could feel the pain my mother struggled with. The memory was so appalling. The only ones who knew were my step-father, who my mother married when back in the Netherlands and her youngest sister.They promised never to discuss this.You are probably wondering why it took 60 years to erect a monument? Was it perhaps because these women felt so a shame? Or was it perhaps that in those days such things were taboo and not spoken of.Just like I remember that the word cancer was not be allowed to be spoken of, it was a dirty word, it was whispered.
Some friends of mine sometimes ask me why I keep writing about this painful past.I told them that I think it is important that the world knows that a war is senseless and that innocent women and children suffer because of it.Lives will never be normal again, they are destroyed. I know for a fact, that the atrocities the Japanese military inflicted to my mother and my aunt,was such a dark spot in their brains, which haunted them for the rest of their lives.My mother and her sister were never able to talk about the horrible things the Japanese did to them and all the other women and their children.They tried to forget and buried it deep inside.But I think it would have been healing for them if they could have talked about it.It is very sad that they were always told to forget about it and to go on with their lives.How can one forget???...They fought a war within themselves, this war the Japanese could have taken away from them with apologies, and remorse, not with denials.The Japanese government makes it look like that they were lying.The saddest part of all is that even their own country men did not believe them when they returned back in the Netherlands.It couldn't have been as bad in the Dutch East Indies as the war had been in Europe, was what they were told, you were in Paradise compared to us. You were sitting under a palm tree soaking up the sun.It is very sad that my mother and her sister never knew that their story is finally been told.They passed away and took their story to their graves.But I am glad that more women have come forward to talk about the atrocities they and my mother and her sister went through, at the hands of the Japanese military.
Past World War2 protocol was to let bygones be bygones. Back then, moving on was key for peace of the mind.
Let's not confuse"letting go" with "forgetting".
As George Santayana reminds us: Lessons of history are invaluable"Those who forget the past, are condemned to repeat it."
It is appalling that we have to be reminded again and again of the brutality of the Japanese in World War2 forcing women into sexual slavery.Japan keeps denying these violations of human rights from their past.
Why not support the monuments, not with shame, but as a sobering reminder that values (and those of present day Japan) couldn't be further from those of their misguided ancestors.
Attempts to cover up past deeds only extends the pain and creates new resentments. These monuments are there to remember the innocent.
Japan you make a fool of yourself.
In Manilla the Philippines this Sex Slave Memorial was constructed in 2003.See picture below.
I hope that more of these monuments continue to be constructed all over the world, as a reminder that this should never happen again.
Reminders of a violent past. Lest we forget!
In fond memory of my mother and her sister. Rest in peace.
Thank you for all you have done for me.You protected me from the horrors of these Japanese Camps with your body and soul.