Some members of Japan’s House of Representatives told the city of Glendale in California to take down a memorial put up to honor women from Korea, China and other countries that were forced to become sexual slaves by the Japanese Army in the Second World War. The three members are all from the conservative Japan Restoration Party, a political party that has numerous members seated in the National Diet. Mio Sugita from the Hyogo Prefecture, Yuzuru Nishida of Chiba and Hiromu Nakamura of Hiroshima were in Los Angeles for a study mission on the memorial that sparked a lot of controversy both in and out of Japan.
While a lot of former comfort women told of horror stories of being forced into sexual slavery, a fact that even the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has written in its website, there is still a huge number of Japanese, including the three lawmakers, who say that these women acted out of their own accord and that the number indicated, around 80,000 to 100,000 comfort women, were greatly exaggerated. Aside from asking the statue to be put down, they also want the account of the comfort women issue on the ministry website to be changed and for Parliament to renounce the previous apology to comfort women given during the 1990s.
The three members also met with a Japanese veteran who is against the statues and two Japanese-American groups, Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress and the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Citizens League, who are both championing the cause of comfort women all over the world. Kathy Masaoka, co-chair of Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress said in a phone interview that, “They wanted to say this is an issue for Japan, that it’s not an international issue, but that’s not the way the rest of the world is looking at it.” Some Korean-American groups are busy trying to put up more statues to increase awareness of the matter and force Japan to come up with an official resolution of apology while the three members push for a change in Japan’s treatment of the comfort women issue. The three hoped that their two countries can set the issue aside and continue to work together even with their differences.
[via Glendale News Press]