Osaka Prefecture’s Nisshin Senior High School has canceled this year’s exchange student program with their U.S. sister city school in Glendale, California over a conflict about a memorial dedicated to “comfort women” in the Second World War. The exchange student program between the two schools has been sending students to Glendale since 1996.
This year, the school in Higashiosaka was planning on sending six students for a two to three weeks stay, but decided to not push through with it, citing risky situations for the students following a letter of protest sent from Japan to Glendale after it announced on its website the support of its sister cities in building a monument for victims of rape and sexual abuse during World War II. A statue made of bronze in the form of a woman wearing traditional Korean clothing was recently installed in a space next to a public park. A maintenance fund to be given by Glendale’s sister city partners is also being established to cover maintenance costs of the said statue. Mayor Yoshikazu Noda of Higashiosaka said in his protest letter that he never agreed to such a thing, and has not given his consent to accept such expenses for the statue.
A correction on the Glendale city website has already been posted, revising what was previously written, “All sister cities are expected to pay for the maintenance and upkeep of all memorials,” to “Each Sister City Association will be required to provide maintenance and upkeep to only their individual memorials/monuments.” Aside from Higashosaka, other notable sister cities of Glendale also include the cities of Goseong and Gimpo, South Korea.