Before it was even unveiled, the comfort women memorial in Glendale, California already courted controversy as different opinions were expressed about it. But on Tuesday, hundreds of people gathered at the Glendale Central Park as the memorial was finally unveiled, the first of its kind on public property in the United States’ West Coast.
The status is that of a woman wearing traditional Korean clothing sitting next to an empty chair, a replica of a memorial in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul. Members of the city council, supporters of the project and other community members were at the ceremony. They chose to unveil it on the sixth anniversary of the passage of Resolution 121 by the US Congress, which urged the Japanese government to formally acknowledge, apologize and accept responsibility for forcing women to be sexual slaves for the Japanese military during World War II. Glendale City Council member Frank Quintero said that he is proud that the city is committed to helping tell the stories of these women and dealing with the issue of sexual slavery and violence. He said that this atrocity is still barely recognized in a lot of circles and so it is a big step for the victims, their families and women in general that this monument can help recognize their plight.
The Japanese government has already expressed their “displeasure” about the memorial because it is their view that this issue should not be brought into the political or diplomatic arena. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the monument conflicts with their stand about monuments like this. Some Japanese residents in Glendale testified during a city council meeting that they are opposed to the memorial. However, Kathy Masaoka, a Japanese-American and co-chair of Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress believes most of the Japanese-American community support this memorial and the efforts all over the US to erect other comfort women monuments.
[ via Chosunilbo ]