An online petition has been made on United States President Barack Obama’s official “We the People” website asking for the removal of a monument in Glendale, California remembering women who were coerced as sex slaves by the Japanese Army during World War II – better known as “comfort women”. The petition has reached the 100,000-signature threshold, the requisite number required to receive an official response from the White House.
Before the online petition, critics of the monument have tried sending a huge number of emails to the Glendale City Hall, to no avail. Japanese politicians have also made their requests to the city, but the Glendale City council is not budging. The online petition was the next step for those who opposed the statue, and hitting the 100,000-signature mark within 30 days means that a petition will be reviewed by policy officials and a response, with no deadline, is posted on the website – with the understanding that no action is promised.
Tony Marano, a 64-year-old from Dallas County, Texas, started the petition. He has said that he didn’t expect the White House to take down the city statue, but he does hope that the petition will have other effects in the future. “I know the petition actually won’t get that statue removed. However, it will hopefully serve to prevent future ones from being installed,” said Marano, adding that he thinks an American city should not make its opinion on what he considered an “international issue.” Marano is famous with Japanese fans of his YouTube channel, and is known for supporting Japanese nationalists and Japanese whalers against conservationists.
Glendale council members have however that it is their duty to uphold what they think is right. They said that they believe in spreading awareness about sexual violence, even if it occurs in another country. Majority of the Glendale city council continues to support the statue, this despite requests from a few Japanese politicians to remove it. As a direct result of this issue, a school has cancelled this year’s exchange student program with its sister school in Glendale. Osaka Prefecture’s Nisshin Senior High School said that it will not be sending over exchange students because of the conflict about the memorial dedicated to comfort women. The exchange student program between the two schools has been going on regularly since 1996.
[via Glendale News Press]