Angouleme’s ‘Comfort Women’ special exhibition is featured on French Newspaper, ‘Sud Ouest’

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Cho, Yoon-sun, the Minister of Family & Gender Equality of S.Korea, at the exhibition with French visitors.

http://www.sudouest.fr/2014/01/30/une-ministre-sud-coreenne-a-angouleme-premiere-dans-l-histoire-du-festival-1446384-813.php

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Diplomatic call for Comfort Women

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Rep. Adam Schiff urged the country’s top diplomat this week to press Japanese political leaders to formally recognize women used as sex slaves by the Imperial Army during World War II.

The Burbank Democrat, along with two of his Congressional colleagues, sent the letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the same week as Korean supporters of a Glendale statue honoring so-called comfort women hosted an incense ceremony at the monument to honor a former victim who died last Saturday.

“We recognize that this issue is deeply important to our constituents and should be a diplomatic priority for the Department of State,” he wrote, along with New Jersey Reps.Scott Garrett and Bill Pascrell.

All three have comfort-women memorials in their districts.

“Several of us feel that Japan can make a more full and consistent recognition of what happened to the comfort women,” Schiff said during a phone interview.

In 2007, Congress passed a resolution calling on the Japanese government to issue a formal apology to the comfort women. In the 1990s, a former Japanese prime minister sent letters of apology to former comfort women, but supporters say that wasn’t enough, pointing to a segment of Japanese people that continue to deny as many as 200,000 women were forced into prostitution by that country’s military.

The opposition persists despite the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan declaring that some women were coerced and deprived of their freedom as well as numerous survivors publicly sharing harrowing tales of servitude.

Glendale has become ground zero for the comfort-women controversy since the city installed an 1,100-pound statue in Central Park in July. Since then, three delegations of Japanese politicians — both local and national — have visited Glendale and called on the city’s leaders to remove the memorial.

“Periodically there are very prominent Japanese public officials who make erroneous and hurtful comments about what was done to the comfort women,” Schiff said in the interview. “It’s clear that there really isn’t a full recognition and reckoning at times of what Japan did during World War II.”

The bronze monument in Glendale — the first comfort-women memorial on public land on the West Coast — features a young Korean woman sitting next to an empty chair. It is often surrounded by bouquets of flowers.

On Thursday afternoon, the Korean American Forum of California, which is advocating for the installation of similar statues throughout the United States, hosted an incense ceremony to honor a former comfort woman who died last week.

Hwang Keum-ja died at 89 on Saturday of lung and respiratory disease at a Seoul hospital. She was 13 years old and living in North Korea when she was taken by a Japanese policeman to work at a glass factory for three years, Phyllis Kim, spokeswoman for the Korean American Forum of California, said.

After that, Kim said, Hwang moved to China and was forced to work in a brothel. She returned to Korea at the end of World War II, but lived in poverty throughout her life.

Comfort-women advocates are lobbying to erect more memorials like the one in Glendale in an effort to prompt a formal parliamentary resolution in Japan apologizing to comfort women. Advocates fear that the longer it takes to pen the resolution, more former comfort women will die.

Schiff’s Jan. 29 letter was sent about two weeks after a Congressional appropriations bill including a provision that reflected sentiments similar to those expressed in his message, was signed into law.

Schiff said it was not uncommon for appropriators — in this case members of Congress — to express their views on what departments, such as the Department of State, should do with their funding.

As much as Kerry has his plate full with issues in the Middle East and elsewhere, Schiff said North Korea is also a top priority and Japan’s ability to work together with South Korea and the Philippines will be important for the United States strategically in Asia.

“A full recognition of what happened to the comfort women would improve those relations and that is very much in our interest,” Schiff said.

By Brittany Levine, LA TIMES

Images: Google image

Article from Glendale News Press

Congressmen enter fray monument to Korean comfort women

A California Congressman has waded into a months-long controversy over a statue the city of Glendale installed to honor Korean comfort women forced to serve Japanese soldiers during World War II.

A vocal contingent of Japanese in the US and abroad say that Japan has been unfairly vilified, with some denying the plight of the women from Korea and other Asian countries as they call for the monument’s removal. A petition to the White House has generated more than 126,000 signatures.

But Rep. Adam Schiff, whose district includes Glendale, said such protests threaten to destabilize relations between Japan and its neighbors. And that, he said, is a matter of international security for the US.

“It’s very important for Japan to work well with South Korea and with the Philippines and other nations, particularly in light of some of the Chinese expansionist moves in that part of the world,” said Schiff, D-Burbank.

Schiff on Wednesday called on Secretary of State John Kerry to confront the Japanese government about crimes against the comfort women in a letter he co-wrote with New Jersey Congressmen Bill Pascrell and Scott Garrett. Both also represent districts that have seen flareups over memorials to comfort women.

“With the remaining survivors now well into their eighties, these women deserve to hear a formal apology from the Japanese government nearly 70 years after the end of the war,” the representatives wrote.

The letter comes about a half-year after the city of Glendale in July unveiled its monument — a young girl wearing traditional Korean clothes, and sitting next to an empty chair. It was donated by the Korean American Sister City Assn.

In the months since, three delegations of Japanese politicians have visited the city, making their case for the monument’s removal. They’ve challenged estimates that as many as 200,000 women throughout Asia – most of them from Korea – worked as comfort women in brothels serving Japanese soldiers.

Retired Japanese banker and Los Angeles resident Tomoyuki Sumori is among those fighting the memorial. He told PRI’s The World: “This is not the right place for them to wage this kind of anti-Japan propaganda. Why do they do it in another country?’

Other Japanese-Americans such as Harold Kameya, however, support the memorial. He’s president of the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Citizens League, which earlier this month passed a resolution expressing support for the Glendale statue.  Another Japanese-American organization, Nikkei Civil Rights and Redress, is also in support.

“It’s a civil rights issue,” said Kameya, a retired engineer. “It was important for us, especially as people of Japanese heritage, and as American citizens.”

By Josie Huang

89.3 Southern California Public Radio

The stories of Filipina ‘comfort women’

It’s been 67 years since the end of World War II, but its shadows still haunt those who survived it.

Dozens of Philippne women say they were used as sex slaves by Japanese soldiers.

Al Jazeera first reported the story of the so-called “comfort women” 5 years ago.

Now as part of our “What Happened Next” series, Marga Ortigas revisited some of the women, who are still waiting for justice in the Philipine capital.

http://www.france24.com/en/20140127-interview-cho-yoon-sun-south-korean-gender-equality-minister-ranking-women-workplace-society/

Cho, Yoon-Sun, South Korea’s Minister of Family & Gender Equality talks with France24 TV, including ‘Comfort Women’ issue.

http://www.france24.com/en/20140127-interview-cho-yoon-sun-south-korean-gender-equality-minister-ranking-women-workplace-society/

Angouleme Comic Festival, ‘ComfortWomen’ issue press conference suddenly Cancelled by Festival Committee’s request.

In 2014 Angouleme Comic Festival,Cartoons about former Korean sex slaves to the Japanese military during World War II will be exhibited. Some 20 cartoons and four videos including animations by local artists telling tragic stories of the former sex slavery victims will be featured in a special exhibition of the 2014 Angouleme International Comics Festival. Minister of gender equality and family plans to promote a special exhibition of Korean cartoons themed on Asian victims of the Japanese military’s sexual enslavement during World War II. The exhibition is part of the 2014 Angouleme International Comics Festival scheduled for Jan. 30-Feb. 2 in the southwestern French city of the same name.

However, the scheduled press conference meeting, inviting French newspapers and popular celebrities was suddenly cancelled  a day prior by the request of Angouleme International Comics Festival Committee. The Committee informed that the Committee would cancel the special exhibition of ‘Comfort Women’ if the press meeting were held.

It was strongly suspected that behind this sudden, unexpected request of the Festival Committee was driven by the pressure of Japanese government. Japan is the biggest financial contributor of ‘Angouleme’ Festival. Japanese government vehemently protested initially when the special exhibition for ‘Comfort Women’ was announced at ‘Angouleme’ Festival.

It is really sad and feels helpless to see that Japanese government tries every bit of their power to hide and squash Japan’s atrocious act during the war rather than acknowledge and apologize to its victims.

By Justice for Comfort Women.org