Second Comfort Women Memorial in NYC

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Legislators from New York together with Korean American and other community groups unveiled a second memorial for Korean “ianfu” or “comfort women” in a park in Nassau County, Long Island. Present at the ceremony were  Senator Tony Avella, Assemblyman Chuck Lavine and Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel. The erected monument consists of two stone tablets with the comfort women resolution signed in 2012.

The resolution, which was signed by the state assembly and senate, says that the Japanese government “officially commissioned” the sexual service system which victimized “hundreds of thousands of young women from Korea, China, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Australia, the Netherlands and elsewhere” during the Second World War. It also acknowledged the first memorial erected in the Eisenhower Park, which stands beside the second one. The resolutions brought a lot of criticisms and complaints from Japan. David Lee, president of the Korean American Public Affairs Committee said the decision to build a second statue was not to humiliate Japan. “We were obviously misunderstanding each other. This issue is not about embarrassing Japan,” said Lee.

The monument consists of two stone tablets that are inscribed with the comfort women resolution stating that the Japanese government “officially commissioned” the sexual servitude of “hundreds of thousands of young women from Korea, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Australia, the Netherlands and elsewhere.” The resolution was signed by the New York State Senate and Assembly in 2012.

The Korean American Public Affairs Committee, which had a significant role in erecting the monument, received a lot of complaints from Japan. However, President David Lee stated that there is a “misunderstanding” and that the “issue is not about embarrassing Japan.”

Senator Avella’s speech at the unveiling, however, described Japan’s unapologetic stance on the issue of comfort women “a shame on the country.” He also noted that the issue is not an attack on the “present people of Japan or the present leadership” but that it’s essential that they recognize the wounds of the past. South Korea, time and again, has called for Japan’s recognition of the “comfort women” issue. The nation has been asking for Japan to issue an official apology and compensation for the victims of sexual slavery during the Second World War. Japan has previously issued an apology through then Chief Cabinet SecretaryYohei Kono in 1993, but this statement has been questioned by several right-wing politicians.

By Japan Daily Times & Korean American Journal

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