The suburb of Fullerton in Orange County, California will set up a memorial to women who were forced into sexual slavery by the imperial Japanese Army during World War II.
It will be the 11th of its kind in the U.S. as part of a Korean-led campaign to shame Japan into taking responsibility for the atrocity.
A statue commemorating women forced into sexual slavery in World War II, in Glendale, California A statue commemorating women forced into sexual slavery in World War II, in Glendale, California.
The City Council of Fullerton on Wednesday passed a bill on placing a statue of a young woman symbolizing a former sex slave in front of the city museum. Similar statues have been erected in Glendale, California and Southfield, Michigan.
The 3-2 vote was passed after listening to opinions of Korean-American and Japanese-American residents, who make up small but significant minorities.
The same day, the City Council voted to support the U.S. House of Representatives’ resolution calling on Japan to make reparations for the atrocity.
The statue in Fullerton was initiated by the local government and a women’s group.
Back in 2010, when the first memorial honoring what the Japanese euphemistically refer to as “comfort women” was dedicated in Palisades Park, New Jersey, the issue was chiefly a concern of Korean-American communities.
But the issue has now sparked more diverse interest.
Local administrations in Nassau County in New York, Bergen County in New Jersey, and Fairfax County in Virginia have taken the initiative to set up monuments honoring comfort women.
Rightwing Japanese have attempted to throw a spanner in the works. They filed a suit calling for the removal of the statue in Glendale, and vandalized the monument in Palisades Park.
But the sabotage attempts have tended to backfire. With more victims testifying about their tragedy, many Americans have come to view the issue as a question of universal human rights.
Japan’s attempts to whitewash to admit its past wrongs have gone down badly in the U.S., where the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor is often remembered more keenly than Nazi atrocities.
Several federal lawmakers who regularly lobby on Korean issues have visited the memorials, including Ed Royce, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Adam Schiff, Scott Garrett, Bill Pascrell and Mike Honda.
Former Korean prime ministers Han Myung-sook and Kim Hwang-sik have also visited them.