Go to contents

Comfort woman statue in US awakens Japanese sense of shame

Comfort woman statue in US awakens Japanese sense of shame

Posted August. 02, 2013 06:02,   


A statue of a girl symbolizing Korean comfort women during World War II has been unveiled in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale in the U.S. The statue looks the same as the one in front of Japanese embassy in Seoul. About 10,000 Korean-Americans living in Glendale funded the project and participated in a two-year effort to get permissions from other suburb residents, the local government and parliament. The statue is expected to deliver strong messages to Japanese who deny their history of invading other countries and violating human rights in the invaded countries.

Certain conscientious Japanese and Japanese-Americans attended the unveiling ceremony and called for the Japanese government and politicians to make a sincere apology for Japan’s past wrong deeds. On the other hand, the Japanese government organized its efforts to defeat the erecting of the statue and did everything it could have done for that purpose by utilizing its diplomatic channels including Japanese officials in the U.S. On the unveiling ceremony, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary said as Japan’s top government spokesperson that the unveiling of the statue was “extremely regrettable" and the issue of comfort women should not be a political or diplomatic issue.

Japanese conservative daily Yomiuri called for a review of the 1993 Kono Dialogue, which admitted enforceability of the mobilization of the comfort women, saying that the dialogue provided a logical basis for the erecting of the statue and that reviewing of the dialogue is necessary to correct the distorted view of sexual slavery. This assertion serves as a great example of nationalistic journalism. The more Japan tries to hide and distort its degrading history during its imperialistic period, the more such statues will be erected where there are people who remember brutal acts by Japanese.

As conservatism has prevailed in Japan boosted by the conservative party’s winning the recent July election of house of councilors, Japanese politicians make absurd comments one after another, day after day. Regarding a banner protesting against Japanese past wrong deeds, which was hung during a soccer match between Korea and Japan, Japanese Education Minister commented, “(The incident) makes me question about the ‘class’ of the people of the country.”

Japanese Deputy Prime Minister and Financial Minister Taro Aso recently said that Japan could learn from Nazi Germany regarding how to nullify the Constitution. Though he recanted this remarks yesterday, it is no use crying over spilled milk. In Germany, two college students at a Catholic Theological College were kicked out of college after performing "Heil Hitler" style saluting. In the birthplace of the Nazis, people get criminal punishment for saluting the Nazis or using the Nazi patterns or flags. However, in Japan, even a deputy prime minister urges the country to learn from the Nazis. His statement may make the world wonder the “class” of the nation.

In every August when the imperialistic Japan collapsed, diplomatic relations between Korea and Japan turn sour, and it could be forthcoming soon this year as well. If Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other ministers visit Yasukuni Shrine where spirit tablets of Class-A war criminals are enshrined, it will once again put a damp on the diplomatic relation with Korea. If Japan is sincere about normalization of diplomatic relations with Korea through a summit, the country should take a serious attitude toward the issues over its past wrong deeds. This will serve as the first step to carry out Japan’s moral responsibility toward its neighboring countries.