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Fairfax County chair on sexual slavery: `It is important to admit mistakes`

Fairfax County chair on sexual slavery: `It is important to admit mistakes`

Posted October. 16, 2014 15:21,   


“A nation can make mistakes sometimes also. The U.S. also had a slavery system after its foundation. Be it a nation or individual, I believe it is important to admit mistakes and make an apology.”

In an exclusive interview with the Dong-A Ilbo on Sept. 22, Sharon Bulova, chairperson of the Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors in the U.S. state of Virginia, did not directly say Japan should admit its past sexual slavery and apologize, but still took a stern stance by saying, "The comfort woman issue is similar. Women were forced into sexual slavery against their will (during Japanese military rule)."

She added, “My own ancestors came from Germany and Ireland. Recognizing the Holocaust (the massacre of Jews by the Nazis) and having events to remember it ensures that the world remains cautious and aware at all times so that such a thing will never happen again.” Bulova stressed the just motives behind activities to remember Japan’s wrongdoings and to prevent their recurrence.

Chairperson Bulova played a critical role in the establishment of a memorial stone for comfort women and a peace park within the county building on May 30 by ethnic Korean organizations, including the Washington Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan. In the interview, which was conducted about four months after the erection of the first memorial stone in the capital region of the U.S., Bulova said, “The Korean community in Fairfax County is very active,” adding, “I am happy that I can join the Korean community’s activities to erect a memorial stone and remember the history.”

She also said that prior to the launch of the memorial stone, an official from the Japanese Embassy in Washington visited her and protested, saying, “Do you know how big an issue of controversy a memorial stone for comfort women is among the Japanese people?,” but that the embassy did not make any protest after its inaugural ceremony.

Chairwoman Bulova came to develop interest in Asian history due in large part to her late father. A war veteran of the Second World War, he fought Japanese troops in Okinawa and Iwo islands, Japan and Saipan, and would often tell the family his experience of war ‘that caused pain to everyone.’ After reading materials from a seminar held in 2012 at George Mason University, Bulova grew interested in the comfort women issue in earnest. “We should approach the comfort women issue from the perspective of universal human rights,” Bulova stressed, adding, “It is violence against women and a grave crime that constitutes human trafficking.”

Bulova has been providing proactive support to the construction of a Fairfax County Korean Center in recent months. The miniature of Emile Bell (or the Devine Bell of King Seongdeok of the Silla Dynasty) on the desk in her office symbolically illustrates how strongly she values relationship with Korean Americans and the Korean community in the U.S.