Backlash against the city of Brookhaven decision to install a “comfort women” memorial to honor the sex-trafficking victims of the Japanese military during World War II has been swift, with dozens of emails from people living in Japan and the U.S. denouncing the city’s decision flooding the inboxes of City Council members.

The memorial, the statue of a girl sitting next to an empty chair, set to be unveiled this month, has put the city in the midst of international controversy between the governments of Japan and South Korea. The city has placed the sculpture in Blackburn Park 2, a small park tucked within a mixed-use development adjacent to the main Blackburn Park.

The local “comfort women” memorial is identical to this one shown the Facebook page of the Atlanta Comfort Women Memorial Task Force. (Special)

Mayor John Ernst has met with the Consulate-General of Japan in Atlanta twice to listen to arguments against the memorial the city approved May 23. The monument is scheduled to be unveiled on June 30.

“Obviously, this is very disappointing,” City Councilmember John Park said.

Park, who led the effort to install the memorial in the city, is Korean-American and moved to the U.S. with his family when he was 6.

“We as Americans and Europeans … we’ve come to terms with our sins. We’ve apologized for the Japanese-American internment camps [operated by the U.S. during WW II],” Park said.

“They’re not coming to terms,” he said of the Japanese government. “They have a cognitive dissonance and this history is very uncomfortable to them.”

The complaining emails generally say that there is no proof the Japanese military participated in systemic sex trafficking of women from Korea and many other nations for its soldiers during WWII. The emails also state that such a memorial is “politically and diplomatically controversial,” specifically between Korea and Japan. Many of those emailing also state such a memorial will only lead to bullying and hate against the Japanese.

“I told the consulate that Brookhaven would not stand for discrimination against the Japanese and that the memorial was about bringing awareness of sex trafficking today, which Brookhaven has taken the lead on,” Ernst said.

Requests for comment from the Japanese consulate were not returned.

The Brookhaven statue is one of many identical versions produced by Korean artists Kim Seo-kyong and Kim Eun-sung and installed around the country and world. The local memorial was commissioned by the Atlanta Comfort Women Memorial Task Force. Helen Kim Ho, a consultant for the task force, said the memorial is not intended to make Japan look bad.

Covered with a plywood box, the “comfort women” memorial awaits its unveiling in Brookhaven’s Blackburn Park 2. (Dyana Bagby)

“Anything but that. Our focus is on honoring the brave lives of the women and girls … that is not a subject to debate,” she said.

Memorials to the Holocaust and to the Pearl Harbor attack have not led to widespread discrimination, she said, and criticized “paid trolls” and the Japanese government for trying to erase part of history.

“This is not a Japanese-Korea thing,” Ho said.

Rifts between Korea and Japan have lasted decades over the issue of “comfort women.” Many historians have reported the Japanese military abducted and coerced as many as 200,000 women into sex slavery during WW II, but Japan continues to dispute that.

In 2015, however, Japan officially apologized to Korea and to “comfort women” and Tokyo paid $1 billion yen, or about $8.5 million, to a fund to help victims.

As more cities in the U.S. and the world begin installing such memorials, the Japanese government has fought back harder, including filing lawsuits.

In March, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case demanding the city of Glendale, Calif., remove a “comfort women” memorial.

“It’s kind of disappointing Japan has taken this stance to try to hide the history even though they have acknowledged and apologized for it,” Park said.

Park said after he learned in March the Center for Civil and Human Rights in downtown Atlanta backed out of installing the memorial at its site, he suggested Brookhaven as its new home because of its central location and ethnic diversity.

“I think the proper place for it is at the Center for Civil and Human Rights, but they refused to fulfill their obligation,” Park said. “We are righting a wrong.”

Other “comfort women” memorials are in San Francisco, New Jersey, Michigan and Virginia. They are also in Australia, Canada and China.

The Brookhaven memorial will be unveiled at 10 a.m. on June 30 in the park at 3509 Blair Circle.

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.

51 replies on “Brookhaven ‘comfort women’ memorial brings swift backlash”

  1. What do you think if old Japanese insisted the U.S. military had systematically committed murder/robbery/arson/rape against 200,000 Japanese citizens while their stationing in Japan ?
    Meanwhile, it is known the rare lawless U.S. soldiers had committed those of criminality in Japan ( for example, 69 cases in Okinawa Prefecture in 1977 )

    The same situation is found regarding the “comfort women” issue.
    The Koreans’ “fact” is baselessly exaggerated one in the meaning that no one disclosed its objective/verifiable basis.

    —- Points in the dispute

    After the fact-finding study of such as Japanese and U.S. official record, the Japanese government found that Koreans’ assertion, systematic abduction, coercion and human trafficking, has no objective basis.

    What Japan acknowledges is the existence of “comfort women” as legitimate voluntary wage workers. The military was involved in such as the transportation or the medical checkup. Japan also acknowledges there were atrocity by rare lawless soldiers or lower units. Japan respects victims of those and apologized/compensated.(1946 to 2015).
    Regarding the number, some of historians say it was about 200,000. But what they guessed is not the number of the victims of crime but just the number of “comfort women”.

    —- Basis of this post

    I’ve searched for the primary source of the Koreans’ assertion but it ended up in vain. On the contrary I found Koreans’ assertion has the fatal contradiction as;
    – Did anyone disclose one name of “comfort women” killed by Japanese soldiers ? No.
    – Did anyone disclose one name of the parents who searched for their disappeared daughters after the war ? No.
    – Did anyone disclose one concrete incident of the atrocity or human trafficking by the national-will with date and location identified ? No.

    —- Media literacy

    I hope this incident can be an opportunity for you to think deeply of what the “comfort women” issue is.
    Hope you have interest in this issue and find out the fact you believe by yourself. Some media or politicians assert something without disclosing the primary materials. So, the media literacy to find the primary-material-based-fact is expected.


    1. From the UN Commission on Human Rights:

      “Photographs of the stations, and even of the “comfort women” themselves in various contexts, have been preserved, along with a number of different records of the regulations of comfort stations in different parts of the Japanese Empire. Though little documentation remains that bears witness to the recruitment methods, the actual operation of the system is widely attested in records which survive from the period. The Japanese military meticulously recorded the details of a prostitution system that appeared as to be regarded as merely another amenity. The rules for comfort stations in Shanghai, Okinawa, other parts of Japan and China and the Philippines still survive, detailing, inter alia, rules for hygiene, hours of service, contraception, payment of women and prohibitions of alcohol and weapons.

      These regulations are some of the most incriminating of the documents to have survived the war. Not only do they reveal beyond doubt the extent to which the Japanese forces took direct responsibility for the comfort stations and were intimately connected with all aspects of their organization, but they also clearly indicate how legitimized and established an institution the stations had become. Much attention seems to have been paid to see that the “comfort women” were treated correctly. The prohibition of alcohol and swords, the regulation of hours of service, reasonable payment and other attempts to impose what would appear to be a sense of decorum or fair treatment are in stark contrast with the brutality and cruelty of the practice. This only serves to highlight the extraordinary inhumanity of a system of military sexual slavery, in which large numbers of women were forced to submit to prolonged prostitution under conditions which were frequently indescribably traumatic.”


    As you notice if you read the above, this conspiracy is to destroy America by Communist China and 한국정신대문제대책협의회 which is one of the work agencies by N.Korea. Be careful. Now S. Korea is controlled by N.Korea since Kim De Jun became S.Korean president, he was pro-N.Korea.

    This conspiracy was created by communist journalists in Japan who were a part of world network of Communist. Their another name is Human Right group.

    If you love America, be careful. If you want to destroy America in side of Communist China and N. Korea, then encourage this queer and sneaky propaganda with spreading lots of money, please. This movement will damage peace in Community as well, Racist movement. Deviding operation.

  3. A much better article than many, but still displays a bias towards the neo fascist comfort women lobby.

    For example “Many historians have reported the Japanese military abducted and coerced as many as 200,000 women into sex slavery during WW II, but Japan continues to dispute that.”

    This attempt to contextualize the issue as “Historians vs. Japan” (the article doesn’t define “Japan” clearly here). This is demonstrably false. And the author should write a clarification or retraction.

    Historians themselves, most of whom are actually South Korean, have debunked the claim that 200,000 Korean women were kidnapped by the Japanese Army. Dr Ahn Byong Jik of Seoul University and Professor Yuha Park of Sejong University are two of many that have researched and noted Koreans during this period were assimilated into the Japanese military in higher numbers than minority soldiers in the US, that most brothels employing the comfort women were owned by Koreans, many married couples jointly running the houses, and that the rules of the house were far less restrictive on the comfort women prostitutes than the US imposed restrictions on our government regulated comfort women houses in Hawaii during the war.

    So yes, the city council has decided wrongly to erect a racially based statue that promotes a discredited version of history. It’s sad that a Korean American would chose to pick race over reason. I thought Americans were supposed to be passed that.

  4. I wonder if a city councilor John Park is using public money to serve residents , or his people.
    Siding one particular ethics group is not only unfair, but also cause conflict and division among community. For that reason, using power of authority to push own agenda gives his own people a bad name. Especially, “Comfort Women” is now an international issue which local government shouldn’t be ​ involved.
    Erecting the girls statue will be the biggest mistake for City of Brookhaven ever made in its history.

  5. Why would you guys stick this right in the middle of the field where kids play, fly kites, dogs run? Stupid. I hope they rip it out for that reason alone. Maybe asking the people that live here what we would like would have been nice and appropriate. Everyone I’ve spoken too hates it.

    1. Brookleigh master association pays $20K per year for maintenance of this park. We were never asked, there was no vote, we are furious! The city of Brookhaven should pick up this tab in the future of this statue stays!!

  6. What do you think if we Japanese begin to build Mushroom Cloud Hiroshima/Nagasaki Mass-murder Memorials in front of American Embassy in Tokyo and elsewhere around the world?

    Maybe you would say you have your own interpretation about dropping the A-bombs, which is different from ours.

    We would not do that because we believe that what happened in the past should not dictate today’s relationship. “JUST GET OVER IT AND MOVE ON” is our basic principle over the tragedy.

    About the Comfort Women Issue, it is NOT even the historical fact that 200,000 women and girls were forcibly mobilized by the Japanese Army/Police. It is just the hoax fabricated by Korean activists in a malicious attempt to defame Japan. Just perform some fact-checking before blindly swallowing the assertion of Kelly Ahn.

    False Accusations of Comfort Women

  7. The girl’s statue has NOTHING to do with human trafficking whatsoever.
    It has been creating division, conflict, hatred, corruption, unnecessary media attention, and all other trash to not only community-level, but also nation-wide, even international level instead of healing, peace, and hope.

    Moreover, the narrative of “Comfort Women” is completely fraud. There are tons of tons of physical evidence to show that those women were paid prostitutes. On the other hand, “Comfort Women” fraud promoters are solely relying on alleged victims’ shaky statements, and have never presented any physical evidence

    One of the real purposes of the statue is to divide relationship between Japan and Korea, the US and Japan, so that Red China will be able to concur the Pacific freely.

    Don’t be fooled by the propaganda.

    Get yourself educated. Use common sense.

  8. These reader comments above should give the public a good picture of the ridiculous, harassing emails/comments that the council members, reporters and others receive from history deniers on a regular basis. smh

  9. The Memorial Cenotaph or “Mushroom Cloud” “mass murder memorial” was constructed by Japan. It is located at The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park along with a remembrance which can be roughly translated into English “please rest in peace, for they [or we based on subtleties in translation] shall not repeat the error.”

    The park faces another memorial known as the A-bomb dome. The dome contains remnants from the explosion including items such as clothing, watches, hair, and other personal effects worn by victims of the bomb.

    Surely, these two memorials that are much more controversial than a sculpture depicting a child sitting next to an empty chair.

  10. To PSDad:

    The Atomic Bomb Memorial that stands in Hiroshima is intended to repose the soul of the dead people. The purpose of the memorial is not to blame somebody, much less harassment against anybody.

    If the same memorial is moved to the entrance of the American Embassy, it violates the Vienna Convention, which guarantees tranquility and dignity of the foreign envoy. Therefore, we do not do that.

    The purpose of the comfort women memorial is harassment and defamation against Japan, and the same memorial stands in front of the Japanese Embassy in Soul, with complete false allegation engraved in the metal plate besides the statue.

    1. moguro- If the true purpose of installing the ‘comfort women’ memorial were to bring harassment and defamation against Japan, we might have tried to build it in front of Japanese General Counsel’s office here in Atlanta, but we haven’t, have we?

      1. What are you saying is that a Girl’s statue in front of Japanese embassy in Seoul, South Korea is to bring harassment and defamation against Japan?

        1. Mina,

          First, we are American citizens, not Koreans. And what we are trying to do, we want to do it as American citizens and not as Koreans. Please do not confuse or equate what we do as the same as of what those Korean citizens are doing there in their own country in Seoul or Busan. I believe Koreans in Korea demand for formal apology and proper compensation for the “comfort women,” among other things.

          Meanwhile, our goals, and that of Atlanta Comfort Women Memorial Task Force, is not to demand formal apology, or compensation for them. Hope you understand that. Our task force is consisted of men and women of multi-national backgrounds and we stand together simply to honor those ‘comfort women’ and by remembering them, strive to build the better world for our children.

          1. Jon,

            What you are doing here is exactly same as what Korean people doing in Korea.
            Even the design of statue is same.

            Plus, America is not in the position to accuse Japan, or any other countries, for committing war crimes, because that would be hypocrite.

            I don’t want to get into the detail in order to avoid censorship, but if you know your history, you know exactly what I am talking about.

            If you are an American citizen as you claim, why don’t you honor events and people that relevant to America such as Korean “Comfort Women” used by Americans during and after Korea war, numbers of
            Amerasian and their mothers, and so on.
            We all have something to learn from them.

            What do you think, Jon the American fellow?

          2. Mina,

            I could not send my response to your reply so consider this as my reply to your email below.

            I am an American, and proud of it. I don’t need to claim it as one if I am not. Also, I don’t appreciate your sneer, calling me an “American fellow” and so one. I am sure you wouldn’t either if I start calling you Japanese “you know what” so let’s try to keep our responses to one another more civilized.

            What I’ve tried to point out to you, though, is your suggestions are moot . If there is something you feel so strong, it is you who need to go ahead and do something about it. Don’t suggest to me what I need to do or to honor….

          3. Jon,

            First, I would like to offer an apology for making you uncomfortable.

            Second, I never specify my nationality.

            Third, you said,
            >Don’t suggest to me what I need to do or to honor….

            Those were not suggestions, they were questions.

            Japan had already payed for its mistakes. (Tokyo Trial)
            They haven’t been in a war for more than 70 years.
            On the other hand, America is always engaged with war, one after another.
            Korea is still in a war right at this moment.

            America operated air raid over Germany, and Japan killing thousands of civilians during World War Two.
            After war, American solders raped hundreds of Japanese girls and women.

            However, America never offers apology, or pay compensation.
            American Government never express remorse neither.
            Instead, keep repeating same thing over and over again for last 70 years.

            I am having a hard time understanding why members of “Atlanta Comfort Women Memorial Task Force” ignore What America have been doing, and highlight event which got nothing to do with America, and try to install a memorial to honor it.

            Are you trying to hide series of war crimes by doing so?
            Or you believe America always gets out of war with clean hands.

            The most important thing right now is how residents of Brookhaven feel towards the memorial.
            Installation of the memorial makes you feel happy and accomplished, but please know that it is hurting the community.
            They already have created peace without the statue for peace.
            We all should do what’s best for community, instead of what we want to do.

  11. During the public portion of the Brookhaven City Council meeting two people spoke in favor the placing that statue claiming in part it was not “Japan bashing.” I am sorry to disagree with these two well intentioned persons.

    This proposed Comfort Women statue only memorializes women servicing the Japanese military during and prior to the start of World War Two. While at the same time ignoring the women pressed into Comfort Service by the South Korean military for the U.S. military over about a forty year period. From around 1950 to around 1990, and a lawsuit currently is pending. Also ignores the Comfort Women pressed into service by South Korean troops for South Korean troops in Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

    By claiming empathy of the Comfort Women who were in the service for the Japanese military while ignoring the two aforementioned Comfort Women groups can reasonably be assessed as Japan bashing.

    I am not writing should not allow this statue, just requesting in the statues inscription include the other two ignored Comfort Women groups. By doing so it will demonstrate to the nation and people of Japan your concern for all women who served as Comfort Women in the Asian theater prior to 1990. It will also demonstrate the sincerity of the two people who spoke at the City Council meeting stating it was not “Japan bashing.”

    1. Tony- Below is what I said at the public hearing that night as one of five supporters for the memorial. After reading, if you still insist that it is about Japan bashing, I will engage in more serious dialogue. Hope you are willing to read it and respond.

      In Support of “Comfort Women” Memorial to Be Installed in the City of Brookhaven

      I am here to support the City of Brookhaven to host and install a memorial in honor of hundreds of thousands of young girls and women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army before and during the World War II. As the Council and Mayor deliberate to come to an important decision this evening, I would like to share with those who are gathered here the significance of what we are trying to accomplish by erecting the memorial of a young girl in this city even though it is 72 years after the end of WWII.

      First, it is to be a historical memorial and as such we want to remember the sufferings of the young girls and women who were subjected to sexual abuse during the WWII. By doing so, we want to raise awareness of the unacceptable atrocities forced upon them. Even after the war, the ordeals of these women were hidden to public for another 46 years. Only after 1991 they broke the silence and we began to hear their testimonies. Although their testimonies are diverse and at times inconsistent due to elapsed time and suppressed memories, the aggregate record they offer is compelling and irrefutable. This memorial should serve as a reminder that no one should have to suffer such conditions again.

      Second, we acknowledge the challenges of understanding full and true history. For instance, we will probably never know exactly how many young girls and women were coerced to become “comfort women.” Some historians also dispute how directly the Japanese military was involved in recruiting, establishing and maintaining the “comfort women” system. Yet, the evidences make it clear that large number of women were held against their will and subjected to horrific brutality. What lies at the core of the “comfort women” issue is our outcry against such inhumane system that exploited vulnerable girls and women.

      Young Girl’s Statue for Peace is about raising awareness to women’s dignity and human rights. Contrary to some concerns raised, it was never intended to be about Japanese bashing or to discriminate or even bully the Japanese people living in our community in the United States. Acknowledging past wrongs take courage and healing often takes a long time. However, currently there are only 38 surviving “comfort women” and most of them are in their nineties. Before it’s too late, we hope that installing the memorial in the City of Brookhaven presents an opportunity for us to learn an important lesson from history and continue and strengthen the movement to end the sexual violence and human trafficking in the future. By doing so, we hope to bring some healings not only to the surviving “comfort women” but anyone locally, countrywide, and worldwide who have suffered and are suffering sexual violence.

      Finally, I thank you, Mayor Ernst Jr. and each member of the Council for your willingness to hear and move speedily to install this memorial which stands for peace in their honor. I applaud your leadership!

      1. Mr. Park, have you actually approached the Japanese Consulate or government of Japan? I don’t think you have. If not, why do you accuse “Japanese government” of denying history?

        I suggest that you write to the government of Japan for their official response and enlighten us with their real response rather than making up their position to suit your narrative.

      2. Mr. Councilman,

        >the evidences make it clear that large number of women were held against their will and subjected to horrific brutality.

        I am very interested in “Comfort Women” issue.
        So far, I haven’t found any evidences to lead me believe such event ever occur.
        On the other hand, so-called “Japanese ultra right wing ” side got something like, quite few official documents, eye witnesses, testimonials from women and Japanese soldiers from back then, news paper adds for hiring women to do such a service, on and on.
        If you have any “evidences” beside statements from victims, could you please reply this comment?
        For example, what are the name of historians who is in expert of “Comfort Women” issue?
        Do you know what happen to the corpses of women who were killed by Japanese Army?
        If somebody could recover some of them, Japan cannot deny atrocity they have done any more.

        With all respect,

        1. Nick D.– Please do not confuse me with Councilman John Park. My name is Jon Park, that is, without h and we are not related.

          I can suggest two historians, one Japanese and one Korean American and their two books:

          Yoshimi Yoshiaki, “Comfort Women”;
          C.Sarah Soh, “The Comfort Women”

          Please read them!

          1. I am sorry to misunderstand who you are, and
            thank you for the information.
            Those two historians’ names have come across before.
            I will definitely have a look.
            By the way, have you heard about Professor Ikuhiko Hata?
            I heard his study is very useful in order to understand “Comfort Women”.
            There is one thing I don’t understand.
            I heard one of women saying that she kept it secret, because if someone found out what happened she would be persecuted by society, even by own family.
            If Korean girls and women were taken away by Japanese to be slaves, it should be well known, shouldn’t it?
            Why people of Korea didn’t know until early 1990’s?

        2. Please see the UN Report on this issue:

          The establishment of “comfort stations” providing on-site prostitutes for the Japanese army started as early as 1932, following hostilities between Japan and China in Shanghai. This was nearly a decade before the use of so­called “comfort women” became a widespread and regular phenomenon, as it had undoubtedly become in all parts of Japanese-controlled East Asia by the end of the Second World War. The first military sexual slaves were Koreans from the North Kyushu area of Japan, and were sent, at the request of one of the commanding officers of the army, by the Governor of Nagasaki Prefecture. The rationale behind the establishment of a formal system of comfort stations was that such an institutionalized and, therefore, controlled prostitution service would reduce the number of rape reports in areas where the army was based.

          When, in 1937, the Japanese Imperial Army captured Nanking, with resulting violence, the Japanese authorities were forced to consider the state of military discipline and morale. The comfort station plan as originally introduced in 1932 was revived. The Shanghai Special Branch used its contacts in the trading community to obtain as many women as possible for military sexual services by the end of 1937.

          These women and girls were employed in a comfort station situated between Shanghai and Nanking, operated directly by the army. This station became the prototype for later stations and photographs of the station, as well as regulations for the users, are preserved. This station’s direct operation by the army did not continue as the norm for comfort stations in the more settled environment which followed when the phenomenon became more widespread. There were enough private civilians willing to run the stations and to see to their internal operation; they were given paramilitary status and rank by the army. The army remained responsible for transportation and the general overseeing of the stations, and matters such as health and general supervision remained the responsibility of the military.

          As the war continued and the number of Japanese soldiers based in various parts of East Asia increased, the demand for military sexual slaves increased, so that new methods of recruitment were created. This involved the increased use of deception and force in many parts of East Asia, and especially in Korea. The testimonies of many Korean “comfort women” who have come forward reveals the frequency with which coercion or duplicity was employed: a considerable number of (mostly Korean) women victims speak in their testimonies of the deceit and pretence which were employed by the various agents or local collaborators who had been responsible for their recruitment.

          With the strengthening of the National General Mobilization Law by the Japanese Government, which had been passed in 1932 but which had not been fully implemented until the last few years of the war, both men and women were called upon to contribute to the war effort. In this connection, the Women’s Voluntary Service Corps was established, ostensibly to procure women for work in factories or to perform other war-related duties to assist the Japanese army. Under this pretext, however, many women were deceived into serving as military sexual slaves and the association of the Service Corps with prostitution soon became well known.

          Ultimately, the Japanese were able to procure more women for the increasing demands of the army by using violence and outright coercion. A large number of the women victims speak of violence used on family members who tried to prevent the abduction of their daughters and, in some cases, of being raped by soldiers in front of their parents before being forcibly taken off. One case study refers to Yo Bok Sil who, like many girls, was seized from her home and whose removal involved the beating of her father because he attempted to resist her abduction.

          The geographical location of comfort stations appears to have followed the course of the war; stations seem to have been found wherever the Japanese army was based. Meanwhile, the exploitation of “comfort women” went on even in Japan where, despite the presence of licensed prostitution, some stations were established for those who had no access to the existing facilities.

          Comfort stations are known, through a number of sources, to have existed in China, Taiwan, Borneo, the Philippines, many of the Pacific Islands, Singapore, Malaya, Burma and Indonesia. The testimony is recorded of a variety of people who either remember the stations from the time of their operation or who had relatives or acquaintances who were involved in the running of the system in some way.

          Photographs of the stations, and even of the “comfort women” themselves in various contexts, have been preserved, along with a number of different records of the regulations of comfort stations in different parts of the Japanese Empire. Though little documentation remains that bears witness to the recruitment methods, the actual operation of the system is widely attested in records which survive from the period. The Japanese military meticulously recorded the details of a prostitution system that appeared as to be regarded as merely another amenity. The rules for comfort stations in Shanghai, Okinawa, other parts of Japan and China and the Philippines still survive, detailing, inter alia, rules for hygiene, hours of service, contraception, payment of women and prohibitions of alcohol and weapons.

          These regulations are some of the most incriminating of the documents to have survived the war. Not only do they reveal beyond doubt the extent to which the Japanese forces took direct responsibility for the comfort stations and were intimately connected with all aspects of their organization, but they also clearly indicate how legitimized and established an institution the stations had become. Much attention seems to have been paid to see that the “comfort women” were treated correctly. The prohibition of alcohol and swords, the regulation of hours of service, reasonable payment and other attempts to impose what would appear to be a sense of decorum or fair treatment are in stark contrast with the brutality and cruelty of the practice. This only serves to highlight the extraordinary inhumanity of a system of military sexual slavery, in which large numbers of women were forced to submit to prolonged prostitution under conditions which were frequently indescribably traumatic.

      3. Hello Jon Park, thank you for your reply.
        As I wrote those who spoke at the 23 May council meeting claiming it was not Japan bashing were well intentioned as I am confident you also are well inentioned. I trust in your heart you have no desire to engage in any Japan bashing. The purpose of my reply was to illustrate the people of Japan see it as pure Japan bashing and for very good reasons. Just add the Comfort Women forced by South Korean troops in South Korea for the USA military and add the Vietnamese forced to be Comfort Women by South Korean troops, and that will nullify any thoughts of Japan bashing. Better yet, in the inscription exclude the mention of any nation and just memorialize all Comfort Women from all wars, which would nullify the Japan bashing aura. By only mentioning Japan, reasonable people could clearly read the underlying message of this memorial which screams Japan bashing. Thank you.

        1. Tony,

          Imagine for a moment: when a holocaust memorial is about to be built, someone comes and demands that any mention of “Nazi” or 6 million Jews being murdered in the concentration camps during WWII should be removed from the memorial. What do you think? Would such a memorial have any significant meaning?

          Young Girls Statue for Peace is just a memorial, and how ludicrous it sounds if you keep insisting that it should have no mention of word Japan on it, otherwise, it must be Japan bashing.

          A memorial stands as a reminder of certain past incident, and along with it, a brief historical description of what happened is to be included. You tell me if there are any memorial that is different?

          What happened to the hundreds of thousands of “comfort women” before and during the WWII (1032 – 1945) and what did Japanese military do to these young girls and women, therefore, should be listed in the memorial as a historical context. There is no Japan bashing or hatred toward any Japanese people living either in the US or Japan. I think the reasonable people of Japan understand this.

          By the way, if you feel so strong about what did US military do to Korean women during the Korean War or what did Korean military do to Vietnamese women during the Vietnam War, go ahead and begin your own campaign, raise funds and try to build your own memorial. No one is stopping you! Until you do that, then I must take your remarks as disingenuous and cowardly….

  12. With all due respect, I don’t like to pinpoint one person, but, if Mr. John Park, one of Council Members of Brookhaven, really wants to “raise awareness to dignity of human right” by the monument for the wartime “comfort women” as he said in the public hearing, why in the world he can be shamefully silent on what’s going on in East Asia. There can be no double standard in this regard.

    The facts speak for themselves. According to “The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression” by French historian Stéphane Courtois, published in 1997, after the Second World War more than 65 million Chinese have been killed under Communist China, and over 2 million Koreans killed in North Korea. Humanitarian abuses are happening at this very moment in Tibet, East Turkistan, and Southern Mongolia. The people’s Liberation Army of China is carrying out cyberattacks against the world day in and day out. Numerous people in several countries, presumably including one American named David Sneddon, have been abducted by North Korea. Chinese naval forces repeatedly invade territorial waters of Vietnam, the Philippines, and Japan. Beijing continues to crack down on human-rights activists of China and democratic movements in Hong Kong. Seoul routinely gives in to anti-Japan, anti-American, and pro-Pyongyang domestic pressure, at the expense of universal values like the rule of law and freedom of speech.

    Yet, these autocratic forces opportunistically play up “Japan’s wartime crimes” all around the world without meeting the burden of proof just to cover up their humanitarian crimes. What is essentially wrong with Mr. Park’s claim of “comfort women” is that it is fueled not by love, reason, and pursuit of truth, but by fury, hatred, and a burning desire to humiliate Japan. It is time to say enough is enough.

    In 1862 President Abraham Lincoln described the United States as “the last best hope of earth”. In 2015 Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came to the U.S. congress and urged, “let us call the U.S.-Japan alliance, an alliance of hope. Let the two of us, America and Japan, join our hands together and do our best to make the world a better, a much better, place to live.”

    I would say that the alliance between Japan and the United States is the last best hope of leadership in East Asia. Honoring the rule of law, contracts and covenants, and the elevation of freedom―these are what both countries have held dear throughout their history. We should never give in to the Orwellian propaganda like “Korean wartime sex slaves” spewed by some who reject these values. No less than freedom of the world depends on it.

  13. Every China-town around the world has GUAN-Yu Mausoleum, as god of commercial activities and money-making. Likewise, every Korea-town around the world will have Comfort Women Memorial, as god of prostitution activities and anti-Japan smear campaign. The statue has nothing to do with human rights. Look around you and find how many massage parlors and Korean prostitutes you have in your town.

    During the war, traditional Kisaeng House (entertainment house for men) changed its form to Comfort Stations. Now they take a form of Massage Parlors and provide sex in your town.

    President A. Lincoln might as well have said, “the government of the comfort women, by the comfort women, and for the comfort women, shall perish from the earth.”

  14. There are plenty of comments here from Japan’s right wing history deniers, but the facts have been documented by Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Philippine, Southeast Asian, and Western sources, anyone can just Google them. Here’s just one United Nations report: . Far from being just a “Japan – South Korea” issue, Japan’s WW2 military forced women into sex slavery everywhere they occupied during the war, including North and South Korea, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Viet Nam, and elsewhere. No one claims that Holocaust memorials bash Germans, nor does Germany demand their removal, so why do right wing Japanese claim such things? Perhaps they have a guilty conscience?

  15. When men of no morals perpetrate crimes and then try to erase it from history, it takes men with morals to correct that.

    I applaud the unequivocal moral leadership shown by the Brookhaven City Council. Good job you guys!

    You will have a lot of pressure. But stay strong. History is going to judge you as the good people who sided with truth and justice.

  16. It is not quite right that Japan is compared to Germany. The fact that Japan was a member of Axis Powers does not necessarily mean Japan committed the same holocaust as Germany. Actually, Japan had no interest in the fate of Jews and saved their lives when they came into Japan’s occupied ares, and Korea was part of Japan as Austria was to Germany.

    Why did 240,000 Korean Volunteers form a part of Japanese Imperial Army like President Park Chung-hee (military officer of the Manchukuo Division), father of former President Park Geun-hye, if the Japanese Army rounded-up Korean women and girls and forced them into “sexual slavery”? There was no uprising or whatsoever during the Annexation Years. Koreans joined Japan’s war effort until the end of WWII.

    1. I think you are missing the point here. The issue is Germans acknowledge that atrocities occurred. Oddly, the Japanese government and people like yourself refuse to do so or attempt to confuse the issue with side points.

  17. Offensive and egregious is the term “Sexual Slavery” or “Sex Slaves” ignoring the fact they were paid prostitutes referred to as “camp followers” in the US interrogation report (details). Its usage despite the documented proof to the contrary is an example of the willful inversion of history.

    City Councillors and people in Brookhaven may not be
    aware of the fact that when kidnappings of girls allegedly took place, more than 80% of the police force were native Koreans. How is it possible to commit such large scale crimes without activating police investigations or families rioting?

    1. Ms Sharon– I agree that there were many Korean corroborators who were engaging in human trafficking during that period. But how does that change the story? If you’re interested, I can suggest you visit the following website and read on the articles there.

      The Asia-Pacific Journal/Japan Focus:;

      Debunking the Japanese “comfort women” denier talking point:

  18. H. RES. 121

    In the House of Representatives, U. S.,

    July 30, 2007

    Whereas the Government of Japan, during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II, officially commissioned the acquisition of young women for the sole purpose of sexual servitude to its Imperial Armed Forces, who became known to the world as ianfu or comfort women;

    Whereas the comfort women system of forced military prostitution by the Government of Japan, considered unprecedented in its cruelty and magnitude, included gang rape, forced abortions, humiliation, and sexual violence resulting in mutilation, death, or eventual suicide in one of the largest cases of human trafficking in the 20th century;

    Whereas some new textbooks used in Japanese schools seek to downplay the comfort women tragedy and other Japanese war crimes during World War II;

    Whereas Japanese public and private officials have recently expressed a desire to dilute or rescind the 1993 statement by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono on the comfort women, which expressed the Government’s sincere apologies and remorse for their ordeal;

    Whereas the Government of Japan did sign the 1921 International Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Women and Children and supported the 2000 United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security which recognized the unique impact on women of armed conflict;

    Whereas the House of Representatives commends Japan’s efforts to promote human security, human rights, democratic values, and rule of law, as well as for being a supporter of Security Council Resolution 1325;

    Whereas the United States-Japan alliance is the cornerstone of United States security interests in Asia and the Pacific and is fundamental to regional stability and prosperity;

    Whereas, despite the changes in the post-cold war strategic landscape, the United States-Japan alliance continues to be based on shared vital interests and values in the Asia-Pacific region, including the preservation and promotion of political and economic freedoms, support for human rights and democratic institutions, and the securing of prosperity for the people of both countries and the international community;

    Whereas the House of Representatives commends those Japanese officials and private citizens whose hard work and compassion resulted in the establishment in 1995 of Japan’s private Asian Women’s Fund;

    Whereas the Asian Women’s Fund has raised $5,700,000 to extend atonement from the Japanese people to the comfort women; and

    Whereas the mandate of the Asian Women’s Fund, a government-initiated and largely government-funded private foundation whose purpose was the carrying out of programs and projects with the aim of atonement for the maltreatment and suffering of the comfort women, came to an end on March 31, 2007, and the Fund has been disbanded as of that date: Now, therefore, be it

    That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the Government of Japan—
    (1)should formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Forces’ coercion of young women into sexual slavery, known to the world as comfort women, during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II;
    (2)would help to resolve recurring questions about the sincerity and status of prior statements if the Prime Minister of Japan were to make such an apology as a public statement in his official capacity;
    (3)should clearly and publicly refute any claims that the sexual enslavement and trafficking of the comfort women for the Japanese Imperial Armed Forces never occurred; and
    (4)should educate current and future generations about this horrible crime while following the recommendations of the international community with respect to the comfort women.

  19. The comfort women issue is a fraud and an attempt to extort money from Japan. When the comfort women testified in the early 1990s they did not claim they had been kidnapped. It was only after they were told by lawyers and social activists that they had a better chance of winning a lawsuit if they told “dramatic” stories that they started to embellish their accounts of how they became comfort women. For instance Mrs. Lee, who often speaks for the comfort women now claims she was abducted from her house by the Japanese military, but in earlier testimonies she said she sneaked out of the house and joined her girlfriend and they went to see the brothel recruiter who gave her a pretty red dress and shoes. A Mrs. Bae told a South Korean scholar that before she died she wanted to go on record to say that the comfort women were not kidnapped by the Japanese military. (The scholar taped the admission) So, I think those who believe in the sex slavery narrative are being duped.

    But no matter what you believe about the issue. This is a sticky political dispute that should be resolved between Korea and Japan. The issue should not be imported to America. And I resent that organizers have tried to appropriate the sensibilities of the women’s movement to further their political agenda.

    There are countless unpleasant historical events that took place in Asia which should be remembered. But we don’t need a statue, plaque, or building in the US as a constant reminder. If this comfort woman statue is built, then perhaps the City Council would like to erect statues in the park to remember:

    1. The Chinese who died in Tienanmen Square at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party?
    2. The millions of Chinese who died in the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution
    3. The thousands of Taiwanese killed and hundreds of thousand incarcerated during Chiang kai-shek’s White Terror (1949-1987)
    4. The thousands of Vietnamese women raped by South Korean soldiers during the Vietnam War
    5. The thousands of children of Vietnamese and Korean heritage born to and abandoned by South Korean soldiers
    6. The 1.7 million killed by Cambodia’s Pol Pot

    The list of nightmare events that took place just in Asia is endless. How many nightmares do we want to highlight? And do we want give up precious real estate to statues that represent false narratives.

    1. Whenever any government commits war crimes, it should be held accountable regardless of what government or country it is from. The Chinese government has apologized for the “Great Leap Forward” and restored the victims to their former status. Chinese in various parts of the world including the United States have build statues to the “Goddess of Democracy” to remember the victims of Tiananmen Square, including a statue in San Francisco. Peace activists in Santa Cruz, California, have built a “Collateral Damage” statue there to remember the innocent civilian victims of American wars. And the same women’s rights activists in South Korea who advocate Japan apologizing, have also met with South Vietnamese victims and are working to raise awareness of their plight as well. Japanese human rights activists are working in Japan to raise awareness of their government’s historical war crimes, hand in hand with human rights activists around the world. Japan’s government is not being singled out, it is being treated equally. Time for Japan’s Abe administration to take responsibility.

    2. Thank you, Barbara. You are absolutely right.

      Unlike in Japan and Western countries, in Korea and China, because of the lack of the rule of law, the right of private property has not been established in the society. If leaders lose their power, they can lose everything: their status, their property, and their lives. Furthermore their descendants could be humiliated forever. When it comes to their legitimacy, the leaders of these countries never hesitate to be economical with the truth. Here, “The pursuit of historical truth” like “Korean sex slaves” is a means to control others and distract from their own crimes. There is no room for reconciliation or forgiveness. For these people it is a zero-sum game just like the 1960s campaigns of “North Korea, the Paradise on Earth” or “The Great Cultural Revolution” of Communist China.

      In September 2012, a lot of Japanese stores and factories were vandalized by anti-Japan rioters throughout mainland China over a territorial dispute; some of the riots presumably were orchestrated by the government. Damage was said to amount to hundreds of millions of dollars, but Beijing has neither compensated anyone nor apologized, saying Tokyo was totally responsible.

      On the other hand, just after the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, the Japanese quake victims in evacuation centers showed impeccable manners, helping each other without plunder or riot. What’s the secret? I understand it to be high moral character. The evacuees must have assumed that their private property rights were still protected under Japan’s time-tested rule of law even during a disaster.

      Behind the facade of modern development, you see almost everything is at the mercy of the current rulers in China and Korea. By contrast, what Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is trying to do now is neither about “nationalism” nor about “revisionism”; it’s simply a matter of ensuring Japan’s survival as a free nation based on the rule of law, which is one of the crown jewels in the history of humanity.

      In 1787 Alexander Hamilton asked in “The Federalist Papers” “whether societies of men are really capable or not, of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend, for their political constitutions, on accident and force.” This is the question for East Asia today.

      We should never give in to the Orwellian propaganda like “wartime Korean sex slaves” spewed by some who reject democracy and the rule of law. No less than freedom of the world depends on it.

  20. (2nd submission, not sure first went through)
    Michael, I agree with you that a government should be held accountable for war crimes. Yes, Japan did commit certain war crimes, and Japan has already been tried and punished for those crimes at various post-war tribunals.

    However, the comfort women kidnap accusation is a scam and a fraud. Perhaps you feel that making prostitutes available to soldiers is a war crime, but prostitution was legal in Japan in those days. If allowing soldiers to use paid prostitutes is a war crime, then ALL countries are guilty! Prostitution is a problem if the sex worker is coerced, but it is inaccurate to assume that all prostitutes are forced into the profession against their will and are helpless victims.

    The Japanese military did not systematically kidnap and coerce women to work in brothels. Rather, they contracted with existing private brothels. There were plenty of brothel owners on the Korean peninsula who were happy to follow the Japanese army! (Most were Korean men and women). It meant more business for them and their workers. Brothels recruited and hired their own workers. The army simply transport them to various garrisons and performed inspections of the premises and conducted medical check-ups to make sure the facilities were kept clean, workers didn’t have VD, and wage and hour and other work rules were followed.

    Yes, unfortunately there were isolated incidents of confinement and rape (for example in Semarang, Indonesia). But when the offense was discovered the perpetrators were immediately punished by superior officers or at post-war tribunals. The Japanese government has directly apologized to the Netherlands government for the Semarang incident. These rapes were NOT connected to the comfort women system of licensed brothels and should not be conflated with the issue. Ms. Jan Ruff Ohearn who was violated in Semarang was not a “comfort woman,” she was a true victim of rape. (I know the term is often applied loosely.)

    The Korean comfort women were paid prostitutes who entered the profession for a variety of reasons including (1) the very high pay (more than a Japanese officer) (2) to escape an abusive family (3) to seek adventure (4) to work off a family debt. In those days brothel owners were money lenders who would advance pay for services to be rendered over a contracted period. Ordinary people did not have access to bank loans and credit, so they would contract out themselves or their children to work off an advance to buy a house, shop, farm equipment, goods, etc. Sounds cruel, but the material conditions of the time and cultural norms drove the practice. (5) Some women have claimed that were not told the true nature of the work she was being recruited for. If true, the private brothel recruiter or owner clearly violated army regulations which stated that no women should be recruited through coercion. News articles from that era show that Japanese law enforcement arrested brothel recruiters attempting to deceive and coerce women.

    The licensed comfort women were hired sex workers. The comfort women system has been inaccurately portrayed. And testimonies by former comfort women have been coached and altered over time. South Korea and Japan have a lot in common and should be friends. This phony issue is serving as a wedge.

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