The city of Brookhaven on Sept. 19 relocated the controversial “comfort women” memorial statue to Blackburn Park, nearly three months after it was unveiled in what the city calls Blackburn Park II.

The ‘comfort women’ memorial at its new home in Blackburn Park on Sept. 19. (Dyana Bagby)

The relocation of the statue to the main Blackburn Park, located at 3493 Ashford-Dunwoody Road, followed threats of lawsuits by Blackburn Park II neighbors over lack of input in the memorial’s placement.

The memorial with Ashford-Dunwoody Road in the background and food trucks in the parking lot for Food Truck Wednesday to the left.

City officials had already decided to move the memorial before its June 30 unveiling, though officials at the ceremony made no mention of the move and declined to comment at the time. Joint press releases on July 5 from the city and the Atlanta Comfort Women Memorial Task Force, which commissioned the statue, describe the move as due to the memorial deserving a more prominent and accessible place, without mentioning the lawsuit threats. They also said the smaller Blackburn Park II has received increased traffic and visitors since the memorial’s installation.

The “comfort women” memorial on June 30 shortly after its unveiling. (File photo)

The statue, depicting a girl seated next to an empty chair, is intended to honor the so-called comfort women who were sexually trafficked by the Japanese military during World War II. It is identical to several similar statues installed around the world as part of a cultural and political dispute between South Korea and Japan over “comfort women” history and responsibility.

The memorial triggered other controversies as well, with Dunwoody state Rep. Tom Taylor objecting to its potential impacts on local Japanese business. And Japan’s consul general in Atlanta sparked international outrage with his comments in a Reporter interview about the “comfort women” being voluntary prostitutes, not sexual slaves.

At City Council meetings since the unveiling, several people have spoken out during public comment against the statue being located in Brookhaven.

At the Aug. 8 meeting, for example, Stephen Haverfield, special program coordinator at the Japan-America Society of Georgia in Buckhead near the Brookhaven border, said placing the statue in Blackburn Park, where the city holds its annual Cherry Blossom Festival, could harm Japanese relations.

The Japanese consul general attended this year’s festival and cherry blossom trees are a symbol as a symbol of U.S.-Japanese friendship, according to the former Japanese consul general.

“It’s divisive,” Haverfield said of the statue. “This replica does not need to be center piece of future Cherry Blossom Festivals.”

Haverfield also said the “comfort women” memorial in Brookhaven is a replica of the original statue that is located in South Korea across the street from the Japanese Embassy where, he said, anti-Japanese people people protest every week.

The memorial drew an enthusiastic, applauding crowd of over 100 at its unveiling.

John Ruch contributed.

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Dyana Bagby

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

5 replies on “Brookhaven relocates ‘comfort women’ memorial to main Blackburn Park”

  1. Thank you, Ms. Bagby for your fair comment. This statue will remain as a symbol of deception and dishonor of Brookhaven. Its inscription contains completely false information, deception.

  2. >Yoshio
    >This statue will remain as a symbol of deception and dishonor

    Ever since I learned English as a college student more than 30 years ago, this is the first time I begin to question the intelligence and moral decency of Americans.

    I wonder why people of Brookhaven do not consider the pain of the present day Japanese caused by such slanderous words engraved on the statue.

    The inscription basically says, “Japs are a bunch of rapists and murderers!”

    Before you throw such words at someone, you have to carry out least amount of investigation in order to make sure that such accusation is historically correct.

    Surely, the statue remains as a symbol of deception and dishonor for the citizens of Brookhaven. It seems USA stands for United States of Apes in the Atlanta area.

    You have to add “self-righteous arrogance and ignorance” to your words.

  3. This insult of This is more than Japanese can bear!
    Is Brookhaven City a Korean city?
    Will city increase prostitution by symbol the fake girl statues?
    Japan must cancel Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival , Japan must stop cultural exchange between Brookhaven City.
    How Horribble and Dangerous City!

  4. The whole issue of “comfort women” was instigated by a group called the “Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery.” The group has strong ties with Democratic People’s Republic of Korean (North Korean) and its purpose behind the comfort women issue is to defame Japan, demand money and drive a wedge into the US-Japan-South Korea Security Partnership.

    The more American people are deceived by this fake history, the more “rocket man” in the North is laughing.

  5. Korean material. An interrogation record to the comfort women by the US military (1944). IWG report by the US government. (2007)
    In these, comfort women were high-paid whore.

    The comfort women issue is a fraud business by the comfort women support group and the Korean government.
    Former comfort women dislike support groups.
    “They ignore our argument and claim selfishness!”

    The Japanese government established the Asian Fund for all former comfort women.
    The comfort women support group criticized it.
    “We do not want money!”
    “It is cowardly to finish this problem with huge money!”
    The comfort women support group criticizes the former comfort women who received the bonus from the Japanese government.

    For them who are donating money due to the comfort women issue, the termination of the comfort women problem is their life and death problem.

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