Wherever the statue is located it invites you to sit in the empty seat beside the seated sculpture of a teenage girl. Sitting there you can't help but contemplate her fate.
There is a growing movement in the world to place this statue throughout the world in protest of military torturing and murdering women and girls as sex slaves.
|'Peace Monument' comes to Toronto|
|Teenage girl represents 'comfort women'|
Unveiled at the Korean Centre
The bronze statue, depicting a Korean teenage girl, attempts to restore the women's collective reputation and humanity, as well as teach younger generations about the atrocities of war.
Good morning, sisters and brothers.
My name is Thekla Lit and I am the president of BC Association for Learning & Preserving the History of WWII in Asia. Our mission is to preserve and promote awareness of the history of Japan’s war of aggression against other Asian nations from 1931 to 1945, and to support the redress movement for victims of atrocities committed by the Japanese Imperial forces, including those who suffered horrendously under Japan’s military sexual slavery system during that period of time.
I am very honored to be participating in the One Billion Rising campaign. As we all know, violence against women and girls is a global issue. It pervades all ethnicities, cultures, and nations, and is one of the gravest threats to human security today.
Sadly, this is far from a new phenomenon. Human history is rampant with examples of systematic and systemic violence against women and girls. One particularly disturbing example of this was Japan’s military sexual slavery system before and during WWII. Between 1931 and 1945, more than 200,000 women and girls from Korea, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, and many other countries in Asia, were taken from their homes and trafficked to rape stations all across the continent, where they were raped between 10 and 30 times per day by Japanese soldiers. They endured extreme physical and psychological abuse, and were tortured in the most horrific ways.
Japan’s military sexual slavery system has served as a model for modern-day sex trafficking, which is a multi-billion-dollar international industry that claims up to a million women and girls each year. Some of those victims originate from, or are trafficked through, our very own city of Vancouver.
Great efforts are being made on the part of local and international organizations to eradicate sex trafficking. But these efforts are facing great challenges including tardiness of government response. One of the reasons of governments’ lack of urgency is that there is a historic precedence of impunity for traffickers, including impunity for the Japanese government. Despite undisputable evidence gathered by multilateral agencies such as the UN that the Japanese government was directly responsible for the military sexual slavery system, Japan still to this day denies its involvement. Hundreds of elderly survivors from many nations have courageously come out publicly to testify these crimes against humanity and yet the Japanese government still refuses to accept legal and moral responsibility.
On this day, when we stand together in solidarity with women worldwide who have suffered from gender-based violence, let us also remember the brave survivors of Japanese military sexual slavery. They have protested on every Wednesday, shine or rain for 1061 times since 1992, in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul for recognition and an apology from the Japanese government. Let us stand with them, as they have stood with us. Thank you.
Comfort women statue proposal riles group of Japanese Canadians in Burnaby
Local academics say the issue of the comfort women of the Second World War is still relevant today.
by Janaya Fuller-Evans, Burbaby Now, March 19, 2015
International tensions landed on the City of Burnaby's doorstep Wednesday, due to a proposed Central Park statue.
Approximately 20 Japanese Canadians showed up at the monthly parks, recreation and culture commission meeting to protest the prospect of a statue commemorating "comfort women".
"Comfort women" is a euphemism for women forced to work in wartime brothels at Imperial Japanese army outposts during the 1930s and '40s.
Many of the women were from Korea, which has led to decades of back-and-forth between Japan and Korea regarding whether or not the women were coerced and forced into being sex slaves for the Japanese military.
There is also debate about how many women were taken from Korea, China and other countries where Japan had outposts; and what sort of apology and compensation is appropriate.
The group attending the Burnaby meeting was told the commission would not be discussing the statue as it was not on the agenda for the meeting.
"We've simply received the proposal," parks director Dave Ellenwood said, adding the commission could not respond to questions about what had appeared in Korean and Japanese-language newspapers on the subject. "We can't control what the media says. We haven't issued statements."
Ellenwood did accept a petition and printed statements from the group, adding correspondence could be sent to the city.
Tina Rafferty, a Japanese-Canadian resident, spoke with the NOW about the statue.
"This proposal is against the Canadian tradition of multiculturalism," she said. "This is a country where people come from all over the world to build a new nation."
A Burnaby statue commemorating the comfort women would be divisive and open old wounds, Rafferty said.
"The idea of the statue is to create conflict, no matter what the proponent would say," she said.
Rafferty also questioned the number of comfort women reported to have been forced to work in the brothels - numbers range from 20,000 to around 400,000, depending on the source. The accepted estimate is about 200,000.
Rafferty said she doubts the number is as high as 200,000.
"Then, during the Second World War, Japanese soldiers had to make love four to six times a day," Rafferty said.
The sexual violence experienced by women during the Second World War stayed with them for decades, according to Leonora Angeles, an associate professor of community and region planning, and women's and gender studies at UBC.
Angeles presented a paper on the topic at a U.N. satellite meeting in 1993, and has heard interviews with the women affected.
"Many years later, they would speak of the trauma they experienced," she said.
She pointed out there are war memorials honouring men who served but few specifically for women, particularly those who suffered during wartime.
"There's no memorial for their bravery, no compensation, which is why it's an issue now," she said.
The issue of the comfort women is especially relevant because the sexual exploitation and abuse of women is still happening in conflict zones today, according to Alice Lee, a member of the Asian Women Coalition Ending Prostitution.
"The comfort women example is an important one for all women, but especially for Asian women," she wrote in an email to the NOW. "What happened to those women in part is still happening today."
Peter Kohno, who has lived in Burnaby for 30 years, delivered a written statement to the Burnaby parks commission.
"I am here to request that the municipal (sic) must not get involved in foreign affairs as a city," he wrote.
The statue would create resentment between Korean and Japanese Canadians in the city, he added, and the city might be liable for anything that happened due to what he termed a "political time bomb."
If a comfort women statue is justified, then the city should also erect statues for Vietnamese women raped and killed by the Korean army during the Vietnam War, and Japanese women raped by American soldiers after the Second World War, he wrote.
There is one other known statue commemorating comfort women in North America - it is located in Glendale, Calif. and has been the focus of controversy there, as well.
The group proposing the comfort women statue for Central Park could not be reached. There isn't a current staff report on the subject, and the city did not respond to requests for more information.
© 2016 Burnaby Now
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The horrific story of Korea's 'comfort women' - forced to be sex slaves during World War Two
by Radhika Sanghani, 29 December 2015
(South Korean comfort women rally against Japan's government Credit: EPA)
More than 70 years since they were repeatedly raped and assaulted, South Korea’s ‘comfort women’ will be compensated for their ordeal.
Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe has agreed on a landmark deal with South Korean president Park Geun-Hye to provide £6 million in state compensation for the women sexually enslaved by Japanese troops during the Second World War.
Abe repeated an apology he made earlier this year: “In a statement I released in August to mark 70 years since the end of World War Two, I said that Japan has repeatedly expressed remorse and apologised for its actions during the war. I stand by that statement.”
The compensation is long overdue. Around 200,000 women, many of them Korean, are estimated to have been sexually enslaved by Japan.
Yet, you may never have heard their story.
"Many were kidnapped or tricked into becoming comfort women as children, some as young as 10, taken to comfort stations or Japanese military brothels."
They were known as ‘comfort women’ – a somewhat misleading term that derives from the Japanese word ‘ifan’ - a euphemism for prostitute. But their lives were not comfortable. Far from it.
These women, the majority of who had barely hit puberty when WWII broke out, were forced into the sex trade. They were forced to become slaves to the Japanese military and subjected to horrific cruelty.
It's perhaps because of this that they prefer the softer term ‘comfort women’ – a phrase that does not directly conjure up the reality of the past. But, decades on from their ordeal, it's important their stories are not forgotten and written out of history.
Japan has finally begun to claim responsibility for its actions - though many have complained that they should formally compensate the 46 surviving victims directly instead of using the money to set up a support fund.
Because, for decades, these women have had to live alone with the horrors they experienced.
Many were kidnapped or tricked into becoming 'comfort women' as children, some as young as 10 when they were taken to 'comfort stations' or Japanese military brothels. These were first established at the request of Japanese military authorities as part of war efforts in China in 1931.
Initially they were made up of voluntary prostitutes, who had to be over 21, and according to military documents, the comfort stations were formed to stop soldiers raping Chinese civilian women and preventing the spreading of venereal diseases. But in 1937, more sprung up and the regulations were gradually ignored.
The Asian Women’s Fund believes that women already involved in prostitution in Korea were initially brought to the Japanese comfort stations to work and make up for a lack of willing Japanese women. But, eventually, women from poor families in Korea, Indonesia and other south Asian countries were taken too.
Many have said they were tricked into joining with false promises of jobs and factory work. While others claim they were forcibly kidnapped by military soldiers.
"I was nothing but a toy, as a human being I meant nothing, that's how it felt during the Japanese era." Yi Ok-seon, told the BBC she was 15 when two Korean and Japanese men forcibly took her to north-west China, which was under Japanese control. There she was forced into sexual slavery for three years.
"I felt really violated, being tricked and taken like that as a young teenager," she said. "It was like a slaughter house there - not for animals, but for humans. Outrageous things were done."
In the comfort stations, the women and girls (the majority aged between 13 and 16) were used as sex slaves. They had to service between 30 and 40 soldiers a day.
Niyem, who was taken to a military tend camp in West Java, Indonesia, after being kidnapped at the age of 10, told her story to photographer Jan Banning and journalist Hilde Janssen.
She was forced to share a small tent with two other girls, where soldiers would come and rape them in front of each other. She had to drink water from a ditch and didn’t have much to eat. “I was still so young, within two months my body was completely destroyed,” she said. “I was nothing but a toy, as a human being I meant nothing, that's how it felt during the Japanese era."
All the women were given Japanese names to replace their existing ones, and most were forced to apply cosmetics, such as powder and lipstick. The prettiest were locked up as live-in concubines by officers in residences, and often referred to as ‘Japanese hand me downs.’
But this didn't mean they were treated any better than those girls in the comfort stations. Emah, born in 1926, told the Comfort Women photography project that servicemen were shown pictures of the girls they could choose from.
"Everyone wanted me,” she said. “They kept on coming, one after the other. I so much wanted to be ugly, because the ugly girls [were] quickly sent home again. But the beautiful ones had to stay."
Some women were given money for their services – but they rarely saw it. Instead it was ‘deducted’ from their lodgings, food and cosmetics. Others were also forced to carry out the labour they’d been taken from their villages to do, such as working in factories. They did not stay in comfort stations, but were raped while they worked.
“We must record these things that were forced upon us.”
Kim Hak Soon
It is no surprise that many women died during - or as a result of - their treatment. Many reported catching diseases such as syphilis, or being forced to have abortions. One said she had her uterus removed by Japanese military doctors.
The atrocities only ended when Japan were defeated in the Second World War. Of the surviving women, some went on to marry and have families, while others faced the stigma of having been raped and assaulted. All had to live with their horrific memories.
Today only 46 South Korean former comfort women are still alive. They are in their 80s and 90s, and several of them live together in the House of Sharing in Gwangju city in Gyeonggi province. It is a home for living comfort women, and is next door to a museum about their experiences.
Many of these women will not live much longer - but they hope that their stories will.
As Kim Hak Soon, one of the first Korean comfort women to testify about her experiences, said: “We must record these things that were forced upon us.”
2016 | 1 h 44 min
National Film Board of Canada
The Apology follows the personal journeys of three former “comfort women” who were among the 200,000 girls and young women kidnapped and forced into military sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. Some 70 years after their imprisonment in so-called “comfort stations,” the three “grandmothers”– Grandma Gil in South Korea, Grandma Cao in China, and Grandma Adela in the Philippines – face their twilight years in fading health. After decades of living in silence and shame about their past, they know that time is running out to give a first-hand account of the truth and ensure that this horrific chapter of history is not forgotten. Whether they are seeking a formal apology from the Japanese government or summoning the courage to finally share their secret with loved ones, their resolve moves them forward as they seize this last chance to set future generations on a course for reconciliation, healing, and justice.
Debut filmmaker Tiffany Hsiung shares her experience with the ex-comfort women forced into prostitution, their relentless pursuit of an apology from the Japanese government and the source of her own passion about the project
by Susan G. Cole, Now Toronto, April 27, 2016
Early on in Tiffany Hsiung’s exceptional first film, The Apology, young men can be seen screaming obscenities at protesters: “Whores, go home!” “Fuck you, commies!”
The target of their rage is a clutch of very elderly women who are picketing in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul. They are former “comfort women,” a euphemism for females forced into prostitution by the Japanese army during the Second World War.
They’ve been protesting every single Wednesday for the last 25 years. They want no money. All they demand is an apology and recognition of the historical fact of their trauma.
The scene in which that verbal abuse is hurled at these women – affectionately referred to as grandmothers by their supporters – comes just four minutes into the film. And it’s devastating.
“I was floored,” recalls Hsiung. “It was hard for the editor to use that footage because I could be heard swearing over it.”
That sequence, so hard to take as a viewer, made me wonder how Hsiung managed to cope over the years she spent working with such difficult material.
“Are you kidding me? I’m fucked up,” she laughs sardonically. “I went through so many relationships while I was making this movie. No one could handle me, and I wouldn’t listen. You know how passion drives you and you say to yourself, ‘I have to do this.’ And people say, ‘Yes, but you have to take care of yourself.’ But you’re just driven by adrenaline and emotions: ‘How can I sit on this? Everyone has to know about it.’”
You can tell Hsiung hasn’t yet recovered from the experience. During our conversation, the articulate and mostly very animated local filmmaker and Ryerson film school graduate becomes so overcome with emotion that she grows tearful and has to stop talking.
She learned of the grandmothers’ situation in 2010, when she was invited on a study tour documenting World War II atrocities. She met survivors from China, Korea and the Philippines.
“I was blown away,” Hsiung says, “I realized I had never been taught any of this in school.”
Sexual assault has been used as both a weapon and a perk for soldiers for centuries. The word “hooker” refers to General Hooker, who had a parade of sex workers following his regiment during the U.S. Civil War.
I was part of a demonstration on Remembrance Day in the late 70s when, after the official ceremonies, members of Women Against Violence Against Women put up our own makeshift cenotaph that read, “For every woman raped in every war.”
But that referred to random – though systemic, too – rape. What’s different here is the way in which rape was institutionalized. Some right-wingers in Japan say the comfort women were required for army morale. Buildings were seconded in which the women were forced to live. In one sequence, one of the three grandmothers Hsiung highlights is taken to the garrison where she was imprisoned. She can barely look at the building.
“But the worst were the caves,” says Hsiung. “One woman described how in one cave, what separated her from the sex slave beside her was a stack of artillery. That’s what created their individual little corner. Rape is a weapon, too.”
When Hsiung decided she would make a movie about the women she met, she launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund trips to Asia. Sympathetic friends at Aeroplan threw in free flights that allowed her to head east and begin shooting.
Gradually, she made connections and found her three central subjects: Grandma Gil, from Korea, who has been relentless in her pursuit of justice and has taken the case to the UN, Chinese Grandma Cao, and Grandma Adela from the Philippines. Her choices were determined by relatives’ willingness to talk about a shameful experience on screen and, of course, by her ability to make an authentic connection.
But the women opened up, mainly because the director has her own history as a survivor of sexual abuse.
Unbelievably, at the same time as Hsiung was working on The Apology, she and her sister were involved in the trial of their own abuser, one of their mother’s boyfriends, who had assaulted Hsiung when she was eight. In fact, it was those early sessions with the grandmothers that inspired Hsiung to break her silence and testify.
“We were in our 20s and decided we had to do something – we were really concerned that he was going to continue to hurt girls. Just before the grandmothers’ 1,000th demonstration, I was going through two weeks of trial during the appeal. But my testimony was inadmissible because I didn’t say the exact words I said to the police when I was 10.”
Hsiung recognizes all the connections between the grandmothers, her own story, the Ghomeshi trial and all survivors. Central to her relationship to the women whose stories she was telling was her profound understanding of their shame.
“When I was at Ryerson I could never talk about what happened to me. I felt embarrassed and worried that people would label me, even someone as progressive-thinking as I am, gay and proud. When it came down to it, I felt shame. Even though we experienced it very differently, the grandmothers and I could talk about shame and silence and the people around us who perpetuate that.”
With over 100 hours of footage in hand, in 2013 Hsiung took the project to the National Film Board. She may have been a first-time di-rector, but when they looked at what she’d shot they quickly stepped in to help her complete the project.
The NFB was also smart enough to see the value in giving Hsiung an all-woman, entirely Asian crew. Three generations were involved: Hsiung, NFB producer Anita Lee and editor Mary Stephen, a long-time collaborator with Éric Rohmer and the person who cut the award-winning Last Train Home.
“Stephen was my dream. I told Anita that the ideal editor would be an Asian woman so she could understand the Asian nuances and culture, and old-school, someone who appreciates patience and lets things unravel and takes that time.”
As for the issue itself, the Japanese government made what Hsiung refers to as a bullshit apology late last year. It had conditions. They would apologize only if the women agreed to stop talking about the issue and ceased their petitions to the UN. Officials said nothing about putting information about comfort wo-men into history texts – a real problem, says Hsiung, because they’ve been so expert at expunging the info anywhere it surfaced.
The movement, which is rapidly growing, bol-stered by scores of younger women, has rejected this approach.
“The international community said, in effect, ‘What the fuck? You’re taking one step forward and two steps back and silencing these women even more.’”
Which is why, though it’s about something that happened in the past, The Apology is not a historical account. It’s a contemporary story about these women today, their families, what they’ve gone through, yes, but also how that affects them now.
“And it’s still happening every single day,” says Hsiung passionately. “These grandmothers are setting an example for all of us.”
I’ll be interviewing Grandma Gil with Hsiung onstage after the April 30 screening. It will be the first time the intrepid campaigner has ever seen a film in a movie theatre.
“I asked her if she would come see the film when it’s completed. ‘If it ever gets done,’ she responded, ‘and if you invite me. I’ve never been to a movie before. When would I have time?’”
Comfort Women Statue – Glendale
During World War II, it is estimated that up to 200,000 Asian women and girls were forced to be sex slaves by the Japanese Imperial Army, although Japan disputes that fact. In July 2013, the city of Glendale unveiled a statue of a a young Korean girl seated next to an empty chair. It happens to be an exact replica of the “peace monument” in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, South Korea.
The bronze statue weighs in at 1,100 pounds and is located in Glendale’s Central Park. It was dedicated despite last minute attempts by opponents, who were mostly from Japan. One of the reasons it is located in Glendale (in front of the Glendale Library) is that the city enjoys a two “sister city” relationship with South Korea. The $30,000 for the statue was raised by Korean community groups.
Comfort Women Statue
201 East Colorado Street
Glendale, CA 91205
(one block east of Brand Blvd.)
Japan: Stop Denying The "Comfort Women" Justice!
Sign the Petition: http://act.watchdog.net/petitions/3023?share_ref=WIDg_ztGIcM
Historians believe Japan forced up to 200,000 Chinese and Korean women to be sex slaves during WWII. Women who survived — and weren't shamed into silence – have described being recruited for labor, then beaten and raped by as many as 40 Japanese officers a day.
The Japanese government still won't admit these women were actually kidnapped and raped. And now Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto has decided to give his take on the atrocities: rape and kidnapping were "necessary" to sate the lust and harness the virility of Japan's soldiers.
“Anyone can understand that the system of comfort women was necessary to provide respite for a group of high-strung, rough and tumble crowd of men braving their lives under a storm of bullets,” Hashimoto said. He also questioned whether the women were really coerced and claimed comfort women were part of “a necessary system to maintain military discipline."
This is a slap in the face to the women who went through this ordeal, a cowardly move from a government that waited until most of these women were dead before broaching the topic at all. Please, join us in condemning Mayor Hashimoto's atrocious commentary and calling on the Japanese to admit blame and begin compensation talks.
PETITION TO JAPANESE GOVERNMENT: We condemn the rape apologist statements made by Mayor Toru Hasimoto on Japan's "comfort women," and call on government leaders to admit their blame and begin compensation talks immediately.
A tearful Philippine woman recounted Sunday how she was kidnapped by Japanese troops during World War II and coerced into sex slavery. Former sex slave Estelita Dy, who was kidnapped by the Japanese during the Second World War, spoke in Tokyo on Sunday to demand a memorial day recognized by the United Nations.
Shizuo Kambayashi / The Associated Press
Japan’s wartime sex slavery: Former ‘comfort woman’ demands justice
Article by: Mari Yamaguchi The Associated Press, Published on Sun Aug 11 2013
TOKYO—A tearful Philippine woman recounted Sunday how she was kidnapped by Japanese troops during the Second World War and coerced into sex slavery, as she and her supporters gathered to demand Japan do more to bring justice to former “comfort women.”
Estelita Dy, 83, and her supporters met in Tokyo as part of events by the group to commemorate the day the first victim of Japanese sex slavery came forward on Aug. 14, 1991, and helped lay the groundwork for other victims, including Dy, to come out.
Dy’s supporters and rights groups are trying to gain international support to have Aug. 14 become a memorial day recognized by the United Nations as a way to pressure Japan to do more to take responsibility for wartime sex slavery. The day falls just one day before Japan’s Aug. 15 end-of-war anniversary.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has backpedalled from Tokyo’s past apologies, saying there’s no proof Japan’s wartime government coerced women into prostitution for the Japanese Imperial Army.
At Sunday’s meeting, Dy’s supporters, including rights activists, criticized Abe’s government for its rejection of a UN human rights panel’s recommendations earlier this year urging Japan to take responsibility for sex slavery more seriously, better educate the public and take steps to bring justice for the victims. Rechilda Extremadura, a Philippine member of Dy’s support group, said Dy and others are the “living witnesses” of sex slavery.
Historians say there were as many as 200,000 sex slaves from across Asia, most of them Koreans.
In a tearful speech, Dy said she was kidnapped by Japanese soldiers when she went to a market to sell vegetables in her hometown on the Philippines’ Negros island in the autumn of 1944, when she was 14.
Dy, spotted by the soldiers who were searching for guerrillas, desperately ran to escape, but fell down and was caught, pushed into a truck and taken to a nearby “comfort station,” where she was repeatedly raped for three weeks until American troops rescued her.
She later had a family, but kept her past secret until 1993, when she heard news about sex slavery on the radio.
“At first, I was too embarrassed to reveal my past. But I decided to do so because it would be the only way I could get my lost dignity restored,” Dy said. “I renounce war, because its victims are always women and children.”
Dy wouldn’t have revealed her past if Kim Hak-soon had not come forward two years earlier, detailing how she was abducted and forced to carry ammunition for Japanese soldiers by day and serve as a prostitute at a military-run brothel by night at age 17.
Kim’s testimony helped break the silence and brought forth more former sex slaves, known as “comfort women.” An advocacy group was formed to demand compensation from the Japanese government.
Former U.N. under-secretary-general Anwarul Chowdhury, who also attended Sunday’s meeting, said Kim is “a global symbol” who has helped raise international awareness and support for her cause.
Chowdhury, who was behind a landmark 2000 U.N. resolution on the rights of women and children in conflict, said he would support the group’s campaign for a U.N. memorial day.