Japan’s Lawmakers Launch Campaign Against ‘Comfort Women’ Memorials

A memorial in the California city of Glendale honoring women in Asia forced to work as sex slaves by the Japanese military in World War II provoked a conservative backlash in Tokyo

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Joe Klamar / AFP / Getty Images

The statue, dedicated to "comfort women," in Glendale, Calif., on Jan. 31, 2014

Japanese conservatives are taking the offensive in the battle over World War II sex slaves — and it seems likely to do them more harm than good.

Some 300 legislators from around Japan have sent a petition to the city of Glendale, Calif., demanding the removal of a statue honoring women who were forced or coerced into working in brothels serving the Japanese military during World War II.

Supporters of the memorials say as many as 200,000 women from Korea and other Asian countries were forced to work as so-called comfort women. The Glendale memorial was built largely at the request of the area’s large Korean-American community. It is a duplicate of a statue installed outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul — one of many irritants to Japan–South Korea relations.

At a Tokyo press conference Tuesday, opponents said the memorial spread “false propaganda” and has resulted in bullying, harassment and discrimination against Japanese residents in the Glendale area. “Japanese schoolchildren are suffering from bullying by Koreans. Some of them told us they feel anxiety because they must hide being Japanese. Korean people are presenting this as a human-rights issue, but this can only lead to a new conflict of racial discrimination,” said Yoshiko Matsuura, a Tokyo-area assemblywoman and representative of a conservative group called the Japan Coalition of Legislators Against Fabricated History.

The press conference appeared to be part of a concerted campaign to push back against comfort-women charges. Japanese activists in California filed suit in federal court last week demanding the U.S. government order the city of Glendale to remove the statue, situated in a public park. Earlier this week, a spokesman for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the Japanese government would review a landmark 1993 government statement that apologized and admitted responsibility for operating the so-called comfort-women system during the war. Any change to that statement is certain to further damage relations with South Korea and China, already at a low point over territorial claims and historical disputes.

(MORE: This Is the Extreme Right-Wing Japanese Politician Who Has a Lot of People Worried)

Taking the fight over comfort women to the U.S. is a “huge mistake,” says Brad Glosserman, executive director of the Pacific Forum CSIS, a Honolulu-based think tank.

“Clearly the American government is displeased by the notion that the Japanese are taking this argument to our shores and making it an American domestic political battle. It’s something they should settle themselves,” said Glosserman.

The issue already is causing controversy. A school in Higashiosaka, Glendale’s sister city in Japan, canceled a student-exchange program in December in protest over the memorial. An online petition at the White House website in support of removing the Glendale statue has received 127,000 signatures; a petition in support of keeping it has attracted 106,000 signatures.

The memorial was installed in a public park in Glendale, a suburb of Los Angeles, in July 2013. It features a bronze statue of a young Korean woman sitting next to an empty chair. A stone plaque is etched, jarringly, with the title “I Was a Sex Slave of the Japanese Military.” A similar memorial has been built in New Jersey, which Japanese diplomats and legislators also requested to be removed.

According to the lawsuit filed last week, installing the statue “exceeds the power of Glendale, infringes upon the federal government’s power to exclusively conduct the foreign affairs of the United States and violates the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution.”

(MORE: U.S. Rejects Japanese Broadcaster’s Claim It Used ‘Comfort Women’ in World War II)

Matsuura, who traveled to Glendale to deliver a copy of the petition to local officials last month, says the 1993 apology is based on unreliable and unverified testimony. She accused South Korea of exporting the issue to the U.S.

“We were shocked by a statue of a comfort girl in America, a third country, not in Korea. We have a responsibility to protest,” Matsuura said through an interpreter. A member of her husband’s family served in the Japanese Imperial Army during the war and was taken prisoner in Siberia, Matsuura said.

The Obama Administration has become increasingly frustrated with the rightward tilt of Japan’s leadership. The U.S. State Department said it was “disappointed” with Abe’s visit in December to the Yasukuni Shrine, which glorifies Japan’s role in World War II.

Weeks later, it labeled as “preposterous” public statements by an Abe appointee to the board of the national broadcaster, NHK, that the U.S. had fabricated war-crimes charges against Japan’s wartime leaders to cancel out America’s own war crimes, which he said include the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the firebombings of Tokyo.

Glosserman says Japanese efforts to rewrite wartime history are damaging the interests of both countries. “The United States wants Japan to be a more respected and more effective contributor to regional security, and to play a larger role in the region. And all that this historical revisionism does is undermine that,” he says.

MORE: Japanese Broadcast Official: We Didn’t Commit War Crimes, the U.S. Just Made That Up


Korean activists in the US achieved great success in instigating and stoking the fire of hatred between Japan and S. Korea. Japanese companies’ direct investment in S. Korea in 2014 dropped by 45% of that of 2012. The number of Japanese tourists visiting S. Korea in 2014 dropped to 2/3 compared to that of 2014. There is end of this decreasing in sight.

It is not PM Abe who created this situation. It is South Korean people who caused Japanese to hate them. Americans, who cooperate with S. Koreans in their defamation campaign against Japan, should have some lion’s share in creating this situation.


Why Ms. President Park is so busy to speak ill of Japan?

Of course her attitude has influenced the mind of Koreans in the United States, I suppose.

I think she has three political burdens at least, and to avert nation's eyes from these,

it may be useful for her to develop anti-Japanese campaign,

using the orgnization named VANK (being budgeted by the Government of South Korea, probably), or so.

The three burdens are as follows.

1. During the World War 2, her father Park chung-hee applied to Japanese Imperial Army,

  even handed in the petition written in blood (meaning the strong motivation to join Japanese Army).

    He also graduated from Japanese Military Academy (West Point in Japan). Surely he was excellent.

   But it means he supported Japanese Army, being 'a cooperator with Japan' who Koreans hate vehemently.

2. South Korean Military did the cruel war crimes in Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

    South Korean soldiers massacred many innocent civilians, and raped many Vietnamese ladies.

    Some are killed instantly after raped, others survived and  bore the mix-raced babies called 'Lai Dai Han'.

    According to Busan ILbo (a Korean newspaper), the number of 'Lai Dai Han' is 30000 at most.

    But historians in the world should investigate it precisely.

    The Government of South Korea never apologized officailly, not compensated the Vietnamese for the damage.

    The criminals and the responsible persons should be accused.

3. During the Korean War and  after the War, there were 62 places where 'Comfort Women' were set to work.

    It is said that the manager of the places was President Park Chung-hee.

    It's under invesigation at Korean Parliament, but it seems to exist the document signed by Mr. President Park.

    In fact, recently 122 Korean 'Comfort Women' sued the Government of South Korea to compensate them.

Surely it is important to know the past.

And it's also necessary to notice this kind of  political background for better understanding.


It was discovered that the 1993 Kono Statement was the product of political compromise to mollify the Koreans. As it doesnt reflect the historical truth, it is null and void.
The Japanese government should repeal the Kono Statement.

All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone.


I would like to revise my last comment.

The Korean Feminist Institution       Date: 2003.3.6.

                      ↓                                             ↓

The Korean Feminist Association     Date: 2003.2.6.

Thank you for your patience.


First, please check the statistics below.

1. During the WW2 in East Asia, the prostitution was Legal. The number of 'Comfort Women' is estimated, from 20000 to 200000.

2. 2000s now in South Korea, the prostitution is ILLegal. The number of prostitutes is estimated, several hundreds of thousands.

  At least 260000 women in 2003 (Sources: Korean Institute of Criminology)

   Others say, the number is up to 500000~1200000 (Sources: The Korean Feminist Institution  Date: 2003.3.6.).

The economic condition now is much better than that of during the World War 2.

In this abundant society, even prohibited by law, still exist many prostitutes in South Korea.

My fellow citezens of the world, let's think rationally without the prejudices.

As the numbers show above, it must have been not so difficult to hire the prostitutes legally during the World War 2,

in the Korean Peninsula (including North Korea today).

Because even in 21st century,enough number of prostitutes exist in South Korea.

So I have to conclude that,

the large part of 'Comfort Women' were the voluntary prostitutes, from numerical and economical analysis.

People in the world should notice the situation of the sex industry in South Korea.

According to the Chosun ILbo, 10% of Korean prostitutes work overseas,so if I take the largest number, it amounts to 120000.

I hear, sometimes Japanese name is used, because it may be more attractive.

Finally I would like to say, I hope no prostitution will survive on this earth,

because no woman wants to be a prostitute, as long as she can get along without it.

Thank you for your attention.


Americans should face up to reality
U.S. soldiers were using the comfort women in the Korean War.



I think you may misunderstand the reality.

Do you hear about the person who had been managing the places of the 'comfort women'

during the Korean War ?

It is said, the person was the president Park Chung-hee, the father of  the president  Park Geun-hye.

Last year at the Korean Parliament, this problem was discussed earnestly.

But Cho Yoon-sun, the Minister of MGEF, was reluctant to investigate the fact.

(But already exist some documents)

So who should face the historical reality, are the Korean Cabinet Ministers, not Americans.

Please continue to study.


Satanic Japanese must first make their daughters and wives as sexual slaves, not those of other countries. Japan must get out of the earth.


Firstly, you must know that most of comfort women were Japanese.
Before you get emotional, learn history.


@barenzame @LectorsStrum  NO i think you need to learn history. MOst of the comfort women were Koreans, followed by Chinese, Phillipino's, Vietnamese, Australians etc.   So many women were abused.  How would you feel if that was your own mother, or grandmother that suffered in the hands of the Japanese troops..  Read some more history books.


@barenzame I'd gladly rip your stomach wide open with a chainsaw, and let your guts spill out, waste of space.


@feaw52fewafewa This is the public space where many people share their opinion. Do not scatter dirty words around even if you do not like someone's opinion.
You must learn how to respect others.


Koreans always say;
History learned by Japanese are always wrong and history learned by Koreans are always right.
Haven't you ever (EVER!) doubt that what you learned in your country might be different from what others leaned in their country?

How would you feel if your father or brother are accused for crimes they did not committed?
I must make it clear that Japanese NEVER denied that Japanese soldiers used comfort women brothels.

We admitted that those women included many poor women sold by their family and we feel very sorry for them. 

Therefore Japan paid enormous compensation to Korea under the Treaty in 1965 , and furthermore made official apologies and established Asian Women Fund for all Asian comfort women in WWII. 

What Japan says "No" is that all exaggerations and fabrications made by Koreans in the last decade.
Have Japanese ever pushed any comfort women off aircraft?
Have Japanese abducted over 200,000 women?
IF any contradiction, mismatch, or conflict between two countries, we MUST re-examine together.
Isn't it fair?
However, Korea refuse to do it and only bash Japan in order to stop any action to review history.

In any case, nothing can satisfy Koreans forever.
You Koreans thrive on Japan-bashing in order to keep your identity and your country both of which seem very fragile.

You must remember that Japan is neither your moneybag nor your sandbag to release your stress lead by your own problem.

Lastly, I personally agree to establish the statue of comfort women, IF the inscription of the statue mention  all the women whose sex were exploited under ANY wars, including WWII, Vietnam War and Korean War.

Just be fair.


@feaw52fewafewa @barenzame  Note the fascist tendencies of the pro Comfort Women blackshirts and their violent rhetoric as evidenced by Feaw52  It is the most revealing that the real issue is not human rights to them, but pure hate and intolerance.



Please, look at this person"feaw52fewafewa".

 How do you feel about this person?

Korean Government keep to make this kind of person for long time.

Is this right education for your country??

When giant earthquake happened 3 years ago in Japan, many Korean(you know, not some people,many many people!!) said "congratulations!!"with laughing.Your country's education make your country's children cruel. You has to notice about unusual conditions.

So far, Korean's immoral and evil deed for Japanese have not  been revealed for long time. But, Little by little, Japanese also can speak English. So I think some Japanese will reveal Korean's many evil deed for Japan someday.


@Yoyo useless monkey, I'd gladly put you in hospital in a deep coma, scum. 


Wenn ein Volk seine eigene Schuld über die Geschichte verbergen, sollte das Volk, ich meine die Japaner, nicht existieren auf der Welt, sondern wird es verschwinden. Abe Shinzo muss in die Hölle gehen.


Do you know what about this matter?

The comfort women were well known as professional girls for long time, (for example during Korea War , Korea soldiers bought the comfort girls). But at 1989, Japanese news paper Asahi reported that there are women who were captured like slave hunting and treat like slaves.
Many Japanese surprised, and wanted to research that.
At that time, Japanese government (the prime minister was from Socialist Party) apologized without deep researching.
But , after more than 20 years past, there are many historical evidences , witnesses, data exsist. Many historians, left wings , right wings, socialists, nationalists, politicians, old soldiers, Japanese comfort women, many many kind of witnesses and records were shown. Of course the Korean women talked at the court, but their saying were changing and changing, so we Japanese cannot believe their saying. They were obvious lying.  for example ones of them said they had been raped by Japanese soldiers till 1950 (Japan Imperial Forces did not  exist !)

Old Japanese army and navy have 3000000 soldiers. How we could keep 200000 such women, of cource it is too much.

(At first only 16 women said they were forced like slaves, but in this time they are saying 200000 comfort women exist. )
As the result, there were about 14000 comfort women, about 50% were Japanese, 20% were Korean
, and most of them were professional. It is the historical fact. many Japanese well kow this, we read many many records about this for more than 20 years. Are you saying you know more about this than Japanese ?  I think itt is impossible.


@taktakshin  You're using common sense rather than actual statistics or witness testimony.  You have absoluetly no backing up with historical texts, interviews from former victims, or evidence.  While you are busy trying to lie, there are countless evidence> pictures, witnesses, books written about them, and former Japanese soldiers admitting they were wrong. Not to mention your own government apologized in 1993..   YOU NEED TO STOP DENYING. THE JAPANESE WERE CRUEL, CRUEL, CRUEL HUMAN BEINGS DURING THAT TIME.  How do you possiblty deny this?


@HyungJoon @taktakshin  Good, lets look at some facts:

Lets look at some findings from the Korean side, before the politically powerful Black Shirt tactics of the Comfort Women lobby and their cronies took effect in the early 90s.  Keep in mind there was NO sex slave narrative before 1985.  A Japanese made this issue up in a work of fiction he tried to pass off as fact in his book where he claimed 200,000 Korean women were kidnapped and forced to be prostititues.  **This was the first instance of this myth being released to the mainstream**

At the time Ms. Kim Bong Ok was the head of the Cheju-do island history association.  Cheju-do was where Yoshida Seiji (the author who wrote he had committed this kidnapping in 1985 but later admitted to making all of it up a decade later), had stated he kidnapped a majority of the girls.  Mr. Ok quoted "This is a prime example of the brutality and barbarity of the Japanese (the fabrication of the kidnapping story).  The author writes about acts that most people would find too shameful to describe.  We should dignify what he produced by calling it a book."  Even in the village where the Japanese fascist mentions 15 girls being kidnapped the Korean press went and interviewed Chon Ok Dan (Then 85) a resident of Seongsan-li "It's not true.  There are only a little over 250 houses in this village.  If an incident that serious, where 15 people were abducted, had taken place, everyone would have heard about it.  But no one did."

So there were NO corroborating witnesses.  Further, the one that did come forward at the time: Mrs. Kim Hak Sun initially said she was sold into prostitution, then changed her story to she was kidnapped by soldiers (and that story changed no less than 5 times in major details), then finally she admitted that she was already a prostitute and her contract was sold to a brothel in China that serviced a lot of military persons.  Again not forced and she admitted as much under questioning.

A voice that was recently bullied into silence is Professor Emeritus Ahn Byong Jik.  He was on the Volunteer Corps Research group which also took on the Comfort Women study as well.  He found that of the 40 women interviewed (almost all who came forward and presented themselves at that time..there are 55 now) in 1992-1996, only 19 were credible, the rest had invented narratives and continued to invent facts.  Out of those 19 Professor Ahn on the questions asked how many were forced or coerced.  The answer was 4.  Out of those 4 he further questions the circumstances and two were found to have been put into civilian brothels, and the other 2 mentioned were Kim Hak Sun and Moon Ok Ju.  Kim later recanted her story and admitted she was already a prostitute, and Moon was later found to have volunteered but later said she was forced to go from Burma where she was serving as a prostitute to Manchuria and didn't want to go…so not coerced to join.

Professor Ahn was recently assaulted in Korea by a group of black shirts demanding he recant his public statements on the findings from his time in the research group.  It is to Professor Ahn and those other courageous Koreans who are not afraid to tell the truth in the midst of tremendous pressure from the Comfort Women lobby that we should be aware of, as well as the facts on the issues.


@Bombkiller007 I'd gladly rip your stomach wide open with a chainsaw, and  let your guts spill out, and watch you die screaming in agony. scum


@taktakshin  I'd gladly rip your stomach wide open with a chainsaw, let your guts spill out, and watch you die screaming in extreme agony.



Again thank you for the illustration of the hate and intolerance of the Comfort Women support lobby, where fascistic black shirt tactics and opinions seem to be the norm.  



Again,this is the public space where many people share their opinion. 

Do not scatter dirty words around even if you do not like someone's opinion.
You must learn how to respect others.