- 6. WHY SHOULD COMFORT WOMEN BEREMEMBERED?
On February 15, 2007, a number of comfort women—including Kim Gun-ja and Lee Yong-su from Korea and Jan Ruff-O'Herne from the Netherlands—testified in Washington, D.C., before the United States House Committee on Foreign AffairsMost of the victims who “came out” have passed away without receiving any apologies or compensation.
Other surviving victims, whose exact number is unknown, await the end of their own pain and poverty, concealing the fact that they were once Japanese military comfort women.
Not a moment should be lost in resolving this problem as there is little time left for the aging survivors.
Another reason a solution should be achieved is the significance this problem carries not only for the victims, but for us all. The comfort women system was a war crime and a gross violation of human rights. Wartime sex crimes are still being committed and are likely to be repeated in the future. It is only just that we treat this issue as what it is-one of the largest-scale violations of human rights in the twentieth century. To prevent the repetition of such a tragedy, it is imperative that this state-led wartime crime against women should reach a fundamental resolution. It is also a touchstone for our own attitudes about human rights in this global age.
In order for Japan to become a truly responsible member of the international community, it is imperative that it face its past with sincerity and honesty. Reconciliation and cooperation among East Asian countries will be possible only when Japan acknowledges its past mistakes with modesty and humility.
The late Emperor Hirohito convicted for the sexual slavery system (BBC, December 12, 2000).
While the decision was not legally binding, it opened many people’s eyes, just as the lawsuits filed after the Nuremberg Trials gainst workers at the death camps changed many Germans’ attitudes (Frankfurter Rundschau , December 13, 2000).
Check boxThe Little Girl’s Peace Statue on the site of the Wednesday Demonstration
The Little Girl’s Peace Statue installed in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul to commemorate the 1000th Wednesday Demonstration (December 14, 2011).On December 14, 2011, the Wednesday Demonstration memorialized its 1000th meeting by installing the Little Girl’s Peace Statue in front of the Japanese Embassy in Seoul. The girl sits in a small chair and is dressed in traditional Korean women’s attire with a bird sitting on her shoulder. An empty chair is placed next to her as a space for experiencing the comfort women’s fighting spirit in the face of their abused human rights and dignity. On the same day, support groups for the comfort women commemorated the day in 44 other cities in nine different countries. Yet despite increasing international support, resolutions and recommendations remain unanswered, while old age takes its toll on the victims. Of the 237 former comfort women who came out after 1991 in Korea, 183 women have passed away, leaving 63 survivors at the end of 2011 and 56 as of 2013. The demonstration continues every Wednesday (1,137 on July 30, 2014).
A replica of the Little Girl’s Peace Statue installed in front of the city library in Glendale, California, on July 30, 2013.Comfort women memorials have also been installed in the United States: a replica of the Little Girl’s Peace Statue in Seoul in Glendale, a city near Los Angeles, California in July 2013, honoring the sixth anniversary of the passing of U.S. House Resolution 121, and a stone memorial in Bergen County, New Jersey, in March 2013.
While similar efforts to install memorials are on-going in Los Angeles and New York City, the Japanese government uses its diplomatic missions and Japanese businesses to attempt to obstruct these memorials by pressuring American municipal officials and politicians.