‘Comfort women’ statue in Glendale Park and Federal Court’s Dismissal of a Lawsuit by Japanese 


하이디-1.jpg

This statue of ‘comfort women’ honors girls and young women coerced into the atrocity of sexual slavery by the Japanese 

Imperial Army before and during World War II. (Liz O. Baylen, Los Angeles Times)



Surviving ‘comfort women’ have been asking the Japanese government to officially apologize for the coerced sexual slavery by Japanese soldiers of  an estimated 200,000 women from Korea, China and the pacific islands during colonial and wartime occupation in 1930s through World War II. To raise international awareness of the human rights violation of comfort women victims, the first comfort women monument was erected in Palisades Park in 2010, followed by the second in Hackensack in Bergen County, New Jersey in 2012. The third such monument was built across the country in Glendale, California. The Korea-Glendale Sister City Assn. and the Korean American Forum of California erected a 1,100-pound bronze statue of a girl in Central Park, Glendale in 2013. 


Bouquets and gifts arrived by visitors of this statue which is a replica of the comfort women statue(평화의 비) in front of Japanese embassy in Seoul, Korea.  The bronze memorial depicts a girl in Korean traditional dress with a bird on her shoulder is sitting next to an empty chair. 


Many Japanese and Japanese Americans were angered by this campaign to raise awareness of ‘comfort women’ and tried to block the erection of the statue by sending hundreds of emails to Glendale city council members claiming that the comfort women were not coerced slavers but ordinary willing prostitutes.  When this failed, delegations of Japanese politicians made several visits to the City of Glendale and demanded unsuccessfully that the city remove the statue. These attempts were followed by a lawsuit. The court records shows that opponents, Michiko Gingery of Glendale; GAHT-US Corp. (an organization with a goal to prevent the recognition of the former sex slaves), and Koichi Mera of Los Angeles claimed that the installation of the statue was a violation of the federal government’s control over foreign affairs (Supremacy Clause of the Constitution) and was upsetting for opponents at the Park.


하이디-2.jpg

Bok-dong Kim, an 88-year-old former “comfort woman,” visited the statue after its unveiling. 

The memorial is to raise international awareness of the human right violation by Japanese on sex slavery 

forced on young women. (Liz  O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times)



A federal judge has dismissed the lawsuit filed against Glendale that sought the removal of the controversial statue installed in a city.  A court order signed by U.S. District Court Judge Percy Anderson states that the statue’s opponents failed to show that the opponents were harmed by the statue of a girl in Korean costume sitting next to an empty chair, and also that the city of Glendale didn’t violated any laws in erecting the ‘comfort women’ girl statue.

Glendale City Atty. Mike Garcia welcomed decision for the recognition by the court of City Council’s right to make public pronouncements on matters important to the community. While attorney of the opponent of the statue, William Benjamin DeClercq, made no comment on the decision. The decision was greeted by Phyllis Kim, spokeswoman for the Korean American Forum of California, which plans to continue to work to honor comfort women. 


SOURCES

Levine, Brittany. “Glendale Approves Korean ‘comfort Woman’ Statue despite Protest.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 10 July 2013. Web. 15 Sept. 2014.

Baylen, Liz O. “’Comfort Women’ Statue in Glendale.” Latimes.com. Los Angeles Times, 11 Aug. 2014. Web. 09 Sept. 2014

Levine, Brittany. “Federal Judge Upholds ‘comfort Women’ Statue in Glendale Park.” Latimes.com. Los Angeles Times, 11 Aug. 2014. Web. 9 Sept. 2014.