Seven years ago on July 30, 2007, the House of Representatives approved House Resolution 121 (H.RES.121), sponsored by Representative Michael Honda.  The resolution stated that “the Government of Japan should formally acknowledge, apologize, and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Forces’ coercion of young women into sexual slavery, known to the world as “comfort women”, during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II.” However, the top officers of Japanese government and citizens alike maintain that there is no evidence of ‘comfort women’ being coerced nor enslaved, but instead made absurd claims of comfort women being paid as voluntary prostitutes and others being sold by parents for money.


Dong-Suk Kim of Korean American Civic Empowerment (KACE, 시민참여센터), a non-profit organization based in New York/New Jersey wanted to share the true history with American society by involvement with surviving comfort women victims and monuments. He said that this is not a Korean and Japanese issue, but a human rights issue, and a women’s rights issue.  Four years ago in 2010, a ‘comfort women’ monument was erected in Palisade Park, New Jersey, the first in the United States.  Other cities in New Jersey and other states have quickly followed in erecting ‘comfort women’ monuments as Japan continues their persistent denial of ‘comfort women’ and obstinate opposition to monuments. Initially an interest of mainly the Korean-American community, it has now become a universal human right issue that stirs local citizens of America.  In the following, I will introduce monuments from the first to the most recent being built across the States and cover news associated with each monument.  It is my fervent wish that someday we will join in creating a ‘comfort women’ monument in Boston in order to console victims and prevent similar atrocities of human rights violations as well as victimization of girls and women from happening in the future.

The first Palisades monument and Reaction of Japanese 


According to the 2010 Census, Bergen County has the largest Korean population in New Jersey. Palisades Park has the largest percentage of Korean descendants at 52% of population. Rightfully, the first ‘comfort women’ memorial was dedicated next to the Palisade public library on October, 23, 2010 by the Bergen county administrators and others. The inscription on the brass plaque states, “In memory of more than 200,000 women and girls who were abducted by the armed forces of the government of Imperial Japan, 1930 to 1945, known as ‘comfort women’.  They endured human rights violations that no people should leave unrecognized. Let us never forget the horrors of crimes against humanity.” 
In May of 2012, two delegations of Japanese authorities visited Palisades Mayor James Rotundo and made demands to remove the memorial. The first delegation was led by Japanese consul general Shigeyuki Hiroki from New York on May 1 and the second was led by four members of the Japanese Parliament, denying any enforced sexual slavery.  The demand was rejected by the borough administrators, and it instead prompted Koreans to plan more such monuments across the New Jersey.  Five members of the Japanese right-wing desecrated this memorial with a stake on October 25, 2012.  Mayor Rotundo reportedly called it a hate crime. Kim Dong-Suk of KACE called the attack was reckless criminal act. He added that the Japanese government should be held accountable to the American civic society for distorting and denying history. 

“Bill Summary & Status 110th Congress (2007 - 2008) H.RES.121.” Bill Summary & Status. 
N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Aug. 2014.
Comfort Women Monument. Digital image. Pacific Citizen. Pacific Citizen, 1 June 2012. Web. 
24 Aug. 2014.
Semple, Kirk. “In New Jersey, Memorial for ‘Comfort Women’ Deepens Old Animosity.” The 
New York Times. The New York Times, 18 May 2012. Web. 24 Aug. 2014.
Sullivan, S. P. “Korean American Group Says ‘comfort Women’ Memorial Defaced in Palisades 
Park.” N.p., 26 Oct. 2012. Web. 24 Aug. 2014.