SAN FRANCISCO—On Friday, September 22, a World War II memorial statue, known as “The Comfort Women” was unveiled in San Francisco’s St. Mary’s Square, not far from Chinatown.
The statue represents the approximate 200,000 women (Consisted of women from various Asian countries, most of whom were natives of Korea and China) who were forced into sex slavery by Japanese military officials during the war, some of whom were kidnapped from their homes.
The statue depicts three women forming a circle, holding hands with their backs facing one another. It has been reported that the monument has been constructed with the intention of educating the public and raising awareness on sex trafficking. Plans for the statue were cultivated in 2015.
Sixty years ago, San Francisco and Osaka, Japan became sister cities. Authorities from Osaka have reported disapproval of the construction, as they claim the statue inaccurately portrays that sector of history; where the Japanese do not refer to the victimized women as “sex slaves.” They have threatened to cut ties with the city of San Francisco because of the statue. No additional information has been released, but San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee and other city officials plan travel to Osaka to memorialize the event.
South Korean survivor Yong-Soo Lee, who was first forced into sex slavery at age 16, flew from her native country to San Francisco on Friday to view the monument, She delivered the following speech in Korean at the unveiling:
“People are making so much effort to make this world a better place for everyone. This history issue is not one that just happened in the past. This is not about money. This is about a sincere apology from the government of Japan, which is important. Sincere apology has to come with a legal compensation. We have to work with Chinese people and other ethnicities because we are all humans who share the same emotions. We hate the crime not the people, so Japan must acknowledge what they did, the crime they committed and apologize to us. In the end we will have a memorial in downtown Tokyo so the people of Japan will know what happened in the past and they will express their regret whenever they pass by.”