Uncomfortable woman

Uncomfortable woman

Glendale resident files lawsuit to have Comfort Women statue removed

By André Coleman 03/04/2014

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A Japanese-American resident of Glendale has filed a federal lawsuit in hopes of forcing the city to remove a statue dedicated to women forced into prostitution by Imperial Japanese military forces during World War II.

In the lawsuit, Michiko Gingery claims she suffers from feelings of exclusion, discomfort and anger because of the so-called “Comfort Women” statue. Gingery claims she would like to use Central Park where the statue is located, and the nearby adult center, but she avoids doing so because she is offended by the public monument.

“All the children are seeing that when they go to the library,” said Gingery, 90. “If a child asks a question about it, how can a mother explain it to her children? It shouldn’t be in an American park. America has nothing to do with it. It was between Korea and Japan, if it happened at all.” 

The nonprofit GAHT-US Corp., a Santa Monica based organization, actively opposes the recognition of Comfort Women. The group is a co-plaintiff in the case.

The lawsuit is the latest effort to remove the Comfort Women statue, which was erected in July in Glendale’s Central Park. The exact number of women forced into sexual slavery is unknown, but some historians say the number is as high as 300,000 in Korea, China, the Philippines and other occupied countries. The Japanese government denies forcing women into sexual slavery. 

The lawsuit claims the statue exceeds the power of Glendale and infringes upon the federal government’s power to exclusively conduct the foreign affairs of the United States, violating the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.

Gingery is a founding member of Glendale’s Sister City Committee and helped establish the city’s sister city relationship with Higashiosaka, Japan. The lawsuit lists the city of Glendale and Glendale City Manager Scott Ochoa as defendants.

“I was a sister city committee member. It is against the program’s ideas,” Gingery told the Weekly. “It might have happened, but it did not happen only with the Japanese.”  

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Somebody needs to tell Michiko Gingery that the statue highlights the obtuse moral depravity of Imperial Japan and its military industrial complex during the first half of last century. So tell me Michiko, are you Japanese ... or American?

Because if you're American, then I don't even see why you should feel assaulted, unless of course you (and/or maybe your family) were conspiring participants in that particular tragedy. If that's the case, then I can understand why you would want to hide your prevailing guilt from the rest of society by removing the offending reminder.

But you shouldn't even worry, because everybody has some cultural shame to hide. I mean, Caucasian America was the first racist element of our species to use a nuclear weapon against a functionally conquered population that was begging the rest of the world to let it surrender. We all got skeletons.



posted by DanD on 3/09/14 @ 08:13 p.m.

I hadn't thought about it, but it would seem that Michiko Gingery has a point.

The statue is about something that happened in another country and by another country. It does uncomfortably emphasize Korean women, when it wasn't only Korean women who were enslaved.

Are there any former Korean comfort women living in that city?

The majority of women, I understand, were Korean AND Chinese, but women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army included women from Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, Burma, Indonesia, Netherlands and Australia. So the statue is exclusive rather than inclusive.

The 1940s was a time of great racial prejudices so it should come as no surprise that only one war crimes trials looked into the comfort women situation and that was concerning the Dutch women, not non-European women. In that case, while there were non-European comfort women in that colony, the tribunal did not care to bring the case.

Further, Japan is not the only country that has taken women and forced them into sexual slavery. This often happened in colonized countries and during wars with countries that are not predominately white.

It is unfortunate that the statue in question doesn't look at the long history of sexual enslavement of women and include all women of all cultures and nationalities. Even as a reminder of World War II, it only looks at one nationality and not the many that were victimized by the Imperial Army of Japan AS WELL AS the European and Western armies during the same time period (e.g. Jewish, Polish, Russian and Norwegian women under Germany).

Why did the city care so much about Korean Comfort women and not the women of other nationalities who were similarly exploited during the same time period?


posted by JanaMonji on 3/12/14 @ 01:18 p.m.

122 Korean women claimed that "we were the U.S. military comfort women", and sued the class action lawsuit on June 25, 2014. If the issue is not a diplomatic one about history, but a human rights concern for the future of all nations, Glendale should englave the phrase on the statue " We were the U.S. military sex slave too." All comfort women were the victims of human trafficking. Glendale should stand for justice and human right, not be a hypocrite. The USA itself is concerned very deeply in this Korean "comfort women" matter.

posted by humanrights on 7/14/14 @ 11:00 a.m.
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