Glendale resident files lawsuit to have Comfort Women statue removed
By André Coleman 03/04/2014
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.”