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Tensions linger in US over 'comfort women' plaques

By Samantha Henry

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 30 2013 6:39 a.m. MST

"In the meantime," Mayor James Rotundo recalled, the visiting officials also told him: "It would be nice if we'd take the monument down."

The first plaque reads: "In memory of the more than 200,000 women and girls who were abducted by the armed forces of the government of Imperial Japan 1930s - 1945 known as comfort women, they endured human rights violations that no peoples should leave unrecognized. Let us never forget the horrors of crimes against humanity."

The second plaque is being reworded to lay the blame on the Imperial armed forces of Japan instead of the armed forces of the government of Imperial Japan, removing the government reference.

The Japanese consulate in New York, asked about the controversy in New Jersey, issued a statement on behalf of the government stating that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe "is deeply pained when thinking of the 'comfort women' who experienced immeasurable pain and suffering, a feeling shared by his predecessors."

The statement adds that Japan has apologized for the suffering it caused to "the people of many countries, particularly to those in Asian nations."

On the issue of the women, the Japanese government said: "It is our sincere hope that we can focus on working constructively together and move forward, and not politicize this issue."

Park said he believes the women's struggles have a place alongside history's greatest injustices.

"Human trafficking is a serious human rights violation, and the comfort women were the largest government-organized human trafficking case in the 20th century," he said. "We should understand the comfort women memorial as something like the other memorials in the United States that memorialize many other human rights violations that happened in many places in the world."

Follow Samantha Henry at http://www.twitter.com/SamanthaHenry.

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