Sexual-Slavery Monument Returns to Court
LOS ANGELES (CN) - A Glendale monument to women the Japanese army forced into sexual slavery during World War II faces two new challenges, in Superior Court and at the 9th Circuit.
Michiko Shiota Gingery, Koichi Mera and the nonprofit GAHT-US of Santa Monica in February asked the Central District of California to order a 1,100-lb. bronze statue removed from Central Park, claiming it posed a threat to diplomatic relations between the United States and Japan.
U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson rejected the claim in August, for lack of standing, and dismissed the lawsuit.
The memorial depicts a young girl sitting next to an empty chair, with a bird on her shoulder. A plaque condemns Japan for avoiding responsibility for the abduction of more than 200,000 women, including Koreans, Filipinos, Chinese, Indonesians, Dutch and Japanese, during the 1930s and '40s.
On Wednesday, the Global Alliance for Historical Truth filed an appeal to the 9th Circuit.
"GAHT deplores this issue being used to create a negative image of Japan, Japanese citizens, and Japanese Americans in order to weaken the US-Japan strategic partnership that has flourished for over 60 years and has been the backbone of the U.S. policy in East Asia," GAHT said in a statement announcing its appeal.
GAHT's Superior Court filing alleges a single cause of action, claiming the memorial violated Glendale's municipal code by failing to have a vote on the text engraved on a plaque beside the memorial.
In his August ruling, U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson found that the state court should tackle that issue.
The Japanese military enslaved young women and teenagers during Japan's colonization of the Korean peninsula. Forced into brothels, women were prostituted to up to 50 men a day.
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono apologized in 1993 for his country. But the Japanese government resisted South Korea's calls for an official apology and compensation for victims.
During a U.S. press tour this summer, sexual slavery survivor Ok-seon Lee urged the Japanese government to make amends.
"The Japanese government should come forward and apologize, instead of lying for what they did to us - before we die," Lee said.
Korean American Forum of California spokeswoman Phyllis Kim said GAHT-US had filed a "frivolous" lawsuit to discourage other cities from creating their own memorials.
"Korean American Forum of California condemns the Japanese right-wing politicians inside and outside the Japanese government acting behind these plaintiffs in their continued attempts to deny, whitewash and distort the wartime atrocities committed against more than 200,000 young women in the system of sexual slavery," Kim said in a statement.
Kim said her organization will "stand strongly with the City of Glendale and provide whatever assistance we can on behalf of the American citizens who support the freedom of speech and the victims' human rights."
Glendale City Attorney Mike Garcia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.