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Memorial for WWII comfort women stirs controversy

South Koreans protesting Japanese attitudes about comfort women in WW11
South Koreans protesting Japanese attitudes about comfort women in WW11
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Some people think stories about women being forced into prostitution by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War 11 must be nothing more than part of a script for a Hollywood dramatic fiction movie. However, this is a real part of history. A memorial to World War 11 comfort women has been dedicated in Fairfax County reported The Washington Post on May 30, 2014. This dark chapter of history has long generated tensions between South Korea and Japan.

The memorial was dedicated on Friday evening behind the Fairfax County Government Center. It helps show us the evolving voice and influence of Korean Americans in Northern Virginia who want this story told. However, this memorial has been sparking off protests from the Japanese Embassy and activists in Japan. Japanese activists have been pushing back against this type of memorial with apparent support from statements from Japan’s prime minister which have questioned whether all of the women were actually coerced into becoming sex slaves.

However, Koreans insist this memorial reminds us of one of the most horrible cases of human trafficking in world history. Remembering this is important to the more than 42,000 Korean American residents of Fairfax County. It has been said this is a war crime which happened a long time ago and which not many people know about. And yet the Koreans say it really happened.

Nevertheless, some Japanese activists are arguing that many comfort women were willing prostitutes. They claim memorials which honor them are an insult to Japan. However, even though the Japanese government has not actually denied that forced prostitution occurred, Tokyo believes this memorial may spark off unnecessary friction between the Japanese and Koreans and other Asians.

It has generally been accepted that the Japanese Imperial Army really forced women from occupied countries, primarily Korea and China, into sexual slavery during World War II in order to serve their soldiers during the war reports It would be a big mistake to ignore this real chapter of world history dealing with the comfort women who were forced into prostitution by the Japanese army during World War 11. The entire world, including Japan, should learn lessons from a proper portrayal of history in order to help us all work towards ensuring that such dark sides of history are not repeated.