Japan cried foul over a bronze statue of a Korean woman honoring “comfort women” erected in Glendale, Southern California in the deepening rift between Tokyo and Seoul.
Japanese residents were displeased when the bronze, bearing a likeness to a Korean woman, was unveiled in July to honor women who were forced into sexual slavery by Japan’s imperial army during World War II.
Conservative lawmakers from Tokyo who visited California demanded that city officials dismantle the memorial, saying it fuels hatred towards Japan.
The call comes after a lawsuit filed by The Global Alliance for Historical Truth (GAHT), a group of Japanese nationals residing in the US and naturalized Americans from Japan, who insisted the statue violates the US Constitution by interfering with the federal government’s authority to set foreign policy.
The group said the city’s actions could cause confusion over US diplomatic relations with Tokyo.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the memorial was “regrettable.”
“Japanese residents in America felt the same way as the Japanese government over the statue and resorted to the lawsuit.”
The Japanese government denied the contentious issue by saying, “There is no evidence that Japan forcefully mobilized comfort women.” This stoked anger in South Korea, China and other Asian countries over Japan’s insincerity to make reparations for its wartime actions.
Two delegations of Japanese officials made requests last year that a similar memorial in Palisades Park, New Jersey, be taken down.
The statues were made through an initiative by Korean-Americans to highlight the plight of thousands of women from Asian countries who were forced to provide sex for Japanese troops before and during the war.
By Maesie Bertumen
Image: Melissa Wall/Flickr