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Glendale steps into controversy with memorial to WW II sex slaves

July 11, 2013

When Glendale officials proposed a memorial to "comfort women" — sex slaves who served the Japanese army in occupied countries during World War II — they saw it as a quiet gesture of goodwill for the city's Korean community.

The planned statue shows a young girl seated next to an empty chair: a symbolic memorial to the estimated 80,000 to 200,000 women, mostly from Korea, who spent the war in Japanese military brothels serving up to 50 men per day.

But city leaders soon realized that they had stepped into a major international controversy. They've been bombarded with hundreds of angry emails, mostly from Japan, accusing them of falling for "anti-Japan propaganda" and calling the Korean women, many of whom say they were abducted from their homes as teenagers, "liars" and willing "prostitutes."

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Proposed memorials in New Jersey, New York and Singapore faced similar organized opposition.

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