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News-Press Editorial: City Council praised for supporting statue

July 12, 2013

A bronze memorial to the "comfort women" who were forced into sex slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army throughout World War II will soon grace Glendale's Central Park, having been given the City Council's approval this week.

Most of the victims of this shameful practice were Korean, but they were not alone. There were also Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino women coerced into meeting the sexual needs of Imperial soldiers.

The City Council's decision to approve this memorial tribute — paid for by the Korea Glendale Sister City Assn. — was a metal reminder of the practice, and a physical plea that it never happen again.

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As with every strong stand, it was not without controversy. For its trouble, council members were harangued by hundreds of emails and, at its most recent meeting, dozens of speakers, who maintain that the women were not sex slaves, but ordinary prostitutes. This is nonsense, and such revisionists ought be ashamed of themselves.

Historians estimate that between 50,000 and 200,000 women — many in their early teens — were forced into sexual slavery against their will. The Japanese government, in fact, issued a formal apology to such women in 1993. As protests against the memorial simply defy logic, let's point out a few things that did occur:

A large percentage of these "comfort women" did not survive their ordeal. Infertility and lingering psychic wounds were suffered by those who did come out of the experience alive. Many were 14-years-old.

It is to the council's credit that it turned its back on the protests. It is a small but powerful statement on behalf of the thousands of young women who were given no choice but to sacrifice their futures. We must not forget them.

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