Video: Glendale mayor reopens 'comfort women' statue tiff

Weaver tells Japanese TV station why he opposed comfort women memorial.

October 03, 2013

Glendale was wrong to install a controversial monument honoring Korean sex slaves taken by the Japanese Army during World War II, Mayor Dave Weaver said during an interview published Monday on a Japanese television station's YouTube channel.

“We opened a beehive, a hornet's nest,” he told Channel Sakura. “We just shouldn't have done it.”

VIDEO: Glendale Mayor disagrees with 'comfort women' statue decision

The statue — the first on the West Coast honoring so-called comfort women on public property — thrust Glendale into a controversy that has been stoked thousands of miles away.

While advocates for former comfort women say Japan hasn't sufficiently apologized to the estimated 200,000 Korean, Chinese, Filipino and other women coerced into prostitution, opponents disagree. They say an apology issued by a former Japanese prime minister in the 1990s should have been the end; others believe the women acted willingly.


Korean American advocacy groups for the past few years have been using the blemish on Japan's history to raise awareness of Korea's plight and to shame Japan into creating government legislation admitting the wrongdoing.

Weaver was the only City Council member to oppose the 1,100-pound bronze statue of a young woman in Korean dress when it came before the council this summer for approval, but at the time he said his motivations were apolitical.

He told Japanese reporters from the far-right-wing channel, though, that in addition to opposing the statue because he believed the park where it's located needs a master plan, he disliked the statue because he didn't want Glendale involved in an international fight.

“I understand we're the most hated city in Japan now, which I deeply regret,” Weaver said, adding that he's received more than 1,000 emails about the memorial, the most correspondence he's gotten on an issue in the 17 years he's been on City Council.

The four other Glendale council members supported the monument, describing it as a reminder to prevent future sex crimes and oppression.

The mayor of Higashiosaka, Japan, sent an angry letter to Weaver in July about the monument, and Japanese officials with Glendale's 50-year-old sister city program with Higashiosaka have said they are discussing ending their cultural and exchange relationship for a number of reasons, one of which involves the memorial.

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