7 August 2016
Unveiling Ceremony of Comfort Woman Statue
It is regrettable that the Korean group disobeyed the conditions set by the council for the last minute approval of the unveiling ceremony. They used the car park and put offensive banners as many as they wanted while banners were banned. This is the typical nature of such a ceremony.
Having watched the ceremony and interviewed by media we realized we were facing the stereotype labelling.
1. Opposing statue means denying the history and women’s suffering.
2. Erecting statue means supporting women’s human right.
80% of the members of AJCN are mothers with children. They were deeply concerned with the aggression posed by the Korean group knowing Japanese children were subject to discrimination and bullying in the U.S. where such statues had been erected.
We heard of many stories such as Korean students are insulting Japanese students by calling them “rapists” and spitting over Japanese students’ lunch box. When Japanese mothers complain to the school their children are further bullied for revenge. A Japanese lady who opposed such a statue in her town received a letter from a Korean man saying “If you were not an old woman I would beat you up.” She had to report to police. This case will be heard in court. We also have received a couple of similar emails full of anger and hatred all ending with “I am disgusted with you.”
These are the common dark characteristic of statue supporters. (We also received supportive emails from Korean people)
Needless to say, it is always important to pay tribute to women who suffered in war. But it is also important to protect human right of women and children living now. That is why we founded AJCN and many Australian husbands joined to protect their Japanese wives and half Japanese children. This is what we are. Our slogan is “Harmony must come first”. Strathfield Council fully supported our idea and unanimously declined the proposal to erect a statue by the same Korean people.
It is hard to comprehend that those Korean people are aggressively demanding apology while they are opposing the governmental agreement. If you are genuinely concerned with women’s welfare you would support the agreement to move on. The Australian government is officially supporting the agreement. However there is no surprise because the group called Chon Dae Hyup based in Seoul erecting such statues all over the world and driving this move in Sydney is the one who opposed the past reconciliation efforts as well.
About twenty years ago the Japanese government established Asian Women’s Fund. They paid individual former comfort women and personally handed a Prime Minister’s apology letter. Yet Chon Dae Hyup pressured women not to receive money and insulted those women who received money as betrayer. Their persistent destructive behavior finally stalled the reconciliation efforts. This new agreement is making sure to succeed with the full commitment of the South Korean government. But they are trying to destroy again by erecting statues and holding such ceremonies full of accusation. Who do you think is benefiting from conflicts between Japan and South Korea? Why do they need to erect that many statues to commemorate women’s suffering? Do they really care about women’s human right after all?
We propose to honor women of all nationalities. We should not forget the Korean women treated as military supply by the South Korean government and Vietnamese women raped and slaughtered by South Korean troops. We should not forget the fact that the majority of comfort women were Japanese who never asked compensation. The Japanese government should compensate them as well. The Japanese government was forced to establish comfort stations for occupying soldiers as thousands of rape incidents were reported in the first month or two of the occupation after the WWII. We must not forget women living now, either. We should rescue those numerous number of young Korean prostitutes trafficked by Korean brokers deeply soaked in debt. We did point these out to the Korean Society but we received no reply.
Rev Bill Crew’s comment “"We are singling out those Japanese people that offended, we are not singling out Japanese people as a whole." is utterly nonsensical. Then why does he need to erect a statue in Ashfield? Isn’t it more relevant to erect a statue of all the young children sexually abused by Uniting Church Australia if they had paid 2 million dollars for compensation? Only the one who has never sinned should throw a stone.
We explained our concerns in full detail to Rev Crews but he never addressed them. He replied only once when we asked him how he was addressing the South Korean government’s own comfort woman system. He just said “I think all governments are bad.”
We do have a very serious reason to oppose the statue but it appears that neither the Korean group nor Rev Crews is prepared for a rational discussion. If they were genuinely working for women’s human right they would also reflect on their own acts and would not intimidate other ethnic groups in a third country. Having seen the ceremony and listened to their speeches we are convinced that the statue is a symbol of hatred and a tool of the people who need a conflict for their own political purpose and existence.
We seek a genuine sympathy and compassion to all the women who suffered in war. We must work towards reconciliation rather than endless accusation. We must work together to rescue women living now. Therefore we do not approve the statue and the superficial labelling. If we allow importing foreign disputes into local communities Australian multiculturalism will easily fall apart.
Australia-Japan Community Network