Setting the Record Straight: Comfort Women and Compensation

The comfort woman system did exist during the World War II. It was built by the Imperial Japanese Army to prevent sexual crimes, STDs, and spying. The similar system was adopted and operated by the South Korean Military Force during the Korea War and the Vietnam War for own soldiers as well as soldiers of allied nations.

But the comfort woman system was not the invention of the Japanese military. As Professor Park Yu-ha of Sejong University points out, the comfort women system was a systematization of the commercial prostitution system which already existed at the time. Prof. Park stresses that comfort stations took various forms depending on location and time built.

By the same token, there were a variety of women working to serve soldiers. Prof. Park contends that only Japanese women, along with Korean and Taiwanese women who were Japanese at that time and served with a sense of patriotism, should be referred to as “comfort women.” Apart from these women, there were women at ordinary prostitution facilities also engaged in sex work, but not exclusively for the “comfort” of the Japanese military.

Women in prostitution were socially weak and vulnerable in general. Some were sold by their parents or deceived by vicious brokers and susceptible to exploitations even if they earned some money under their contracts. Prof. Park argues that Japan’s responsibility for Korean comfort women should be accounted for in its annexation of the Korean Peninsula, which became a source for comfort women. This accounting should be undertaken from a moral standpoint. Conversely, the forcible abduction of women off the streets and from normal households by military forces was hardly plausible, and so there is no need for the Japanese government to apologize for something that did not happen. In other words, the moral reckoning must be grounded in remorse for real actions, and not subsumed to political calculations.

Probably the most famous figure brought up as a symbolic victim of the comfort women system is Ms. Jan Ruff-O’Herne who was subjected to a gruesome war crime in Indonesia during World War II. Where do women like Ms. Ruff-O’Herne fit into the whole picture of the comfort women argument?

Prof. Park says that the Dutch women such as Ruff-O’Herne, who were forced to provide sex to soldiers, were not comfort women but clearly victims of crimes. The criminal perpetrators were punished as individuals. It is important to clarify this, because it shows, among other things, that the Japanese military, contrary to much of what is now said about the imperial forces, was the first advocate for the safety of the comfort women.

Ms Ruff-O’Herne was a victim of a dreadful crime known as the “Semarang Incident” (February 1944), which took place in Indonesia, a colony ruled by the Dutch for 300 years. The Semarang Incident saw the rape and forcible detention of 35 Dutch women by a small group of Japanese Army soldiers and prostitute-brokers.

These soldiers and prostitute-brokers violated the strict moral guidelines issued by the administrative office of the 16th regiment of the Japanese Army in Djakarta, Indonesia. They forcibly removed the 35 women, aged 17 to 28, from three Dutch internment camps, confining them in four brothels in Semarang. The soldiers and brokers then raped the women repeatedly, holding them at length against their will.

During Colonel Kaoru Odajima’s inspection of the Dutch internment camps, a leader of the Dutch detainees (whose own daughter had been among the abductees) reported coerced human mobilization of Dutch women from camps by some Japanese Army officers and prostitute-brokers. Upon receiving the Dutch leader’s information, Col. Odajima ordered the 16th Army regiment headquarters to immediately release all the abducted Dutch women. Col. Odajima also ordered the closure of the four brothels in Semarang.

The eleven perpetrators (soldiers, prostitute-brokers, and brothel-operators) were court-martialed. After the war, the offenders were classified as B and C war criminals during the Batavia War Crimes Temporary Tribunal in 1948. They were found guilty and sentenced. Major Keiji Okada, believed to be responsible for the entire incident, was executed, and the others were imprisoned.

Furthermore, Army Colonel Asao Ōkubo, who was believed to be the ringleader of the group, was returned to Japan at the end of WWII. He committed suicide, fearing he would be summoned by the Batavia War Crimes Temporary Tribunal before it was dissolved. Eventually, 25 out of the 35 abducted Dutch women were officially recognized as victims of coercive human mobilization and rape by the Japanese Army soldiers and prostitute-brokers.

According to the 1994 report by the Dutch government, there were about 200-300 Dutch women working in brothels in Indonesia during WWII, of which at least 65 were said to be victims of forced prostitution. The others were sex workers.

This issue has been resolved between the Netherlands and Japan. The Dutch government officially acknowledged its absolute closure. The Japanese government established the Asian Women’s Fund in 1995 with about $ 4.5 million in order to compensate the victims of these crimes. By 2001, reparations to the Dutch victims had been paid in full, and the cases were closed.

Many people criticized the fund due to its being private, and not official. In fact, the fund was supported by the Japanese government with a fiscal injection, but it remained de jure private for the simple fact that all war-related compensation was completed upon the execution of the Peace Treaty in 1952. Many Japanese individuals donated to the fund in order to express their sympathy for what the women suffered in the war. The record of the Asian Women Fund shows that 79 Dutch women received goods and services valued at an average of approximately 50,000 guilders (3 million yen) per person, along with an apology letter from then Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto.  Ms Ruff-O’Herne refused to receive them at her own will.

Unfortunately, the comfort women issue—which should be about rendering justice to those who suffered—is no longer about the women themselves. Anti-Japan political activists in East Asia and elsewhere with connections to North Korea and the Chinese Communist Party are now exploiting the comfort women issue for their own ends.

As Prof. Park Yu-ha recommends, Japan must make amends for things that actually happened in the past. The record shows that Japan has done this, time and time again. While communist forces attempt to turn the comfort women history into the comfort women political issue, we must refuse to be embroiled in political sidetracking. Justice demands no less.

Tetsuhide Yamaoka
The Institute of Moralogy

Korean Comfort Women arrested and interviewed by US soldiers in Burma,1944
Source: The National Archives of the United States

Professor Park Yu-ha
Source: The Asahi Shimbun

Ms.Jan O’Herne
Source:ABC News

Stop "Comfort Women Statues" and Protect Japanese children and youth in Australia from Racial Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment!

AJCN started the following fundraising activities. Please cooperate to protect Japanese children living in Australia.

Donation site:
Payment with credit card is accepted on this site. If you would like to transfer directly to an account please transfer to the account below.

Japan: ゆうちょ銀行(Japan Post Bank) Store Number: 019
Deposit Type: Current Account  Account Number:0324225  Account Name: AJCN

Australia: Commonwealth Bank  BSB: 062-246 Account Number:10302121

AJCN (Australia-Japan Community Network) has been acting on behalf of Japanese mothers who are concerned about the safety of their children since April 2014 , when we heard about the proposal of the Comfort Women statue in Strathfield.  On August 11, 2015, the Strathfield City Council and local residents unanimously rejected the proposal. This decision effectively made it impossible to erect the statue on public land in Australia. Since then, we had to respond to the second campaign to erect the statue led by a South Korean political group that has close connections with North Korea. Despite our effort this time, however, the statue was unveiled in August last year and currently placed at the Uniting Church in Ashfield.

Although it is placed on private property of the Uniting Church, it is open to the general public. So on December 14 last year, we lodged our official complaint with the Human Rights Commission based on the Racial Discrimination Law against the national organization of the church and the responsible minister of the local church in Ashfield.
There have been cases of Japanese children being bullied and harassed since the erections of such statues in the United States. We also have more and more Japanese people experiencing racial discrimination and harassment in Sydney. The Japanese government took this situation seriously and submitted a letter to the Human Rights Commission via AJCN to express their opinion and concerns regarding this issue. 

AJCN is just a group of mothers and fathers who are wishing to protect peace and harmony of our community. Since all of our activities have been carried out by group member's wallets, this time we cannot bear the full cost of attorneys' fees.

To prevent the division of multicultural community in Australia and secure the safe and peaceful life of children and grandchildren, I wish to ask for your support in this fundraising activity .

All the donations will be received and managed by AJCN, then it will be released and appropriated for AJCN's activities/operations as required.
For the activities of AJCN, please visit the following blog site.

April 2017
Sumiyo Egawa
Secretary-General of AJCN

The Japanese government stated the concerns about this issue to the Premiers of NSW twice and requested to take measures.

About Anti-Japan Journalists & Scholars

It has been brought to our attention that some journalists and scholars who have strong anti-Japan sentiments are trying to damage AJCN’s reputation by connecting us to a religious group which they consider a "cult" and also to an individual they consider a "racist".  We initially thought it did not deserve our comment. However, we decided to officially clarify our position this time because we recently received a call from one journalist working for an Australian TV station and he one-sidedly accused us of associating with them.

This journalist rang the Consulate General of Japan in Sydney, and asked, “Does the Consulate General of Japan associate with AJCN, Happy Science and Zaitoku-kai?”

Happy Science

The journalist asked us if we were related to a religious group called Happy Science led by Mr Ryuho Okawa. We assume this allegation stems from the fact that Mr Brian Rycroft, who was the minister of the Happy Science Church in Lane Cove North, NSW at that time, made a speech in the Strathfield Council extraordinary meeting on 11 August 2015 against the comfort woman statue proposed by the anti-Japan Korean activists. It was the council's decision to randomly select speakers from a pool of all applicants.

Mr Rycroft contacted us just before the extraordinary meeting to inform us that he would be putting his name in the hat to express his opinion as a resident of Sydney regarding the proposed statue.  He contacted us as one of the citizens, not as a representative of the organization. He contacted us to let us know that his participation could reduce the chance of our speakers being selected.  We simply respected his motivation and decision to participate in this matter.  In the morning of the meeting, his name was selected in the lottery and he made a speech in front of the councilors.

Mr. Rycroft and AJCN shared the similar view regarding the statue: we were both opposing the erection of politically motivated statue on our local land. Even though we had never interacted each other before, we were able to exchange our views and opinions on this matter. In fact Happy Science made it clear to us as an organization that they do not want to be regarded as a part of us as they always have their own ways of thinking based on their teachings. We appreciate their opinion on this issue and we feel the same way. I was once interviewed by their monthly magazine editor but it was merely one of the requests I received from various media.

The above mentioned Australian journalist asked us, “Don’t you think they (Happy Science) are crazy? Do you welcome them?”  Our answer is that we are not concerned with what they believe in.  It is nothing to do with our business and we do not criticise other people’s religion unless they conduct anti-social activities.

Ms Yumiko Yamamoto of Nadeshiko Action

We were acquainted with Ms Yamamoto because she posted the information about the Comfort Women statue issue in Strathfield on her website. A local Japanese mother, who read the article on the website, sent messages to Japanese residents in Sydney and I also received her deeply concerned message about the act of the anti-Japan activists.  It was the receipt of her email message that prompted us to form the AJCN to help the local Japanese mothers.

We overheard that Ms Yamamoto used to be a member of a group called “Zaitoku-Kai” which is a group calling for repeal of alleged special benefits given to Korean residents living in Japan such as reduced municipal tax. For this, the Zaitoku-Kai has been heavily criticized for their use of abusive words against local Korean residents in Tokyo.  Ms Yamamoto does not seem to hide the fact that she used to be a member of the group and left for a certain reason.

Apparently, some journalists and scholars are accusing us of self-contradicting by associating with Ms Yamamoto whom they consider as an overt racist. The particular journalists criticized us for attending the same conference in February 2016, which meant for them that I, the leader of AJCN, is standing on the same platform with the infamous racist.

First of all, AJCN does not agree with Zaitoku-Kai’ s style which is completely opposite to our motto “Non-confrontational rationalism” and we have no contact with them to date.  As Ms Yamamoto no longer belongs to the Zaitoku-Kai nor conduct offensive demonstrations herself, we have no reason to confront her now.  Once again, just like the case of Happy Science, we can speak to each other on specific local matter that can affect our life in region. The conference which the journalist refers to as an evidence for our connection to Ms Yamamoto was officially attended by 20 speakers including parliamentarians, scholars, and journalists on a topic which had nothing to do with Zaitoku-Kai.  Ms Yamamoto and I happened to attend the same conference along with many other people, and clearly it doesn't imply that I'm associated with Zaitoku-Kai at all.

It is unprofessional for any journalist to defame somebody by forcibly connecting the person to other parties which are obviously not related to. AJCN’s purpose which has always primarily worked for the protection of local Japanese communities and children’s welfare – not criticising nor confronting people even if we are not in  complete agreement unless we have a genuinely compelling reason to do so.

Tetsuhide Yamaoka
Australia-Japan Community Network

What's truly behind Comfort Women Statues

2 March, 2017

As you may know, the diplomatic relationship between Japan and South Korea continues to deteriorate over the "Comfort Women" statue issue: The Japanese Ambassador in South Korea and the Consulate-General of Japan in Busan have been recalled to Japan for over a month now, and the currency swap negotiations have been suspended.

After the ABC TV reported "Japanese group launches 18C racial discrimination case over 'comfort women' memorial" (7:30, Dec14,'16), a member of AJCN received a death threat from a person living in South Korea. AJCN reported this case to the local police. They had very serious concerns about the contents and forwarded this matter to the Australian Federal Police as an international political issue for further investigation.

The "Comfort Women Statue" issue began in Sydney in February 2014 when the Chinese and Korean alliance called "The United Austral Korean-Chinese Alliance against Japanese War Crimes" held a meeting to announce the ten goals of their anti-Japan lobbying which included their political activities such as "to lobby the Australian Prime Minister to put less importance on foreign diplomatic relationships with Japan" and "to erect the Comfort Women statues in all regions of Australia". Since that time, we have observed various figures of the anti-Japan alliance (and of the associated individuals/ organisations) that took part in endorsing the statue to be erected in Sydney. In this article, I'd like to talk about those figures and the organizations, and explain the "Big Picture" drawn by the Chinese Communist Party behind this "Comfort Women Statue" issue.

(The above photo from the article “Korean and Chinese communities formed an alliance to erect "comfort women" statues in Australia”, Feb '14, Yonhap News, S.Korea)

1. The first movement for erecting the Comfort Women statue 

(The proposal for the erection was rejected by Strathfield City Council on August 11, 2015)
The organization that submitted a proposal to erect a Comfort Women statue in the square in front of Strathfield Station is an anti-Japanese organization called KACA (The Korean Committee of United Austral Korean-Chinese Alliance against Japanese
War Crimes).
In September 2014 issue of the "Journal of the Korean Society of Sydney", KACA posted a totally political declaration called “The Eight Objectives”. In it KACA stated that it would work for the interest of Korea and China. When Japanese Prime Minister Abe visited Australia in July 2014, KACA disseminated an open letter to parliamentarians, state councils and the media, criticizing the Japanese government and demonstrated in front of the National Assembly in Canberra.

(Mr.Ok speaking with Mr. Song standing by his side, taking part in an anti-Japan demonstration in Canberra, July 2014)
Mr. Sang Ok, the Deputy Mayor of Strathfield at the time, was the chairman of KACA.
In 2015 he was replaced by Mr. Luke Song, the former chairman of KSSA (Korean Society of Sydney, Australia). Mr. Luke Song wrote several extreme hate comments on
KSSA’s website regarding the Abe cabinet and the Japanese Australian residents while he was the chairman of KSSA.
Mr. Song insists that the proposed statue was only to enhance woman’s human rights.
Nonetheless, he used language such as “destroy Shinzo Abe and the Japanese who are dreaming of reviving militarism” and “we are fighting against our enemy to end our sad history”. These strong aggressive words and statements are very common from all the anti-Japan Chinese Korean alliance groups around the world .

In September 2014 they released their mission statement in a Korean newspaper in Sydney in which they stated the following:

"We will urge the US government not to be deceived by Japan, acknowledge the dark evil intention of Prime Minister Abe, stop remilitarization of Japan and change their foreign policies that put Japan first before Korea and China."

"Three Sisters", the Comfort Woman statue, which was proposed to be erected in Strathfield was designed by a Chinese artist and allegedly the cost of the production was to be born by the CCP, the Chinese Communist Party.

In this worldwide anti-Japan lobbying, which the erections of the Comfort Women statues are a part of, the anti-Japanese Korean group is said to be just a glove and the hand inside that moves this glove is the CCP.

2. The second movement for erecting Comfort Women statues 

The trigger for beginning stage two of this campaign of erecting comfort women statues was the agreement made between the Japanese and Korean governments to finally settle the Comfort Women issue on December 28, 2015.
“Chong Dae Hyup”, an anti-Japan political group which is closely related to North Korea, opposed this governmental agreement and began their monthly Wednesday
demonstrations all over the world. In response to this, FCWA (Friends of Comfort Women in Australia) and Project Group Sysochu (Peace Statue Establishing Committee in Sydney), were formed in Sydney and they started monthly Wednesday demonstrations in Sydney and Brisbane. Many of the members of the two groups, however, are the same people and they really are just one organization. This includes members belonging to existing organizations such as KACA, The Korean Cultural Center Inc. and KSSA.

Although Mr. Luke Song, Chairperson of KACA appeared to disappear from the scene following his failure to erect the statue in Strathfield, he consequently visited the Uniting Church in Ashfield on 22 February 2016 with FCWA to discuss with Rev. Crews about relocating the statue to the Uniting Church ground.
(The above photo from the FCWA blog article.)
The purpose of this anti-Japan activist group is to tear down the Japan-ROK agreement, and demand the Japanese government pay even greater reparations to ex-Comfort Women.

The preparatory work to erect the statue was sponsored and carried out under the direction of Chong Dae Hyup. On August 6, 2016 KSSA held an unveiling ceremony of the statue on their leased premises breaching their conditions imposed by the local council as such public displays of banners and the use of the car park were prohibited.
The statue was immediately moved to the Uniting Church Ashfield following the conclusion of the ceremony.
Please see below further information regarding the people involved, who attended the unveiling ceremony last year.

1) Chong Dae Hyup and its leader, Ms. Yun Mi-Hyang
The main player who brought the statue to the Uniting Church in Ashfield was Chong Dae Hyup. At the initiative of Chong Dae Hyup, the campaign activities were carried out by young Koreans holding working holiday visas and student visas, Below are members of FCWA who met with the chairperson, Ms.Yun Mi-Hyang at the headquarters office of Chong Dae Hyup in Seoul in June 2016.

In the inscription next to the statue placed at the Ashfield Uniting Church, it is clearly stated that the sponsors are Chong Dae Hyup, Seongnam city and voluntary Korean residents in Australia.

Now, continuing their political activities to overthrow the President Park administration in order to establish a new government supporting North Korea’s Kim dynasty regime, Chong Dae Hyup has already produced about thirty statues. They are selling those statues for approximately $30,000 each to local Korean sponsors.
The statue that sits in the grounds of the Ashfield Uniting Church is one of them.

Ms.Yun Mi-Hyang attended the unveiling ceremony in Sydney. Her relatives and many members of Chong Dae Hyup have been arrested in South Korea due to spy charges in connection with North Korea.

2) Mr. Lee Jae-Myung
Mr. Lee Jae-Myung, who is one of the candidates for the upcoming presidential elections, is nicknamed "Korean Trump” in South Korea due to his extreme remarks. In his statements regarding North Korea, he offered to "meet unconditionally with Kim Jongun" and said that "Japan should be considered a military foe". He is the Mayor of Seongnam city, that sponsored the Comfort Women Statue in Ashfield. When he attended the unveiling ceremony in Sydney, he insulted the late Japanese Emperor by calling him “Hirohito” and condemned him as a war criminal. Then he stressed that the erection of the statue was a political issue and related to the pride of the state.

All candidates in the presidential election race have declared that they will abandon the Japan-Korea agreement and renegotiate with the Japanese government.

If the next Korean president is significantly pro-North Korea, unification under the federal system with North Korea will be considered. If the US led by President Trump does not strongly control the movement of South Korea, South Korea is likely to move towards unification with North Korea under the guidance of China. It is only a matter of time before North Korea swallows South Korea turning the whole Korean peninsula one communist country. Once South Korea falls under the communist regime, many Koreans already accustomed to democracy will escape overseas. The wealthier people will go to Canada, the United States and Australia, and the poorer will become refugees fleeing by boat to Japan crossing the Sea of Japan.

3) Rev. Bill Cews
Rev. Crews is the minister of the Uniting Church in Ashfield and representative of the charitable organization, Exodus Foundation. Regrettably he played a very disturbing role in regards to the Comfort Women statue in Sydney.

In the interview conducted by FCWA , he declared that he would erect a Comfort Women statue on his church land in order to make the "perpetrators" apologize in public as he was outraged when he heard Strathfield council had rejected the proposal about the statue.
AJCN clearly explained to him that the Korean government ran its own Comfort Women system during the Korean War and the Vietnam War. We provided him with wide
ranging information that the Korean troops raped and slaughtered a large number of Vietnamese women and asked him how he would deal with these facts, but he accused only Japan and the Japanese as "perpetrators" in his statements in public. Since the Uniting Church in Australia and Rev. Crews didn't respond to our concerns at all, AJCN had no choice but to lodge a complaint to the Human Rights Commission. In response to our complaint, Rev. Crews told the media, “I just find it outrageous ... bring it on. If I change the location of the statue, I will just put it in a more prominent place.” We are not sure why he is so one-sided, close-minded and aggressive towards us. His aggressive comments in the media upset some Christian Australians and they sent us many messages of support.

He does not pay any homage to the fact that more than 70% of Strathfield citizens opposed the erection of the Comfort Woman statue in the survey conducted by the city.
He completely ignores actual current problems in the community such as division, bullying, discrimination, and illegal prostitution and sex-trafficking of Korean nationals.
He does not hear any concerns expressed by many people around him including the members of his own church. The Uniting Church in Australia paid compensation of 2
million dollars to the victims of sexual abuse by its clergies in 2013. Shouldn't he be more interested in erecting a memorial statue for those victims rather than a politically motivated statue supported by the N.Korean, S.Korean and the Chinese interest groups?

Lastly we have faith that at some point in the hopefully not too distant future some section of the Australian media will undertake some comprehensive investigative journalism to undercover the why, who and what is really behind all this antagonism and the lengths that these people are willing to go to, to achieve their goals for it is truly frightening.

Sumiyo Egawa
Australia-Japan Community Network

Comfort Woman Statue – After all insult and aggression

Press Release

12 January 2017 

Comfort Woman Statue – After all insult and aggression 

Everybody would know by now what happened in Busan, South Korea.  Another comfort woman statue was erected right in front of the Japanese Consulate by Korean activists despite the governmental agreement to settle this matter and move on and despite the fact that the majority of former comfort women supported the agreement and already received compensation. Japan has made efforts to settle the matter many times in the past. Whoever is in power in the Korean government each time made promises that they would never bring the matter up again only to break the promise over and over again.

Whatever justifications are given by those Korean activists and the South Korean Government, the reality is that the statue is always followed by insults and aggression towards Japanese.

It is not peaceful commemoration. The South Korean Government does not bother with its obligations under the governmental agreement and they are even asking the Japanese Government to resolve the matter with the activists directly rather than enforce their own laws.  We are still surprised that they are breaching the agreement after receiving the reparation money and giving it to most of the former comfort women.  

Their aggression does not stop here.  Lee Jaemyung, mayor of a city near Seoul called Seongnam who is nicknamed as Korean Trump is accusing President Pak of spying for Japan and publicly stating that he considers Japan is a military foe.  We know that he came all the way to Sydney for the unveiling ceremony of the comfort woman statue now sitting in the car park of the Uniting   Church and accused the Japanese Emperor of being a “War Criminal”.

Mr Lee Jae-myung in Sydney considers Japan as South Korea’s immediate Military Foe.

Enough is enough.  We don’t want this kind of thing imported into our local community in Australia.  It is known that those activists in Sydney and Busan are controlled by Chon Dea Hyup which is officially recognized by the South Korean Government as a North Korean connected agency.  Their purpose is to break the governmental agreement and cause animosity as much as possible and so they don't listen to our concerns.

We are concerned about the extremely offensive behaviours always associated with the statue.  We firmly believe that all  migrants should accept Australian values once they decide to migrate here and that includes living in harmony with people from other countries, even countries who were once at war.  

This is absolutely not a peaceful commemoration of all the women who suffered in war as well as women suffering from domestic violence as Rev Crews insists.  As shown in Busan, the comfort woman statues have a political purpose, and they foment antiJapanese sentiment amongst local Korean communities with a very negative impact on us.

Meanwhile AJCN received a threatening email from a person living in South Korea who wants to kill us in the most cruel way and see us dying begging for life.  We are reporting this matter to police.

Tetsuhide Yamaoka
Australia-Japan Community Network

Andrew Bolt’s article about AJCN

Press Release
28 December 2016

Andrew Bolt’s article about AJCN

Articles in the Sun Herald (December 15, 2016/ Title: Now Japanese use our race law against a war memorial) and The Australian newspapers (December 19,2016 / Title: ’Comfort Women’ row shows absurdity of 18C) which attack the section 18C complaint brought by AJCN, miss the point. This has nothing to do with the great monuments to peace and remembrance of Australia's war dead, which Australian war memorials are.  It has nothing to do with debates between Koreans and Japanese about their wartime history.

Japanese Australians are feeling intimidated and humiliated by the display of the comfort women statue, as it singles Japanese out as perpetrators of shameful conduct towards women in wartime, of all the peoples who call Australia home.  This has been done deliberately.  We know this from the wording of the plaque accompanying the statue and the public statements made by Rev Crews before the media spotlight has fallen on the case.  He said he did it to make "the perpetrators" - being the Japanese – apologise in a video posted over the internet in April. He also said he did it out of a sense of outrage about the decision of Strathfield Council not to permit the exhibition of the statue at the public place, on similar grounds to our present complaint.  The statue was never exhibited in a good faith.

Naturally Japanese in Australia are offended and insulted by being singled out, alone amongst the people of the world, as perpetrators of sexual violence towards women during wartime.

We have been expressing our concerns to the Uniting Church since June. Rev Crews now says the statue is to help us all contemplate the lamentable scourge of sexual violence towards women in all wars, and even those women suffering domestic violence in today’s society.  So we have said to Rev Crews of the Uniting Church - make the message universal on the accompanying plaque, to match your own words as to what you say it commemorates. In its present form, it is causing fear in Japanese people based on their race.

We think the Uniting Church did not realise how comfort women statues abroad have been used as focal points for the racial abuse of Japanese people today, or to educate young people to hate Japanese people although we explained with many examples of those cases really happening.  We are very aware of that and we are doing everything we can to stop such practices being imported here. This past experience naturally makes us wary about the true motivations of those who imported the statue to Australia, and vigilant to protect ourselves from similar abuse here.

We have great hopes for the conciliation process at the HRC that the leadership of the Uniting Church will work with us to find a compromise. Let us all remember the female victims of war; there is no need to treat us Japanese living in Australia differently as we do so.

Tetsuhide Yamaoka
Australia-Japan Community Network