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Glendale's 'comfort woman' statue unveiled

July 30, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The unveiling in Glendale of a monument to honor so-called "comfort women" from World War II is prompting complaints from Japanese Americans.

The bronze statue of a young Korean girl was unveiled at Central Park. The girl appears to be about 14, which is around the same age as comfort women when they were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese army during World War II.

"It's important to teach our children the truth and make sure that history is a correct reflection of what happened," said Jihee Kimhuh of Rolling Hills.

The Glendale City Council approved the monument earlier this month and sees it as a quiet gesture of good will.

"They all remembered a young girl, whether they came from a smaller village or a medium-sized city, they all remembered someone that was taken and never came back," said Glendale City Councilman Frank Quintero.

But the monument stirred up international controversy. Many Japanese residents opposed the memorial.

The city council got hundreds of emails from people who were against the memorial, some saying the stories of comfort women were just not true.

"This story is a fake story. Japanese government and military never got involved with comfort women," Pete Mizushima of Mission Viejo.

But for 86-year-old Bok Dong Kim, the story is very real. Kim was forced into sexual slavery when she was just 15, and she, like many others, want a formal apology from the Japanese government.

The consul general of Japan says the Japanese government is very sorry and has apologized.

But Kim and others say more needs to be done, and hopes monuments like the one in Glendale will serve to remind, educate and enlighten future generations.

A proposal for a similar monument in Buena Park is in the works, but the city officials are reconsidering because they have received a lot of opposition.

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