I’d like to express my opinions on the so-called Korean “comfort women”/sex slaves of the Japanese Imperial Army of WW2 and the statues that are being promoted to keep their memory alive and honor these victims of a monstrous war crime.

Detail of the Glendale monument to Korean comfort women. (Rafu Shimpo photo)
Detail of the Glendale monument to Korean comfort women. (Rafu Shimpo photo)

The only problem I have with the concept is that it’s too narrow; there were also Filipinas, Chinese, a few Japanese and some white/Europeans that were shanghaied. I think all should be included.

I had the honor and pleasure/good fortune to visit the Filipina sexual slavery counseling/service/community center in Manila a few years back and talked/met a wide range of ladies who showed a wide range of responses to their abductions. Some wouldn’t talk to me because I was of Japanese descent or male.

I have to say that I’m proud to be a Buddhahead, but not that part or any of the negative parts of our heritage, here and in the mother country. I believe we are a people, a community with all the baggage that comes with a large congregation of folks. I choose to identify with our positive (people-oriented) side and I acknowledge, criticize and work to make amends for the effects of our negative side.

I also believe that any thinking that belittles the ladies and their suffering has the same basis as those who now promote rape and brutalization as a policy of war and the generally ugly-ass conduct all over the world towards women, including here at home.

I mean, who in the hell do those stupid ingrates think they came from? Men? Maybe they did. How else can they justify their behavior and their line of thinking? Me? I believe in the Golden Rule: “Don’t do to others what you don’t want done to yourself!”

Another angle that bothers me — the comments that seem to say that the relations between JAs and Korean Americans is/will be (?) strained by “their” (as if all KAs think alike) insistence on and support for these monuments. Man! If our relations can be “strained” by something like this, what kind of people are we? Then many of those articles go on to tell us how “good” these “people” are. Sounds like white folks talking about us to me.

And finally, the naysayers always sound to me like they support the Japanese government, whose sole argument is based on the “treaties of peace” signed between governments as resolving the issue. As if the government of the 1% of each country is thinking about folks like us. They always completely ignore the rest of us, who have done the suffering, fighting and dying.

At least the German government took it upon itself to individualize the reparations. The way I see it, the 1% of Japan is back in the saddle again, richer, stronger and more arrogant than ever. Why would/should we, who took it in the short pants during the war because of them, support them?

To sum up, in my opinion a “crime against humanity,” a “war crime.” is just that, a monstrous act of disrespect and contempt for “others”; our being put in concentration camps without due process like the Indians; the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the “kill everything that eats rice” verbal order given by 8th Army command in Korea, No Gun Ri as an example; My Lai in Vietnam, etc.

The evidence of “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” exposed by Pfc. Bradley Manning and Mr. Snowden are more examples of U.S. misconduct and the whole world knows of others, such as the Armenian genocide in Turkey, the Nazi “death camps” and more, that need to be exposed and spotlighted, acknowledged and rectified, in my opinion.

If we don’t speak out and stand up for what we believe is  morally right, then what good is it if we have a majority of the people in this country opposing the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq  and probably the U.S. government’s support of Israeli aggression and occupation of Palestine? What do we have?

A silent majority that’s ignored by the government that claims to represent them (us) to the whole world. That’s not the kind of democracy that I was taught. What I see is a government bought and sold, lock, stock and barrel; the presidency, the Congress and the judiciary that do the bidding of the 1%, if you ask me.

Thank you/domo arigato/kamsahamnida, Korean sisters, brothers and allies, for pushing the issue into the spotlight.

Kokoro kara…

Opinions expressed in Vox Populi are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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