‘Comfort Women’ Statue in San Francisco Leads a Japanese City to Cut Ties


The mayor of the Japanese city of Osaka has said he is cutting ties with San Francisco because of a new statue there, overlooking a small park downtown.

The statue has three figures holding hands on a pedestal, representing girls from Korea, China and the Philippines. Beside them is a likeness of the Korean activist Kim Hak-sun.

It is a commemoration of the tens of thousands of “comfort women” who were detained and raped by Japanese soldiers before and during World War II. The issue still strains the relationship between South Korea and Japan, two key United States allies whose cooperation is vital to checking North Korea’s aggression, and to balancing China’s power in East Asia.

South Korean activists, including former comfort women, have accused Japan of playing down the atrocity, and an organization in San Francisco has taken up their cause. But Japanese officials say that criticism is one-sided and an obstacle to reconciliation.

Osaka and San Francisco are sister cities. But after Mayor Edwin M. Lee of San Francisco signed a resolution this week to turn the statue into a city monument, the mayor of Osaka, Hirofumi Yoshimura, said he would scrap the sisterhood by the end of the year. “The relationship of trust has completely been destroyed,” Reuters reported him as saying.

Read more at The New York Times