On December 28, 2018, Jechun City from the North Choongchung Province in South Korea and San Pedro City put their efforts together to install the “Peace Girl” Statue at a private retirement home called Mary Mother of Mercy Home, a shelter for the elderly and abandoned at Barangay San Antonio in San Pedro, the Philippines. The installation of this statue was proposed by the San Pedro Mayor Lourdes Cataquiz, who saw the replica of the “Peace Girl” Statue in Jechun on his visit to the city in September 2018. The unveiling ceremony at the retirement home was called Unveiling of the Monument of Peace and Women Empowerment. A day after the installation, the sculptors, Seo-kyung Kim and Eun-sung Kim, already expressed concern about Japanese government interference.
Two days after the installation, on December 30, the Japanese Embassy issued a statement expressing disappointment over the statue: “We believe that the establishment of a ‘comfort woman’ statue in other countries, including this case, is extremely disappointing, not compatible with the Japanese government.”
Later that day, the statue was removed.
This is the second time a “comfort women” statue was removed in the Philippines. On April 27th, 2018, in the middle of night, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) removed the first statue, which was installed on December 8, 2017 by the city government of Manila, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, grassroots organizations, and local residents in Manila. Japan holds major economic influence in the country.
At the 1,365th Wednesday Rally, Congressman Mike Honda held the banner right next to the Peace Statue in front of the Japanese embassy. The banner reads, “Abe, apologize to ‘comfort women!’” Much appreciation goes to Mike and the Korean Council.
Photo credit: the Korean Council.
Rose Pritchett, an artist-in-residence at Menlo College, told ESJF that the attendance numbers for their panel were among the largest ever for a presentation at Menlo College. There were over 50 people there, including students, professors, the college president Steven Weiner, college board members, and folks from the surrounding communities.
On Friday, 11/10, Sung Sohn attended the 90th birthday celebration of Grandma Lee and delivered birthday messages from Mike Honda, Eric Mar, and ESJF, which was the only organization to attend from SF.
Grandma Lee was moved by the birthday messages from all of us from ESJF as Sohn read them.
Big thank you goes to the teachers who sang her a birthday song at the T4SJ workshop last month. The recorded song was received very warmly.
At the rally, Mike Honda (center) stated that young students, such as the ones who participated on the 7th, inspire people around the world to bring justice to the victims of Japanese military sexual slavery, adding that this activism can restore the victims’ stolen youth.
Thank you all for attending the ESJF’s workshop, Addressing the Unresolved “Comfort Women” History Through Photos and Memorials, at the 18th T4SJ conference.
I deeply appreciated all of the questions and comments that you shared at the workshop. I learned a great deal through our interactions.
Ellen’s story of the unbelievable challenges that she and Steven Whyte faced was quite empowering. Her words reminded me of the importance of collective efforts for social justice.
Thank you all for your moving messages!
I can arrange workshops at your schools for groups of teachers or classrooms of students. Please let me know a month in advance if this is of interest to you or your school so that I can have adequate time to plan.
Thank you again for spending the early part of Saturday at the ESJF’s workshop. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting every one of you.
On October 1, 2018, on a news program, Osaka Mayor Yoshimura indicated a termination of sister-city relationship between Osaka and San Francisco. The following day, the Osaka Municipal Government said that it has sent a document to officially end its 61-year-old sister-city ties with San Francisco.
On October 4, 2018, Mayor Breed released the following statement in response:
“One Mayor cannot unilaterally end a relationship that exists between the people of our two cities, especially one that has existed for over sixty years. In our eyes, the Sister City relationship between San Francisco and Osaka continues today through the connection of our people, and San Francisco looks forward to strengthening the bonds that tie our two great cities together.
Japan and Japanese-Americans have a unique and rich history in San Francisco that has left a lasting and beneficial impact on our City. We are one of three cities in the nation with a Japantown neighborhood, which is an important part of what makes San Francisco a great, diverse city.
The San Francisco Comfort Woman Memorial is a symbol of the struggle faced by all women who have been, and are currently, forced to endure the horrors of enslavement and sex trafficking. These victims deserve our respect and this memorial reminds us all of events and lessons we must never forget.”
Collaborating with the Korean Councilfor Justice and Remembrance for the Issues of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan (the Korean Council), Facing History and Ourselves, Alliance for the Preserving the Truth of Sino-Japanese War (APTSJW), Bataan Legacy Historical Society, and Manilatown Heritage Foundation, we will host the following events in September in San Francisco to raise awareness of atrocities in Asia during WWII.
Saturday, 9/15: ESJF, Facing History & Ourselves, and APTSJW jointly hold the teachers’ workshop at Old St. Mary’s Church in San Francisco. Meehyang Yoon, Chair of the Board of the Korean Council, is the keynote speaker, and Sung Sohn is one of the facilitators.
Sunday, 9/16: ESJF and the Korean Council present the opening ceremony for exhibition Truth & Justice: Remembering “Comfort Women,” which begins at 6:30 pm at the Manilatown Heritage Foundation.
Monday & Tuesday: Docent tours Wednesday, Thursday, & Saturday: 1 – 6 pm Friday: 4 – 9 pm
Friday, 9/21: Symposium with Desiree Benipayo, James Scott, and Meehyang Yoon at Golden Gate University, School of Law.
Saturday, 9/22: Benipayo, Scott, and Yoon speak at the 4th Conference on World War II in the Philippines at University of San Francisco. This conference is held by the Bataan Legacy Historical Society.