‘Comfort women’ memorial site selected


A memorial dedicated to the so-called “comfort women” — who were used as sex slaves by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II — has found a home, say members of the “Comfort Women” Justice Coalition.

Approved unanimously by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Sept. 22, 2015 through a resolution authored by Supervisor Eric Mar, the goal of the memorial is “to help bring justice for the hundreds of thousands of victims and survivors,” said publicity material for the CWJC.

The location of the memorial will be a planned extension of St. Mary’s Square, located on Pine Street between Kearney Street and Grant Avenue, with a street-grade entrance on Quincy Street.

According to leaders of the CWJC, the location was selected in part as it borders three “important” districts: Chinatown, the former Manilatown that housed many Filipino immigrants, and the Financial District. The memorial site — currently on private land that will be an eventual extension of St. Mary’s Square — was also selected because it does not have to go through a master plan process that could delay it for several years, said CWJC leader Lillian Sing, a retired San Francisco Superior Court judge.

“A lot of the ‘comfort women’ are dying,” said Sing. “We cannot wait.”

According to Sing, other locations that were considered included Portsmouth Square, Lincoln Park, and Golden Gate Park, among others.

The CWJC is working with the architectural firm Heller Manus Architects, who are overseeing the 500 Pine Project, a 55,000 square foot, 4.5-story building whose rooftop plaza is adjacent to St. Mary’s Square.

Heller Manus President Jeffrey Heller helped to get the location of the memorial realized. “I am a friend to the ‘Comfort Women’ Justice Coalition,” said Heller. “I’m very sensitive to the issue.”

According to Heller, the rooftop plaza — projected to be completed by July 2016 — will eventually be transferred to San Francisco Recreation and Park.

The rooftop will have a public terrace area of 4,485 square feet, a planting area of 1,681 square feet, and a public art space of 113 square feet — the latter of which will be a public art project by the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco, the architects said.

The “comfort women” memorial space itself will be a 4-by-8-foot “pad,” designed to hold a maximum load of 3,200 pounds.
St. Mary’s Square already features a statue dedicated to Dr. Sun Yat Sen, the father of modern China and its first president, as well as a plaque dedicated to Americans of Chinese descent who fought for the U.S. in World Wars I and II.

“I think the location is great,” said Phyllis Kim of the Korean American Forum of California, an advocacy group supporting the “comfort women.” Kim said the memorial should “express the sorrow and unfulfilled justice.”

While the governments of South Korea and Japan in December 2015 came to an agreement to address the wartime issue of “comfort women,” with the Japanese government committing to funding 1 billion yen ($8.4 million) from its state budget to a South Korea foundation to provide support for former “comfort women,” Kim and others say the agreement falls short of expectations of the victims.

“Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe expresses anew his most sincere apologies and remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences and suffered incurable physical and psychological wounds as ‘comfort women,’” Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said in a joint news conference with his South Korean counterpart Yun Byung Se after their Dec. 28 meeting in Seoul, according to Kyodo News.

“The victims refused the agreement,” explained Kim, who said the agreement does not address victims outside of Korea. “If the victims say ‘no,’ there’s no agreement.”

The CWJC is hoping to raise $400,000 for the overall project, of which $280,000 has been raised thus far. The plaza maintenance will be negotiated.

According to Jocelyn Zanzot, the project manager of the memorial, a jury has been selected to decide on the memorial design “that honor and remember those who have suffered and inspire commitment to the on-going fight for justice for the ‘comfort women’ and for the safety and equality of women and children around the world.”

A request for proposals is being planned for issue July 1, according to Zanzot. An information session is also being planned for late July, with the RFP deadline currently set for Sept. 16. The project installation is currently scheduled for the spring of 2017.

6 responses to “‘Comfort women’ memorial site selected”

  1. Takashi Minei Avatar
    Takashi Minei

    No “Comfort Women” memorial in San Francisco!!
    Comfort Women Issue:Trying to Confirm the Fact
    The Fact:Comfort Women≠Sex Slave→Comfort Women=Prostitute
    There is an English booklet that Korea “Northeast Asian History Foundation” created. The title is “The Truth of the Japanese Military Comfort Women” (2014). In it, a part of the report of US O.W.I. is quoted. In 21 page of the booklet, a photo is inserted on its document. The 21 page is the left side document that is displayed below (http://www.sankei. …).
    When peeled off the photo, there has been described as “A comfort girl is nothing more than a prostitute”. The photo is inserted to hide the truth.
    The report is based on the interrogation of 20 Korean comfort women who were taken as prisoners in Burma at August 1944. This report is a US Army report No.49(October 1, 1944). It is stored in NARA, U.S.A.

    “SECRET” reference:http://www.actionforpeace.net/sub.asp?pid=224

    Takashi Minei t.mine@sky.plala.or.jp Osaka City, JAPAN

  2. Takashi Minei Avatar
    Takashi Minei

    I am against the “Comfort Women” memorial

  3. keith chang Avatar
    keith chang

    Im for the monument. Unlike the germans who have accepted and have chosen to memorolize what happened during ww2, the japanese continue to be ashamed and try to push their atrocities under the rug. Wartime is a terrible existence for all, but we cannot forget the tragedies that have occured. Here is a comic strip which depicts the experience of one such comfort women. The comic makes it easier to read, but the story is graphic, as expected with such a topic – http://foxtalk.tistory.com/98

  4. Y.K. Nguyen Avatar
    Y.K. Nguyen

    Japan government has officially apologized over 40 times, and paid as $8 million on 1965, additional $60 million, and $90.4 million on 2015.
    South Korea kept those those $158 million from Japan, and defends accord with Japan to settle ‘comfort women’ issue. Korean haven’t return any settlement money Japan has paid.

    The US military forces used the prostitution facilities provided by the Korean Government during the Korean War. Former Korean ‘comfort women’ for U.S. troops sued own government 1960 and 1980. Korean Government and the US Government did not respond to compensation at all.
    Also South Korean troops kill civilians, rape women and children in Vietnam during the Vietnam war

    Today, between 5,000 and 30,000 children of mixed Korean-Vietnamese ancestry as Lai Dai Han in Vietnam, and there are an estimated 30,000 Korean-Filipino children (knowns as Kopinos) in the Philippines. Has Korean Government supported them?

  5. Elliot Joelson Avatar
    Elliot Joelson

    As an Anglo-American with no qualm on this issue, I write this letter for you to reconsider your position regarding your pro-position on the Comfort Women remembrance statues.

    With the continued and ongoing mistreatment of fellow North Korean brothers and sisters, and the slave labor continuing still continuing in China today. Why are there no statues in protest of the plight ongoing human rights abuses? And why has this no importance that it is not worthy of a statue? I find the priorities are confusing. Yet the net result is today that the Japanese people are being blamed for the sins of their fathers resulting totality unnecessary strained relations.

    Yet the focus is solely on the abuse of Korean women from the disbanded Japanese Military (Black Dragon) at the end of WWII, not the Japanese people who had no knowledge or support of this atrocities. Of course, this should always be remembered, taught in schools and never forgotten to those women who suffered greatly. But the Japanese governed have already publicly apologized in 1965 with loans and in 2015 several times with sympathy have paid $10M in reparations to the victims which was accepted by South Korean government. Yet many Koreans are still remaining angry. The Japanese governments has shown remorse, so why no forgiveness?

    The Japanese people have good heart and no hatred or anger to anyone. They are most kind, gentle, even tempered, show respect, and polite people in the world. Having continued anger toward them does not make sense. Japanese society is a self-effacing culture, with focus on others, and not found in America. That’s why they are not necessarily very good at stating up for and expressing themselves effectively.

    Japan is a wonderful culture, which we can all learn from as they naturally embrace spiritual attributes in their character so lacking in most other countries like patience, peace, wisdom, joy, abundance for everyone, beauty found in refinement and love. I really recommend you visit the country for confirmation, so that you are not indirectly attacking a people who are not responsible for the sins of their military fathers, and consider removing these statues as it is lopsided protest. At this time, these statues been provoking and erected in other cities too.

    With so many wrongs in the world ignored or not cared about. It’s not good to have deprotonate anger to this tragic part of history to the Japanese people.

    Therefore, forgiveness to a culture that suffered from the horrors of nuclear war and that has evolved from its imperialistic past to one of peace and kindness should be greatly considered, and therefore appreciated instead of resented.

    I know it might seem cathartic erecting these statues, but without forgiveness, yet keeping remembrance is always important, the pain and anger will always remain a sore wound

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