Monday, August 12, 2013

August 14 Memorial

Kim Hak-soon
August 14th is the anniversary of the first former comfort woman, Kim Hak-soon, to speak publicly about her ordeal. She detailed how she was forced to carry ammunition for Japanese soldiers by day and serve as a prostitute at a military-run brothel by night at age 17.

Whether she was abducted professional traffickers or sold by her parents--by 1991 her traumatized memory could be excused--the result was the same. She was a sex slave robbed of her free will because the Imperial Japanese government organized and managed the procurement of sex for its troops. This was wrong then, and is wrong now.

Shinjuku Alta
Thus, a movement is underway to designate August 14th a United Nations-recognized memorial day for the Comfort Women. The effort is in part to preserve the memory of this war crime and in part a way to pressure today's Japanese government to do more to take responsibility for wartime sex slavery. The day falls just one day short Japan's August 15 end-of-war anniversary.

Former UN Under-Secretary-General Anwarul Karin Chowdhury, who attended the meeting on the issue August 11, said Kim is “a global symbol” who has helped raise international awareness and support for her cause. Chowdhury, who was behind a landmark 2000 UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on the rights of women and children in conflict, said he would support a campaign for a UN memorial day.

At a July 17th program on Capitol Hill celebrating the 6th anniversary of passage of the US House of Representatives Resolution 121 calling on the Government of Japan to officially and unequivocally apologize to the Comfort Women, many of the Members of Congress attending spoke out in support of UN day of remembrance. Such as Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), pictured to the right, who is holding a flyer supporting the August 14th movement.

On this year's anniversary there will be a rally at 6:00pm at the Shinjuku Alta east subway exit in Tokyo at to support a UN-desingated day for the Comfort Women. Opponents are also planning to show up to voice their opinions. They will gather at 5:30pm.

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