May 27, 2014
WASHINGTON — The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) acknowledges the suffering of WWII Comfort Women and other victims of human trafficking and opposes human trafficking in all of its forms.
In 2007, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Resolution 121, which recognized that the Government of Japan, in the 1930’s through the end of World War II, forced women to provide sex to soldiers in its Imperial Armed Forces. The U.S. Department of State in its 2003 Japan Report referenced thousands of these victims of sexual slavery, commonly referred to as “Comfort Women,” who were kidnapped or coerced from countries including China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, and the Philippines.
Memorials in honor of Comfort Women have been erected in the U.S. and throughout the world. One such Comfort Women memorial was erected in July 2013 in Glendale, California, and a lawsuit, Gingery et al. v. City of Glendale, was filed earlier this year to force its removal, which caused controversy and spurred dialogue, particularly about differing Japanese and Korean viewpoints of the wartime and post-war treatment of Comfort Women.
“NAPABA members and affiliates across the country—including members of Korean American and Japanese American bar associations—have long worked together in multiethnic coalitions to support civil rights and justice for all of our communities,” said Bill Simonitsch, president of NAPABA. “I am heartened to see that the Asian Pacific American legal community refused to allow historical disagreements and the controversy over the Glendale memorial to divide us.”
NAPABA strongly condemns human trafficking, past and present, and supports fact-based measures to educate the public about Comfort Women and other victims of human trafficking.
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of over 40,000 attorneys and 68 state and local Asian Pacific American bar associations. Its members include solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal service and non-profit attorneys, and lawyers serving at all levels of government. NAPABA continues to be a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network of committees and affiliates, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of color in the legal profession.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Glendale Memorial Honoring Victims of World War II Should Not Be Removed
Washington, DC and Seoul – May 5, 2014
The International Association of Korean Lawyers (IAKL) respectfully supports the memorial statue in Glendale, California, to honor those victims of mass sexual servitude during World War II. From 1932 to 1945, greater than 200,000 girls and women were coerced by the Japanese Imperial Army or their agents, forcibly removed from their homes in Korea, China, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, East Timor, Indonesia, Russia, and Italy, and systematically raped. Recently, however, two individuals and a non-profit corporation filed a lawsuit seeking a court order to remove the memorial. See Gingery v. City of Glendale, No. 2:14CV01291 (C.D. Cal. Feb. 20, 2014).
The officers and directors of IAKL Overseas and IAKL Korea believe that the factual assertions in the complaint will not withstand scrutiny. The plaintiffs allege that the victims’ status and the role played by the Japanese government are open questions that “remain an active topic of political debate.” The allegations imply that the victims were in fact voluntary sexual partners, or common prostitutes. It is a well-documented fact that the women were raped and involuntarily detained for use by Japanese soldiers. They were known as “comfort women” in “comfort stations.” In 1948, the Dutch tried twelve Japanese for the forced prostitution of women held in internment camps in the Dutch East Indies. One Japanese official was executed; others received prison terms. In 2007, the U.S. House of Representatives described what occurred in its preamble to House Resolution 121: the system “included gang rape, forced abortions, humiliation, and sexual violence resulting in mutilation, death, or eventual suicide in one of the largest cases of human trafficking in the 20th century.” Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono’s official statement in 1993 explained that the women lived “under a coercive atmosphere” and that the military’s conduct “severely injured the honor and dignity” of the women. The lawsuit irresponsibly mischaracterizes historical facts.
From a legal standpoint, the lawsuit is misguided also. The complaint alleges that one plaintiff feels “alienation due to” the memorial and that the memorial “infringes upon the federal government’s power to exclusively conduct the foreign affairs of the United States.” Ethnic groups commonly erect monuments to remember past injustices. For example, there are 45 memorials to the Jewish Holocaust in the United States alone, sixteen to the Irish famine, and six to the Ottoman Turks’ genocide of Armenians. While the IAKL bears no ill will towards individuals in Japan or of Japanese descent, the allegations amount to no actual legal claim. The City of Glendale’s conduct is purely expressive, and there can be no basis for foreign affairs “preemption” under these circumstances.
The memorial in Glendale bears inscriptions describing a “resolve for a deliverance of justice” and “a bond between us and the deceased victims.” Given the common Korean blood and the daughters and mothers who suffered, the IAKL respectfully supports the City of Glendale in honoring the memory of these victims.
Founded in 1988, the IAKL is a professional association that brings together Korean legal professionals from around the world. For more information, contact Lisa J. Yang, IAKL Overseas Vice President, 213-955-9500, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.iakl.us, 1055 West Seventh Street, Suite 2800, Los Angeles, CA 90017.
NEW YORK – April 25, 2014 – The Asian American Bar Association of New York (“AABANY”) announces its support of the Joint Statement on Comfort Women Issue regarding the City of Glendale, California’s approval of a public memorial commemorating the more than 200,000 Asian and Dutch women coerced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Armed Forces of Japan between 1932 and 1945.
“AABANY fully supports the Joint Statement on Comfort Women Issue issued on April 21, 2014 by organizations including (but not limited to) the Council of Korean Americans (CKA), the Korean American Bar Association of Washington, D.C. (KABA-DC), the Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of New Jersey (APALA-NJ), the Filipino American Lawyers Association of New York (FALANY), and the Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York (KALAGNY),” said AABANY President Clara Ohr. “The public memorial approved by the City of Glendale, California is an important tribute to the thousands of women who suffered immeasurable humiliation, pain, and suffering during Japan’s colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands. By educating current and future generations of the gross injustices these women suffered, the City of Glendale Comfort Women Memorial may even have a role in helping to prevent a repeat of such tragic history.”
The full text of the Joint Statement is as follows.
The Korean American Bar Association of Washington, D.C. (KABA-DC), Filipino American Lawyers Association of New York (FALANY), Pan Asian Lawyers of San Diego (PALSD), the Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of New Jersey (APALA-NJ), Orange County Korean American Bar Association (OC KABA), Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York (KALAGNY), Korean American Bar Association of Chicago (KABA-Chicago), Korean American Bar Association of Georgia (KABA-GA), Korean Community Lawyers Association (KCLA), Korean American Bar Association of San Diego (KABA-SD), Korean American Bar Association of Northern California (KABANC), Korean American Civic Action Committee, and the Council of Korean Americans (CKA) are deeply appreciative of the Glendale City Council’s support for and approval of a public monument in memory of the more than 200,000 Asian and Dutch women who were coerced into sexual slavery by Imperial Armed Forces of Japan between 1932 and 1945 (the “Comfort Women Monument”).
These women suffered unimaginable violence and brutality. Many have died; many near the end of their lives. It is important to remember what happened to them. They were victims, along with many others, of Japanese militarism and colonialism.
The suffering of these women, sometimes called “comfort women” after a Japanese euphemism for them, is a historical fact. As the U.S. House of Representatives said in H.R. 121: “[T]he Government of Japan, during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II, officially commissioned the acquisition of young women for the sole purpose of sexual servitude to its Imperial Armed Forces.” These women “suffered gang rape, forced abortions, humiliation, and sexual violence resulting in mutilation, death, or eventual suicide in one of the largest cases of human trafficking in the 20th century.” This resolution, which was adopted unanimously by the House of Representatives, was written and sponsored by Congressman Mike Honda of California.
We deplore the filing of a lawsuit in Federal district court that seeks the removal of the Comfort Women Monument. We are especially saddened by the representation of the plaintiffs in that lawsuit by Mayer Brown, a well-respected international law firm. The Complaint written by Mayer Brown lawyers refers to the comfort women as women “who were recruited, employed, and/or otherwise acted as sexual partners” of Japanese soldiers, without any acknowledgement of the violence committed against them. The Complaint goes on to argue that the actions of the Glendale City Council violate the United States Constitution. We cannot see how it could responsibly be argued that the approval of a memorial to the victims of wartime sex trafficking could be an unconstitutional act.
We also condemn those who would use the comfort women issue as an excuse to attack the Japanese American community. It is irresponsible to blame Japanese people generally, and especially irresponsible to blame Japanese Americans, for what happened during the World War II era. The actions at issue were taken 80 years ago by officials of the Japanese government.
George Santayana noted that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” We applaud the Glendale City Council’s act of remembrance. We hope that by facing historical truths we can avoid the tragic mistakes of the past and strive for a more just and humane world. Please contact Yule Kim of KABA-DC at email@example.com for more information.
For more information, please contact Simone Nguyen, AABANY Program Associate, at (718) 228-7206, or direct any inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Asian American Bar Association of New York is a professional membership organization of attorneys concerned with issues affecting the Asian Pacific American community. Incorporated in 1989, AABANY seeks not only to encourage the professional growth of its members but also to advocate for the Asian Pacific American community as a whole. AABANY is the New York regional affiliate of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA).
Additional information about AABANY is available at www.aabany.org
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