A run was held in Bergen County, New Jersey, on Monday to bring awareness of the history of women forced to provide sex to Japanese soldiers during World War II and urge the Japanese government to acknowledge history.
According to Yonhap News and NorthJersey.com, a community website for local news, approximately 100 runners participated in the first-ever “Comfort Women Memorial Peace Marathon,” organized by the Korean American Association of Palisades Park and sponsored by several Korean organizations.
The 8-kilometer run kicked off in front of the Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensak, the site of a stone dedicated by the county to the women in May this year. Runners crossed the finish line at another comfort women memorial stone in front of the Palisades Park library, which was dedicated in October 2010.
|Participants in Bergen County’s first Comfort Women Memorial Peace Marathon pose around a memorial to the women near the starting line on Monday. (Yonhap News)|
The stone in front of the courthouse is the first one dedicated by a local U.S. government to honor the so-called comfort women, while the Palisades Park memorial is the first comfort women monument to have been erected in the U.S.
Monday was the 68th anniversary of Japan’s formal surrender in a ceremony onboard the USS Missouri battleship in Tokyo Bay.
“Japan continues to deny and distort the history of comfort women,” said John Chang, president of the association. “They have to recognize what the Imperial Army did during World War II.”
He said that he planned to hold the run every year until Japan acknowledged the truth about comfort women and made a sincere apology.
There were about 200,000 comfort women from Korea, China, Thailand, Vietnam and other Japanese-occupied territories.
Runners included not only Korean-Americans but also Jews and Filipinos. They participated in the marathon in recognition of the comfort women not as an issue for Korea but as an issue of women’s human rights being trampled in wartime, he said.
Organizers read a poem in honor of comfort women at the stone monument near the finish line and also a statement urging Japan to apologize for its wartime atrocities.
Donations from participants will be delivered to comfort women.
By Chun Sung-woo (email@example.com