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White House to address petition to remove ‘comfort woman’ statue

White House to address petition to remove ‘comfort woman’ statue

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Published : 2014-01-02 20:20
Updated : 2014-01-02 20:20

A statue of one of the Korean “comfort women,” who were forced into sexual slavery by Japan during World War II, sits in Glendale, California.

An online petition submitted to the White House demanding the removal of a monument to commemorate comfort women was on the verge of reaching 100,000 signatures within days, as of Thursday. If it passes the 100,000 mark, the U.S. presidential office will be mandated to address the request.

More than 98,700 people signed the petition titled “Remove offensive state in Glendale, CA public park” submitted on Dec. 11, 2013, by a person identified by his or her initials T.M. The White House’s policy is to officially respond to a petition that has received 100,000 signatures or more within 30 days.

The statue was erected last year as a testament to some 200,000 women forced into sexual slavery by Japan during World War II. T.M. claimed that the monument was a “a statue of a Comfort Women masquerading as a peace statue” and said that it essentially promotes hatred toward Japan and its people.

Another petition requesting the removal of a comfort woman statue at Eisenhower Park in New York was filed on Dec. 13, although it only garnered a little more than 29,500 signatures in about 20 days.

Many are suspecting that T.M. may be a pro-Japanese American blogger named Tony Marano, based on Marano’s initials and the fact that both Marano and T.M. are based in Mesquite, Texas. The blogger, who goes by the name “Texas Daddy,” is notorious for claiming that comfort women were mere prostitutes who followed Japanese soldiers to make a profit.

It is unlikely, however, that the White House will decide to remove the statue since the move could spark a backlash from South Korea, one of its major allies in Asia. The already-precarious relationship between South Korea and Japan took a further dip last Thursday when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which honors some 2.46 million war dead, including 14 “Class-A” war criminals.

Seoul and Beijing denounced the move, as did the U.S., which warned that Abe’s visit will “exacerbate tensions” with Japan’s neighbors.

In light of rising tensions in Northeast Asia, Seoul’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se on Monday urged Tokyo to come up with “concrete, sincere measures regarding Japan’s historical understanding and the issue of comfort women.”

By Yoon Min-sik (minsikyoon@heraldcorp.com)

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