NEW YORK (Yonhap News) ― Local governments from South Korea and the U.S. as well as members of the Korean-American community have jointly set up a monument here dedicated to the Korean women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II, community officials said Saturday.
The red granite monument at the Veterans Memorial at Eisenhower Park in Nassau County is the second of its kind in the U.S. following the first one set up at Palisades Park, New Jersey, in 2010.
Japanese officials have lobbied local administrators to remove the New Jersey monument, a reminder of the continuing efforts to downplay the country’s wartime atrocities.
Historians say up to 200,000 Asian women, mostly Koreans, were forced to serve as prostitutes at front-line Japanese military brothels during the closing years of the war. The Korean Peninsula was a Japanese colony from 1910-45.
The issue of the aging victims, euphemistically called “comfort women,” is one of the most emotional and unresolved issues between South Korea and Japan.
The second monument in New York was jointly dedicated by Nassau County, the South Korean city of Gwangju and the Korean American Public Affairs Committee, committee officials said.
“While the Japanese government and lawmakers have requested the removal of the monument at Palisades Park, they will not dare to request this monument be removed because it is set up by our Korean-American community as well as local governments from Korea and the U.S.,” said the committee chairman Lee Cheol-woo.
The committee will hold a ceremony to officially set up the monument on Wednesday, when Gwangju City Mayor Kang Woon-tae visits the site, Lee said.