Gingery et al. v. City of Glendale

Michico Shirota Gingery et al. v. City of Glendale et al. refers to a series of lawsuits filed by Global Alliance for Historical Truth (GAHT) and Los Angeles area Japanese migrants against the City of Glendale seeking the removal of a comfort women memorial in Glendale within its Central Park in summer 2013. The lawsuit was initially filed in the U.S. District Court of Los Angeles, but was later also filed in the California State Superior Court of the County of Los Angeles.

Federal Case

Federal case (docket nuber #2:14-cv-01291-PA-AJW) was brought by Glendale resident Michiko Shirota Gingery (who passed away during the trial), GAHT president Koichi Mera, and GAHT-US Corporation on February 20, 2014. The plaintiff was initially represented by Mayer Brown, which removed itself after facing criticisms for promoting historical revisionism. Defendant City of Glendale and its city manager were represented by City attorneys and Sidley Austin, which took the case on pro bono.

While maintaining that they were not arguing over historical accuracy of the comfort women story, plaintiffs alleged that Glendale’s decision to enact the memorial violated the U.S. Constitution by infringing on the federal government’s exclusive authority to conduct foreign affairs. Plaintiffs also argued that the City violated administrative rules by failing to vote on the text of the plaque accompanying the statue.

On August 4, 2014, Judge Percy Anderson ruled that plaintiffs lacked the standing to bring a case on the basis of the alleged violation of the U.S. Constitution. On the question of the violation of administrative rules, the judge ruled that the issue belonged in the state court, no federal. Plaintiffs appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on September 4, 2014 (docket nuber #14-56440) and also filed another case in the state court.

In the August 4, 2016 ruling, the federal appellate court partially reversed the district court ruling by acknowledging the plaintiff’s standing, but nonetheless ruled that the City of Glendale had not exceeded its role in establishing a comfort women memorial, which was considered similar in nature to other cities’ expressive resolutions and memorials on various international issues. The plaintiffs appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.

GAHT’s request for rehearing en banc was denied by the appellate court on October 13, 2016. GAHT appealed the decision to the Supreme Court on January 9, 2017 (docket number #16-917).

In a highly unusual move, the Government of Japan filed an amicus curie brief on February 22, 2017 in support of GAHT’s petition, as did a couple of Japanese far-right groups.

The U.S. Supreme Court denied plaintiff’s petition to review the circuit court ruling on February 27, 2017, ending the suit.

State Case

California State case (docket number #BC556600) was filed in the Superior Court of California for the County of Los Angeles on September 3, 2014. On February 24, 2015 the judge granted the defendant’s special motion to strike under California’s anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) statute, dismissing the case and granting attorney fees to the defendants. The plaintiffs were ordered to pay about $150,000 to Sidley Austin, which they did on August 25, 2015.

The case was appealed to the Second Appellate Court of California on May 21, 2015 (docket number #B264209). On November 23, 2016 the appellate court ruled in favor of the defendant City of Glendale, ordering GAHT to pay additional damages under the anti-SLAPP statute. GAHT filed a petition for rehearing, but it was denied on December 23, 2016.

GAHT did not file for the California Supreme Court to review the Appellate Court ruling, and the verdict became finalized on February 1, 2017.

Global Alliance for Historical Truth

Global Alliance for Historical Truth (GAHT, 歴史の真実を求める歴史連合会) is a Japanese comfort women denier group founded by Koichi Mera. There are branches in Japan and in the U.S.; Mera has stated that another branch in Brazil is being formed.

In 2014, GAHT filed a lawsuit (Gingery et al. v. City of Glendale) seeking the removal of a Comfort Women Memorial in Glendale in the federal court and then in the California state court, alleging that the City infringed on the federal government’s exclusive authority to conduct foreign affairs by enacting the memorial.

Board Members of GAHT-US (as of 2016)

  • Koichi Mera (目良浩一), President and Chair
  • Genki Fujii (藤井厳喜), Deputy Chair
  • Ichiro Mizushima (水島一郎), Treasurer
  • Mistsuo Takahashi (高橋光郎), Secretary
  • Kiyoshi Hosoya (細谷清), Public Relations / Newsletter Editor

Board Members of GAHT-Japan (as of 2016)

  • Hideaki Kase (加瀬英明), President
  • Yoshiro Masuda (桝田淑郎), Chair for Japan
  • Koichi Mera (目良浩一), Chair for USA
  • Yumiko Yamamoto (山本優美子), Deputy Chair for Japan
  • Ichiro Mizushima (水島一郎), Deputy Chair for USA
  • Hiroshi Horino (堀野浩史), Auditor
  • Kiyoshi Hosoya (細谷清), Public Relations
  • Nobukatsu Fujioka (藤岡信勝)
  • Mistsuo Takahashi (高橋光郎)

Website: https://gahtjp.org (Japanese)
Website: http://gaht.jp (English)

Kiyoshi Hosoya

Kiyoshi Hosoya (細谷清) is a comfort women denier and self-styled “researcher” of modern Japanese history, even though his background is in business development and management. Hosoya is the secretary general of the Researchers of History on Modern Japan (HMJR, 日本近現代史研究会) and a board member of Global Alliance for Historical Truth (GAHT), both denier groups. He is also affiliated with the Japan Family Value Society (FAVS, 家族の絆を守る会), part of Japan Conference’s anti-feminist network.

Hosoya co-authored the booklet “Comfort Women Issue: From Misunderstandings to Solution” with Yumiko Yamamoto of Nadeshiko Action.

Study Group for Japan’s Rebirth

Study Group for Japan’s Rebirth (日本再生研究会) is a monthly study group on modern Japanese history founded in 2006 by comfort women denier Koichi Mera. The meetings were held in Japanese mainly for “shin issei” (new first generation) Japanese immigrants according to Mera. As of 2014, annual membership is $60.

Unlike Mera’s other group, Global Alliance for Historical Truth, the Study Group has largely remained unnoticed from the non-Japanese speaking public because it had not exerted itself into public controversies outside the Japanese speaking communities. However, in 2016 the Study Group collaborated with two similarly minded groups from Japan to submit a joint proposal that seeks to deny the historical orthodoxy on comfort women to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register.

Website: http://www.japansrebirth-sc.org/

studygroupforjapansrebirth

UN Commission on the Status of Women NGO Parallel Events (2016)

United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) NGO Parallel Events are a series of events held around the United Nations building by non-governmental organizations from around the world working on women’s rights while the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women meets at its headquarters in New York.

In 2016, Japanese right-wing groups infiltrated the NGO Parallel Events by submitting innocuous-looking proposals to the organizers of NGO Parallel Events with the goal of promoting comfort women denial and Japanese nationalism. Two such events were held.

March 16, 2016 – “Misunderstood Comfort Women”

On March 16th, denier group Global Alliance for Historical Truth presented a panel titled “Misunderstood Comfort Women” which denied the history of comfort women. The panel was facilitated by Terumi Imamura and speakers were Koichi Mera, Kiyoshi Hosoya, and Mio Sugita.

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March 24, 2016 – “Women’s Rights under Armed Conflict: Japan’s Approach to Respect Women”

Denier group Nadeshiko Action (Japanese Women for Justice and Peace) sponsored a panel titled “Women’s Rights under Armed Conflict: Japan’s Approach to Respect Women” on March 24th. The panel was facilitated by Shizuko Culpepper and speakers included Yumiko Yamamoto, Koichi Mera, Sharon Isac, Kaoli Koyasu, Mieko Green, and Charlotte Meyer.

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Yumiko Yamamoto

Yumiko Yamamoto (山本優美子) is the former vice president and secretary general of far-right racist group Zaitokukai (在特会) and the founder of comfort women denier group Nadeshiko Action (なでしこアクション) which calls itself “Japanese Women for Justice and Peace.”

Yamamoto left Zaitokukai in late 2011 (according to her) or early 2012 (according to Zaitokukai press release) after members of her group have been prosecuted for violent assaults on Korean elementary school and other targets. In her book “Josei ga mamoru nihon no hokori (女性が守る日本の誇り)” published in 2014, Yamomoto explains that the reason for leaving the organization was not because of any disagreement with its activities, but because she felt confident that the organization had grown strong enough that she could focus her effort on comfort women denial.

Yamamoto is a board member of Global Alliance for Historical Truth (GAHT) and a key member of Alliance for Truth About Comfort Women.

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