Comfort Women Memorial in Glendale

In July 2014, City of Glendale, California enacted a “peace memorial” dedicated to the victims and survivors of Japanese military comfort women system in the City’s Central Park. Since then, Japanese right-wing nationalists have protested the memorial, even filing lawsuits against the city (see Gingery et al. v. City of Glendale) to seek its removal.

The memorial was endorsed by a coalition of Asian American groups, including Korean American Forum of California, Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress, and the local (San Fernando Valley) chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League. A group made up of local Japanese residents and first-generation Japanese immigrants (often referred to as “shin issei” or “new first generation”) led by Koichi Mera opposed it.

Since the establishment of the memorial, Japanese right-wing media such as Channel Sakura claimed that the statue led to the rampant bullying and hate crimes against Japanese children in Glendale and surrounding areas. The claim has been thoroughly debunked by local authorities, schools, national media, and Japanese American groups.

Glendale Comfort Women Statue

Scottsboro Girls Screening at Central Washington University (2015)

In April 2015, language lecturer Mariko Okada-Collins invited filmmaker Yujiro Taniyama to screen his lengthy comfort women denial film, “Scottsboro Girls” at Central Washington University where she teaches Japanese. However, after Michael Yon warned Okada-Collins that the film’s content could be highly offensive, she asked Taniyama to shorten the film to allow room for additional speakers. Koichi Mera was invited to give a speech along with Taniyama, and Jason Morgan Skyped in as well.

Campus community strongly protested the historical revisionist event, and multiple counter-events were organized by students and the faculty. See a series of articles about these events in the June 1, 2015 issue of the Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus Newsletter.

Scottsboro Girls CWU Poster