Legacy of 'comfort women' still sparks anger outside of Japan

Apr 5, 2013

A memorial honoring comfort women of WWII stands next to a public library in Palisades Park, New Jersey.
Credit Julio Cortez / AP Images

In a New Jersey park, there is a stone and bronze memorial dedicated to the 200,000 or so women from South Korea, China and the Philippines who were sexually enslaved by Japanese soldiers during World War II.

At the Korea Press Gallery in another part of New Jersey — which has a large population of South Korean immigrants — there is an exhibit of a South Korean’s photographer's work: photographs of women forced into sexual slavery, known colloquially as comfort women.

Six decades have gone by since Japan occupied South Korea, but the bad feelings from World War II still linger in the collective memory.

That’s why South Koreans living in their home country and in the United States were upset when the Japanese last year asked for the removal of the plaque in New Jersey, and why they’re upset now about the Japanese prime minister’s position on the issue of comfort women.

Global Journalist host David Reed spoke to two guests about the legacy of comfort women, and the tensions it's created between South Korea and Japan. One is a Korean-American woman whose photographs introduced these victims to the West; the other is a staff writer at The Japan Times.


Ayako Mie, staff writer for the Japan Times

Yunghi Kim, photojournalist