Comfort Woman Status: A Report From Australia
By Kohki Iwasaki for The Liberty

In April 2014, the public gathered inside the Strathfield Town Council building in Sydney, Australia, for an open forum over the erecting of a Comfort Woman statue.

Journalist Michael Yon has compiled official research materials with a vast stock of proof that this comfort woman issue was a fabrication. This sort of proof, however, has been completely disregarded by some of the town councilors. Thus, when I was granted the opportunity as one of four speakers to speak against the statue at this open forum, rather than speaking of something that didn’t happen 70 years ago, I chose to speak about something that would be relevant to us today: racial discrimination as a consequence of this statue.

There was good ground for doing so. This statue has already been erected in various places around the world including Seoul, California and New Jersey, and in these places, people of Japanese descent are being victimized due to issues surrounding the statue.

Below is a transcription of my speech in April 2014.

“Mr Mayor and Honorary Members of the Council.
Before I begin, I would like to make an announcement: within the last 24 hours, we have gathered approximately 9000 people to sign a petition against the erecting of ‘Comfort Women’ statues.

“I was born in Australia to Japanese parents. I am what is known as an Australian born Japanese.

” ‘Comfort Women’ statues in France and America have prompted acts of racism towards Japanese people. Because on it is carved a statement that turns the very existence of the Japanese race into a crime against humanity, without realising that it is this very statue that is encouraging yet another crime against humanity: racism.

“After this issue began circulating, a Japanese friend of mine attending UNSW is being racially oppressed. She is experiencing discomfort due to the behaviour of her Chinese and Korean colleagues. Her tutors do not allow her to voice her opinions in class. This does not adhere to the UN Universal Declaration of Humans Rights, Article 1. Let us remind ourselves of our universal oath: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” Let us, as Australians, as members of the human race, prevent racial discrimination.

“Recently I have been reading Nelson Mandela’s autobiography Long Walk to Freedom. He illustrates in detail, his experiences under apartheid: a system whereby the Black South Africans lose their rights as a human beings in their own country. They are banned from Whites-only buses, Whites-only toilets and are even banned from certain Whites-only parts of town. Apartheid was a government-approved legislation.

“Now, a Local-Government-approved-erecting of ‘Comfort Women’ statues is synonymous with Local Government approval of the racial segregation of people of Japanese descent. At least it will imply it. People of Japanese descent cannot defy a government-approved image of themselves being sexual abusers.

“I love Australia just as much as any other Australian. I want to keep studying here. I want to work and live in and for Australia, and I am going to be abused of my rights because of the blood in my veins; not only me, but also countless other Australian-born Japanese. Would you build these statues knowing that out there people of Japanese descent are going to become victims of racial discrimination?

“Why do I have to get affected by something that happened before my birth? There are many women and children across the globe experiencing sexual abuse and exploitation, and it is happening now, this very second. Why single-out a 70-year-old story of hatred, when we can use that effort to prevent something happening now?

“I believe the statue is only going to breed more hatred. If we sow seeds of hatred, what will grow? The haters won’t be happy, the hated won’t be happy, and I’m sure people on the sidelines won’t feel great either.

“If this plan to erect the statues sounds attractive to you, I ask you to stop and consider again. Australia is a country, proud of its mateship qualities. Australia is a country proud of its family bonds. Australia is a country proud of its peace and tranquillity. Australia is a country that provides us with sustainable living. Do we really want Australia to become a ghastly battleground, and, from a single statue, become a place where an entire ethnicity can no longer live?
“I know my answer. Please show us yours. Thank you.”

Concluding the open forum, the council declared that they were unable to come to a decision and handed the case to an alternate government body. The issue, however, re-emerged in Strathfield at the continued insistence of the Korean and Chinese anti-Japan populace.

Thus, another open forum was conducted at Strathfield Council on August 11, 2015. Here, the anti-Japan activists maintained that the comfort women statue was a promoting of women’s rights. In the response to this, we argued that not only is this fabricated truth, it makes no difference to the racial segregation that the Japanese people will be subject to.

The danger with this case was its inherent connection with the South Korean activists in mainland South Korea who were pulling the strings, and the South Korean government. If the statue were to be erected, the strained relationship between the Japanese and South Korean governments will intensify, potentially leading to large-scale anti-Japan riots and even war. If this were to happen, with Japan unable to take up arms due to Article 9 of the Constitution, it will signal the bitter end for the country as we know it.

The open forum on the 11th of August attracted much media attention from both Australia and Japan, and newspapers from both countries were present. The night ended in the victory of the side against the erecting of comfort women statues.
We must not indulge in the feeling of triumph however, as this case may just be a prelude to further anti-Japan attacks in Australia. Issues such as this arise from the absence of mutual understanding and shared values. Inasmuch as each person is a unique individual who holds different values, there is a complication in arriving at a set of values that can be shared universally. There is, however, one that comes to mind: religious values. For before God, we are all equal; we are all his children. Thus, it is under religious values and religious values only, that mankind can finally unite and become One.

Kohki Iwasaki

Comfort Woman Status: A Report From Australia
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