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South Korean Civic Group to Berlin: Remove the Comfort Women Statue

Healthy international relations cannot be established unless the lies surrounding the comfort women issue are recognized by the world, the group says.

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A comfort women statue in Berlin's Mitte District is unveiled by the German-Korean civic group Korean Council, with a plaque of false history written on it. (October 2020)

On June 10, JAPAN Forward learned that a South Korean civic group is set to visit the German capital Berlin at the end of June to demand the removal of the comfort women statue erected in the city. The group, which was established to correct the lies surrounding the issue of comfort women, plans to make their demand directly to relevant authorities in the city.

Interview with Joo Oksoon, head of South Korean civic group called “End Comfort Women Fraud” and executive director of the YouTube channel South Korea’s Mothers Broadcasting Station.

In an interview with The Sankei Shimbun and JAPAN Forward, leaders of the civic group said that the purpose of their visit to Germany is to convey that healthy international relations cannot be established unless the lies surrounding the comfort women issue are recognized by the world.

The civic group has become an unexpected reinforcement for Prime Minister Kishida, who had requested that the comfort women statue be removed during a Japan-Germany summit meeting held in Tokyo this April. Kishida will also be visiting Germany to attend the G7 Summit at the end of this June. 

This civic group, called “End Comfort Women Fraud,” is based in Seoul and headed by Joo Oksoon, who is a representative of a conservative-leaning civic group and executive director of the YouTube channel South Korea’s Mothers Broadcasting Station. The group was formed in January 2022 at her initiative, with the support of South Korean researchers.

Other members of the group include Lee Woo-yeon, co-author of the bestseller Anti-Japanese Tribalism and a research committee member of the Naksungdae Institute of Economic Research, and Kim Byungheon, author of Akai Suiyobi 30 Nenkan no Ianfu Waikyoku (lit. “Red Wednesday: 30 Years of Comfort Women Distortion”) and director of the Korean History Textbook Research Institute. A translator from South Korea will also be accompanying them to Berlin.

The statute with a false description of history on its base obstructs international relations.

Direct Appeal to Berlin

During their six-day stay in Berlin from June 25, the South Korean group plans to submit statements and written opinions to the authorities in the Mitte District, where the comfort women statue is located, and to the Berlin City Council. The group is also coordinating a meeting with representatives of Korea Verband, a local Korean civic group that campaigned to erect the comfort women statue. They hope to hold a press conference while there.

The comfort women statue was erected on public land in the Mitte District in September 2020. The Japanese government urged Germany to remove the statue, and the mayor of the Mitte District ordered its removal in October of that same year. However, the order was withdrawn after facing opposition from the civic group that advocated putting it there. 

The district granted permission for the statue to be installed for one year. But the time was extended in August 2021 to August 2022. Whether it will be further extended has become a point of public interest.

The inscription on the statue’s pedestal falsely states that Japanese troops forcibly took away countless girls and women in the Asia-Pacific Region during World War II, and forced them to be sex slaves.

The South Korean civic group’s leaders called for support, saying: 

These lies are the main cause of deterioration of not only Japan-South Korea relations, but also international relations. Healthy international relations cannot be established unless these lies are corrected. 

As South Korean researchers, we would like to appeal to the people of Germany that spreading lies about the comfort women issue brings no benefits to anyone and will only incite antagonism and hatred, and urge them to remove [the statue].

 

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(Read the article in Japanese at this link.)

Author: Yasuo NAITO      

Editor in Chief, JAPAN Forward