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Related Categories: San Francisco | Anti-War | Education & Student Activism | Government & Elections | Racial Justice View other events for the week of 2/21/2018
Protest Corrupt Racist Abe Administration & His Wife Akie-Stop The Nukes, Stop US/JPN Wars
Date Wednesday February 21
Time 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Location Details
St. Regis Hotel
125 Third St.
San Francisco
Event Type Press Conference
Organizer/AuthorUnited Public Workers For Action
2/21 Protest Corrupt Racist Abe Administration And His Wife Akie-Stop The Nukes, Stop US/JPN Militarization/Secrecy Laws/Conpiracy Laws/Stop Education Of Privatization, Union Busting And War Mongering

Exposing Education Privatization Corruption And Racist Rightwing Nationalism In Japan-Protest Against Akia Abe
Thursday Feb 21 at 5:00 PM
St. Regis Hotel
125 Third St.
San Francisco

The Japanese Abe government is restarting the many nuclear plants in Japan despite the mass opposition of the Japanese people and the environmental dangers to the world. It also is demanding that the families return to Fukushima because it has been supposedly “decontaminated”.
Akie Abe and her husband Shinzo have also been pushing militarization in public education and privatization of schools in Japan and personally supporting rightwing nationalist schools with illegal public subsidies. The Abe government has harassed and bullied teachers who are against militarization in the schools and also against the “denialists” in the government who say that there were no ‘comfort women’ or sexual slaves of the Japanese Imperial Army during the 2nd WW.
The Abe government is also spending $500 million around the world to stop the building of memorials for the 'comfort women' and heavily lobbied the SF Board of Supervisors to oppose the building of a memorial here is San Francisco. Their supporters publicly attacked one of the mothers eighty-nine-year old Lee Yong-soo, a "prostitutes" and "liar" at the SF Board Of Supervisors. Akie talks about honoring women and is being "honored in SF for honoring women" but she and her husband do the opposite in San Francisco.

Abe and his wife are also presently involved in a corruption scandal with Akie being the “honorary” principle of a privately run racist school in Japan being built by the owner of Tsukamoto, which has been accused of receiving illicit financial favors from the government. This school has incited racist attack on Korean, Korean Japanese and Chinese. The school according to the NYT was praised by Ms. Abe for “nurturing children with strong backbones, who have pride as Japanese, on a basis of superior moral education.” Apparently corruption and stealing funds from the Japanese government is part and parcel of her “moral education”.
Also according to reports "five mothers who pulled their children out of Tsukamoto said they had encountered chauvinism at the school or had been attacked by Mr. Kagoike or his wife, who serves as vice principal, often in ethnically bigoted terms. They asked for anonymity because they feared social ostracism for speaking out.
One mother said her family liked South Korea and often vacationed there, but that when her son told his teacher of a planned trip, the teacher said that Korea was a “dirty place” and that the family should visit “somewhere better in Japan.” Another mother said teachers had told her that her son “smelled like a dog,” and that Mr. Kagoike had called her “an anti-Japanese foreigner.” (She is Japanese.)”
The Abe government has also moved ahead with supporting the building of US bases in Okinawa despite the opposition of the people and environmentalists. The US used Okinawa as a base for US military intervention in Asia and during the Vietnam war, B52 bombers were used every day to kill and destroy the people of Vietnam. The US people must demand that we get our bases out of Okinawa and leave the Okinawan people in peace. They face regular rapes by US military personnel and dangerous accidents harming the people of Okinawa. It is also used as a testing ground for the Osprey helicopters and other deadly US weapons on the small island.

The drive for militarization and war along with restarting the many Japanese nuclear plants is a threat to the Japanese and the people of the world.
Join Us and Speak Out For Justice, Against War and For The Families Of Fukushima

This rally and press conference is endorsed by
United Public Workers For Action.
No Nukes Action Committee

If you would like to endorse and support or want more information please contact
info [at]

Lotus Leadership Awards
Akie Abe, Spouse of the Prime Minister of Japan
Colorful Girls

Master of Ceremony
Mina Kim, News Anchor at NPR station KQED

125 Third Street
San Francisco

21 February 2018
6:00 PM

Lotus Leadership Awards honor those who have made major contributions to the well-being of women and advancing gender equality in Asia

Mrs. Abe is Chairperson of the Foundation for Social Contribution and is engaged in social and civic activities, such as school construction in Myanmar. Born in Tokyo, Mrs. Abe is married to Mr. Shinzo Abe, the 98th Prime Minister of Japan and has devoted herself to the fields of education, women’s empowerment, and international exchanges. She is also involved in agriculture, including rice farming initiatives in the city of Shimonoseki. In 2014, Mrs. Abe established “UZU Workshop,” a leadership and learning community that organizes panel discussions and other programs to support and advocate for women.
Colorful Girls is a grassroots nonprofit in Myanmar empowering adolescent girls of all ethnicities with leadership skills to advocate for their rights. One teenage Colorful Girl created a successful campaign to overcome harassment of women on public buses in Yangon. Please watch this short film to learn more about the Colorful Girls:

For table purchases and sponsorship opportunities
please email wendy.soone-broder [at]


Tomomi Inada, the defense minister, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reviewing an honor guard at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo in September. Ms. Inada is fighting calls for her resignation.CreditKazuhiro Nogi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
TOKYO — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan has staked a significant part of his governing agenda on his plans to empower women. But an unrelenting scandal over allegations that a right-wing education group received improper political favors has ensnared two of the most prominent women in Mr. Abe’s life: his wife, Akie Abe, and his defense minister, Tomomi Inada.

The scandal has dented Mr. Abe’s popularity, and his feminist credentials have been especially hard hit.

As the scandal began to dominate headlines last month, Mrs. Abe resigned as honorary principal of a new school planned by the right-wing group in Osaka. The group, Moritomo Gakuen, promotes elements from Japan’s prewar patriotic school curriculum and bought land from the government at a steep discount.

Last week, the leader of the group said Mrs. Abe gave him an envelope of cash two years ago as a donation from the prime minister, a claim Mr. Abe has vociferously denied.Ms. Inada, Japan’s second female defense minister, whom Mr. Abe has been grooming to be his successor, is fighting calls for her resignation after she retracted a statement that she had never represented the school group in a lawsuit. In fact, she appeared in court on its behalf in 2004. She said she had initially forgotten and apologized in Parliament.

High-profile women are often scrutinized in Japan, which ranks the lowest among advanced industrial countries for female representation in Parliament. But the emergence of Mrs. Abe and Ms. Inada as central figures in the school scandal has emboldened critics who have long portrayed them as problematic advocates for women’s rights.

Mrs. Abe’s feminism is “quite shallow,” said Jiro Yamaguchi, a professor of political science at Hosei University. He added that although Mrs. Abe appeared occasionally at events that campaigned for women in agriculture or innovation in women’s work-life balance, the first lady had not been seen as committed to real, systemic change.

Mrs. Abe, who did not respond to requests for comment, has supported women’s causes in Iran and is a patron of the Asian University for Women in Bangladesh, whose mission is to provide a college education to women from deprived backgrounds. In her memoir, “I Live My Own Life,” Mrs. Abe said she supported her husband’s efforts to create a society in which “women can shine,” writing that “women don’t need to work just like men do.”

The Japanese news media sometimes describes Mrs. Abe as the prime minister’s “at-home opposition party,” because she has expressed more progressive views on issues like lesbian and gay rights and nuclear power in addition to supporting women’s causes.


Japan’s first lady, Akie Abe, center, at a fund-raiser in Tokyo last week for the Asian University for Women. She has occasionally been described in the news media as the prime minister’s “at-home opposition party” because she has expressed some more progressive views.CreditJérémie Souteyrat for The New York Times
But the disclosure of her ties to the right-wing school group has undermined that reputation.

Moritomo Gakuen already operates a kindergarten that requires students to recite the Imperial Rescript on Education, a 19th-century royal decree that prescribes that subjects be “ever united in loyalty and filial piety” and that “husbands and wives be harmonious.” Its leader, Yasunori Kagoike, has been accused of bigotry against Chinese and Koreans.

In response to questions for Mrs. Abe, the office of the prime minister referred to his comments in Parliament on Friday, when he defended his wife, saying that she had never given money to the school group and that neither of them was involved in selling public land to the proposed school.

Moritomo Gakuen has decided it will not build the school and has been ordered to return the land to the government. Mr. Kagoike is expected to testify in Parliament on Thursday..

Women who want to see more female representation in positions of power say they are even more disappointed by Ms. Inada.

“Inada is anti-feminist,” said Mari Miura, a professor of political science at Sophia University, pointing to the defense minister’s membership in an ultraconservative activist group that believes women belong in the home. She added that Ms. Inada had resisted calls to push legislation that would allow married women to use different surnames from those of their husbands, a cause important to Japanese feminists.

Ms. Miura said Mr. Abe had chosen Ms. Inada because she shared his revisionist view that Japan had been unfairly accused of atrocities in World War II. “The women chosen by him are just symbolic or a cosmetic way of conveying women’s advancement,” Ms. Miura said. “And that doesn’t really empower women at all.”

Ms. Inada was one of three women to assume political leadership positions in Japan last summer, but from the moment she was appointed, critics have questioned her qualifications.

Even in her own Liberal Democratic Party, some lawmakers have asked why a lawyer who had never been a vice minister in either the Defense or Foreign Affairs Ministries would be selected for such a significant post, particularly as tensions in the region escalate, with North Korea developing nuclear missiles and China pushing territorial claims.

At times, the commentary has strayed to her appearance. Observers on social media complained about the casual outfit and oversize sunglasses she wore on a plane to Djibouti in eastern Africa over the summer, when she met with Japanese troops on a counterpiracy mission. On another occasion, after she visited a Japanese naval ship, a popular tabloid magazine disapproved of the high heels she wore.

Japanese peacekeepers in South Sudan in October. Questions about Ms. Inada’s competence have intensified after disclosures that Japan’s army had withheld reports on the activities of its peacekeeping units in the country. CreditCharles Atiki Lomodong/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Her biggest opponents argue that while such appraisals are unfortunate, Ms. Inada has shown her lack of qualifications in multiple ways.

“It’s very disappointing that all the attention goes to female politicians’ fashion,” said Kiyomi Tsujimoto, a member of the House of Representatives from the opposition Democratic Party who has been one of Ms. Inada’s harshest critics in Parliament. The real problem, Ms. Tsujimoto said, is that Ms. Inada does not have “confidence and experience and knowledge of the army.”

Ms. Inada once shed tears in parliamentary session under questioning by Ms. Tsujimoto, who had asked whether she had flown to Djibouti to avoid visiting the contentious Yasukuni war shrine on the annual day in August that commemorates the end of World War II.

Questions about Ms. Inada’s competence have intensified since disclosures that the Ground Self-Defense Force, Japan’s army, had withheld reports on the activities of peacekeeping units in South Sudan.

While both Ms. Inada and Mr. Abe had portrayed the operation as safe, the reports, which surfaced in the Japanese news media last month, described several episodes of “combat” between warring factions in South Sudan. The law forbids Japanese troops to participate in missions where active conflict is involved.

In a faxed statement, Ms. Inada said she had not seen the leader of the Moritomo Gakuen group for 10 years. And she said that she had ordered a special investigation into the South Sudan reports. If any problems emerge, she wrote, “ I will try to improve it under the defense minister’s responsibility.”

But analysts say that if army officials or bureaucrats hid the reports from her, that shows her lack of power in the ministry.

“It’s hard to see how she’s going to gain any amount of authority or trust from the public, let alone the people she has authority over,” said Jeffrey Hornung, a fellow in the security and foreign affairs program at Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA, a research institute based in Washington.

In Parliament last week, Mr. Abe defended Ms. Inada, saying he wanted her to “continue to perform her duties with sincerity.”

For now, critics say Ms. Inada may survive the scandal.

“If Abe throws her under the bus, he’s likely to get spattered because he’s her career mentor,” said Jeff Kingston, the director of Asian studies at Temple University in Tokyo. On the other hand, he added, “he needs a scapegoat so he can change the channel.”

Follow Motoko Rich on Twitter @MotokoRich.

Racist Corrupt Japan PM Abe Implicated In Reactionary Private School Scandal
Bigotry and Fraud Scandal at Kindergarten Linked to Japan’s First Lady
FEB. 24, 2017

A morning assembly at the Tsukamoto Kindergarten in Osaka, Japan, in November. Children at the school march to military music and recite instructions for patriotic behavior laid down by a 19th-century emperor.CreditHa Kwiyeon/Reuters
TOKYO — At Tsukamoto Kindergarten, an ultraconservative school at the center of a swirling Japanese political scandal, children receive the sort of education their prewar great-grandparents might have recognized.

They march in crisp rows to military music. They recite instructions for patriotic behavior laid down by a 19th-century emperor. The intent, the school says, is to “nurture patriotism and pride” in the children of Japan, “the purest nation in the world.”

Now Tsukamoto and its traditionalist supporters — including the wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — are under fire. The school has been accused of promoting bigotry against Chinese and Koreans and of receiving illicit financial favors from the government.

A growing outcry has put Mr. Abe’s conservative administration on the defensive and drawn attention to the darker side of an increasingly influential right-wing education movement in Japan.

Mr. Abe said on Friday in Parliament that his wife, Akie Abe, had resigned as “honorary principal” of a new elementary school being built by Tsukamoto’s owner.

The school sits on land that the owner, a private foundation, bought from the government at a steep discount — a favorable deal that invited charges of special treatment after details surfaced this month.

“My wife and I are not involved at all in the school’s licensing or land acquisition,” Mr. Abe told the legislature. “If we were, I would resign as a politician.”

Mr. Abe and other Japanese conservatives often accuse the education system of liberal bias, seeing it as a place where left-wing teachers spread “masochistic” narratives about Japanese war guilt and promote individualism and pacifism over sturdier traditional values.

Tsukamoto is at the extreme edge of an effort by rightists to push back, said Manabu Sato, a professor who studies education at Gakushuin University in Tokyo.

“It’s a rejection of the postwar education system, whose basic principles are pacifism and democracy,” Professor Sato said.

Akie Abe, center, the wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in Florida this month with the first lady Melania Trump. Ms. Abe has resigned as “honorary principal” of a new school being built by the owner of Tsukamoto, which has been accused of receiving illicit financial favors from the government.CreditScott McIntyre for The New York Times
At Tsukamoto, displays of old-style patriotism have sometimes shaded into prejudice.

The school apologized on its website last week for statements that contained “expressions that could invite misunderstanding from foreigners.”

Parents said complaints about mundane-seeming matters like parent-teacher association fees would be met with chauvinistic diatribes, with school officials accusing “Koreans and Chinese with evil ideas” of stirring up trouble. They said the school’s principal, Yasunori Kagoike, accused parents who challenged the school of having Korean or Chinese ancestors.

“The problem,” Mr. Kagoike said in one notice sent to parents, was that people who had “inherited the spirit” of foreigners “exist in our country with the looks of Japanese people.”

Mr. Abe has made overhauling Japanese education a priority throughout his career, championing a similar if softer version of the traditionalism practiced at Tsukamoto.

In early publicity pamphlets for its new elementary school obtained by the Japanese news media, Mr. Kagoike proposed naming it after Mr. Abe. Mr. Kagoike later opted for a different name, a change that the prime minister said had been made at his request.

Mr. Abe has supported a drive to amend history textbooks, toning down depictions of Japan’s abuses in its onetime Asian empire, and he passed legislation to make “moral education” — including the promotion of patriotism — a standard part of the public school curriculum.

Tsukamoto has taken the patriotic approach to schooling further.

It first gained notoriety a few years ago for having pupils recite the Imperial Rescript on Education, a royal decree issued in 1890 that served as the basis for Japan’s militaristic prewar school curriculum and that was repudiated after World War II.

Conservatives see the rescript as a paean to traditional values; liberals as a throwback to a more authoritarian era. It encourages students to love their families, to “extend benevolence to all” and to “pursue learning and cultivate arts” — but also to be “good and faithful subjects” of the emperor and to “offer yourselves courageously to the state” when called upon to do so.

In interviews, five mothers who pulled their children out of Tsukamoto said they had encountered chauvinism at the school or had been attacked by Mr. Kagoike or his wife, who serves as vice principal, often in ethnically bigoted terms. They asked for anonymity because they feared social ostracism for speaking out.

One mother said her family liked South Korea and often vacationed there, but that when her son told his teacher of a planned trip, the teacher said that Korea was a “dirty place” and that the family should visit “somewhere better in Japan.”

Another mother said teachers had told her that her son “smelled like a dog,” and that Mr. Kagoike had called her “an anti-Japanese foreigner.” (She is Japanese.)


Mr. Abe, center, has made overhauling Japanese education a priority throughout his career, championing a similar if softer version of the traditionalism practiced at Tsukamoto.CreditKazuhiro Nogi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Attempts to reach Mr. Kagoike failed. A woman who answered the telephone at the foundation that operates Tsukamoto, Moritomo Gakuen, said the Japanese news reports about the school and its land deal had been “unfair,” but she did not elaborate. Multiple follow-up calls went unanswered.

In addition to serving as principal of the kindergarten, Mr. Kagoike heads Moritomo Gakuen and is a director of the Osaka branch of Nippon Kaigi, a prominent right-wing pressure group that includes Mr. Abe and other influential conservative politicians as members.

In a message on Moritomo Gakuen’s website, which the foundation removed on Thursday, Ms. Abe praised it for “nurturing children with strong backbones, who have pride as Japanese, on a basis of superior moral education.”

Japan’s defense minister, Tomomi Inada, has also praised the foundation, sending Mr. Kagoike a formal letter of appreciation for his work.

The land deal that turned Tsukamoto from a subject of raised liberal eyebrows into a full-fledged scandal took place last year, though the details took months to emerge.

The Finance Ministry allowed Moritomo Gakuen to have the land — a two-acre vacant lot near an airport in an Osaka suburb — for 134 million yen, or about $1.18 million, according to government records and testimony by ministry officials in Parliament.

The price, which the ministry initially kept sealed, was surprisingly low. The ministry had previously assessed the land’s value at 956 million yen, seven times higher. In comparison, a neighboring plot only slightly larger was bought by the local municipality, Toyonaka City, for 1.4 billion yen in 2010.

The ministry says it lowered the price to account for cleanup costs that Moritomo Gakuen would have had to bear. It said the lot contained discarded concrete and other refuse as well as elevated levels of arsenic and lead.

Opposition politicians are pressing the ministry to explain its calculations. The national daily Asahi Shimbun, which broke the story, quoted Mr. Kagoike as saying Moritomo Gakuen had spent “about 100 million yen” on cleanup, a fraction of the discount it received.

The new elementary school now sits partially built on the lot.

Eiichi Kajita, the president of Naragakuen University who also was chairman of the licensing council that granted Moritomo Gakuen permission for the school, said the council had not been told about the land deal when it made its deliberations.

He said Moritomo Gakuen’s ideology, which includes an emphasis on Shintoism, Japan’s ancient animist religion, was not a barrier to its opening a school, but that the council was reviewing its decision.

“If there was something inappropriate, permission could be revoked,” he said. “Whether they’re Shintoists or rightists, if parents want that, it’s not our place to object.”

Follow Jonathan Soble on Twitter @jonathan_soble.

Makiko Inoue contributed reporting.

Fukushima nuclear disaster: Lethal levels of radiation detected in leak seven years after plant meltdown in Japan

​The Independent February 2, 2018​

Fukushima nuclear disaster: Lethal levels of radiation detected in leak seven years after plant meltdown in Japan

Expert warns of 'global' consequences unless the plant is treated properly

Jeff Farrell

Workers of theTokyo Electric Power Co, which is tasked with the job to decommission the nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima EPA

Former Trump strategist Steve Bannon praises Abe’s nationalist agenda
DEC 17, 2017

Visiting ex-White House chief strategist Steve Bannon on Sunday lauded Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for his Trump-like effort to infuse Japan with a spirit of nationalism while unleashing a volley of scathing criticism against what he called the “mainstream media,” likening them to “running dogs” with a globalist agenda.
Bannon, who was in Tokyo over the weekend to attend a gathering of conservatives, said Japan was on the right track under Abe, whom he called a “Trump before Trump.”
“He talked about a nation’s pride, a nation’s destiny, a nation taking control of its future,” Bannon said when talking about Abe in his speech at the Japanese Conservative Political Action Conference 2017, co-hosted by the Japanese Conservative Union and the American Conservative Union.
As such, Bannon, who is now head of the right-wing news website Breitbart News, credited Abe for trying to “re-instill the spirit of nationalism” and for not shying away from discussing “vital” issues including Japan’s “rearmament.”
“Japan has every opportunity to seize its destiny, to re-establish its national identity (and) in true partnership with the United States, reverse what the elites have allowed to happen,” he said. He added it is not a “full-blown conclusion” yet that Japan has to keep languishing under the shadow of a rising China.
Bannon’s attack on those who he referred to as “elites” and a “nullification project” that he claims is being led by the mainstream media, both overseas and in Japan, was another recurring theme in the blistering speech he delivered Sunday.
“The mainstream media, liberal media, remember, they are the running dogs of the globalist. They are a propaganda machine,” Bannon said, quoting a source in Japan as telling him that the Japanese news coverage of U.S. politics makes it sound as if Trump will be impeached “tomorrow morning.”
“The ‘hobbits,’ ‘deplorables,’ and the forgotten men and women that put him in office in November 2016 will never allow” him to be ousted, Bannon said, as core Trump supporters are often called by their political opponents.
“They will only be there for him to make sure he wins a glorious re-election,” he said, eliciting a burst of applause.
Noting conservatives are hungry for the truth, Bannon also expressed a willingness for Breitbart News to make forays into Asia, signaling the possibility offices headquartered in Tokyo or Seoul might be created.
“As long as we provide a platform to get alternatives to what the mainstream is saying, we’re gonna be fine,” he said.
On trade, Bannon backed Trump’s controversial decision to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, even though withdrawing from the multinational deal amounted to the U.S. essentially spoiling what would have been a perfect “China-containing project,” as freelance journalist Taro Kimura put it during his joint appearance with Bannon.
In response, Bannon called the TPP an “ill-defined, generalized” agreement that the U.S. cannot get into anymore, and clarified Trump’s “America First” slogan as meaning an “America in partnership.”
“If the Japanese intelligentsia is sitting around and waiting for us to re-hit the bid on TPP, it’s not going to happen.”
Referring to joint military exercise between the U.S. Navy and the Self-Defense Forces, Bannon said “there is not a finer group of people” than the SDF.
“If we come together as friends and partners, (sunlight) opens up ahead of us,” he said, referring to U.S. allies in Asia, including Japan, South Korea, India and Singapore.

An Important Statue for “Comfort Women” in San Francisco

By Sally McGrane
12:50 P.M.

Though completed, San Francisco’s memorial to those imprisoned as sex slaves by Japan during the Second World War faces ongoing challenges.Photograph by Ma Dan / Xinhua / Alamy
At the back of St. Mary’s Square in San Francisco’s Chinatown, the retired judge Lillian Sing—who, long a trailblazer, was Northern California’s first Asian-American female judge—unlocked a temporary plywood gate. Behind the gate, in the corner of a terrace, stood a week-old memorial. Against the backdrop of city skyscrapers, three teen-age girls, cast in bronze, stand in a circle, holding hands. Next to them, looking on, stands the figure of an elderly woman in Korean dress—Kim Hak-sun, the first so-called comfort woman to speak out, in 1991, about her horrific sexual enslavement, during the Second World War, by the Imperial Japanese Army.

Sing had come to the park that day with Julie Tang, another retired judge and her co-chair in the project to create the memorial. “What they did was so brave,” Tang said, as she gazed up at the three girls. Chinese, Korean, and Filipino, they represent the estimated two hundred thousand women from countries across East and Southeast Asia occupied by Japan who were held in brutal state-run rape camps—a crime that went largely unacknowledged until the nineties. That was when Kim’s declaration inspired surviving comfort women in Korea, China, and elsewhere to come forward with their stories. Tang shook her head. “They were silent for fifty years, holding this shame inside them,” she said. “Victims think they are to blame. They think they did it to themselves.” With this statue—the first to be erected in a major U.S. city, though smaller memorials to comfort women exist in places like Glendale, California, and Palisades Park, New Jersey—Tang, Sing, and the local coalition they assembled want to change that kind of thinking. By bringing attention to the comfort women’s history, they hope to draw attention to ongoing problems of human trafficking and sex crimes.

This may not be as self-evident as it sounds. Discussing the statue, Dara Kay Cohen, a professor of public policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, at Harvard, said, “As a scholar of wartime rape, I think it is extraordinary.” Cohen has interviewed women captured as sex slaves in Sierra Leone; she found their stories of being raped dozens of times a day by fighters, even when the women were sick, “eerily similar” to those of the comfort women. “Publicly memorializing the rape of women is rare,” she said. “Women are half of humanity,” Elaine Kim, a professor of Asian-American and Asian-diaspora studies at U.C. Berkeley, and a supporter of the statue (whose unveiling brings the total number of public statues in San Francisco of real women to three), said. “And women are not represented in history. Nothing will be done about crimes like these if they remain in the shadows.”

The Japanese Army’s “comfort stations,” initiated in the early nineteen-thirties, were expanded extensively following the Nanjing massacre, also known as the Rape of Nanking, in 1937. According to a paper by the Yale political-science professor Elisabeth Jean Wood, the stated goal of the comfort stations was to reduce random civilian rapes. Girls were seized from the local populations. Conditions were brutal, and death rates were high. “In one day, we had to serve forty to fifty soldiers,” Lee Ok-seon, a Korean survivor, who was kidnapped at the age of fifteen, recalled in video testimony. Girls who refused were lined up against the wall and slashed open with knives. “I don’t call it a ‘comfort station.’ I call it a slaughterhouse,” Lee said. Jan Ruff-O’Herne, a Dutch girl, was taken from the Indonesian prisoner-of-war camp where she was living with her family. In a television interview, she recalled arriving at the comfort station: “We started protesting right away. We said we were forced into this, they had no right to do this, it was against the Geneva Convention. And they just laughed at us. They said they could do with us what they liked.”

After the war, survivors risked rejection by their families. Ill and impoverished, many never married or had families of their own. Ruff-O’Herne had two daughters, but did not tell them what happened to her. “You know, how can you tell your daughters?” she said in the same interview. “All these years, I was too ashamed. You think, What will they think of me?” But, after seeing Kim Hak-sun and others come forward and struggle to have their stories heard, Ruff-O’Herne decided that she had to help by speaking up. (Her daughters hugged her.)

The former congressman Mike Honda told me that, in addition to the stigma faced by victims of sexual crimes, the Japanese government’s stance on the issue has been a problem. He said that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe “flip-flops”: “He says, ‘We’re really sorry,’ then, ‘It never happened.’ He’s all over the field.” Honda, who spent his own early years in a Japanese-American internment camp, said that he first heard of the comfort women in the nineties, after an aide returned from an exhibition visibly upset. Honda became determined to learn more. “We know a lot about what happened in the war in Europe, but not a lot about what happened in Asia,” he said.

After he researched the comfort women, he decided to act. “For me, as a Japanese-American, there was a parallel,” he said. “We fought to have the U.S. government apologize to us. Now we have to get the Japanese government to recognize the historical facts.” In 2007, Honda brought survivors—including Ruff-O’Herne—to testify before Congress, and successfully pushed through legislation demanding that the Japanese government apologize. “Telling the story of the comfort women to the public is powerful,” Honda said. “The statue is a physical representation of something that happened in the past that needs to be learned about, in order to prevent violence against women and end human trafficking—which is a one-hundred-and-fifty-billion-dollar industry.”

Steven Whyte, the Carmel-based artist who created San Francisco’s memorial, had a similar learning curve. “I was familiar with the term ‘comfort women,’ but I didn’t realize the extent of the torture,” he said. Once he saw the call for applications, he researched the topic, and wanted the job so much that he reduced his regular prices. “You think of every girl you’ve ever known—your nieces, your daughters, your girlfriends, everything. It’s desperately upsetting.”

While most of the comfort-women statues around the world have been put up by South Koreans or members of the Korean diaspora, the push for this statue was led by San Francisco’s Chinese-American community, with support from several other groups, including members of the Japanese-, Filipino-, Korean-, and Jewish-American communities, Eric Mar, who served as the city supervisor during the planning-and-design process and championed the project, said. “I thought, to be successful, we had to build a pan-Asian coalition,” he explained. Mentioning his own teen-age daughter, Mar began to weep. “It’s very emotional, for a lot of people.”

At the cavernous Cathay House restaurant, just up the street from St. Mary’s Square, Sing and Tang were joined by Judith Mirkinson, the president of the board of the Comfort Women Justice Coalition. Over hot toddies and Chinese chicken salad, the women talked about the challenges they faced in bringing the statue into being—including local Japanese-Americans who say they worry that the statue could give rise to a new wave of discrimination, and a vigorous campaign of condemnation from the Japanese government. Whyte received some twelve hundred negative social-media messages and e-mails, including form letters copied and pasted from a Japanese Web site threatening economic boycotts of his work. Activists attended hearings about the statue and called an elderly survivor a prostitute when she testified before the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. More recently, the mayor of Osaka threatened to end his city’s long-standing sister-city relationship with San Francisco if the statue is not removed—and the Japanese consul-general in San Francisco, Jun Yamada, wrote a letter to the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle calling the statue a “half-told” story, and warning that if the city wants to “give equal treatment to all cases, there will be no free space left anywhere.”

Those spearheading the memorial fear that pressures like these may delay the bureaucratic procedures that still need to take place before the plywood gate comes down and the statue is visible to the public. At lunch, Sing said that she felt that racism in the United States had played a silencing role when it comes to recognizing what happened to the comfort women. “Why did this take so long?” she said. Kim Hak-sun “spoke out in 1991. There is the race issue: Asian women’s lives didn’t matter, like black men’s lives don’t matter.” Still, the three women agreed that it is no accident that this statue is here. “Even if San Francisco is changing, progressivism is still woven into the fabric of this city,” Mirkinson said. “And we are on the Pacific Rim,” Tang said. “We are closer to Asia, and thirty-three per cent of the city is Asian. People bring with them family memory that goes back to World War Two.”

For Lee Yong-soo, an eighty-nine-year-old survivor who flew from Korea for the unveiling, San Francisco seemed dauntingly far away. But when she arrived she was glad she had made the journey. “When I saw the girls holding hands, it brought tears in my eyes because she looked just like the girl I once was,” Lee wrote in an e-mail. “We need more memorials to remember the truth. I am the living proof of the history. But when I’m gone, who will tell the story to the next generation?”
Added to the calendar on Monday Feb 12th, 2018 12:45 PM
§Japan Akie Shinzo With Her Husband Supports Trump's War Drive In Asia
by United Public Workers For Action Monday Feb 12th, 2018 12:45 PM
Akie Abe and her husband Shinzo visited Trump in Florida and supported the US war drive in Asia. He is also pushing for changing the Japanese constitution to to allow for first strike and joint war adventures with the US.
Akie is also supporting privatization of education and a racist nationalist school that attacks the people of Korea and China with racist ideology. The school also pushes "denialist" theory that there was no such thing as 'comfort women' or military sexual slaves by the Japanese Imperial Military
§Akie Supports Nationalist Racist Schools That Support Japanese Superiority
by United Public Workers For Action Monday Feb 12th, 2018 12:45 PM
Akie is supporting racists national schools that push Japanese superiority and also is involved in a corruption scandal illegally using public funds to subsidize her reactionary school where she was the "honorary" principal.
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JPN Abe calls Asahi report ‘pathetic,’ draws criticism from opposition over private schoolrepostWednesday Feb 14th, 2018 4:54 PM