International controversy about monument for “Comfort Women” in Queens, NY

Queens (NY) City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) has been stirring up an international controversy with his plans to honor Asian women forced into prostitution by Japan during World War II.

Koo has plans for either a memorial or a street renaming in Flushing, where there is a concentration of immigrants from Asia, to honor the so-called “comfort women” from countries that were occupied by Japan during WW2. These include Korea, China and Indonesia.

He received support from John Messer, who is running for New York’s 16th senate district and from Arthur Flug, executive director of the Kupferberg Holocaust Center, because “we can’t forget them. It’s history.”

Though only in the discussion stage, according to the New York Post, “Koo and his City Council colleagues have received a flood of angry emails and letters from Japanese citizens who said the so-called “comfort women” were willing prostitutes and should not be the subject of a memorial in his Flushing, Queens, district.”

Japanese officials have asked for the removal of another monument for ‘Comfort Women’ in Palisades Park, N.J., saying that it misrepresents the history.

Some suggestions for further reading:

“Comfort Women”:

On this website: gallery, book and exhibition Comfort Women

Hilde Janssen, journalist and writer of texts of book and exhibition “Comfort Women” and of the book Schaamte en Onschuld

NPR on Comfort Women

The controversy in Flushing, Queens:

Gothamist

Queens Chronicle

Queens Politics

Times Ledger

Voices of New York

The NJ monument controversy:

Voices of New York

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