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:
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:
Voices of New York
The NJ monument controversy:
Voices of New York
- Jan Banning
May 4th 1954, Almelo
Dutch photographer and artist. Banning was born in the Netherlands from Dutch-East-Indies parents. He studied social and economic history at the Radboud University Nijmegen, and has been working as a photographer since 1981. A central theme of Banning's practice is state power, having produced series about the long-term consequences of war and the world of government bureaucracy.