SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)- Overcoming the opposition of the Japanese government and some Bay Area Japanese-Americans, San Francisco Supervisors have voted to build a memorial to so-called “comfort women” who were sex slaves during World War II.
Before Tuesday’s vote, supervisors heard from one of the so-called “comfort women” before making their decision. A huge crowd for and against the resolution gathered outside.
Yong Soo Lee came to San Francisco from South Korea to talk about being enslaved by the Japanese army when she was 15. Now 87-years-old, she told the supervisors how she was tortured and raped for two years as a “comfort woman” serving Kamikaze pilots.
Lee’s powerful testimony moved the entire board, which voted 11-to-0 to erect a memorial in the City. Her words resonated with Supervisor Jane Kim.
“I read many of the stories written by these comfort women who were raped twenty, thirty, forty times a day, over and over again,” said Kim. “They were humiliated, scared, frightened and incredibly young.
Japan’s government and some Japanese Americans fear a memorial to the Korean and Chinese women in San Francisco will rekindle anti-Japanese bigotry, but Board President London Breed rejects those concerns.
“We can build a ‘comfort woman’ memorial to Korean and Chinese victims without it being an attack on Japanese-Americans just as we have built Holocaust museums that are not an attack on German-Americans,” she said. “They are victims who deserve our respect and lessons we must never forget. We have a moral obligation to remember.”
Supervisor Eric Mar, who wrote the resolution, said the City will have an open process on the design and location of the memorial.
We’re making history here in San Francisco,” he said. “We are breaking the silence for a future of healing and justice for generations to come.”