New York senators defend sex slaves

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New York senators defend sex slaves

The New York State Senate unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday that recognizes the suffering endured by Korean women forced to work as sex slaves for the Japanese military during World War II.

It was the second time a state legislative body in the United States adopted a resolution on the so-called comfort women following one passed by the California State Assembly in 1999.

“During the Japanese colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through the duration of World War II, approximately 200,000 young women were coerced into the comfort women system of forced military prostitution,” the resolution stated. “On June 16, 2012, the Comfort Women Memorial Monument was established in the Veterans Memorial at Eisenhower Park in Westbury, New York .?.?. The Memorial Monument symbolizes suffering endured by comfort women and serves as a reminder of the crime against humanity committed through the comfort women system.”

The resolution was adopted two weeks after Senator Tony Avella, a Democrat from Queens, introduced it.

Initially, resolution No. 304 included a statement supporting surviving comfort women and their request for an apology from the Japanese government. That part was taken because of the State Senate’s rule not to interfere in international affairs.

According to reports, threatening e-mails from Japan were sent to Avella and other lawmakers saying the so-called comfort women were volunteer prostitutes.

“There were some very nasty e-mails from Japan sent not only to me but members of the Assembly and the Senate,” Avella said. “To me, and I could be wrong, but I know the difference between an ordinary individual sending an e-mail and an organized effort. This seemed to me as an organized effort.”

Avella added that the “e-mails were of such of a derogatory nature that this was not only an attempt to stop the resolution but condemning anybody who is thinking about this.”

Lee Chul-woo, president of the Korean American Public Affairs Committee, who helped push the resolution, said, “I hope that with the passing of the resolution, the comfort women issue be solved in a swift manner, and also, that the New York State Assembly also adopts the resolution soon.”

“You can’t change history, it happened,” Avella said. “Let’s acknowledge that it happened.”


By Lee Eun-joo [angie@joongang.co.kr]

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